PFD selection

-- Last Updated: Jan-29-09 6:17 PM EST --

hi all......I had a opportunity to use a indoor pool recently...long story short, i decided to bring my kayaking PFD with me and try it out. guess what!..I sunk !!! the PFD i'd been using for the last 2 seasons wasn't up to holding up a 200# person, even though it was "rated" for a large person. the PFD is a Lotus Designs , model unknown,...I don't fault the PFD itself, but i think they should be rated for body weight and not small/medium/large. How many people have actually jumped in and tried out their PFD to see if it holds you up ?? So, anyways ..I'm in the market now for a PFD that'll hold up 200+ #'s..any suggestions? thank you
UPDATE: 1/29/09 ......i checked my IS the Lotus Designs Mildwater model with the exact serial numbers wrHester posted about being recalled !! Thanks Hester !!! So i guess i can seek some sort of relief from patagonia on it ..also by "sinking": i meant it would not keep my head above water, i sunk a couple of feet under B4 "suspending" at that depth, in a relaxed state, I have a bit of typical middle-aged "spare tire" but no fat in my shoulders or legs or arms, last time I calculated by body fat % , I was in the mid 20's..If i had been knocked out by a boat collision , i would surely drown while wearing this model PFD. I'll let this thread run another couple of days. Time to go shopping for another PFD.

body weight won’t work

– Last Updated: Jan-29-09 1:00 PM EST –

Body weight is not a good predictor of flotation, as most people who are heavier actually float on their own.

Body fat is lighter than water, where muscle mass is heavier. So a lean 150lb cyclist or marathoner (like 3% body fat, skinny, etc.) would sink, where the average American male (Wikipedia says it is a 191 pound, 5'10" person - so a BMI of 27.4, putting them in the overweight category) would float.

PFD bouyancy

– Last Updated: Jan-29-09 1:17 PM EST –

From the NRS website:
Most adults in a bathing suit need seven to 12 pounds of extra flotation to keep their head out of the water. The US Coast Guard specifies a minimum of 15-½ pounds flotation in an adult PFD. If you’re a swimmer and comfortable in the water, a jacket with 16-18 pounds of design flotation should be fine for you. If you’re a non-swimmer, you may feel more secure in a higher flotation model, one in the 22-27 pound range. The more muscle you have, the more flotation you need.

The more flotation in a jacket, the higher you float and the faster you pop to the surface. However, that additional flotation makes the jacket bulkier and possibly less comfortable.

A couple of high-float models here:

Invest lots of time with ALL your gear.
I go out regularly to practice rescues using all the gear I have. Get used to how your stuff works so you don’t have to spend the time when you really need it.

pfd sinks?
I’m about 200# and I have a Lotus (model unknown) that I’ve had for quite some time and it still works fine. I also have a Kokatat thet is newer and better. The flotation in pfds does tend to degrade after a while and the process is speeded up if the pfd is kept in the trunk or exposed to high heat. Could this have happened?

Very Interesting
Very interesting question and interesting answers. It reminds me of when I asked an REI employee why my down sleeping bag that was rated to keep you warm in 20+ degrees did not do so in temps above that.

The answer was, the bags are rated as if you were going to wear a wool suit in them. No one ever tells you that when you go to buy one so your purchase may be inappropriate.


Me problem be dat ah’ gots “heavy” fat

– Last Updated: Jan-29-09 1:51 PM EST –

an' at +/- 16 stone (US) or 200 lbs. ah' sink like a ton o' petroofied mule turds, so a 15.5 pounder doesn't woyk fer dis here polecat, either. Wat ah' use is an old Stohlquist Max jacket which ah' think used ta be be around 21 pounds or lately an ExtraSport B27/Swiftwater Ranger at 27lbs.. Dat's de best fer me "density"...

But wit de B27 yer probably won't fit too good in a 'yak cuz it's a long canooist's vest.


Test mine on frequently
I definitely float. Then again, I do need to lose some weight :wink:

I’m about 220 I have an old Extrasport PFD with 16 lbs flotation – never had a problem. I also have an Extrasport HiFloat with 22 lbs floatation – it’s a little too bulky for me.

Define sinking.

From what I can deduct you put the pfd on, jumped into the pool.

What happened then?

  1. Were you completely under water?
  2. What happens if you relax and do not flail around?
  3. Can you submerge yourself while wearing pfd? - ask onlookers.

Lotus Mildwater Recall from Patagonia

Not sure what model you have, but here’s a recall from Patagonia for their Lotus Mildwater PFD. Also labeled as a fishing pfd I think

My ~10 year old Lotus Sherman still
floats my 225 pounds pretty well. It is also affected by how much of one’s weight is fat. 30 years ago I was 25 pounds lighter, and more of that weight was muscle, so I actually needed more flotation.

So, if you’re pretty lean, and your bones are heavy, you may need one of those 22 pound flotation PFDs rather than the semi-standard 16 pounds.

Tested fairly often.
It floats me well.

My paddle, my pole, and the rest of my gear get float-tested just as often. :wink:

thanks hester for that link to the recall …wtg !!!

this is why they are not technical life
jackets…although i hear that uscg wants to go back to that term…

personally i use a Kokatat RetroFit in long boats for comfort and fit…

a Lotus Lola for surfing for rib protection (been speared a couple of times by other boat surfers who did not know what they were doing…

and a funky Watertech rodeovest for indoor pool sessions…(it is not a USCG rated vest being less than 16 #'s of flotation)…

the first two keep my head and neck out of the water and i weigh ~230#…

the watertech holds chin and above out of the water…