How often do you replace your PFD? - Mountain Buzz

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Old 05-23-2005   #1
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 16
How often do you replace your PFD?

I've heard that you lose 10% floatation/year. True or marketing BS? I'm thinking 3 seasons is enough and it's time for a change. What say you? With rescue vests $150+, I want to make sure I'm not throwing money away.

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Old 05-23-2005   #2
, MA
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 35
I am starting my 4th season in my jacket, and I use mine everyday during the summer as a raft guide. For our custie jackets we only replace them when they rip. What I would do is look it over and see if the sun has faded any places to a point that it isn't safe. If you store your jacket to where it gets squished that might add to wanting to replace it. That is just thinking of what you can do, I don't know what is supposed to be done though.
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Old 05-23-2005   #3
Golden, Colorado
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 834
I'm paranoid about getting enough float because of a swim I took a while back. This season when I am paddling something new or something big I am wearing a NRS anti-gravity shirt under my PFD. It adds 10 lbs of floatation and a lot of warmth.

It is a bit bulkier than I had hoped but is bearable. It hasn't made me mess up any moves and I haven't missed any rolls while wearing it. It would be a hot pain in the ass for playboating but I'm sold on it for river running.

It wasn't cheap, but when I think about money and my PFD I like to think about that swim and how I would pay a lot of money to never have another one like it.
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Old 05-23-2005   #4
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 130
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.
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Old 05-23-2005   #5
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 305
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 05-24-2005   #6
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Golden, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,890
I'm retiring mine after 2 1/2 years- I think that's about long enough for most PFD's.

When you buy a new one, spray 303 protectant on the fabric to give it some UV protection. Repeat 2X per year or so- that way the fabric won't wear out before the floatation.
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Old 05-24-2005   #7
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 245
hmmm. I just bought an old stohlquist "rescue" vest that I don't even know how old it is? it's blue with daisy chains over both shoulders, and a red 2" webbing with a quick release holding the boat tow and biner, orange "tape" like ribbon for the tow that folds up and stuffs into the sleeve for self deployment when you clip to a boat... sound familiar to any of you old timers?

it still is very solid squishy, and I floated in waterton at the res for fun and it had tons of floatation, like my whole head was out and half my chest!

so by cheyenne's tests, I'm fine, but with all you 2.5 years guys I'm toast!! however, it's gotta be better for me than that damn waterskiing vest I've used for the last four years...

good call on the 303!!
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Old 05-24-2005   #8
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 4
Replacing your PFD

G'Day mate. Look I really think that it gets down to how much flotation you want and the 'rescue readiness' of your jacket. If you are paddling Cataract at 35,000 ( like McGowan and the boys did in 1999) I'd be going with a really new class 5 pfd. If you are running a river or creek where the likelihood of needing to use your jacket for a tethered rescue for instance, is a distinct possibility, then using a badly faded, older pfd is not the answer. When it blows at tension and your rescue is compromised it is no good looking on the bright side and saying 'oh well, at least I saved myself $150. If your jacket is faded and older than 3 seasons, how 'rescue ready' is it? Otherwise just assess where you are paddling at the moment. If it is your local favourite play run that you could comfortably swim the length of because you know it so well then maybe use that pfd for one more season. I use different jackets for different runs. I make a decision and run with it. E.g. I use my Stolquist Ed Lucero on creeks. However, if you only buy one jacket then you are not a real bopater and you can completely disregard everything you have just read- just kidding mate!
Not that I can talk. At the moment I am in Australia, battling away at a teaching degree. Longingly reading about the beautiful snowpack in downtown Colorado, USA.
check you later Druit
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Old 05-25-2005   #9
A-Town!, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1998
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 91
I have always heard that when the text print of all the technical stuff on inside back of the jacket is worn out to the point you cannot read it, then it's time for a new jacket.
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Old 05-25-2005   #10
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Paddling Since: 1994
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,413
the only thing the text print indicator is good for is getting on westy. i have seen jackets with less than 30 days on them have only smeared ink for the text box. they werent faded and they float fine. different companies use different ink or material. ones that print right on the pfd fabric wear out/flake off quick. i have a jacket faded as can be and about ready to be retired that still has text clear as a bell. bottom line is, look for rips/soon to be rips, ultra faded material and test it. i have seen jackets 10 years old float high and 2 yr old jackets that were worthless.
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