Life Preserver/PFD advice requested

I'm part of a club that bought a boat/winch for acro runs over water. I'm psyched about this season. However, I'm getting mixed advice on life preservers/floatation.

1) Some guys say, "Get one of those slim/inflating life preservers, you hardly know it's there and you might be glad you have it."

2) Other guys say the inflating variety will wedge you in your harness and cause problems. Instead, they suggest a traditional semi-bulky life preserver.

3) Then there are guys like me that always fly without one. I've had three water landings and I've always been fine. I was a competitive swimmer and surfer back in the day and I'm pretty comfortable in the water. On the other hand, I'm only a good swimmer when I'm conscious.

Is there a standard that's been agreed upon based on all that experience in places like Lake Garda? What do those guys use, if anything, when they intend to push their personal limits?

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WoodysGamertag's picture

It seems good. I used it once so far. It fully inflated as you'd want it to. It came with a CO2 cylinder but I bought a few spares from amazon too.

If there was one place for improvement it's that the manual pull cord doesn't tuck nicely away. I worry I'll pull it by accident. I wish there was a middle ground between tying it up inside the velcro and having it hang out ready to grab on to something.

WoodysGamertag's picture

It's a club with about 15 people. I think it was about $1700 USD for each person to buy in. After that it's just actual expenses for operating the boat, winch, repairs, storage, etc. The idea was that it's a lot cheaper to do this if we split everything 15 ways and in North Carolina there aren't any nearby places to go.

We're not a commercial operation towing non-members. If you were exposed to the internal politics of the club you'd know that's a serious no-no. It's kind of a bummer too because I know a few guys that would be awesome to have around.

dalechamberlain's picture

How much do you charge ect for each person to get towed up

Jimbo's picture

I got a friend who was a good swimmer and drown conscious as he got entangled in his line under the canopy. If he had a self-inflating device, possibly it would of bring his head out of the water and possibly air would have found it's the way to him, enough for the boat to get there on time. don't forget to wear your cut off knife also, I always wear mine on the chest strap of my harness.

happy landings bro!

Alien's picture

The DHV did a comparison at one stage, and concluded that you needed a 250N self inflating lifevest to be sure not to drown if you hit the water hard.

Someone once mentioned to me that you can use a 150N one if you only prectice when there is a fast boat on watch.

Personally I have the Pilot 250N self inflating one. Haven´t needed it yet but find it comfortable enough when flying.

Fabian's picture

I never fly without it above water, i usually use an auto inflating one. I'm not a bad swimmer but I also suck at swimming when unconscious.
I don't see a reason not to fly with it: you hardly feel them as they are really small, it's rather cheap and could save your life.
Be careful which type you use. I prefer these ones:
Make sure you never use one like this : they contain hard parts that float. When you go in the water at higher speed, it will be pushed upwards, bump into your head and cause neck injuries

jackpimblett's picture

The rule in Garda is that you have to wear an aid of some sort. Typically an inflatable preserver which is available to rent. Oludeniz rents preservers too and I only ever see people with preservers. I've landed in the water a few times in comps without anything of course and been fine. But as you say, when conscious.