Use of kapok in PFD - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 08-01-2007   #1
 
Eagle, Colorado
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Use of kapok in PFD

Does anyone have an opinion on the use of kapok in PFDs? I am looking at the Astral Buoyancy Norge. I am wondering if kapok is better than other flotation materials. Thanks

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Old 08-02-2007   #2
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The nice thing about kapok is that you can refluff it every once in a while to keep its original floatation. Its a natural fiber wrapped in a urethane bladder (in the case of astral), whereas most PFDs use a foam that gradually breaks down over time and loses a pound or two of flotation per year. Its also nice as it conforms to your body a bit better than block of foam do, making them great for long wear times like touring and float trips.
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Old 08-02-2007   #3
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All I know is that if they would have made a Kapok version of the 200 when I bought it earlier this summer I would have purchased that. Just for the more conformable fit.
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Old 08-02-2007   #4
 
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airhead, thanks for your interest in the Norge. To anwer your question, "is kapok better than other flotation materials," we will need to take a look at what 'better' could mean in a PFD...

-Kapok jackets conform "better" than foam as they are built from organic plant fibers (inside a bladder) that can fill the nooks and crannies of your torso.

-Kapok comes from the fruit of the cieba Pentandra tree. It is "better" than producing foam because it gives off no harmful emissions from production (except for burning petroleum during transport) unlike PVC foam which is extremely toxic to produce.

-Foam has a shorter lifespan than Kapok because over time plasicizers and pthalates leach out, making it loose its flotation charachteristics. This is not the case with Kapok and it never looses flotation making it "better"

I hope this helps to answer some of your questions reguarding Kapok. Feel free to check out this blog post on kapok for more Q&A Astral Currently Blog Archive Organic Kapok: A Discussion with Astral’s Founder Philip Curry

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Old 08-02-2007   #5
 
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Wow. That was a good answer. So, are there any drawbacks to kapok?
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Old 08-02-2007   #6
 
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"they are built from organic plant fibers"

So, does that mean that in an extremely dire set of circumstances, you could smoke your life jacket? Brings a whole new meaning to "Personal Flotation Device."

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Old 08-02-2007   #7
 
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What happens when you puncture the urethane bladder? Does the Kapok still float when soaked with water?
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Old 08-03-2007   #8
 
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Raftus, the kapok fiber itself is extremely buoyant as it is made of a waxy tube of encapsulated air (see link above to interview). Kapok jackets would float fine without a bladder but we put it in one to meet USCG requirements. This bladder is super durable and impervious to air, salt, water. extremely puncture resistant, and super tough...I have never tried to smoke Kapok but my guess is that it tastes better than smoking PVC.
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Old 08-05-2007   #9
 
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Thanks for all of the information on kapok fiber. Sounds like the next time I get a new PFD I should try kapok.
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