Inflatable PFD?

Simmering in my own juices in the hot weather is making paddling significantly less fun. Does anyone have experience with inflatable PFDs?


Northstar Rob Roy

I have one
My wife and I both have Hobie branded inflatable PFDs but I have to admit that I don’t wear mine much these days. Maybe they are marginally cooler on a hot day, but the neoprene collar on the back of mine negates some of that.

Of course the downside is that if for any reason you have an accident they don’t provide flotation if you can’t pull the handle that activates the CO2 cartridge. And while you can inflate them orally, it’s pretty much a one-shot deal.

For a quiet paddle in warm weather on a flat calm lake I think they’re fine, but my current PFD of choice is an NRS Ninja and my wife’s is an Astral YTV, both very open designs that probably gives us as much ventilation as the inflatables.

Try an Astral V-8

– Last Updated: Aug-02-16 10:02 AM EST –

I have a inflatable belt pack PFD that I use for some flatwater races. That said, I consider it a special-use item with some large caveats.

For summer in Florida, I have been pleased with the ventilation afforded by the (non inflatable) Astral V-8 (I have the older model with the single front pocket and lower back). I switched from a heavier and hotter Kokatat MsFit. The V-8 is feather-light and extremely well ventilated.

Greg Stamer

I own one but don’t use it
I wear an astral V-8 kayaking and a Stearns fishing PFD if I don’t think I’ll be dumping the canoe.

The good ones can be set to auto inflate when they get wet or you can disable the auto inflate and you have to pull the lanyard. I think the rearming kit was another $20.

The part around the neck was annoying, my V-8 is cool enough for South Mississippi.

Lots of information…

– Last Updated: Aug-02-16 10:23 AM EST –

Go to archives.
Use inflatable pfd as subject matter.
There is enough information there to keep you busy reading for a couple of hours.

I personally wouldn't wear an inflatable if somebody gave one to me.

I always wear a pfd when I paddle; no matter what the temperature. Get too hot; stop, find or make some shade, take a break, rehydrate & take a cool down swim.

My go to pfd is by MTI, but I also have pfds made by Lotus Design, and Kokatat.


another vote for the V8

– Last Updated: Aug-03-16 2:11 AM EST –

I also choose the Astral V8 for muggy hot weather -- been wearing it for 8 summers now. I've owned 7 different PFDs, with 4 presently in the gear bags, and the V8 is decidedly the most comfortable in the summer -- barely aware I have it on. I note that the newer models of it have far better pockets than my older one.

Belt pack…
…I have one and I use it, but all it does is make you legal…hard to scramble back into a boat while wearing it.

Not allowed

– Last Updated: Aug-02-16 10:18 PM EST –

Inflatable PFDs are not legal on rivers in Utah. Whitewater or flatwater. I found this out when I got my permit for a Colorado River kayak trip in Canyonlands Nat. Park. I suppose if it's a section of river that isn't regulated or permitted, it might fly. I'd rather not find out.....if it's allowed or if it will save my butt in an emergency.

Inflatable pfd
Wel, I always learn something here. I didn’t know about the belt pack versions. Those don’t seem too usable.

I ordered an Onyx AM 24 that should do the trick. I’ll post how it works out after I use it for a while.

Thanks everyone.


When you get it
Take out the CO2, manually inflate it (all the way, you’ll have to unvelcro the outer cover) get in your boat and tip it over on the water. See how it floats you.

The owners manual says carry a rearming kit at all times.

Mustang Infateables
We have them, we love them, and we wear them much of the time on our 34’ sailboat.

For a kayak, not my choice. We both have very good kayak PFDs and yesterday, I had loaned my good PFD to my neighbour who had just bought his first kayak.

I wanted to go out and used my inflatable instead.

It is “OK”, but no cooler. The collar is neoprene and hot.

Legal, totally, as long as you are wearing them. At least in my country.

Stormy Seas Inflatable Vests
Are what I wear when racing my surfski and solo outrigger canoe. The vest is so comfortable, that I wear it w/o a shirt. I even wear it under the issued race jersey and sometimes, after post race festivities, forget that I’m still wearing it until I get home late that night.

This is about the 20th time for this question! I have both a Mustang Survival inflatable and an Astral V-8 with one pocket. Most of the time I wear the Astral V-8.

Many se them including our coast guard. I prefer not to have my life in the balance when there is only air and fabric (which can be torn or punctured during a flip or rock hit