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Old 02-18-2011   #21
Boise, Idaho
Join Date: Aug 2010
Posts: 505
Well, I guess I was presupposing that someone would be able to engineer material that increases the buoyancy without dramatically increasing the size of the Pfd.

But perhaps that's where engineers are stuck right now: this is the best we have without increasing weight or volume.

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Old 02-18-2011   #22
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
I also kind of need to make up my mind with my next PFD.

My Stohlquist Wedge E has been more than adequate for my own paddling, with nearly 17lbs of buoyancy, but I am going to take a Swiftwater rescue class come May, and of course I have to bring my own equipment for that.

One thing I want in my next PFD is rib and spine protection. Might as well go with something that can do both, right?

Edit: I guess there's this patented thing called "Flotection" that at least Astral uses in some PFDs.

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Old 02-18-2011   #23
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Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,032
This is the most edifying experience I've had since watching Sesame Street. Big thanks to Jeremy for asking such an awesome question. So fat does float...

Does anybody know if that buoyancy add-on deal would fit in the Astral jackets? If that thing gives you 5 extra lbs of flotation, then why not just strap on some kid floaties to the arms and legs?

Makes me wonder how much you notice a little extra floatation. I remember some people saying they felt like their Stohlquist floated them way higher than the Astral, but looking at the specs there's only a difference of 1/4 lb. Is a 1/4 lb noticeable?

Why not have more buoyancy? I'm just speculating, but besides the problem with the jacket becoming bulky, maybe swimming becomes more difficult. Also, some of these jackets claim it keeps you higher up in a hole to get air. I'm not sure if that's really true, but supposing it is, that may be a disadvantage as I sure want to go deep in a hole.

I guess if a gallon of water exerts an 8 lb force, then a 50 gallon boat has a 400 lb buoyancy rating. The 22 lb life jacket probably isn't going to do much good in that whirlpool, but I'll take everything I can get in a big water swim.

Oh, and the Astral rib/spine protection thing is pure marketing. Taping some duct tape to flare out from the ends of your jacket would give you about the same level of protection.

Ture, I think you accidentally forgot to add me to the invite for your Grand Canyon trip - but it's cool, just add me onto your e-mails.
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Old 02-18-2011   #24
Littleton, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2010
Join Date: Jul 2010
Posts: 350
So far, I found 2 options for a Rescue PFD with back/spine and side/rib protection.

Kokatat Ronin Pro Kayak Rescue Lifejacket
Astral Greenjacket

I am leaning towards the Kokatat because the Quick release looks like it's easier to reach, being more towards the front. Will use with an NRS anti-gravity methinks.
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Old 02-18-2011   #25
Gumbydamnit's Avatar
DURANGO, 81301
Paddling Since: 2005
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 144
"A Type five (or "V") jacket usually has at least as much floatation as a Type I, and more than any of the other categories. Type V's are specialized vests that almost always have a floatation collar if they are intended for river use. There are oddball inflatable, spelunking, and special military lifejackets that may also be rated type V but you won't see them on paddling websites. NRS's Astral vest and one or two other kayak jackets are exceptions to the "high floatation" rule, though we are not sure how these got the type V Coast Guard stamp as they are configured. And if you show up wearing one like this at Lee's Ferry for a Canyon raft trip, you may have problems."

I found this info on some web site, and was wondering if anyone was questioned about their pfd at Lee's Ferry, and if so what happened? If it says it's a class V they have to except it. Right?
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Old 02-18-2011   #26
Buena Vista, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1985
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 88
Gumby, not sure where you found that information but my previous post is based on the actual USCG regulations and definitions.

The key point is: USCG Type V is approved for the activity in which the boat is being used and typically range from 15.5 lbs. and up.

If you have a Type V approved for whitewater use the NPS Ranger's will not have a problem with it. I think it would be safe to assume that if you want to try and get cute by showing up at Lee's Ferry with a Type V Hybrid Inflatable Vest, boardsailing vest, deck suit, etc you'll be asking for a problems and will lose whatever argument you're trying to engage in.
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Old 02-18-2011   #27
Dipshit with the most.
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Bellevue, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1991
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 2,497
In certain kinds of holes you don't want more flotation, but for most things it's alright.

I personally can't stand any of them with the 'pillow'. All it does is blow up into your face when you look back upstream. Cuz that is when you turn your back to downstream and.....whap. Of course the wind is always blowing upstream.

The other thing I will say is don't add anything to your vest. A needle and thread cannot be applied to any life jacket or it makes it unseaworthy. According to NPS who are charged with protecting the public from themselves.

On our trip we had a pile of about 40 pfds and we barely got enough to have one for each person and a spare for each raft. They would see one tiny frayed seam - not coming apart, just a tiny fray. Rejected.

Letters gone off the USCG ratings part on inside back of the pfd. Rejected.

Hand sewn knife tab. Rejected.

Pretty ridiculous.

Go try some on if you can and get the most comfy over 20lb jacket you can find.
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Old 02-18-2011   #28
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Nampa, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 240
The disadvantage to more flotation is it makes it more difficult to swim.. Maybe not on a large river like the Grand Canyon, but on the majority of the whitewater I paddle if I swim, I want to be proactively and aggressively swimming towards a destination (the shore, my craft, another boater, an eddy..) Having more flotation is not always a good thing, but for many people and situations, it can be a lifesaver.

It's certainly a trade-off. A low flotation vest and you can Michael Phelps it to safety. A high floatation vest and you can stay high on the surface and avoid getting sucked down in whirlpools and eddylines.

I use the NRS Anti-Gravity shirt under my Astral Greenjacket during high water runoff. It adds an extra few pounds of flotation without drastically affecting my freedom . My only complaint, the thing is not comfortable. It definitely chafes under the arms. With that being said, I still use it sometimes when I feel it's worth the discomfort. I might be mistaken but I heard NRS no longer makes them.

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