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I was looking for some automatic inflatable life vests online. Of course Amazon had the top hit on Google. And yep, they have some REALLY cheap ones, approved by the CHINESE whatever agency, but not the USCG. I also noticed that the cheapest ones are shipped WITHOUT the CO2 cylinder, you have to buy your own and install it. There are also several brands of automatic vests that must be re-armed after 12 months, PITA.
Not endorsing anyone, but I found the Mustang 100 vest at Defender.com for $105.59 each, it has a 5 year re-arming period, and the re-arming kit is less than $30. I called West Marine and they price matched the vests, no shipping costs, and I used some certificates to lower the price more.
I hope that makes it easier for someone to buy and WEAR some of these life saving devices.
 

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I buy my kids inflatable PFD at West marine. I buy a re arming kit as well and make them jump in the water to see what happens.
 

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With all of the recent boating incidents, I have been thinking about getting a couple myself. But I think that I am going to go manual inflation. For three reasons.
A-- I have heard that the auto systems are unreliable and may have to depend on the manual over ride.
B-- I dont want to pay extra for the unreliable auto system.
C-- The biggest reason is that I want to use them on kayaks as well. We often get wet on the kayaks, and I dont want an unintended blowout! :-O And then have to pay for a recharge kit.

About 95% of my decision for manual vests is "C".
 

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With all of the recent boating incidents, I have been thinking about getting a couple myself. But I think that I am going to go manual inflation. For three reasons.
A-- I have heard that the auto systems are unreliable and may have to depend on the manual over ride.
B-- I dont want to pay extra for the unreliable auto system.
C-- The biggest reason is that I want to use them on kayaks as well. We often get wet on the kayaks, and I dont want an unintended blowout! :-O And then have to pay for a recharge kit.

About 95% of my decision for manual vests is "C".
Just a note: A lot of these boating accidents I think happen from the person being unconscious when hitting the water etc... One of the big things about a PFD is to be able to float you when you can't float yourself or inflate something.

Most of the decent auto ones are supposed to be able to get wet. They activate under water, not when splashed wet etc...

Anything is better than nothing. I always used to wear my PFD when kayaking. Never understood the guys that put it in a hatch or out of reach etc...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
For about 7 years I have used a Mustang vest with the hydrostatic inflation, have re-armed it once already. I have had plenty of splashes and downpours onto it without an inadvertent activation. The 100%alwayswill work life vest would be the type I, very restrictive physically, but you would probably die inside the boat, from overheating this time of year. Unconcious people can't get their face out of the water, instant drowning. Sometimes we rationalize away the real dangers, to our own demise.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
As some other folks have stated in other postings: An inflatable vest MUST be WORN for it to count as a readily available life vest. Otherwise, you need to carry enough non-inflatable vests aboard for EACH person.
I didn't specifically look at this issue, but most inflatable vests are designed for persons age 16 and above, probably for size and other issues.
 

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Don't forget the UV rays, age, etc. Take an old one tie a rope to it throw it overboard when anchored. You will be surprised how much water they will absorb. Some will finally sink. They have a shelf life.
 

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I was looking for some automatic inflatable life vests online. Of course Amazon had the top hit on Google. And yep, they have some REALLY cheap ones, approved by the CHINESE whatever agency, but not the USCG. I also noticed that the cheapest ones are shipped WITHOUT the CO2 cylinder, you have to buy your own and install it. There are also several brands of automatic vests that must be re-armed after 12 months, PITA.
Not endorsing anyone, but I found the Mustang 100 vest at Defender.com for $105.59 each, it has a 5 year re-arming period, and the re-arming kit is less than $30. I called West Marine and they price matched the vests, no shipping costs, and I used some certificates to lower the price more.
I hope that makes it easier for someone to buy and WEAR some of these life saving devices.
The Mustang Elite is on sale for $167 which is a very good deal. I paid about $200 for mine. Comfortable vest.
 

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Just a note: A lot of these boating accidents I think happen from the person being unconscious when hitting the water etc... One of the big things about a PFD is to be able to float you when you can't float yourself or inflate something.

Most of the decent auto ones are supposed to be able to get wet. They activate under water, not when splashed wet etc...

Anything is better than nothing. I always used to wear my PFD when kayaking. Never understood the guys that put it in a hatch or out of reach etc...
I have considered that. But with my situation, I think the manual is a better fit.
When kayak fishing, we often get fully wet (usually intentionally). Not any situation where a vest is needed, but would inflate an auto vest. I would think it highly unlikely to be knocked out while on a kayak. We too always wear our vest while kayaking, but we do not while boating. The point of getting the inflatables is for us to always wear them comfortably on ALL watercraft. As it is right now, we have our boating vests stored in the dry storage. Not easy to get to quickly. Legal? Yes. Smart? No! They are too hot and restrictive to wear. I know, I know... That is why I am trying to improve the situation with manual inflatables. I think they are a good compromise between an auto vest inflating when I dont want while on a kayak and not wearing anything while on a boat.

Ideally, I would have a pair of manual vests for the kayaks, and a pair of auto vests for the boat. But that is getting prohibitively expensive in initial cost and maintenance. Some will say that no cost is too much to save a life. But we have to draw a line somewhere. I guess the safest thing would be to buy an old missile silo, fill it with bubble wrap and stay in it forever. But to be alive is not necessarily the same as living... LOL
 

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Some thoughts:

(1) An auto will inflate if you capsize your kayak and then interfere with getting back on. It happened to my wife. Not every kayak capsizing is an emergency.

(2) If you are inside the cabin of a boat that capsizes, an auto will inflate and make it hard to escape. Happened to some on a TX college sailing team. They died.

(3) If you are hit in the head hard enough to be unconscious, even with an auto-inflate or even a full life-vest, you will probably aspirate a significant amount of water so anoxic brain damage is still a major risk. You may regret surviving that.

(4) Re-arming is really pretty easy.

Obviously, I have both manual and autos but prefer the manuals.
 

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Best bet is to go into a store like West Marine and try some brands and styles on. If it isn't comfortable, then you won't wear it, and it becomes no use to you. I tried the Mustang Elite on and liked the way the back fit me so I bought it and I wear it.
 
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