Newbie guide to PFDs... - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 01-21-2015   #1
 
Gardnerville, Nevada
Join Date: Dec 2014
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Newbie guide to PFDs...

I've been fishing, boating, and waterskiing for years. I own several life jackets.

My question is: Is there any major difference in whitewater PFDs? Am I risking life and limb if I'm wearing a standard ski vest vs. a vest made specifically for whitewater rafting?

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Old 01-21-2015   #2
 
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Cave Creek, Arizona
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I am no expert, but as long as the vest is rated lll or higher you should be fine. Class V PFD's are more set up for rescue, so if you are running big whitewater you may want to go with one of those. Another thing to think about is comfort. A PFD you use on a motor boat, might not have the same comfort level as one in whitewater. When you are rowing/paddling, you may want more room for arm movement.
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Old 01-21-2015   #3
 
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Vail, CO
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Life Jackets are not rated by "class" they are rated by "type". Ski jackets are not accepted for river use. If it is a permitted river, you run the risk of not being allowed to launch. In other situations, you run the risk of a fine, but most likely a warning from the Ranger.

FYI - Type III is accepted on all rivers. Type V is specialty use and also accepted on all rivers.
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Old 01-21-2015   #4
 
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Cave Creek, Arizona
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brotorboat View Post
Life Jackets are not rated by "class" they are rated by "type". Ski jackets are not accepted for river use. If it is a permitted river, you run the risk of not being allowed to launch. In other situations, you run the risk of a fine, but most likely a warning from the Ranger.

FYI - Type III is accepted on all rivers. Type V is specialty use and also accepted on all rivers.
Type is correct. Sorry for screwing that up.
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Old 01-21-2015   #5
 
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Belgrade, Montana
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brotorboat View Post
....Ski jackets are not accepted for river use.
That is not really true. Some stretches/areas, maybe even states may require that the intended use be rafting/canoeing/kayaking (however it reads) but many make no intended use stipulations.

I'm not arguing that one shouldn't get an appropriate jacket for you use, just saying it's not required everywhere (or even most places for that matter, the GC is the only one I know of, but I'm sure there is more...)

FWIW here in Montana your are required to have a type III or V for every adult, kids under 13 (I think, maybe it's 12) are required to wear them...but here is the kicker for many. Type V only count if they're worn!

As already noted: even if legal, you'll probably find that sitting in a Kayak or rowing a boat with a ski vest may not be all that comfy.
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Old 01-21-2015   #6
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Boise, Idaho
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Also as Type III are allowed, Along with Type V - it should be known that the specialty rating of a Type V means that the PFD *HAS* to be worn while on the river, a type III just has to be on-board. So if you're floating the lower salmon and want to take your vest off on the snake. You're kind of out of luck wearing a Type V (unless you don't mind risking the ticket if you are to be stopped and checked)

This is all per the USCG. Results may vary with NPS, NFS, BLM, etc.
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Old 01-21-2015   #7
 
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Salida, Colorado
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I'm confused about the type V having to be worn on the river. I guess I've never come across anything that treated a V different from a III as it may pertain to a regulation. Last fall we had my old type V (Astral Green Jkt) as one of our spares on the Grand. The ranger was very thorough and checked it out and said it was good to go as one of the listed spares.

Back on topic, I would sure steer clear of a ski jacket on the river. It will never get down as tight as a whitewater pfd so it would be much more liable to slip off if you're ever being pulled back into a raft. Also, I don't think it would be as agreeable to swim whitewater with as well.
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Old 01-21-2015   #8
 
Montrose, Colorado
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Go to NRS and get a whitewater PFD. Here is a quick sample of the regulations for a few rivers.

Westwater: Must have properly-sized (whitewater type I, III, or V) life jackets in serviceable condition for each member of the group. A life jacket is non-serviceable if it is of an improper size, missing legible US Coast Guard approval information, is an improper type for the activity, an after-market alteration has been made, or if the life jacket is ripped, torn, or missing straps or buckles. Ski vests are not appropriate. Carrying a spare life jacket is not required.

Deso-Gray: Must have a properly-sized Type I, III, or V Personal Floatation Device (PFD) (approved on the label for paddling, whitewater, kayaking) for each member of the party.

Grand Canyon is notoriously strict and will look for any small rips, tears, fraying etc when inspecting a PFD.
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Old 01-21-2015   #9
 
Gardnerville, Nevada
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I'm well versed in the "types". A "Type II" isn't necessary better or worse than a "Type III", they're just different. Type III is a typical vest, Type V is a rescue vest, but Type IV isn't a vest at all, it's a throwable, so there isn't a natural progression that higher types are better. That's why they're types, not classes.
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Old 01-21-2015   #10
 
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C. Springs, Colorado
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They make good loaner vests in Browns Canyon for the inlaws and X's.
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