suggestions for long-lived flares?

On the Fourth, I tried out two Orion Skyblazer flares that I bought about 8 months ago (printed Exp date Sept 08) and have religiously carried in my pfd in a couple of dozen ocean trips since hten (including a fair amount of rolling around in the surf). They were both duds - set off an explosive charge, but only ejected a feeble light that lasted about a second.

Obviously carrying these was useless. Glad I never needed them.

Are there any truly waterproof flares that can withstand repeated dunkings in salt water over months? Or do you need to keep flares in a separate waterproof tube to be sure they’ll stay reliable?

Get a gun.

– Last Updated: Jul-06-07 8:17 AM EST –

The small gun - sold at boating stores is the most releable. The shells almost never go bad.

Every year our club in CT has a rescue day and we get permission from the CG to do a 1/2 hr of flare firing. The little pocket flares almost are always duds unless brand new right out of the package. The 12 guage gun flares always go off no matter how old. It's the best bang for the buck.

Your paddling type of adventures dictate how you carry them. I paddle a lot in groups and in day time. So many times mine are in a dry bag behind the seat. Sometimes in the hatch. If you're a solo paddler and do paddle in the evenings where you could get caught out at night, you want them on you. I fully believe that they should be in a water proof container even if it's a few zip lock bags. Anything that gets exposed to the water will deteriorate.

My first line of defense is the VHF radio which I always make sure is working fine and even though it's a submersable, it's in a waterproof bag. Second to that is a cell phone also in a waterproof container.

I’ve heard so many cases of small handheld flares not working that I don’t think they’re a good option. I know of a paddler who needed one, had three and all of them were bad. This seems to be pretty common, even within the expiration date for the flares. I’d look at a gun too…

Just my personal experience,…
…but I’ve never had a Skyblazer II ( ) fail even after it’s expiration date. Mine stay completely unprotected in a PFD pocket and are dunked many times during roll practice, time in surf, etc. and generally wet a great deal of the time. They also do not require as much fine motor skill (when fingers are cold) and two pieces of equipment to get lost (gun and shell). To each his own–get what works for you.

I haven’t done this, but with all the stories, have thought about it: seal-a-mealing all three together, or individually, and taping a razor blade to the packet with plumbers tape to help opening in an im(m)ergency :slight_smile: if you have cold hands.

which one is Skyblazer II?
I look at your website and only see Skyblazer (not Skyblazer II), the one everyone is complaining about.

I will get a gun and also a waterproof container for it. I’m already looking forward to testing it next July 4th - hopefully not before.

Buy new flares once a year. Cheap insurance. I was involved in a rescue last year and the flare we fired saved a life. Vaughn Fulton

Oops…my bad.

– Last Updated: Jul-06-07 2:52 PM EST –

Just the regular Skyblazers. Got beefed up a bit about 3 years ago when Orion bought Skyblazer. Been reliable for me as an on PFD flare.

See my posts here:

for more info, i.e., different type of Skyblazer available in Canada, etc.

I’ve heard of sealing flares in a bag along with a large nail to help open the bag.

good idea

Why a razor blade or nail?
All you need to do is nick the edge of the package. I cut about 1/8" into the edge of the bag with scissors. It’s not enough to compromise the seal, yet it tears easily every time. Extra hardware, particularly rust prone hardware doesn’t make sense to me.


Was at class today with an instructor
who related some info about Skyblazers. Without going into the whole story, the jist of it is that he’d seen a remarkably positive difference in the reliability of the Skyblazers since Orion took them over about 3 or 4 years ago. He used to see them fail regularly, now that seems to be a rare occurance. I’ve found this to be the case as well and I sure hope they’re alot more reliable than they used to be because that’s what I’m carrying!


– Last Updated: Jul-07-07 9:52 PM EST –

SOLAS-grade marine flares must meet tougher standards than USCG-approved flares, but they are expensive.

The laser "flares" also look like an interesting tool.

Great tool, but have an alternative…
…just like with everything else. Talked to an individual today that’s on their second one–saltwater immersion is the suspected killer. Have several forms of communicating distress.