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Old 10-26-2020, 12:40 PM   #1
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Inflatable PFD recommendations

It occurred to me recently that our PFDs are about 12-15 years old. They're in decent shape and we test them periodically but it may be time for a new set. I suspect the technology has improved a bit over the years, no?

Looking for inflatables without a harness that auto-inflate and can accept something like an AIS MOB. More buoyancy better than less, and as comfortable/non-intrusive as possible.

Any recommendations? Strangely enough I can't find any good boating-oriented reviews/comparisons done in the past few years.

I've heard a couple positive anecdotal comments about these: Mustang HIT Inflatable
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:46 PM   #2
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You can go high or low budget with these types of PFDs. I went more low budget and bought from Cabella's - self inflating, etc. Mustangs are quite good. One of the times I didn't buy local, I believe Mustang is/was out of Vancouver. Their survival suits are famous, sometimes you can purchase "seconds" from them.
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Old 10-26-2020, 12:46 PM   #3
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Mustang is a good brand. Where you boat will also dictate the model to pick. Offshore or inland lakes etc.

When you buy one check the date on the bottle and tablet. Bottle no more than 5 years(?) and tablet 3 years. Also but a spare recharge kit, just in case you drop it in the water.
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Old 10-27-2020, 07:49 AM   #4
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Can't remember off-hand the brand of our two originals, but more recently wifey found she liked one of the newer West Marine models. They have four different "levels" I think -- offshore, nearshore, inland, and the other one I'm forgetting just now -- and I think she has the "other one". Anyway, she found they fit her better.

Otherwise, Mustang has a very good rep.

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Old 10-27-2020, 02:25 PM   #5
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I wore the one linked in the OP - and the predecessor model - for the final years of my boating career. Only had to "use" it once and it inflated just fine But it was very rugged and resisted sunbleaching well, I had a small waterproof ELT attached. I also wore a little belt pack attached to the waist belt that carried a few survival sundries such as a small flare and a smoke bomb.

I can remember when inflatables were only rated for type V, nice that they now also carry the type II designation for noncommercial work.

Edit: I should mention that these above have much more flotation than some of the other models and other brands' models, IMO you should not accept anything less than a type II rating/level 100 or 150.
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Old 10-27-2020, 04:19 PM   #6
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We use West Marine brand and they are fine. They run sales on them periodically.
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Old 10-27-2020, 04:49 PM   #7
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We bought a couple of West Marines higher end inflatables. We wanted to try them on before we bought them so we went to WMP. The problem is that most of them do not have accommodations for adding a PLB or strobe. I added a couple of attachment points by carefully sewing some velcro onto the PFD and now they are secure. They also have about 3’ of small stuff attaching them to the PFD so they don’t get away from us in the water if we accidentally let go of the PLB or strobe.
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Old 10-27-2020, 05:09 PM   #8
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If you fall off the boat you want the the damn thing to stay on. If you don’t have crotch strap when you hit the water good chance it’s going right over your head.
Although most manufacturers have reworked salt or paper tablets they still go off at the most inopportune times. Had one go off when stored in the basement. But of more concern had one go off while working on the foredeck. It’s quite dramatic!!!. So now won’t have anything but hydrostatic triggers and strongly recommend them.
Sea hoods are also worth the money. The inflatable PDFs are such that when deployed you’re left facing the oncoming waves. You are at high risk to aspirate sea water which is very unpleasant and can be lethal in that setting. They’re under $20 and worth it.
In terms of brands it’s not an internet purchase the first time. They fit very differently. I prefer wearing a Baltic when up north. Better pockets and doesn’t push my head forward. Wife like the Mustang. Others prefer the spinlock as it has the least on the back of neck.
We inflate all of ours at least annually and wait 18 hours to see if they leak. All of ours come with an harness attachment.
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Old 10-27-2020, 06:59 PM   #9
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We've got three of the middle of the road WM models. They're great by themselves, but we find ourselves wanting to carry a plb, a small light, and clip a hand held radio on, etc etc. We are probably going to go sideways and pick up a couple work vests, something similar to these:

https://www.westmarine.com/buy/imper...83?recordNum=9

I know it's not inflatable, but they're very comfortable nonetheless (I wear these at work, often)
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Old 10-27-2020, 08:25 PM   #10
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I've used Mustang HIT's for a number of years now. They are well made, comfortable and easy to recharge. My ACR PLBs, strobes and whistles are attached with Velcro straps or lanyards. Great gear!
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Old 10-27-2020, 08:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryM View Post
I've used Mustang HIT's for a number of years now. They are well made, comfortable and easy to recharge. My ACR PLBs, strobes and whistles are attached with Velcro straps or lanyards. Great gear!
100 percent!!!
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Old 10-28-2020, 08:16 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by ranger42c View Post
Can't remember off-hand the brand of our two originals, but more recently wifey found she liked one of the newer West Marine models. They have four different "levels" I think -- offshore, nearshore, inland, and the other one I'm forgetting just now -- and I think she has the "other one". Anyway, she found they fit her better.

Otherwise, Mustang has a very good rep.

I remembered the other brand: SOSpenders. We have one manual, one auto, both fit well enough. The auto version is heavier since it also has the ability to attach a harness...

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Old 10-28-2020, 06:51 PM   #13
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Do any suspender style pfds come in sizes?

There are alot of us that shop in the plus-size dept and would appreciate plus-sized life jackets.
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Old 10-28-2020, 07:57 PM   #14
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The Mustang HIT fits up to a 52" chest size. They also offer a 12" extension for larger individuals.



Mustang Survival states:
"In Canada, wearing a belt extender voids the Canadian ULC approval for the PFD.

In the United States, wearing the belt extender voids the US Coast Guard approval UNLESS the wearer has a chest size over 130cm or 52inches, in which case wearing an adult universally-sized PFD with a clip-on body strap extension DOES NOT void the approval."

I'm a big guy and do not need the extender except in winter with bulky clothing. Either way, these are very wearable.

There may be a better or more affordable PFD solution out there, but I've not seen it.
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Old 10-28-2020, 08:55 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by LarryM View Post
I've used Mustang HIT's for a number of years now. They are well made, comfortable and easy to recharge. My ACR PLBs, strobes and whistles are attached with Velcro straps or lanyards. Great gear!
We have the Mustangs.

These PFDs are for in shore use. Do you wear the PLBs, strobes and whistles while in shore?

We have the PLBs, but for use with Type 1s while outside the inlets, and running offshore.
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Old 10-28-2020, 11:34 PM   #16
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We have the Mustangs.

These PFDs are for in shore use. Do you wear the PLBs, strobes and whistles while in shore?

We have the PLBs, but for use with Type 1s while outside the inlets, and running offshore.
According to Mustang Survival, their "Type II PFDs – or offshore buoyant vests – are designed and developed for environments where wearers find themselves in isolated or rough waters. Offshore PFDs offer high buoyancy, and are suitable for most water conditions. Ocean racers to adventurous sailors seeking open water can eat, sleep, and push through long days in our offshore vests that give them full range of motion, complete comfort, and complete peace of mind."

The Mustang HIT Type II Models MD3183 and MD3184 (with harness) are offshore-rated according to Mustang, and have 38lb. of buoyancy.

With that in mind, I/we wear them whether on Galveston Bay or offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The PLB, strobes etc. are always attached to the PFD's.

I do keep Type I's aboard as well.
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Old 10-29-2020, 09:10 AM   #17
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Looking for inflatables without a harness that auto-inflate and can accept something like an AIS MOB. More buoyancy better than less, and as comfortable/non-intrusive as possible.
Why WITHOUT a harness?? You have a crane onboard. Do you think you could get whomever you boat with into the boat single handed if there were badly injured or unconscious? What if it were you in the water unconscious? Could the person with you get you into the boat?

The harness isn't just for sailors with jacklines.
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Old 10-29-2020, 10:15 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by LarryM View Post
According to Mustang Survival, their "Type II PFDs – or offshore buoyant vests – are designed and developed for environments where wearers find themselves in isolated or rough waters. Offshore PFDs offer high buoyancy, and are suitable for most water conditions. Ocean racers to adventurous sailors seeking open water can eat, sleep, and push through long days in our offshore vests that give them full range of motion, complete comfort, and complete peace of mind."

The Mustang HIT Type II Models MD3183 and MD3184 (with harness) are offshore-rated according to Mustang, and have 38lb. of buoyancy.

With that in mind, I/we wear them whether on Galveston Bay or offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The PLB, strobes etc. are always attached to the PFD's.

I do keep Type I's aboard as well.
Do you know if they meet the actual CG recommendation for offshore, is that what Mustang are saying?
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Old 10-29-2020, 10:33 AM   #19
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Why WITHOUT a harness??.
I should have more precise and said "without crotch straps". The reality is having to deal with those straps would make us use the PFDs less-often than we should and would reduce the net safety benefit to us.

Stupid? Perhaps. But we've lived long enough to know how we operate.
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Old 10-29-2020, 10:49 AM   #20
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I should have more precise and said "without crotch straps". The reality is having to deal with those straps would make us use the PFDs less-often than we should and would reduce the net safety benefit to us.

Stupid? Perhaps. But we've lived long enough to know how we operate.
As even the coast guard say, the best PFD is the one you will wear!
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