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Old 07-22-2011   #1
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 337
PFD buoyancy loss over time????

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.


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Old 07-22-2011   #2
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
Thanks for bringing this up. I hadn't thought much on it but that's an important question. In searching for the answer, I found this practical advice on the matter:

Originally Posted by Cheyenne View Post
The rule of thumb that I have heard is:

in a deep quiet pool "stand" vertically. If your nose is under water it's time for a new PFD.

Another way would be... if you start feeling uncomfortable with the PFD (i.e. it's nagging you) -- retire it and get a new one.

Originally Posted by rasdoggy View Post
I was told by a coast gaurd that if your PFD doesnt float you at chin level you need a one with more floatation.


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Old 07-22-2011   #3
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 337
Great advice. Thanks.
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Old 07-22-2011   #4
Lakewood, Colorado
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 504
Here is the very helpful response I got from Astral when I asked how often a PFD should be replaced. Note the part where they replace foam in their PFDs for free.

Hi Josh!

This is a great question! We recommend approximately 300 days on the water, or 5 years; whichever comes first. At this time it might be good to examine your jacket to see what kind of shape it is in. If you feel that it could use some new foam, please contact us and we will re-stuff the jacket for only a $12 return shipping charge. At this point you may be able to get another season out of it.

You will want to make sure to check the outer shell of the jacket, for any spots that have been/are beginning to wear out. To maximize the life of your PFD, try out some of the care tips below that we recommend:

-Do your best to thoroughly dry your jacket after use
-Do not keep you jacket in direct sun for long periods of time
-Avoid unnecessary compression of your PFDlike cramming it into a small storage container when you are not using it.
-Do not store the jacket in extremely cold or hot spaces
-You can scrub some of the dirt out of the shell by using a small nylon bristle brush and some gentle detergent. Rinse the jacket and hang to dry.
I hope this information is helpful! But if you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask!

Thank you,
-Margie Matthai

Astral Buoyancy Company
895 Broadway St.
Asheville, NC 28804
P: 828.255.2638 ext. 306
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Old 07-22-2011   #5
Salt Lake City, Utah
Paddling Since: 2008
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 337
I have a hard time listening to any outdoor company counseling on the lifetime of products in which it sells. Far too many people listen to them and shell out more money only to find out that the "old timers" are still using their "tried and true" equipment from back in the day.

Over the years, I've found that some of the best equipment I have is over a decade old. I guess the outdoor industry needs food to grow.

from the town where the giant outdoor geek festival is.....SLC
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Old 07-23-2011   #6
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: '05
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 394
Individually packaged Rice Krispee Treats will provide the additional flotation you need man. Just throw them in your pockets.
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Old 07-23-2011   #7
Plunk your magic twanger!
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New Castle, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1999
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Posts: 1,105
By "buoyancy" I think the employee meant "style". Update that shit!
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Old 07-23-2011   #8
Avatard's Avatar
portland, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 2,188
My PFD buoyancy loss has been offset by my additional PBR buoyancy gains. Reason #123 not to go on that diet. A good PFD is expensive!!
Hey, if you want me to take a dump in a box and mark it "guaranteed", I will. I got spare time.
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Old 07-23-2011   #9
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
I bought a lotus in 2000 - by summer of '06 I sunk when wearing it (to be fair I had 500+ river days in that span). Bought a new jacket mid season, it's now in it's fifth season and still works - but i am floating a bit lower in it.
The interesting thing is that if you don't swim often, and you are usually in cold rivers you may not notice a loss of buoyancy - mostly because you don't float in the river very often, if ever. I didn't notice my first jacket had lost buoyancy until I was in Tennessee for a wedding and was floating in the Ocoee to cool off after guiding a private trip. I jumped in, sunk, and didn't float up. Swam up and found that I could just sink back below the surface without swimming. Worth checking if your jacket is a bit older.
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Old 07-24-2011   #10
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Fort Collins, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jun 2010
Posts: 170
Been curious about this all season so I just weighted some of my old America's cup pfd's to see how much they would still float. A standard model from 1988 floated about 30lbs and the Ultrafloat version I normally wear, from 1992, floated 34 lbs! Those vests were rated at 22 and 25 lbs. Too bad America's Cup is out of business.

Also not sure why so many people are wearing pfd's with only 16lbs of floatation in the places many of us choose to boat. Do yourselves a favor and get something with 20lbs + next time.

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