Are self-inflating lifevests worth buying?

tippet

hardcore flyfishing addict
For years I have had one of those lifevests that inflates from a CO2 cartridge. I read that they now have vests that self-inflate if you fall in, even if a medical event or accident renders you unconscious, preventing you from pulling a cord. When I made an inquiry about these at a fly fishing shop, the owner said that he only carried the lifevests where you have to pull the cord, because he had heard of the self-inflating kind being set off by a heavy rainstorm. Does anyone have any knowledge or insight about the practicality and usefulness of the self-inflating vests? Thanks!
 

Jim M-glass guy

Active Member
I have 2 of them. I have had one go inflated when it was in the back (stern of the boat) when it had collected water after we were taking it out and then had to get a recharge kit. It gives me peace of mind that myself and a fishing partner can not have to worry about pulling a cord or not and have their life saved if its an urgent situation. Peace of mind is worth something. The rebuild kits are not that expensive and I have only had it go off 1 time. I believe the kit was something like 15 or maybe closer to $20 at Walmart of all places and it was a local pickup. I don't like Walmart but I also don't like $30 or $40 for the same price of $20.00 which is just a wafer and a Co2 cartridge. I believe they are well worth the investment.
 

Kilchis

WFF Supporter
Whenever I encounter the Coast Guard, Oregon State Police or Marine Deputies on the water they are all wearing self-inflating vests. I have had one for about 5 years. It's been in all-day rain and never inflated until I accidentally dropped it several feet onto concrete.

Worth it? That's your call. The average casket costs about two grand if that helps your calculations.
 

wadin' boot

Donny, you're out of your element...
WFF Supporter
I prefer foam, plenty of times that sucker's been cinched a little tighter on a cold day and made me super thankful. If a self inflating vest goes off when it's not supposed to why wouldn't you assume there's a good chance the opposite could also occur?
 

Greg Armstrong

WFF Supporter
I’ve used mine for quite a few years. I originally got it for offshore sailing and ocean crossings where it would get constantly drenched. It’s never gone off just from being wet. It’s also really light comfortable and I don’t even know I’m wearing it, it’s now like an old friend! Just used it on the lake in my pontoon tonight in fact.
It also has a redundant “pull tab”.
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tippet

hardcore flyfishing addict
Thank you all for sharing your experience and insights! It was exactly what I needed to feel comfortable about going forward with getting one.
 

Old Man

A very Old Man
WFF Supporter
I prefer foam, plenty of times that sucker's been cinched a little tighter on a cold day and made me super thankful. If a self inflating vest goes off when it's not supposed to why wouldn't you assume there's a good chance the opposite could also occur?
I'm like this dude. Foam is a lot cheaper. I had a foam one when I was in my pontoon boat I put it on just after I put on my waders. I tested it in a swimming pool it kept my head up.
 

ThinGreenLine

Active Member
Some of them don't inflate until you are a ways under the water and not just because they get "wet". I think it's a pressure sensitive thing. Also to be regulation compliant with PFD requirements, you actually have to wear those on a vessel where the regular types just have to be on board.
 

David Loy

Senior Moment
I have a self inflating sailing harness one, but leave it on the sailboat because the buckles are pretty heavy. I use a manually (pull tab) one on the toon and DB. Self inflating is probably better because I know how fast shit can happen.
 

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