bought my first kayak yesterday 14 ft wilderness tsunami after renting for 4 years. REI had limited selection of PFDs so I did some research and purchsed the MTI Helios Inflatable PFD and it’s USCG type III. Any one use this PFD?

When you’ve tried it out,
tell us about it.

…on how it works for kayaking! This is the first case I believe I’ve come across a paddler using an inflatable PFD.

In particular, I think we’d like to know how it handles for non-roll self-rescues, such as an individual paddle float, and for a couple of the assisted rescue techniques as well. It might also be a more comfortable, cooler PFD for warm weather/warm water use…

I think if it works well in those circumstances, it would be a possibly viable alternative that might actually encourage improved form as you


-Frank in Miami

I have a non-automatic Mustang inflatable PFD, pretty much the same as yours. I generally only wear it on peaceful lakes and canals – the places you are tempted to skip wearing a PFD in the first place but they are so comfortable there is little reason not to wear one.

When inflated they act more like a type I PFD – more flotation and keep your face out of the water. Probably safer than a type 3 for the extreme cases of you are out of the kayak and can’t swim any more or having heart attack/stroke but you are able to pull the cord. Not very good if bash your head into a rock and get knocked out.

Also bad that kids really are tempted to pull the cord…

I don’t wear it on rivers – ours are all rocky enough. Never tried it with a skirt but don’t see why it wouldn’t go over one without an issue. Rarely do any sea kayaking not sure how practical it is in those situations but these vests are design to keep you afloat in the ocean.

You probably still will want to get a standard PFD – take your time, figure out what a good fit is and try a bunch on. REI does stock some decent PFDs – Bahia, Drifter, CVest, Rocker, MsFit (worn by men and women), and the Osprey isn’t bad if you like pockets. If you are member they usually will bend over backwards for you – order maybe 3 shipped to store to try on.

If you give some body type info I am sure people will chime in what PFDs they like and you will quickly see a trend.

For big manly men, I really like the Stohlquist fit, Bahia was bad and NRS PFDs are all too small – sad because I love the look and pockets of the CVest. The Osprey is also pretty good fit but does scream I want to go fishing…

no rolling for me. I’ll be on the really calm ponds and lakes-maybe should of specified that- Until I get used to my new kayak and take the advanced classes I’ll be staying above water.

taking my time
thanks for the feedback and will def be on the search for a regular PFD-it’s end of season here so not a lot much selection. I’ll be sticking to the quiet ponds and lakes for now.