Re-dyeing PFD

Is it out of the question to re-dye a sun faded 500 Cordura PFD? I probably should consult the manufacturer, but I’m curious if anyone else has thought about, or actually done this.

Never thought about it. My Kokatat OutFit is looking rather pale these days.

This is either a really good idea, or “boy, it seemed like a good idea at the time”.

My biggest concern would be the dye not staying in the PFD material and turning me and everything I own orange!

What color will you be if dye doesn’t stay in PFD?

I just retired from active service a very faded 14 year old Palm PFD for 2 reasons. Foremost was in addition to faded, the sun had weakened the fabric to the point is was easy to tear by hand. Second was this unit had CE certification and not USCG. Do not know which one is more stringent, just wanted to avoid questions and complications. I always wear my PFD and was never asked by DNR, Coasties, etc to read inside as they always saw it being properly worn. Now have a new and too clean and shiny Kokatat with many miles to go.

I recall from helping my mom make fabrics for costumes and theater scenery that nylon absorbs dyes pretty well (unlike other synthetics, such as polyester and olefin which resist color absorption – this is one reason why I never buy nylon fiber rugs or upholstery.) You want to go with something more professional than grocery store RIT dye. Like this stuff:

A buddy dyed his PFD and it worked out fine, didn’t rub or wash off. I’d give it a try if you’re thinking of pitching it otherwise.

Adding vinegar to the dye solution and then rinsing dyed fabrics in very salty water helps to fix the dye so it doesn’t wash out later.

LOL I remember RIT

Thanks for the encouragement and no, I do not plan to pitch the PFD in question. It’s a rescue vest ($$$) and other than the fade it’s in perfect condition. I also wish there was something to prevent fade on a new red Ninja.

You can use 303 on the fabric for UV protection, but it will wash off and require frequent reapplication. I’m not aware of any other more permanent UV protectant.

Adding vinegar to the dye solution make sense, as my understanding is that Nylon requires acid dyes. That said, polyester is much more common in outdoor products than it used to be, due to superior UV resistance. AFAIK, it doesn’t require any special type of dye.

Polyester typically cannot be dyed with commonly available dyes. It is essentially a plastic and requires strong chemical dyes to penetrate the monofilament fibers. This is true of polyester, which is also called dacron, acrylic, orlon and also true of polypropolene (also called olefin.) This is why polyester or olefin carpeting is preferable to nylon: it does not absorb stains. Nylon and natural fibers like wool, linen, cotton, silk and rayon absorb water soluble dyes best.

If your PFD is dacron/polyester, it will not take any standard dye that you could readily buy.

Faded shows experience! :slight_smile: Badge of honor!

It used > @PaddleDog52 said:

Faded shows experience! :slight_smile: Badge of honor!


@Overstreet said:
It used > @PaddleDog52 said:

Faded shows experience! :slight_smile: Badge of honor!


Faded also reduces visibility.

If my PFD faded so much I’d probably wing it.

I replace my pfd every two or three years (100-200 days use) because the foam compresses and loses some bouancy. I’ve replaced jackets that didn’t even look faded. My badge of honor is coming home alive not trying to look experienced, Worry less about dressing to impress and more about how it floats you. My son had to get a new pfd to paddle in the grand canyon. He knew his jacket was faded. The ranger at the put-in simply won’t allow you on the Colorado with a faded lifejacket. Just consider a pfd another ongoing paddling expense, - like gas or food or camping fees. Incidently, the extrasport rescue vest fades out pretty quick too. My current stolquist gets fuzzy and worn quickly. Only got one year out of those pfds.
Ask yourself after testing it, Am I comfortable with how it floats me in the roughest conditions I paddle in? That’s when you are likely to need it. No need to dye, die.! Replace instead.

My PFD is different colors with the straps and fabric no clue how I would dye it.

So I asked the Coast Guard and the CG replied.
This email is in response to your email dated August 18, 2017, regarding dying a faded PFD. You should not dye a faded PFD. Fading of the fabric could indicate degradation of the PFD. Modification of a PFD voids the approval.

If you have any additional questions on this topic, please let me know.

Jacqi Yurkovich

U.S. Coast Guard (CG-ENG-4)
Office of Design and Engineering Standards
Lifesaving and Fire Safety Division"

figured that just like real faded rope it’s toast. Also construction slings used for hoisting are dated on the label.

There are degrees of fading and I don’t believe for one minute that a little fading of a very well built high dollar pfd is not at least 10 times better than a brand new cheapy pfd. I have to wonder how often the Coast Guard replace their life jackets–that we pay for.