Inflatable PFDs. What do you know?

I’m thinking of buying an inflatable PFD.It’s been very hot the last few weeks. I’ve found myself leaving my PFD off to stay cool. I figure I might be more apt to keep one on during the summer heat. Maybe a belt style. I have no experience with these and am looking for someone who has been around them and can guide me. I paddle wide rivers in NE IL 90% of the time. What do you think?

Stormy Seas Inflatable PFD
Can be worn without a shirt and has not chaffed me yet. In fact, I wore it under my race jersey during a 32 mile open ocean race and forgot I was still wearing it until I went to take a shower.

I have one.
But I rarely use it. Only on easy flat water when fishing in extreme heat. I never use it on moving water where there is any chance of swimming.

A few reasons:

  1. You never really know if it will inflate when you need it. The only way to know is to test it - then you have to re-arm it, and won’t really know until you test it.

  2. Once inflated, the gas cartridge is spent and must be replaced to quickly inflate again.

  3. In a moving-water swim, it may be difficult to grab the lanyard (mine isn’t automatic, and I wouldn’t want an automatic one since I get in the water to cool off sometimes).

  4. As I understand it, an automatic inflater can easily inflate when you don’t want it to.

  5. My PFD’s have pockets that I use. My inflatable does not.

  6. If I’m hot, it’s easy to cool off by getting wet. A cotton boonie hat or bandana is really useful for staying cool. Just dip it in the water and put it back on.

    I usually don’t’ see temps above 105f here, but I suspect it wouldn’t make a difference to me if I did.

Astral V-8
A cheaper comfort option is the Astral V-8 ventilated PFD – runs around $100 and is sold at LL Bean and REI. I’ve owned 5 PFD’s and this one is a dream, wasn’t looking to buy one but spotted it, tried it on and it was instant love – don’t even notice I have it on even on 90 degree plus days. Very open design with perforations in the foam and mesh panels. light and unrestrictive. Can’t stand any of my other vests now, even a much more costly Lotus.

Like suggested Astral, and there are few others. I liked discontinued Patagonia Mildwater (except for buckles in lieu of zipper). Now have Stohlquist Getaway, and there is also Stohquist Trekker (different pockets) and Cruiser (women’s version). NRS has some too. Mesh is in low back - some have more mesh, some less.