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Old 06-06-2016   #1
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 130
Extrasport PFD repair

So, on my recent Grand trip, the zipper pull on my Extrasport B-27 HiFloat PFD broke; the plastic just snapped. Maybe not such a big deal, but when you put tension on the zipper pull, it actually presses against a little piece of spring steel inside the slider, and that allows the slider to actually slide. (Maybe most zippers are like this, and I only just not learned it Anyhow, I was able to re-purpose a paper-clip, and keep the thing functional. Lord forbid I'd been taking the PFD on or off while on the water (to quickly change shirts, or the like).

I called Extrasport, and they flatly state that the thing cannot be repaired, because it would "violate Coast Guard regulations", or some such. How convenient for them. If it were less than a year (or was in 3 years) old, perhaps I could get a replacement under warranty.

So, am I really SOL ? It seems like perhaps I could get a zipper pull off a similar PFD that's been retired and install it on mine (I'm not sure how, but I imagine it's simple, if not for me, then for someone who knows sewing). I'd appreciate advice.

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Old 06-06-2016   #2
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,929
I imagine you might be able to get a local shop to fix the zipper as they often do that for tents and other items. But from what I understand that makes the PFD out of code, as ExtraSport highlighted, and therefor not usable on rivers that require the certification. Places like GCNP check for modifications thoroughly but others do not. I know the Main Salmon ranger has never checked ours; places like Deso are hit and miss.

Ultimately, for a life saving device, I would just consider retiring it. My Extrasport did the same thing and was denied on the Grand our first trip. The zipper is a critical component of the PFD and I would not risk the potential harm an alteration could do to the structural integrity of the device. I am also fairly certain that style of plastic zipper cannot be dismantled in the same way as ones like tents without needs a completely new, sewn in zipper but an expert would know better.

As a heads up, I can't find the B27 listed in the Extrasport literature after 2002. If that is accurate than it is at least 13 years old since manufacturing and well past what most companies and experts recommend for the life of a PFD. Sadly synthetic technical fabrics have a shelf life when it comes to their function and integrity.


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Old 06-06-2016   #3
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 130
Yeah, I imagine a local shop could do the work, but only if they had that specific slider piece; that would probably have to come from a defunct HiFloat, which I imagine there are many around (on my recent trip, I was THE only person with one, yet they used to be everywhere). If a good repair job is done, I doubt a ranger would notice it, and it the job isn't done well enough for that, I wouldn't want to depend on it. Yeah, it's a critical piece of safety gear, but I don't see how installing a new slider on a zipper is rocket-science (unless you're correct that it really can't be dismantled).

P.S. You probably know this, but maybe the Main Salmon ranger didn't check yours, because apparently Idaho rivers don't require you to even wear a PFD. Which seems not to jibe with the GCNP rangers' statement that the reason they require those stupid throw cushions is because the USCG has jurisdiction over all waterways in the US, and they want to keep 'em happy so they don't step in and say "we're in charge of your river now".
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Old 06-06-2016   #4
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Paddling Since: 2011
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 130
Originally Posted by restrac2000 View Post
As a heads up, I can't find the B27 listed in the Extrasport literature after 2002. If that is accurate than it is at least 13 years old ...
I bought mine in 2009 from REI (for half-price though). It still seems to be in really good shape; no flaking letters and such). I've used it for six trips (of 6, 16, 16, 8, 8, and 20 days duration); not sure how "old" 74 days of use is considered to be, but I'm imagining not all that much.
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Old 06-06-2016   #5
cedar city, Utah
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 1,929
I remember the Idaho folks being lenient but forgot they don't even require PFDs. I kinds like that approach and just let people be responsible for themselves except for issues that affect the environment. Will be interesting to see the NPS's approach at Dinosaur next week. Each of the unit's has a different approach to risk management, some more laissez (Cascades) more authoritarian (Zion) but I am less familiar with USCG relationships. I am obviously conservative with PFDs so I never questioned their logic at GCNP.

I prefer my newer PFD but the HiFloat was the first jacket I owned and holds a special place in memories those first years.

best of luck,

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Old 06-06-2016   #6
Steamboat, Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2014
Posts: 582
Regulation-wise, maybe it would be best to retire the PFD and/or just use it as a backup for the less regulated rivers.

I've used old key rings to fix broken zippers. Same idea as the paperclip, but a little more efficient and less likely to fall off.
It's a good day to be a duck....
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Old 06-06-2016   #7
caverdan's Avatar
C. Springs, Colorado
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 1,443
What you got there a loaner. It could also double as a 20# propane bottle protector/ coozy. Next time you go on a permitted river'll need a new life jacket.
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Old 06-06-2016   #8
Randaddy's Avatar
Eastern Slope, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1980
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,404
Boulder Mountain Repair in Boulder fixed a zipper pull on a shell for me. It sounds like the same problem. Not sure if they would do a PFD or not - it really is a USCG thing. Shipping plus the repair would probably be $40+. You could buy a zipper pull and do it yourself easily. Just look on the zipper and then on Amazon.

The rule for PFD life is 300 days or 5 years, whichever comes first, unless you're a poor river guide that never swims and then it's whichever comes second.

I think you should fix it yourself, inspect everything else on it, make sure it floats, and keep using it until you find a good deal on a replacement.

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