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How much is too much in your PFD pockets?

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  • How much is too much in your PFD pockets?

    I guess this could have equally gone in the survival forum; this seemed a slightly better fit.

    How much stuff in your PFD pockets (and attached to your PFD) is too much stuff? I wear a type 3 PFD and have been adding "stuff" to it as I prepare to spend more time, and go more places, in my little boat. That stuff, thus far, includes a strobe light, a PLB, a whistle, and a flare pistol and 4 flares. I would like to add a VHF hand held radio, maybe. A knife and/or even a very minimal first aid kitt is a possibility as well. Pockets are already mostly full. I'm aware that, at some point, I will weigh the PFD down to the point that it will not be so good at keeping me afloat. Does anyone have any idea what that point is? How best does one balance the need to have emergency gear on your person against degrading the effectiveness of your PFD. (Or am I just over thinking again?)

  • #2
    As long as it provides enough buoyancy to fulfill its intended purpose, which is recovery of the body, you should be fine.

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    • #3
      Hard to over think safety. Have you considered a small floating water proof ditch bag? You could store a lot of meaningful survival gear in something on that order. Although I doubt you'll be able to load it to the point of degrading flotation, too much stuff in a pfd can be fatiguing and impede your movement and that is a safety issue in and of itself. Mine has everything you mention along with 3 separate means to start fire, cordage, several space blankets, a revolver, extra ammo, a mirror, 1 full water bottle and water purification tablets, 5 Cliff bars, a small, very light cooking pot and very basic fishing gear...and probably a bunch of stuff that escapes me at the moment. Everything is organized in their own zip lock bags and I carry several extra ziplocks as they weigh nothing and take up no space. I'm sure the whole thing including bag weighs under 10 lbs and compares in size to a extra large loaf of bread.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Garyak View Post
        Hard to over think safety. Have you considered a small floating water proof ditch bag? You could store a lot of meaningful survival gear in something on that order. Although I doubt you'll be able to load it to the point of degrading flotation, too much stuff in a pfd can be fatiguing and impede your movement and that is a safety issue in and of itself. Mine has everything you mention along with 3 separate means to start fire, cordage, several space blankets, a revolver, extra ammo, a mirror, 1 full water bottle and water purification tablets, 5 Cliff bars, a small, very light cooking pot and very basic fishing gear...and probably a bunch of stuff that escapes me at the moment. Everything is organized in their own zip lock bags and I carry several extra ziplocks as they weigh nothing and take up no space. I'm sure the whole thing including bag weighs under 10 lbs and compares in size to a extra large loaf of bread.
        I do have a "ditch bag." Got it as part of a rebate program when I bought my PLB. It's really just a neon float/dry bag. Most of what you mention is starting in to the discussion of survival kits. I have all that covered in my hunt pack. (I don't have it covered in my boat.)

        At the moment, I'm looking at the bare minimums if, for some reason, I get separated from the oat and, for example, the boat is carried downstream quickly and I can not grab the "ditch bag." I saw somewhere that the newest iteration of the USAF air crew survival vest concentrates largely on signaling and getting found, rather than on survival, and that is what I'm modeling my PFD on.

        But yes, now that you mention it, I should have more stuff in my ditch bag. Now I have TWO questions...how much is too much in your PFD and what should go in your PFD and what should go in your "ditch bag."

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        • #5
          Sorry I digressed from the original question. I was thinking in terms of how I operate my 12 ft. porta-bote on rivers in the hope of being well prepared for an emergency. My bag is attached to me with a lanyard that is just over a ft. long and sits unobtrusively between my feet. It can be removed easily/instantly, for example, as I run up on a beach or dock. Should I capsize or whatever while underway, it is attached, floats and will go with me. After I broke my neck and back a few years ago, I found that wearing even a few ounces out of balance in my pfd caused me significant additional pain, odd as that may seem, and so, I adopted this method. So I'd say...fill those pockets to the brim but try to incorporate a synergy among the contents so they compliment each other in case of an emergency. Btw...I also carry a ring saw and toilet paper...Sh*t happens.

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          • #6
            I see what you're getting at. In my case, then, I could just wear my hunt pack (which a friend back home calls my bug-out bag), and that would serve the same purpose as your ditch bag tied to your body. (Except, as you said, yours will float free whereas mine would just add another 25 lbs to my body weight for my PFD to keep afloat.)

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            • #7
              Assuming you are close to shore most of the time (small boat), I would add a small multitool and fire stating kit. If you are more than a short swim to shore, you don't have much time in the water. If you are going out any distance from shore in a small boat, you should think about a survival suit or a raft.

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              • #8
                I doubt you can add enough weight to degrade the performance of that PFD. Would you have to go to a bigger PFD if you gained 20#, for example? Same as putting 20# in the PFD, I'd guess.

                There is an issue with too much bulk and weight for daily wear. If too much, the PFD itself could become a problem, whether the extra bulk hanging on things or the weight causing you to lose balance and fall in. Not to mention the impulse to take it off now and then simply because it's too bulky and heavy. A waterproof canoe bag with enough buoyancy to float should your boat flip is the better answer than stuffed pockets in my experience. I keep my PFDs slim and trim with a minimum of gear for easier daily wear. But I have the ditch bag too.
                "Lay in the weeds and wait, and when you get your chance to say something, say something good."
                Merle Haggard

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by BrownBear View Post
                  I doubt you can add enough weight to degrade the performance of that PFD. Would you have to go to a bigger PFD if you gained 20#, for example? Same as putting 20# in the PFD, I'd guess.
                  I hadn't looked it at that way, and you're right. Although, in my case, another 20 lbs would require a new PFD, just due to the increased abdominal circumference (fancy term for fat @$$). But yeah, those PFD's are basically rated for either below or above 100 lbs.

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                  • #10
                    I would definitely add a fire starter or two to keep in a pocket. If you go in the water and get separated from the rest of your gear, which is exactly what you are preparing for, one of the first things you need to be able to do is get warm and dry and you are going to have a hard time doing that without fire.

                    The next thing, and just about equally important would be a knife. It serves and almost endless set of uses if in a true survival situation, most importantly being able to get untangled from the boat you just capsized in. I would suggest one that hooks on the outside of the vest and is easily accessed with one hand in a hurry.

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                    • #11
                      Life vests are designed by Buoyancy. Class III gives you 15.5 lbs of Buoyancy and the average adult needs 7-12 lbs to keep a float. A type I gives you 22 lbs. and is designed for rugged water with longer rescue times. Here is a link http://www.pfdma.org/choosing/types.aspx.

                      Personaly I think the class III is prety comfortable and does find for what your describing but a fanny pack would increase how much you could carry for emergencys. I would think fire starter, small first aid kit and a couple signal flares and PLB would be sufficiant and a hand held VHF radio usually comes with a belt clip. Between the PLB and VHF your time stranded should be pretty minimal. A knife could be in your pocket to avoid over filling your fanny pack.

                      Now in terms of a ditch bag, I would have a seperate one for hunting and boating. Keeps things easier. I would have extra batteries for the VHF, larger first aid kit, more fire starter, compass, water filter or purifying tabs, collapsable bag for gathering water and storing, couple snicker bars or Clif bars, small pack of baby wipes or TP, Bug dope, flashlight, more signal flares, small fishing kit and a change of underware, because whatever got you where you need it may have soiled your drawers, and that has to be uncomfortable after awhile. Vacumm seal whatever you can and put in a dry bag. That should keep you alive and fairly comfortable for a couple days.
                      Ignorance is not Bliss, it's insanity

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