Grand Canyon ... Life Jacket Question - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 08-04-2008   #1
 
Carbondale, 81623
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Grand Canyon ... Life Jacket Question

Heading to the Grand with a private group in a few weeks and wanted to be sure my girlfriend and I had the safest life jackets for the journey.

Spoke to NRS today and was recommended these possibilities ... NRS Big Water V (25 lbs float), Extrasport UT5 Gorge (25 lbs float) and the Extrasport B22 (25 lbs float) .

She likes the NRS Hustle (16.5 lbs float) and I'd like to go with the NRS Groove (16.5 lbs float) but not sure if it has the float to be safe in the Grand's big water.

One other thing that was thrown into the puzzle was too much float can hold you on top and possibly keep you in the big holes as opposed to getting pushed out underneath.

Just trying to stay safe so any suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated.

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Old 08-04-2008   #2
 
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Buena Vista, Colorado
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How much do you weigh?

Depending on your weight, would help decide. I weigh in at 140 and prefer the smaller pfds for the range of motion and 16lbs of flotation is plenty for me. If you weigh in @ 180 give or take, you might want the bigger pfds.

Also go try them on in your gear and see if they feel too big or not.
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Old 08-04-2008   #3
 
Carbondale, 81623
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hi snowhere
i am around 160 and libby is in the low 100's ... have you heard anything about too much floatation causing problems other than the discomfort of bulk? by the way ... we are planning on running browns this weekend, how's the level?
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Old 08-04-2008   #4
 
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Grand Dysfunction, West Slope, Colorado
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Fully agree with snowhere on the weight...

The deal is your weight versus the floatation capacity of your PFD. I had to rescue one 220lb guy in a 16lb floatation device and he looked VEERRY unhappy.

When a person with too low of a pfd lbs hits the water, you hardly see them when trying to rescue them. Good luck with the throwbag. They are mostly under water, and only their helmet surfaces past the crest of the wave, so rescue is very hard, never mind the swim for said person. If you like to swim, and swim lots anyway, go for the smaller one, you'll love it.

If you like to be happy and healthy and like to get rescued earlier or self-rescue in your swim, always opt for more floatation than available. You win.

Have noticed on rescues that the eyes get LARGER on a swim the smaller the pfd is, comparatively to the weight of the swimmer. If more than 175, definitively go for the 25lbs, but even at 160, your entire torso will be out of the water with the larger one. No love lost on the larger one, and nowadays they are actually comfortable!

Ask around...

d
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Old 08-05-2008   #5
 
Carbondale, 81623
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we both very much enjoy the water but at the time we may be in it and considering the size of the water in store for us i like the short swim/quick self rescue (happy and healthy) scenario ... thanks for the info!
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Old 08-05-2008   #6
 
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Even with what was said above, for Libby I would stick with the 16.5 pfd. I have been in large holes both in my boats and as a swimmer and have had less of a ride because I was flushed out immediately. I guess a lot depends on how comfortable in water you are. I swam and dove competitively for all my life through college, so the water does not scare me.

I still think the best thing Libby can do is try them on and see how it fits. The one thing I have seen repeatedly is those above 150 lbs have no idea how stuff fits and works for those of us on the smaller side. I have taken my 28 gallon squirt boat through class V and no hole would keep me. The creekers were being flipped and retained and I was mystery moving through anything. I am positive that I would be lost in 25 lb pfd and doubt I could even get it tight enough to be safe. But you never know until you try, so don't buy one with out trying it on. The worst thing that would happen is you would find it to big and unsafe and be scrabbling for a replacement.
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Old 08-05-2008   #7
CGM
 
Denver, Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreenTV View Post
One other thing that was thrown into the puzzle was too much float can hold you on top and possibly keep you in the big holes as opposed to getting pushed out underneath.

Just trying to stay safe so any suggestions or thoughts would be appreciated.
There are no holes on the Grand that are going to hold you if you are out of the boat. Maybe the top hole at lava. There may be a few others that I am forgetting, but I would not be concerned about having too much floatation for this reason. Besides, with 7k - 15k of water, if you do swim through a big pourover, my feeling is that 9 or 10 lbs of extra flotation will be like the proverbial drop in a bucket when it comes to getting body recirc'ed. Based on the weight ranges you've listed, I would say 16.5 is fine, and probably more comfortable, especially if you are the one rowing into the wind. As mentioned just try some on and see what feels best.
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Old 08-05-2008   #8
 
Buena Vista, Colorado
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The Astral V Eight is another choice worth considering. It is considered a breathable PFD, and is specifically build for very hot environments. Safety is a big issue, but comfort and dehydration is too. Astral makes BOMBER jackets (built next door to the Green River, NC), in fact the V Eight works unzipped, with just the waist belt buckled (good for the flats). Another thing that I like about Astral, is that they are contoured for the body (better than other brands) and fit very well. Just an idea.
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Old 08-05-2008   #9
 
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Littleton, Colorado
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Lee's orientation

Good fortune prevailed and we were able to draw permits last year and this. Knowing that the ranger at Lee's would go through each of the PFDs - we made sure that we had coast guard approved and writing legible ratings (some well-used PFDs get rejected because the ratings are not legible).

The ranger told us that there was an insignificant difference in type 3 and 5 regarding floating upright and floatation - dismissed the idea that the type 5 had any benefit other than to protect one's ass in bottom bumping in the swim in the Little Colorado. The ranger suggested that there was formal analysis, but we didn't want to stick around Lee's discussing pfds.

Having been involved in swiftwater rescue - there was an old school concept called "drown proofing" - having people swim in the river to get the feel for the water. Honestly, the river is such a force, but having a sense of water, options and a cool head combine for a real advantage. And speaking of a cool head, swim much in the Colorado and your head will certainly be cool.

It is a good idea to have a rescue plan for swimmers, flippers - just in case. It is very helpful to have a communications/protocol plan together prior to someone going for a swim.

Hope this helps.
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Old 08-05-2008   #10
 
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CGM is right, the holes are not the problem. The problem is the cold water, as it will tax your energy and ability to stay above water incredibly quickly. A high float will help you stay up, and in a breathable zone, much easier and for a longer period.

go with the high float type PFD. But remember, you will be wearing it for 3 weeks, it's got to be comfortable.
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