Inflatible PFDs thoughts?

I have recently purchased an inflatible pfd. It is still in the package and I might return it and continue to use my regular pfd. I was just wondering what your opinions of the inflatibles were and if favorable, what brands and features you like.

Thanks for your help.


I know what you mean
I picked up an inflatable on sale a few years ago, but I’ve never used it, as I haven’t found a real need. At the time I was thinking of getting a tuiliq and inflatables work well with them, but once I abandoned the tuiliq idea, the need for the inflatable evaporated. I’ll keep it, but I don’t know if it will ever come out of the package.

I hate to hijack my own thread, but…

– Last Updated: Jul-08-10 8:57 PM EST –

I also have considered getting a tuliq. Any idea of who makes them anymore?

Inflatable pfds…

– Last Updated: Jul-08-10 11:59 PM EST –

There are about 300 responses to your question in the pnet archives.
The subject comes up about twice annually.

I vote NO to inflatable pfds; reasoning that if it inflates, it can deflate.
Not much concerned with decisions made by adults anymore.
If adults choose to wear an inflatable, or no pfd at all; ok by me.
I got tired of wasting my breath.


I don’t know anything about them
and personally wouldn’t use one, but I do know that my local club doesn’t allow them on flatwater trips. Here’s what the club website says:

“Inflatable PFD’s require the user to pay careful attention to the condition of the device. Inflatable PFD’s need maintenance to function properly.

The automatic inflatable has some cons against it. Under prolonged wet conditions auto-inflaters will go off when they get wet even if the person does not fall in the water.

If you would like to change to dry clothes, you will need to remove the vest. Putting the vest back on in the inflated state can be very difficult.

A ripcord can catch on a boat fitting and inflate.

The vest can have leaks that are unnoticed until the vest is inflated.

Cracking can occur if the unit is left folded for extended periods.

Abrasions may occur when the jacket is folded for long periods of time.

The inflation cylinder can corrode and rust allowing gas to leak out. Remove the bottle and weigh using an accurate scale. Make sure the reading matches the amount on the bottle. Coat the cylinder with Vaseline to prevent corrosion.

Another item that needs checking is the inflator. Generally you are looking for a green, rather than red, pin or tab indicating the unit is ready. You also are looking for an exposed red stripe, which could indicate an empty gas cylinder. As always, green means go. If you see red either your inflator needs repair, or you gas cylinder needs to be renewed.

Note: Inflatable PFD’s are available in adult sizes only, are not for use by children younger than 16 years of age or by persons weighing less than 80 pounds.”

Best thing
I ever bought as I tried numerous conventional PFD’s before purchasing my Mustang Survival one. I personally think the positives out way the negatives I did my research before purchasing it. You should check it and test it every year via the manual inflation tube.

Brooks, Superior and Chill Cheater…
…are the brands I’m familiar with. They’re neoprene, Gore-Tex and Aquatherm, respectively. How well they work varies somewhat, but I’m really not qualified to comment, since I don’t use them. However, my girlfriend has a Brooks and a Superior and likes them both for different purposes (winter vs. summer, mostly). She’s asked me to put a neck seal in the Superior so she can use it with the hood down, which seems like a logical modification.

Thanks Everybody.
I really appreciate your answers. Think I’ll keep the pfd and use it in some conditions. Also try to remember to check it regularly for damage and wear.

Thanks again.

inflatable pfd
I have two. A “Suspenders” and “Paddlers vest” from West Marine. They work great Another neat one is Kokotat’s. Kokotat and West have large pockets for VHF radio and other stuff. These PFDs are great for hot weather.

Great for hot weather.

I don’t want to start an argument, but the response from “I don’t know anything about them” makes me think that he really doesn’t know anything about them.

All of the things listed are true if you never examine your equipment. How long would you have to ignore your equipment before if cracks, rusts, corrodes, or composts?

I use an inflatable during the summer months and love it.

No equipment can be expected to perform it’s function if the owner doesn’t maintain and inspect it.