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Old 07-24-2011   #11
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 504
Hey Bruce, there aren't many vests out there with more than 16 lbs of flotation (at least not from the NRS catalog). I've also heard that excess flotation can translate into hole bait.

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Old 07-24-2011   #12
Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 35
They do lose boyancy, upgrade if unsure. Took a monster swim in Double Trouble to find that out.

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Old 07-24-2011   #13
BruceB's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 170
NRS has three under the NRS brand (Big Water Guide, Big Water V and Rapid Rescuer). All have 22 or 25 lbs floatation. Extrasport makes four or five and there are some other companies out there.

The hole bait thing is interesting. Anyone have firsthand experience being hole bait bacause of a high floatation pfd?
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Old 07-24-2011   #14
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 1,136
I used my two nephews this weekend to check the buoyancy of my old PFDs.
Still have two nephews, so all is good.

I've wanted a high buoyancy, but all the ones I've tried on were very ackward.
Would not want to buy one online.
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Old 07-25-2011   #15
thornton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1969
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 600
Originally Posted by tanderson View Post
A raft store employee told me that PFD's lose buoancy over time. I have both new and old pfds and the old one seems to provide great floation.

Is this true? Does age take its toll on them??? I have four that are about 15 years old.

We called them sinkers. I don't know how long a pfd is good for but I can tell you how to treat your pfd. Do not use your pfd as a seat , do not use them as packing materal when loading your rafting equipment, do not put anything heavy'er than a pillow on them and load them last. Treat them like your life depends on them. The only way to know a 100% is to test them and not by just looking at them. I had a passenger jump into the river to cool off and she went right to the bottom of the river and never poped up like the rest of the passengers. Good thing I was watching, I had to remove my pfd to dive down to rescue her because the flotation of my pfd would not allow me to go deep enough to grab her.
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Old 07-25-2011   #16
Ed Hansen's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 331
There seem to be two camps here.

In one corner: "My 50 year-old pfd is a family heirloom and with it, I am invincible!"

And in the other corner: "Toss it after 3 years if it just smells funny!"
"So in two seconds, away we went, a sliding down the river, and it did seem so good to be free again and all by ourselves on the big river and nobody to bother us." -Mark Twain (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
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Old 07-25-2011   #17
BruceB's Avatar
Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 170
Shit, I hope I didn't come off as invincible! I was just thinking about replacing all my pfd's when this thread came up. But no need, the fabric is in good shpae and they still have lots of floatation. I was very surprised.

Only issue is the "senior" gentleman at Westwater Ranger Station won't let you in if the "Class III" or "Class V" marking is worn off. He has mellowed over time, however.

Which camp are you joining Ed?
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Old 07-27-2011   #18
sealion's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 131
The wearing off of the coast guard lettering is state regs, not personal preferences. If you think he's bad, try the lee's ferry rangers. A jacket looking funny is enough to get the axe.
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Old 07-27-2011   #19
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Right near the beach...BOYEEEEE, Brahbrobrahdo
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 442
Wanted to clear something up...

Jackets are rated by TYPE and not by any sort of "class" rating.

Type III would be the most popular and Type V would be special use jackets like Rescue Jackets and the kind most commercial outfitters use that has the neck pillow.

Think of it this way...there are no rapids on the open seas.
Wear shoes in the Safety first, then teamwork.
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Old 07-27-2011   #20
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
I've talked to a guy who stripped even his Whitewater-grade PFD (16-17lb I guess) off in order to swim out of a rapid that he couldn't get out of; he was being dunked under the surface repeatedly and would have drowned. Not sure if that was the best solution, but it worked. I've since read about similar stories where the PFD had to go.

Hope I never see the day when I have to make that choice. I have thought about getting a bigger PFD though. It's a conundrum.

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