Are self-inflating lifevests worth buying?

kmudgn

Active Member
I saw this thread and have two questions:
1. Can you wear under fishing vest comfortably
2. Are they hot (don't breath, like wearing pvc jactket, etc.)
 

troutpocket

Active Member
@kmudgn
1. An Inflatable life jacket needs to be worn outside of all other layers. Not really compatible with a fishing vest.

2. I wear mine all summer fishing central WA lakes. I also take steps to keep cool and hydrated. I think my inflatable is much more comfortable vs foam in hot weather.
 
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the_grube

Active Member
@kmudgn
1. An Inflatable life jacket needs to be worn outside of all other layers.....

This is why I won't wear them in winter. Too much shedding and dawning of layers in winter, and I get lazy and throw my parka over the inflatable. They make sense in summer time when flows are low, water temps are high and I'm only wearing spf protection clothes.
 

Yardus Maximus

WFF Supporter
While fish Bobby many years ago I slipped of the front of my pontoon when my foot fell of the peg. It probable wouldn't have been that much of an issue except that the day earlier I notice that my breathable waders had a small leak so I switched to my winter 5mil boot foot Hodgman's. Those suckers dragged me right to the bottom in an instant. Thankfully I was in 5' of water and I was able to grab hold of the boat on the way down. If it was in 8'+ of water, the odds of surviving were not very good. Learned two important lessons that day. One don't ever ware boot foot neoprene in a lake and two if your not waring a PFD in your chances of grabbing it in an emergency are not good.

2nd the Mustang
 

Rogue Fanatic

Active Member
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!
THIS is true. Now, I am a poor swimmer and need no additional weight when diving to become negative so when I noticed that Mustang had 22# of buoyancy vs. 12-15# for foam, I said GREAT. And then I decided that I would pull the tab to see what it was like so I would not discover this for the first time during an emergency situation. As I noted above, 22# is LOT of buoyancy, especially when it is around your neck and not your chest. I could not turn. I could not swim or do more than flail around like a beetle on it's back. I was not going to get back into any boat or even make it to shore. SO. It will keep you afloat but you aren't going very far once deployed. If you have access to a nice, safe spot and you use inflatable PFDs, consider trying it out.
 

Krusty

Outta Here
None of them are much good in cold water for more than aiding body recovery. Aquatic hypothermia is fast. Prime season is right now, with warm air temps and cold runoff.
 
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PhilR

Active Member
None of them are much good in cold water for more than aiding body recovery. Aquatic hypothermia is fast.

This is not correct. Two things happen when you go in cold water. First is the gasp reflex, where you gasp and pant for a minute or so. If you inhale some water due to the gasp reflex, the life jacket will keep your head above water while you are coughing, choking, and trying to clear your airway. Without it, it's easy to quickly drown. Second, your swimming muscles become too weak to keep your head above water long before core hypothermia sets in, so you're awake and alive while you slip beneath the surface.

If you check out the linked video, they talk about 1-10-1. One minute to get your breathing under control, 10 minutes of meaningful movement, and one hour before you become unconscious due to hypothermia.
 

Krusty

Outta Here
This is just not correct, and dangerous advice. Two things happen when you go in cold water. First is the gasp reflex, where you gasp and pant for a minute or so. If you inhale some water due to the gasp reflex, the life jacket will keep your head above water while you are coughing, choking, and trying to clear your airway. Without it, it's easy to quickly drown. Second, your swimming muscles become too weak to keep your head above water long before core hypothermia sets in, so you're awake and alive while you slip beneath the surface.

If you check out the linked video, they talk about 1-10-1. One minute to get your breathing under control, 10 minutes of meaningful movement, and one hour before you become unconscious due to hypothermia.
Note that I didn't say wearing a pfd was worthless...it's critical, but don't think it alone will save you in spring run-off temps. You'll rapidly lose your ability to navigate to safety without a drysuit or heavy neoprene.
 

PhilR

Active Member
Krusty, it was the body recovery only comment that I was responding to. However, I think we're in agreement that a pfd is a critical part of a safety plan, including appropriate clothing and not going alone where self-rescue will be difficult or impossible, etc.
 

EHB86

Active Member
I've used Mustang inflatables for a long time and really like them. They're comfortable and much less cumbersome than foam as has been mentioned. They are much more effective and easier to swim in with the addition of a simple strap from the front of the vest to the rear of the vest, through your crotch area. This will keep the vest from slipping up around your neck or even off your shoulders. May have been mentioned but I didn't see it.

They are made commercially of course, or just a sail tie adapted will work fine.
 

Kilchis

WFF Supporter
I saw this thread and have two questions:
1. Can you wear under fishing vest comfortably
2. Are they hot (don't breath, like wearing pvc jactket, etc.)

Krusty in answer to your second question I would say no. They are shaped something like a horse collar, draped across the back of your neck and part way down your front. They really don't cover much surface on your bod. I can truthfully say that three minutes after I have mine on I forget that it's there.

When I am tubing or on a pontoon in cold weather I wear an NRS Chinook PFD. It's not an inflatable but hold my body heat in much better than my inflatables.
 

tippet

hardcore flyfishing addict
These are very insightful comments! Thank you all for helping me and so many others to make an informed decision regarding the appropriate PFD to wear and ideas on how to wear it (through the crotch strap).
 

GAT

Dumbfounded
Thank you all for sharing your experience and insights! It was exactly what I needed to feel comfortable about going forward with getting one.
Good call. I found this thread late or I would have mentioned earlier that I know someone who wouldn't be here today if he wasn't wearing a self inflating vest.

Many years ago he was floating down the Willamette in a pontoon boat during the MB hatch. He was swept into a snag and the boat flipped. He woke up on a gravel bar downstream from the snag.

He didn't remember what happened after the boat flipped. He didn't even remember being submerged in the river. If he vest wouldn't have automatically inflated and he drifted to the gravel bar he would not be here today.

I don't us an automatic inflating vest but I primarily fish stillwaters. If I used a pontoon boat on a river there is no doubt I'd invest in a self inflating vest.
 

Jim M-glass guy

Active Member
Just visiting Outdoor Emporium ad on their sale and they are having a $25.00 off Mustang PFD in the sale until gone or 6/14. FYI . Maybe I have their name wrong but down by the stadiums and also in Fife.
 

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