Type V PFDs
Looking for advice/recommendations on buying a type V PFD. Mainly I will be using the pfd for rafting. I currently have a type III Patagonia and a bulky type V America’s Cup. The Patagonia is super comfortable, but lacks buoyancy. The America’s Cup is buoyant, but too bulky and difficult to swim in. I am looking for a proven pfd that is buoyant, comfortable, and has storage for rescue gear.
I have looked at some PFDs from Extrasport, Force 6, and NRS. Any opinions? Should I be looking at some other brands?
NRS has a type III/V that looks nice. It has 22lbs of flotation-just like the type V Extrasport, so what is the difference between a type III/V and V?
Someone may correct me here, but I believe Type V means it must be worn all the time to be legal, whereas a Type III or Type III/V just has to be in the boat.
I have two Type Vs, an America's Cup and an Extrasport. Love the Extrasport, it's super adjustable for all sizes which is handy as I use it mainly for guests - hey, if you are a newb and don't have your own, wear the hog! Definitely a "nicer" vest than the AC. To be honest, I also have it for big water days for me or the wife. A bad swim a few years ago made me re-think my supercomfortable ultrathin PFD.
I don't know if Extrasport still sells the "Hi-Float" or the Hi-Float Shorty" Type IIIs that used to be popular. Been looking for a few years, but picked up my current Type Vs instead when they were on sale.
Ok, just looked on Extrasports website, the B22 and B27 were what I was looking for, I just haven't been up to forking out $150! It's the Shorty version that kayakers wore back in the 80s that they don't make anymore.
TYPE PFD for Alaska's Rivers
What you’ll find is that the Type V endorsement is used as the “must be worn at all times” never attached to the boat when underway to be legal. For example, this U.S. Coast Guard approval is the valid reasoning that meets commercial operations guidelines and for “special use” requirements such as rescue operations. Type V’s can be all sorts of shapes, sizes, or designs for particular purposes… everything from exposure suits, to rescue vests, & hybrids of foams with air assist.
The only type V that’s worth having on the rivers here in Alaska is a river-rescue specific version… But that should only be if you are actually educated to use it!!! When you read the specifics outlined inside these vests --- it will say something to the effect that the individual wearing this type vest should have the essential training. I use the Extrasport Swiftwater and highly recommend it… but do get the instruction at very least on dry-land.
Type III designation is for inland waters or where rescue/self rescue is quickly at hand. These are sport vests of sensible buoyancy intended to also be comfortable. They do require the user to be in more control in an immersion situation. This is one very good motivation to steer clear of just the standard type III in demanding whitewater with the potential for longer swims.
The ‘Universal’ High-Floatation Type III/V is the best way to go here in Alaska if you find yourself on tougher technical or big-water whitewater. The paramount vest by far is the EXTRASPORT UT5 GORGE based on high flotation (25lbs), excellent protection, universal fit, exceptional comfort, highest quality design/fabrication, ruggedness, and all the endorsement features. I use it and greatly advocate making it the #1 choice. Having the TYPE V part in this endorsement still means it must be worn at all times & not attached to boat. This is why TYPE III/V is the only type on the rivers of Alaska that lawfully meets commercial operating guidelines for hire (customers/clients).
Trait you’ll find common is that all III/V must have a required %age of visible RED, YELLOW, or ORANGE.
--- Noticed 'storage' is part of your equation... avoid any mostly open-mesh pockets!!! You'll find that Extrasport will use pockets on rescue Type V... yet most reputable companies will not use any pockets on III/V.
Thanks for the information on PFD's. I have a Type III and just took my first swim this weekend on the Tazlina, and I was a little disappointed with how long I was looking at the wrong side of the surface. A couple of questions - why do you recommend no pockets? What is the minimum flotation you recommend for an average adult male?
Last edited by BrowningLeverAction; 06-23-2009 at 10:39.
I have an MTI play and I weight about 195. I have swam through class IV+. The bouancy rating doesn't mean as much as you think. You will float differently based on the rapid. If it is heavy turbulance and a lot of air super saturation you will float less than if you are swiming through a more technical boulder rapid with less air saturation. If you think you might be swimming in big turbulant whitewater with a lot of air super saturation then go with the V, if smaller and more technical then go with the III
Brian (an others),
Thanks for the info. Although I do not have a Whitewater Rescue Technician certification (I would like to get one- if you teach this class let me know), I have had some training (in the early 90s), read books, had experienced friends show me some things (on the water), and am familiar with ropes and hauling systems from climbing. I know there are definitely risks involved with a rescue PFD if you are not properly trained. With that being said, I like to be self-sufficient in the mountains and on the river, so I think a rescue vest is the way to go for me.
Browningleveraction, as far as the pockets go, Brian was mentioning “open-mesh pockets”. I personally don’t want ‘stuff’ dangling off me that might get snagged on a strainer as I try to get up on one, or getting hooked up on my boat as I try top reenter it after a swim. So, I think a PFD with streamlined, secure pockets would be nice.
I totally agree with SHAPP- Personally i have several jackets/vests that i tailor to the type of rapids that i am boating through, as well as the type of craft i am using. If i had to have only one - would go for the HI-FLOAT.
Good luck and safe boating-
You'll find your life vests will say something like --- before you end up in the water in a life saving situation... inspect it routinely and test it yearly to familiarize yourself how it performs for you.
Heg - sounds like you pay attention to details and follow through on them. You also cross train with climbing leaders know-how. I for one do not think you need any certifications to use a rescue Type V (just wanted to inform about specified use, plus more or less let folks know ya don't run out to buy an expensive Rescue Type V to be Joe cool). Proper use with good habits keeps a boater aware and much safer.
BLA - If/when swimming down the Tazlina remember fundamentals:
Wear your PFD - be familiar with it - don't just believe in it - be confident in it
Boat is your friend (repeat 5 times)
Protect head upstream, have awareness by looking downstream
do not pike your torso - nice flat back
feet downstream in a defensive posture - don't swallow face shots by turning a cheek
Think - make plan - stick it (repeat 5 times)
Boat is your friend (repeat 5 times)