I'm done using the nasty, sweat stained rental PFD's, and would now like to purchase my own (my sweat smells like roses). Does anyone have a recommendation on where to get a good deal on one, and/or a particular model that works well? Keep in mind that it will have to pass my budget committee, so I'm probably aiming at the cheaper ones (less than $100).
Better hurry if you want the Seda Vest Piragis was selling. It has been discontinued bt Seda and they are down to just what they have left from their last shipments. They may not have all sizes and colors. $72.00
"When a man is part of his canoe, he is part of all that canoes have ever known."
Sigurd F. Olson
At the risk of sounding condescending, make sure it is a paddling PFD. Many PFD's are designed for water skiing or general boating and won't be comfortable for paddling. Start chafing from an inexpensive PFD and you will never wear it, increasing your risk.
I use a Lotus PFD and like it a lot. It has pockets for emergency gear, tabs for my river knife and I have a whistle on a loop. We fly to MN when we visit and rent canoes, but we always bring our own PFD's.
As for cost, you are talking about the protection of your life. Why are we so anxious to cut costs when we are talking about the one piece of equipment that could save your life?
On Old Hickory Lake last year, people on the shore watched horrified as a man in a canoe capsized in the waves 150 feet from shore, floundered, sank and never came back up. He wasn't wearing a PFD. His canoe drifted to shore with the waves and so would he have, if he had a PFD.
I have a handful of river and lake canoe rescue technique books by Cliff Jacobson and others and have also read in some BWJ articles about people who have died canoeing or got into serious trouble, often with minimal advance warning that something bad was going to happen. And it can happen to people who are in good shape or have paddled 30 years with never a problem.
I have paddled with some "friends" who take too many risks and a young boy nearly drowned on a trip they coordinated as he was trapped in a strainer and wearing a PFD that didn't fit and was too large. It was so stressful for this boy's parents that they gave their kayaks and PFD's to one of my friends and said they would NEVER go back out on the water.
I was on another trip and suddenly found my canoe broadside in a mild current as a painter had snagged in some brush. If I didn't have immediate access to my river knife to slash the painter free, we would have flipped. It wasn't life-threatening, but as many times as I have been on the water, I have run across plenty of times when being prepared and wearing a PFD made the difference between something being critical or a non-event.
The best $75 I ever spent paddling was for a swiftwater rescue class. You learn so much from a class like this and can use the skills to save lives.
Thanks for the reply LG. I was under the impression that the price differences in the paddling PFD's was more related to comfort than the "floatability". If a $200 vest has a better chance of saving me than a $50 one, I'm all for it, but I'm not sure if that is true. The fact that I only get out on the water a handful of times a year is why I don't want to invest a lot of money on one.
The wife and I each wear paddling model extrasports. Both were in the $50-70 range from an outlet store, but that was a few years ago. In the 90 degree temps last summer mine was just bearable. The square visible in my pocket is a small personal survival kit.
I was looking for the same kind of jacket last year, lightweight, flexibility were essential. After checking a lot of places out, I ended up getting a pair from the Bass Pro shop. I found it had everything I wanted, it even has pockets in the front, and surprisingly the cost was only $30. This is the only picture I got of it, you can see there is no restriction when paddling.
I have a Extrasport RetroGlide Sabre that I bought last year at Canoecopia. Great quality. Lots of pockets (I’ve a whistle, knife and ditch kit in mine). It's yellow.
Prior to that I had a good Sterns with the mesh top. It was tan/brown.
Canada used to have a regulation that PFDs had to be certain (bright) colors (colours). I asked a Quetico ranger about it and he replied, "It makes the bodies easier to find." I laughed and he said, "Really. I'm serious."
I figured it made sense to me, and may make it easier for my wife to collect on the insurance policy, so I bought a yellow one.
I would do several things to get a top quality PFD at a great price.
Check with an Internet site closing out overstocks. Check Bee Busy Outdoors or Sierra Trading Post for starters.
Check with an outfitter to get a great deal on slightly used demo gear.
Look for last year's models which are always discounted. You might get a color you don't like, but for half off, I can live with something that doesn't "match" my canoe color. :-)
I have a lot of outdoor gear, but have rarely ever paid full price for anything.
It is too late for this paddling season, but I recommend bonus points from your credit card company. We use an REI VISA card, pay it off each month to avoid interest and get a sizeable rebate each year from REI in early March. For my family, we have North Face fleeces, REI backpacks, REI backpacking tents, Lotus PFD's and even Perception kayaks, all for free with no annual fee and no interest. I think it is an awesome deal, but you do have to wait on an annual basis for this rebate.
I know Cabela's and Bass Pro also offer these cards.
I have paddled for many years and most of it has been on white water. I have swam more than my share of rapids and have been in a few for a very long time. Most importantly get a vest that fits, and is comfortable. If it comes off or you do not wear it due to it being hot or uncomfortable it does no good! I like lotus and this brand for several years now. Extrasport is also a very good vest with several models to choose from. Colorado Kayak Supply, Northwest River Supply and N.O.C. all have good selections and great customer service.
"With an ax, you can build a life. With a stove, you can boil water. That is if nothing breaks and you don't run out of fuel." -Samuel Hearne
Be sure you get a PFD that is sufficent for your weight, there is a HUGE difference in 16lb and 27lb flotation capability IF you are a big person. I have alot of PFDs 'cause we take alot of people paddling with us, I am 250lb and any low-flotation lifejacket (under 20lbs) barely makes a difference, I have a extrasport HIFLOAT which is a must for people over 250lbs IMHO. Comfort is also a concern, as is durability, but you need something that will really help when you are in the water.
Let me echo another point already made, your PFD is not the place to scrimp or save, buy a good one, keep it clean and replace it when it is old ----based on wear, UV degradation, and test it once a year.
"Opening a bottle of wine in a canoe is a desirable, but irrational act."
I will again recommend investing $7 in a product called BodyGlide. It comes in a similar package to underarm deodorant, and relieves and prevents chafing from all sorts of things, including life vests. I thknk Dick's sells them, but you can find them in any running store. As you can imagine, distance runners will use this stuff religiously in select areas.
"It is better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than to open it and remove all doubt." Mark Twain
I'm another Extrasport owner. Although REI Outlet has several at a good price, one suggestion would be to try one on somewhere for size. I've found that size varies greatly among different brands/models.
Definitely look at the number of pounds flotation. The higher the better. Also you should be able to tighten it underneath the rib cage to keep it from riding up. For under $100 especially if you catch one on sale, you should have a number to choose from.
Just saw one here that is under $100 and has 18 lbs 6oz buoyancy. I like a lot of the Lotus and the Astral designs. Most of them are exceptionally comfortable for paddling.
Have a Large and a Medium Seda, both unused, make an offer. Bought them for my nephews 2 years ago and they never even tried them on. Preferred to keep their crappy Wallyworld specials. They have been stored in a Rubbermade container away from mice and moths. One is red, one is green I believe. Can take pic tomorrow if interested.
BTW, noted your other post about USING PFD's. Been a paddler for 3 decades now and mine is on and fastened whenever I'm paddling. Stuff happens and have had my bacon saved by my PFD several times now. Buy a PFD that's comfortable and that you will not be inclined to remove because of comfort.
Here's the pic if interested. The red is Medium and the green is large. WW
"The movement of a canoe is like a reed in the wind. Silence is part of it, and the sounds of lapping water, bird songs, and wind in the trees. It is part of the medium through which it floats, the sky, the water, the shores. A man is part of his canoe, and therefore part of all it knows." Sigurd Olson "The Singing Wilderness"
There seems to be a lot of people here who like the Extrasport brand of lifejackets. So this seems to be a good place for me to tell of my experience with the company. I had a HIFLOAT because I do a lot of kayaking and one of my paddling buddies designed that particular lifejacket. I used it a lot and it started to show some wear around the zipper. Because it was a HIFLOAT and I only weighed 170 lbs., I sent the jacket back to Extrasport to have the zipper replaced. Instead of a repair job, I got a letter saying that it no longer met that particular models floatation specs and they destroyed it. Thank you very much! After the third complaint to my paddling buddy, who is also an Extrasport representative, he offered to replace it.
That’s all I needed, but I never took the offer. I’ll never use the product of a company that does a customer that way. Since then, I have been wearing only lifejackets that are pullovers, with no zippers. My current one is a Lotus Designs.
>Instead of a repair job, I got a letter saying that it no longer met that particular models floatation specs and they destroyed it.
Actually they did what they had to, but did it the wrong way. PFDs that no longer meet spec should be destroyed, but are often sold at yard sales or given to friends when they are no longer safe to wear.
Extrasport should have contacted you with an explanation, maybe offered a discount on a new one, but I am sure they could not return it since they knew it was out of spec without incurring potential liabilty.
I test all our PFDs (20-30 of them) once every year unscientifically, I put them on and jump in the water. I cut up about three a year that will no longer keep my 250# above water level (type III 15-20 lbs flotation).
While I agree they handled it badly, please recall you said "I used it a lot and it started to show some wear around the zipper", so I expect you got your money's worth. I am on my third HIFLOAT and get about four-five years service before I can tell the nylon is wearing out, the flotation material is crumbling, and the straps have been exposed to enough UV.
The good news is you do not need a HIFLOAT at 170#, I'd look at some of the 16-20# flotation, paddling-cut, models. More comfortable and les constricting on the arms.
Just my opinion..
"Opening a bottle of wine in a canoe is a desirable, but irrational act."
I’m glad you agree with the point I was trying to make, that Extrasport customer relations handled my situation badly. I’ll be more than happy to discuss this some more with you over a cup of wine, at the “Fool’s Trip”.