Are self-inflating lifevests worth buying?

the_grube

Active Member
I'd say without a doubt wearing any approved vest is better than nothing and the inflatables increase usage so that's a win.

I wear an NRS Chinook and enjoy the extra storage while rowing or riding. Sometimes I keep it on while out of the raft fishing. I attached nippers and hemos to it to encourage keeping it on. The other advantage to a foam unit is that theyn perform well with a rain parka over them. I've heard that inflatables need to be the outermost layer so you need to take it off and back on when you're changing your outer layers?

I do wear an inflatable in summer flows at times... when the river is low and relatively warm.

It's been said before and bears repeating The best pfd is the one the one that you wear all the time on the water. Sometimes the 'foam vest only' crowd are practicing the 'perfect is the enemy of good" fallacy IMO.
 

Peyton00

Active Member
How many on here where a helmet when taking walks or hiking?

Better to wear it and not need it than falling down and bonking your skull without it.
 

hhx

New Member
This a great thread- and a great reminder about safety. I’ll be the first to admit the number of times I’ve waded somewhere dangerous just to get closer to that perfect spot. I recently fished a spillway where people have drowned- I know that I’m going to keep fishing it, the same way I’m going to keep alpine climbing. However, I’m not nearly as well prepared in the river as I am while vertical.

But after reading this thread, I think I’m going to order a Mustang HIT based on some replies, before my next trip. Does anyone have any input regarding comfort under the waders? Thanks to the OP for this thread and for the replies. Take care all.
 

MGTom

Active Member
WFF Supporter
How many on here where a helmet when taking walks or hiking?

Better to wear it and not need it than falling down and bonking your skull without it.
For years I rode a bike without one, but wore one to race. Saw a guy crash and go unconscious even with a lid. Convinced with experience. Yesterday as the nylon and seat on my tube gave out I was sure thinking about a PFD!
 

_WW_

Geriatric Skagit Swinger
WFF Supporter
I love my inflatable, but I’ve disabled the auto inflate. If you’ve ever inflated it, you’ll see that it’s basically a horse collar, behind your neck and up in your chest. Great if you need to keep your face up. Not so great if you need to try to get back in your boat or tube. I figure I can yank it when I need it.

And you guys are right about not using these in moving water. If you’re being swept toward a hazard, you want to be able to swim aggressively, which is hard with an inflatable but easier with foam.
I actually have some experience with this. I was going to run my friends boat through the narrows but had left my vest with my boat down stream. He loaned me his pull type inflatable, but being a cheap sob he blew the thing up so I wouldn't have to burn through a cartridge if anything happened. He blew it up and I shoved off. It was only then that I realized I couldn't turn my head to see the oars or anything else for that matter. My silent prayer was answered because nothing happened. But imagine being in the water, in a neck brace and not being able to turn your head side to side or up and down.

Give me the foam for moving water every time!
 

Greg Armstrong

Active Member
WFF Supporter
@hhx "...But after reading this thread, I think I’m going to order a Mustang HIT based on some replies, before my next trip. Does anyone have any input regarding comfort under the waders? ..."

It's meant to be worn over your waders.
 

hhx

New Member
@hhx "...But after reading this thread, I think I’m going to order a Mustang HIT based on some replies, before my next trip. Does anyone have any input regarding comfort under the waders? ..."

It's meant to be worn over your waders.
Ah- thanks for pointing that out.
 

Coho

Active Member
Thanks for running this and replying. I'm looking for new PFD's for me and the grown ups. I can swim 2.4mi. in an hour in a triathlon, yet in my waders or overboard in cold water I have no illusions, especially if I hit my head. I had been looking foam but I think were going to do self-inflatables as we've agreed were more likely to wear them all the time. Just gonna spend the money and get the good stuff I think.
That’s a pretty good Ironman swim!

Good thread, thanks. I also swim Masters competitions, but have thought that wearing waders in a river could be very sketchy. Good reminder for me to get one of these.

Mustang is the consensus choice?
 

troutpocket

Active Member
I certainly recommend a Mustang hydrostatic type self inflator for lakes. But I will also look at foam options for rivers. I keep a couple basic foam vests in my boat for guests. It makes good sense to have the best option for each - as its been stated, we should get something that we will use.
 

dustinchromers

Active Member
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!
Another positive vote for the Mustang. I bought it for offshore use but have employed it elsewhere doing semi sketchy things in boats. It's so small I hardly know it's there so why not?
 

roadglideguy

Active Member
LOL I live on Vancouver Island..we get lots and lots of rain...I have also flipped in my SUP fishing kayak and it self inflated perfectly...it is not just the water I believe it requires a certain change in pressure not just water. When I was laying on kayak it did not go off when It was vertical and it was submerged it did! then you just replace the unit!
 

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