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Inflatable Life Vest ?

1/9/16 @ 8:40 AM
MEMBER since 3/17/02
Anybody wear an inflatable life vest while fishing? Like most people that I see on the water, I haven't put a life jacket on in over 50 years. They are too bulky and hot, but now that I have a titanium shoulder, I am pretty sure my swimming ability will not be what it once was.

I hear "Auto Inflate" life jackets inflate by themselves in hot weather or while in a hot storage compartment. "Manual Inflate" units solve that problem but if I am going to spend the bucks and I am wearing it for "Safety" I feel I should get one with all available "Safety" features.

Anybody using either of these ? Can anyone recommend a good one?


9/26/20 @ 3:28 PM
MEMBER since 6/22/01

Used my inflatable life vest for the first time today.  Barely noticed it was on.  Way more comfortable than a standard life vest!  Glad I went with the self-inflating one.  I can also be string-pulled or manually inflated by mouth.  I'm sure that's standard for all of the self-inflating ones.

9/24/20 @ 3:33 PM
User since 5/11/20

I've also worn them for years. Mine is the Mustang with the auto-inflate function, so if I get bonked on the head going over the side, I know at least I'll wake up facing the right way up with my head high and dry. 

The first one I had saved my life on Erie about 8 years ago when we got caught in a bad storm and stuffed the boat into a wave at about 40 mph. I won't even leave the dock without one now. They're really light and comfortable, you don't even know you're wearing it.

9/24/20 @ 2:23 PM
MEMBER since 4/19/10

Been wearing one for years. Doesn't do much good to store them. We don't even know we have them on. One of the best investments I made.

9/24/20 @ 10:55 AM
MEMBER since 6/22/01
Picked up my self-inflating life vest at Cabela's last night.  Tried it on, it fits! Read thru the instructions.  It said to "test" it out first before inserting the cartridge by manually inflating the vest.  So after finally figuring out how to get to the manual inflator (didn't realize the vest was velcroed all the way around) I inflated it.  No leaks this morning.  Now how to figure out how to get it back into the velcroed "package"!

9/23/20 @ 8:40 AM
Tim Zwieg
User since 1/10/12

I see a lot of the replies have bent towards wearing float suits.  I wear on on cold weather on water an ice, but they are not a life jacket.  I do however wear an inflatable all the time.  I've had inflatables that have the little aspirin that gets wet and inflates.  Yep had them inflate in compartments too, that stinks.  My new ones (I have 3) are made by Mustang.  I don't recall they might be called hydrostatic, not positive, but they inflate based on water pressure, not the aspirin that gets we and melts away.  Never had these accidently inflate.  They are spendy but worth it.

9/22/20 @ 3:29 PM
MEMBER since 7/7/04

Actually inflatables are not a good option for really cold water <40*. When the water is that cold a conventional vest is your best protection. A permanently mounted boarding ladder is the best option of surviving an overboard fall. This is especially true if you are a senior citizen.

9/22/20 @ 9:38 AM
MEMBER since 2/16/04

Let's talk about safety. Fishing in water in the low 40's, if you go overboard and can't climb up your motor and get back in the boat you have close to a half hour before you get so cold you pass out from exposure, (same thing when breaking thru ice fishing). Inflatables are a great warm weather option. I rarely fish alone but many do and it makes safety sense to have and wear a PFD of some kind. Having a throwable on board is a good idea even if one isn't required in smaller boats. Last summer a family friend goosed the throttle on his new motor and flipped himself out the back if his new outboard. The boat slowly idled in a big circle and he grabbed it and dragged himself back into the boat. No small feat for a seventy plus year old guy not wearing a life jacket.

9/19/20 @ 11:49 PM
MEMBER since 7/7/04

Edge- You are 100% correct.

It’s like the people who put their life-jacket over the seat back and buckle it up. Do they think when they go overboard they will have the opportunity to get back in the boat and put it on before drowning?

9/19/20 @ 11:26 AM
User since 2/28/07

Wouldn't a manual inflate be useless if you get thrown in the water and knocked unconscious?

9/19/20 @ 10:25 AM
MEMBER since 6/15/01

things to know... WI law on lifejackets:

  • All vessels (including canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards) must have at least one USCG-approved Wearable life jacket for each person on board.   
  • All vessels 16 feet or more in length must have one USCG-approved Throwable personal flotation device on board that is immediately accessible.   
  • Every person on board a personal watercraft must wear a USCG-approved life jacket
  • Sailboards and windsurfers are exempt from life jacket requirement, but are highly encouraged to wear one.   
  • Federal law requires children under the age of 13 to wear a USCG-approved life jacket while underway in an open vessel on federally controlled waters.

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