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Old 08-08-2017, 15:18   #1
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Basic inflatable PFD for beginner

Hello everyone,

I am a novice sailor with some experience on chartered boats. For now - it looks like I will be sailing more often. With occasional offshore trips on moderate weather. No extremes!

Now I am thinking on investing in a simple inflatable PFD device. My criteria -
1. It shall not cost a fortune. <150$ looks reasonable.
2. Automatic, but with affordable refills. 20$ per refill seems ok. Hydrostatic refills are too expensive.
3. It must be usable as a harness, JIC. With strong buckle and D rings. Tiny plastic buckles looks scary.
4. Nice little features like see through windows are welcome.
5. USCG approval is preferred.

I need your advise and comments on the following life jackets available on the market (search these products on amazone for details.

Eyson Inflatable Life Jacket Life Vest Highly Visible Automatic


90$. Chinese. No USCG approval. Looks very solid, have all required features. I really like its metal buckles.

ABSOLUTE OUTDOOR Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

87$ U.S. Coast Guard Approved Type V Life Jacket. At the same time buckles are very small and plastic. Overall build looks very simple.

Mustang Survival Corp M.I.T. 100 Auto Activation PFD


130$. U.S. Coast Guard Approved. Respected brand. Looks very well built. More expensive and I am not sure if it can be used as a harness.

Please share your opinions. And yes, I know. All these are chip basic jackets. I know there are much better (end expensive) options. Thanks!
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Old 09-08-2017, 07:33   #2
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Re: Basic inflatable PFD for beginner

I guess you don't value you life very much if you want to go cheap or not much for a pfd.
Get the best one you can get period regardless of cost.
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Old 09-08-2017, 07:56   #3
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Re: Basic inflatable PFD for beginner

If you intend to sail offshore, get one with a built in safety harness.

Some models will have metal rings for the teher attachment point. Some will have soft loops that serve the same function.

Do not mistake the large plastic buckles (shown in the Mustang photo you posted) for a real safety harness.

-----------

Since you do not want to buy the most expensive PFD on the market, here is what I recommend for you.

I recently wore one of these for 30 days straight, while sailing offshore and cruising Newfoundland. It was comfortable.

This brand (CREWSAVER) and model (Crewfit 40) has some good features to consider:

Crewsaver Crewfit 40 Pro USCG - Automatic with Harness
Automatic Inflation
40 pounds of inflation (more buoyancy is better, this has more than cheaper competitors and some more expensive models from competitors). More buoyancy is important for lifting your head higher out of the water, especially if you are wearing heavy foulweather clothing and sea boots or are heavier yourself.

Soft harness loop in front (see the blue loops in photo below), for attaching a safety tether when needed. I prefer soft loops like this, rather than metal rings.

Numerous optional accessories designed for safety, such as straps, spray hoods, etc.

Reputable brand.

Lightweight, small diameter when folded, low profile form factor for comfort. Not bulky.
Fabric used is not abrasive, helps comfort.

Very nice construction, quality materials, easy open zipper closure.

Clear window to view the gas device status. This is important to check occasionally. I once saw a crew member wearing a PFD that showed RED status (not usable) and they were not aware of this until I pointed it out to them.

Street price = $169 at Defender when on sale. May be $179 off sale.

Options: Hood $16
Crotch Strap $12

Crewfit 40 Pro USCG | Crewsaver

They have a more expensive (+$50) model called "Ergofit" and some less expensive models too (about $90).

I hope this helps.
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Old 09-08-2017, 07:59   #4
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Re: Basic inflatable PFD for beginner

Here, I have one of these:


Kent A-33 In-Sight Inflatable PFD / Life Jacket


Note it provides 35 lbs. buoyancy, much better than 20 lb. models. You can also buy a proper sailing harness for $75 and wear them together. You'll be within your budget.
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Old 09-08-2017, 08:19   #5
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Re: Basic inflatable PFD for beginner

Mustang is very good, but that model does not have an integrated harness. Those have the D-rings (or sometimes hi-tech line loops) for fastening the tether. The rings (or loops) and tether shackle act as back-ups to the plastic buckles.

For offshore use, you want a PFD with high buoyancy; 35b lbs is standard for this.

Hydrostatic inflators are very nice if you get splashed a lot (working up on the bow of a racing boat you get very wet), but for drier conditions the "dissolving pill" type of trigger will typically give years of service without false activation. Still, the hydrostatics are my choice, and since they have a five-year service life, the actual replacement cost isn't too bad.

This Mustang model with built-in harness costs $210 at WestMarine (https://www.westmarine.com/buy/musta...28?recordNum=1)


Landfall Navigation is also a good source for PFDs and other safety equipment (Inflatable Personal Flotation Devices)

If you can, do try on any PFD before you buy. The fit and comfort around the neck can be an issue for some people. Also consider leg/crotch straps. If you don't have the PFD cinched tightly enough, it can pull off over your head. Some PFD designs have built-in straps. The straps are a bit of a hassle, but may save your life.
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Old 09-08-2017, 09:58   #6
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Re: Basic inflatable PFD for beginner

+1 for the Crewfit 40. Very comfortable and seems to be well made.
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Old 09-08-2017, 12:55   #7
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Re: Basic inflatable PFD for beginner

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steady Hand View Post
...
Crewsaver Crewfit 40 Pro USCG - Automatic with Harness
Automatic Inflation
...

I hope this helps.
Thank you so much, Steady Hand! This is exactly what I was looking for. Within the budget, brand, harness, cheap refills. Ordering...
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