How many of you use Inflatable PFD's? Those of you that do, do you use a manual or automatic inflation? I am going to use my one man raft for the first time on Saturday, and I need to get a PFD before then, but I can't decide what style to go with. I like the size of the inflatables, but I am a little worried that it won't inflate when I need it to.
For those of you who don't use inflatables, what kind of vest would you recommend? I would want one that was as comfortable as possible, and one that I could wear my fish pack with. (My fish pack is similar to a fanny pack, but I refuse to call it that.) One last question, where would be the best place in town to find a good selection of PFDs? I have been to Sportsmans, B&J's, and Mountain View, but have not found one that fit just right. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
low profile kayak vest
they are expensive, but can be rowed and paddled in all day and have almost no restriction on movement. I wouldn't wear an inflatable, once you are in a river with current you have enough to deal with, and if it doesn't inflate enough, or at all do you really want to be blowing through a tube to get air into it? Not me, get a low pro. They are called paddleing vest on the tag most times. REI, Sportsmans, alaska raft and kayak, and a few other places should have them.
"...but I am a little worried that it won't inflate when I need it to."
Which is one reason they are generally not recommended for use in whitewater. I'm with Chris, I wouldn't use them for moving water. I don't want any delay in coming to the surface.
Personally, I use an America's Cup Ultra Float. It has 31 pounds of flotation, where the average PFD has only 15.5 pounds. Lots of folks want a smaller PFD, but I want to be breathing air instead of sucking water. It also provides a fair amount of warmth, and I don't find it restrictive. PFDs are a personal choice though.
I'm with Chris
on this one. Have been a sea kayak guide for about 8 years - I wouldn't paddle with an inflatable. I use my kayak pfd for the raft....don't even notice it anymore. Plus, you have pockets for survival items such as: pen flares, whistle, survival blanket, radio, and then I have a dive knife strapped to my pfd as well....has come in handy on so many occasions for so many reasons....REI is probably your best bet for variety of selection.