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Discussion Starter #1
I'm just sayin. isn't it the swift water rescue knowledge that's important and not whether i'm sportin an Astral Greenjacket on the north fork?

i'm already signed up for swiftwater rescue course. And i see the handiness (hell the need) of a ring on the back of my pfd, good sturdy sewing to keep it where it should be, and a cowtail if needed.

mainly i just wonder if all the hype is worth it. In the backcountry ski scene, a level head and preparation for emergencies wins out over an avalanche airbag pack any day of the week.

need some experienced advice, gals and guys.

i'll listen most to those giving level headed words not armchair rescue boaters. this ain't my first rodeo, maggots.

(TGR reference for those who know the brobrah factor over that way).

cheers, and may the flow be with you, fellow Jedi
 

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I would say that the stuff in your head is way more useful than the stuff on your vest. The releasable ring (and cowtail at times) is useful in a few different situations, and the storage is handy, but no, certainly not required. I have no plan to clip a swamped boat with the cowtail, at least not on any serious water (maybe helping new people gather stuff at the playpark?). It is pretty sweet for ferrying an emptied boat across the river to get it on the same side as a swimmer. Detachable ring is essential for any rescue technique involving a rope attached to the rescuer. I know some people spread their pin kit among the pockets, but I'd rather keep it all together in the boat. Take the class, then decide. There will probably be plenty at the class to borrow for practice that requires it, then you can decide the worth afterword.

In no way does the rescue vest (or pin kit for that matter) equate to the beacon/probe/shovel- there is plenty to do in a river rescue without the "stuff". If someone is buried in an avy, without some locator tools, you're pretty much just playing in the snow near a dead guy.
 

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Rescue vests are overkill in my opinion. For a "live bait" type rescue, I have used a throw rope attached to my shoulder strap. But I can see how a quick release buckle that works under tension might be useful if you are still in a kayak or live baiting. Quick thinking and keeping your cool is definitely better than gizmos or gadgets.
 

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You say you see the need for a cowtail and a ring sewn to the back of the vest. So what's the question? That's pretty much a rescue vest + a quick release strap that they're attached to.
 

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Quick thinking and keeping your cool is not always that easy. Have you been in a rescue or being the one needing rescue? Things happen quick. Of course the knowledge in your head is more valuable but I say why wouldn't you want every sliver of favoritism (safety PFD) on your side? People ask me why I carry an air tube too but when someone gets pinned they will be looking for me to get them air.

I agree with the cow tail being fairly useless. Do I carry one? Yes. There are times when it makes sense to have one. I don't carry my entire pin kit on me but I do carry extra biners with built in pulleys. Also prussiks are extremely light weight and doesn't hurt to carry a few. You're normal vest may not have room for this stuff. Lastly, I don't think the stitching is as solid on a normal vest. How unfortunate when someone grabs your shoulder strap and it rips off your body.
 

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its not for you, its for the people you boat with. will you need it -for you ? probably not. but would you prefer that everybody in your crew have one ? probably. leash, whistle, knife all mandatory. your life may never hang in the balance-but could you say the same about the people you kayak with ?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
thanks all for posting useful words, not armchair advice. I had a feeling "knowledge before gear and gizmos" was the way to go. I see another poster's point about "it's their life, not yours so much". An interesting question to consider.

And well said wyosam re: avi beacon, probe, shovel. ha! that cracked me up, the morbid humor. And pointed out something i'd missed. thanks. ". . .just playing around near a dead guy." or however you put it.

cheers. now let the debate begin, as always on the "expensive white guy sports" forums goes when it comes to gear. :rolleyes:
 

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Aint no interesting question about it! That is the first and foremost thought you need to consider! you take risk with your life, thats your choice. your friends count on you and you count on them!
 

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I don't believe a 'full' kit is required at all times but most non rescue vests kinda suck for storage anyways and like someone mentioned before they can rip off during extraction with a rope attached. A knife is kinda mandatory in case your skirt is stuck or you get hung up some how (like your foot caught in your own throw rope) stranger things have happened. A cow tail is useful for steep banks at the takeout as well as a rescue device. When you break down each safety item it does get hard to ignore how important they are. If you are going to spend $$ on a quality vest why not buy a rescue vest?
 

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Short answer: Yes, rescue vests are worth it if you are doing any paddling that is challenging for you. These vests are extremely versatile in rescue situations, as well as just in day to day use.

If you are mainly at the play park or mellow pool drop rivers, then you probably don't need a rescue PFD. If you are doing anything where folks could get into trouble and the water is challenging for your group, get trained and get a rescue PFD.
 

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;)For me, it's one of those things that I would rather have and never use than not have and then regret it the time I need it.

Like a few others have said, I do like the design of rescue vests over some others, in terms of storage anyway. I do carry a few items (pulleys, prusik, niners, etc) and have actually used those. My other PFD just doesn't work as well even for those few items.

I've never had to test the stitching in either, but I gotta believe the rescue vests are stronger, as they are intended to hold the extra weight of another person in a rescue situation (and extra forces of current, etc), while a simple PFD is designed to merely help keep you afloat while you rescue yourself.... ;)
 

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I'm just sayin. isn't it the swift water rescue knowledge that's important and not whether i'm sportin an Astral Greenjacket on the north fork?
Kayaking safely is a combination of knowledge, experience, and gear. All the knowledge in the world won't do you any good if you don't have a rope when someone needs one, if you don't have the ability to live bait when someone needs it, or if you don't have the right footwear to have traction on rocks when you need it. There are tragic stories of folks dying on the river because a piece of gear wasn't on hand.

A rescue vest is not an overpriced fashion outerwear that people "sport'. Rescue vests are technical rescue gear that can be life saving in the right spots. Rescue vests have undergone years of innovation after hard learned lessons.

For class 3 rivers or playboating I could see the rescue vest being a "nice to have' vs. mandatory. For class IV and up or creeky runs where pins and rescues are likely, rescue vests are a key piece of gear and mandatory in my mind.

I can think of a couple of incidents off the top of my head where rescue vests were key to saving peoples lives. Experienced boaters use the quick release strap frequently to back each other up in rescues and safety scenarios. If you are paddling hard whitewater and you don't have the propper gear you are a liability to the folks you paddle with. I once had a guy tell me that he didn't need a specific piece of safety gear that I considered mandatory for a run,which baffled me. That guy is dead now, so you can see where loose logic can take you.

Its true that you could likely rig up much of the functionality of a rescue vest with a throw rope and biners, but improvising something when seconds count is a recipe for disaster and thats why they make the jackets.

The only thing I consider optional on a rescue jacket is the cows tail. I think they are more of a hazard dangling off jackets than a utility unless you are chasing swimmers non-stop down a class II run.

Have a read through this story and think about what having the right gear means to you and the people around you.
Remember...
 

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For me the rescue vest is essential. Fortunately I have never had to use the rescue harness for a live bait rescue, but I have been in a few other situations where the features of my PFD were invaluable.

I used a cowtail to retrieve a guy's boat right before it floated into an unportageable rapid in the Infierno canyon of the Futaleufu. When I had to be vertically extracted from a gorged in section of the Rio Cochamo I used the webbing loop in front of my Green Jacket, combined with webbing used as a harness, to secure myself to the rope that was lowered to me from above. Many times I when safety needs to be set, but the chance of falling in the river is significant, I will make an anchor on a tree or rock and secure myself with the rescue harness so I can lean out over the river without falling in.

The benefits of owning a rescue PFD clearly outweigh any perceived disadvantages. I have been creeking on class 5 with one professional kayaker who has chosen not to wear a rescue vest. His technical expertise, precision on the water, and lifetime of experience convinced me that his decision against it was sound. Unless you have invented several modern freestyle tricks and participated in first descents all over the world, you should wear a rescue PFD and know how to use it.

If somebody I don't know shows up to go creeking and has some funky gear that isn't going to help in a rescue, I'm probably going to say something rude and leave you at the put-in.
 

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A rescue vest and cowtail is not optional/overkill. When properly deployed it is an invaluable tool for saving your buddy's gear or life.
 

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A good PFD like the Green can be very usefully and important if the owner actually knows how to get the most out of the PFD. If the owner does not know what the hell they are doing w/ the PFD then it can quickly become a liliabilty. So, yes its the boater with the knowelge but they need the tools to get the job done! So, if you don't know what you doing, step away from the resue vest!
 

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Just this weekend my rescue vest got some use. Towing boats and gear to shore is expedited with a tow tether. As others have stated, be aware of what is down stream, but this has been an invaluable tool I use often.
 

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I certainly think the rescue vest is necessary for anything starting to push into class IV or into "creeky" rivers. I rarely use my tow tether on creeks anymore though -- they're just too steep and too rocky for it to be of much use. I do, however, keep a few shots of webbing and p-cord in my pfd pocket, enough to rig up a simple z-drag. The set has been very helpful in a number of situations, from tethering somewhere for a better rescue position to unpinning boats. Last spring Ian used a similar setup to tether his boat to a root when he was scouting in a precarious position. It's now become a standard part of my safety vest.
 
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