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Thread: PFD Query.

  1. #1
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    Default PFD Query.

    So these funky PFDs have sensors and airbags?

    Could someone post a couple of links for folk who are maybe(still ) in the market for a lifejacket. We scared ourselves silly at September weekend and times are definately a' changin'.
    I know nothing about ratings or styles.

    Josh

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    I started out getting a PFD from the Glasgow Angling Center

    http://www.fishingmegastore.com/acat...Vests_560.html

    First I got this one because I liked the fact it was a subtle colour and because it had plenty of pockets.


    Then I got one of these for the same reasons and because I needed a spare.


    But the problem with both of these is I always got way too warm using them. That and they are not actual life jackets. So I got a one of these. It is handy to use and stops me getting too hot.


    The first two are buoyancy aids and will help you keep a float but not guarantee it. The last is a proper life jacket that will flip you on your back and keep your face out of water even if you are unconscious. Of course it is an expensive choice if you are going to be in the water a lot. You could get a manual one but the automatic gives a little added security. Even if there is always that doubt about whether it will work or not
    John

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  3. #3
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    I use a simple Peak River Vest (err, when I actually wear a PFD that is, oops). It's this one - I needed something to surf and WW in mainly, I'm much more slack when I'm touring, unless it's getting lumpy of course, then I don't hesitate.

    If it's a PFD you are after as opposed to a life jacket, have a look here or here. If it's a lifejacket ... that's a trip to a chandlers I guess.

    As John says, the PFD will support you in the water, and I find it's useful protection against bumping into stuff too (hmm, like the boat) but unlike the design of a lifejacket it won't force your head up out of the water ...

    The rating will be in N, basically, more N is more bouyant, but there's lots to take into account in how it translates into performance (including your weight), so treat that as a starting point only, nothing more. It's something you might need to absolutely reply on one day, so a trip to a well informed canoe shop would be a worthwhile investment I'd say.

    As a disclaimer - I've no connection with either shops (but I use both, and both are good shops - there will be others of course, these are just local to me).

    Good luck.

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    Thanks for the info guys, quite a selection.

    I've heard of the Glasgow Angling Centre for years but never been there, it's about a ten minute walk away as well.
    Probably the Parmaris Pro Classic.


    ....in manual would be about right. I'd fancied something like the first two but thinking about it am never doing much but paddling so don't really need pockets and hadn't considered overheating either but I suppose you don't when you're in a t-shirt.
    I'll also probably try using my bike waterproofs at some point. They're pretty bulky and the vests might have a hard time fitting over them.
    The sensor seems like a great idea but I get wet a lot. I've only been over twice but have been soaked through from just spray and rain a few times.

    Does it sound presumptious to imagine that you know when you're going to be in deep enough smeg to warrant pulling the inflation cord?
    My first time over was a joke. First trip, out on Loch Lomond and tried standing up(No - we will not be bowfishing from this ). Shorts and barefoot - no big deal.
    Second time, blew it launching into a rough sea and flipped over inches away from the boulder I was lauching from. Knew it was going to happen from the off and would have been eagerly reaching for a ripcord long before I hit the water.

    The other scenario that worried me is going over then losing the canoe in a swell. A proper lifejacket(or inflatable version thereof) would appear to be a better choice.
    Also the price of the refills for that one makes buying a couple of spares a bit more reasonable. If I'd have used one just getting into the boat, who knows how many could be needed on a long trip .

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    Not sure if you will be thinking about pulling the cord when you need it. I actually have the cord tucked in out of the way as I am concerned about it catching on something and setting the jacket off by accident.

    The one time I took a swim I know I was far more concerned with trying to hang on to my canoe and paddle to think about pulling the cord but then again I was not concerned about drowning.

    Also I can assure you that you will not set of the sensor simply by getting rained on and splashed, even a soaking in these conditions is not going to do it. Remember this is the sort of life jacket proper fishermen are using on boats and they get really soaked in rough weather. You need to have the jacket immersed in water for about 5 seconds before the sensor activates.

    On the pricing front I recently got two recharge kits for my automatic jacket. One to use and a spare. They were cheaper than the site is currently showing, 15 which is only 5 more than the recharge kit for the manual one.
    John

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    I have a sneaky suspicion that when I'm standing in front of them it'll be the auto one that gets lifted now.

    Good to know that they have a bit of leeway in the getting wet stakes. Kind of figured they might have but wasn't sure.
    Cheers for the input. I'll pick a couple up at the weekend (and give good odds that Loch Fyne is a millpond when we go out the week after).

  7. #7

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    Longish post coming up!

    Lifejackets like these are ok as a backup on a big loch or on the sea but they do have a couple of drawbacks to them (especially the auto's) that could actually prove to be fatal!!

    Scenario 1.Loch, nice day, flat water, no wind, near shore - you decide to practise a few difficult strokes, perhaps a running pry that if you get it wrong you could end up in the water.

    you get it wrong and you end up in the water - pfisssss - lifejacket inflates, you bob up and realise that you're only 20 feet from shore so it's easier to swim the boat a few feet to shallow water and empty it there.

    You get out deflate the lifejacket , empty out and get back in. But wait a minute - no lifejacket anymore! You've still got the oral top up valve but try lying in the water blowing the whole thing up just from that - not easy. So either thats the end of your practise or you go in without a bouyancy aid - not good but not particularly dangerous

    If you had had a manual version you could have chosen not to inflate it - you were only feet from shore and perfectly safe - why put the rest of your day at risk by having it inflate when you didn't need it?

    Scenario 2 On a river, easy grade two with a few grade three drops that you intend to portage, a mile from the start with two miles to the take out, weather chilly but fine.

    You fall in on a bad eddy trying to get off the water 150 metres above a grade three drop.

    pfissss - lifejacket inflates - up you come to the surface. You grab the 20m throwline tied to the boat and start to swim for shallow water. Bl**dy difficult to swim the boat to the side with this big collar on, the current catches the boat and takes it downstream, you cant hold it and swim so you let it go. Boat goes over the drop and gets trashed in a hole. You make it to the side 50m above the hole and thank goodness your ok - shame about the boat and the loss of your paddles. Get the boat back downstream of the hole a bit dented and dinged but your paddles are headed out to sea - a long 2 miles walk to the take out when you're soaking wet and getting colder by the minute, and just how am I going to get my boat back from where I've stashed it on the bank?

    Wish I'd worn a bouyancy aid I could swim in! Very cold and still wet by the take out point but at least I'm still alive.

    If you'd worn a river bouyancy aid you could have swum effectively with it and recovered the boat before it got trashed and your paddles lost from the lashing on it. Even if you had recovered your boat and paddles you'd either have had to navigate the rest of the way down a grade two river without a bouyancy aid (not good) or kept it inflated for the rest of the trip where it will get in the way (a lot) or could be damaged and deflate anyway.

    Scenario 3. Big loch, nice day but cool, stiff breeze building on the loch but not too bad, you decide to make the couple of mile crossing with the wind at your back - it's only a couple of miles and you'll only take half an hour or so - no problem!

    About a mile out you realise that the waves are starting to build as the fetch of the wind over the loch piles them up. Still no problems - the wind is behind you and you're trimmed well, you're moving fast so you'll be across soon.

    Whoops, got it wrong coming down the face of a small wave and you broached and filled with water - you're in the loch.

    Pfissss - lifejacket inflates - you bob up but the wind has got you because you are floating so high compared to the swamped boat and you're being being blown away from the boat faster than you can swim. You swim as hard as you can towards the boat but it's hard to make any headway against the wind, by the time you get there (if you do!) you're exhausted, but at least the energy you used got you warm. You've practised this before in an easy little loch so it's an over the side self rescue, bale out the water and get to shore fast as possible - no problem. Round to the side, grab the gunwhales, pull and frog kick hard as you can but you're not getting back in as long as the lifejacket and harness keeps hanging up on the gunwhales. You try several times, getting more and more tired each time, eventually you haven't got the energy to do it any more - you drift hanging on to the boat getting colder and colder and colder and colder - fatally not good!

    Alternatively; you realise that there is no way you can climb back in with it inflated so as a last ditch you decide to dump the lifejacket and pull yourself in - you make it, you're getting colder so you bale as fast as you can and get moving for the shore, now only a mile away with the drift - except the waves are bigger now with the increased fetch and you fall in again a quarter mile further on - this time without a lifejacket on. Not good, potentially fatally not good!

    I wear a smoth faced over the head pull on bouyancy aid that I have have practised in enough to know I can slide over the gunwhales, I can swim in it better than in a lifejacket and I won't damage the flotation dragging myself in.

    Even bouyancy aids with pockets on the front can be dangerous in the situation I've described and if you've got a big buckle on the front from a "river rescue" harness type ba you'll struggle to get in too.

    I do use a lifejacket sometimes as a back up if I'm on the sea or on a big loch - but it's a manual so I can choose whether to inflate it or not and it's only a backup in case I can't get in the boat for some reason and need to stay in the water.

    Some of you may agree or disagree with what I've said, but the above scenario's are all ones I've found myself in at one time or another (albeit none with fatal results [or I wouldn't be typing this ] and in each case I was wearing a bouyancy aid not a lifejacket) and in each situation I reckon a lifejacket could have caused me more problems than it solved.

    George

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    When I was in the Ardeche, our instructor made us spend much of a day practicing recovery drills for varying numbers of people and canoes. After ten minutes of treading water I was starting to regret those handy pockets on the front of my PFD, they really do make it harder to get back aboard.

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    I can't and won't argue with anything you say George, mostly because you are right . In my defense I do wear the Auto but have one of my others with me. It has crossed my mind that I would need a spare as the inflated auto is less than ideal to paddle in.

    Also I don't or haven't done any real river trips and this would alter my choices dramatically. My trips are on Lochs and if it is not the local Loch I will almost certainly have the canoe pretty well loaded. If I am not near shore my intention has been to take the drybag with my Phone, Keys, dry clothes and Blizzard bag and swim for shore.

    My original plan for the auto was to use it on the sunny days when I would be tempted not to wear any PFD but I confess it has become the one I use most often.
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  10. #10

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    Fair do's John, we all make our choices - and better something than nothing, but I would recommend that you practise getting back in the boat - and keep practising until you can do it in as many different situations as you can. (practise often enough and I garantee you'll dump the lifejacket!) If the water is big enough that it's going to tip you in and your far off shore you're not going to make it to shore by swimming! (well I wouldn't anyway - you might be a heck of a lot stronger than me )

    Even a bouyancy aid tied in to the boat so that you can get at it and put it on if you go in (after you've deflated the lifejacket to get back in the boat) would be better than just a spare lifejacket.

    You might have noticed that I don't like lifejackets

    They have their place but IMO it's not in a canoe.

    george

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    Sorry I should have been clearer. When I said I carried a spare it is not a spare auto it is this one.



    And I know it has loads of pockets but as you say. I may be climbing in without any jacket then putting that one on.
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  12. #12

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    Just another quick thought on lifejackets versus bouyancy aids.

    One of the easiest ways to get a boost to help get you back in the boat is to grab the gunwhales about the middle of the boat and push yourself under the water until your arms are straight. Pull hard and let the bouyancy of your BA boost you to the surface frog kicking like crazy as you do it - as you start to come up grab the gunwhale on the other side with your right hand with your left hand still on the near gunwhale. If you can't reach all the way across then grab the centre thwart as far across as you can. You should now be lying half across the boat with the far gunwhale tipping up towards you and the near gunwhale dipping down to the water line. Pull with your right hand , kick with your legs and push with your left hand - being careful not to tip the boat right over. You should eventually pull yourself over the gunwhale and end up lying gasping in the bottom of the boat! The reason for pushing (hard) with your left hand is to try to raise yourself up over the gunwhale so that your Lifejacket harness, BA or clothing dont get caught up and stop you getting in. It's harder than you think and deserves a lot of practise, both on a nice sunny day and in the middle of January when the wind is howling.

    Try doing it with a lifejacket on!

    George

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    Scenario 1 I can see all too clear. Wasting the jacket and having it interfere is what worries me most about a sensor.

    Senario 2.
    <----<<<
    Gotta say here George, I shouldn't even be on this forum. It's no place for an inflatable user but hey, I got invited so might as well clutter the place up some .
    <----<<<
    Rivers are still unknown to me outside of a lesurely summer potter down the Clyde. I'll no doubt launch myself into white stuff at some point, the only reason it's not happened already is because I've had no jacket at all.
    If I did I'd want something automatic or preferably permanent but most of my time(and it'll be the same for a good while) is spent doing a 3 mile trip each way on a sea loch in one of these.....

    ....pretty much regardless of weather. They're stable, carry some gear and have a hard time sinking. Do the job alright.

    I did have a good flick through the river vests but only a few looked like they might be of use in a swell, and they were predictibly top-of-the-range.

    Scenario 3 is what it's all about.
    Taking an uncontrolled dive off a boulder I'd have reached for a ripcord for fear of landing on my head, but there would have been numerous occasions on that last trip where a capsize would have just been a bit of a laugh, even on a rough sea.
    I travel with a partner, we stay well away from shore, can both swim a bit, the boats dont really sink and everything gets lanyarded. As a last resort there were dolphins. A lifejacket is for when things get really bad.

    Big buckle, now that might be a problem. Going to have to check it for sharp edges .

    I do use a lifejacket sometimes as a back up if I'm on the sea or on a big loch - but it's a manual so I can choose whether to inflate it or not and it's only a backup in case I can't get in the boat for some reason and need to stay in the water.
    Some of you may agree or disagree with what I've said.......
    Bingo!

    I'm inclined to agree. While I appreciate the unconcious side of the equation and was swayed for a while, I reckon a manual for muggins and a talk through it with Scotty about what he wants. (I reserve the right to change my mind again a dozen times over between now and the checkout tomorrow )

    Best would be one where the sensor is integral to the refill and you can get one of each, choose which to launch in and use the other as a spare....

  14. #14

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    Nothing wrong with inflatables Groovski - some pretty epic trips done in some of them.

    I'd definately get myself a good BA before I went out again though if I were you. Have a look at the "centre range" from most of the big manufacturers - they tend to be simple cheap and strong because they're aimed at the outdoor centre industry.

    I have a bit of a thing about safety and what to do if tshtf - I'm operations manager for an outdoor centre and it's my responsibility to make sure that everyone comes back so if I come across as heavy on topics like this it's only cos I have to at work too

    george

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    At the top of the page when I said we scared ourself silly I really meant we scared ourself sh*tless but didn't want to swear.

    It was great, we'll do it again at the drop of a hat. There's something about the term "Aid" that I really don't lke.

    The swells were 6-8ft and I kid you not. We had double ended paddles and were losing sight of each other while only 40ft apart. The pace of the paddle was:

    Get lined up and surf a wave/swell.
    Spend the next one recovering from whetever way the last had left you pointed.
    Get lined and.....

    Will a BA keep a guy(quite a wee guy) afloat in that kind of nonsence?

  16. #16

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    a BA will keep you on the surface - what it wont do is turn you face up if you are unconcious like a lifejacket will.

    They come with different ratings in newtons - the higher the rating the more bouyancy but also the bulkier and harder to swim in.

    With a BA you can swim on your front - you cant with a lifejacket (well not properly anyway!)

    A BA will also give you a degree of insulation that a lifejacket won't - not great on a hot summers day but brilliant if your paddling in the usual conditions we get!

    George

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    Yeah, confused as I may be, that's what I thought.

    I'm going to go for an inflatable lifejacket in manual. Will probably end up with a couple over time so I can buy a nice vest-type when the weather gets better. I really don't think they would fit over my bike gear in the winter.
    ....and with that gear on I probably wouldn't be able to surface anyway. It's bound to add weight when wet. All the more reason to go for a LJ.

    You better believe I'll have a BA before my next trip. That's why I'm asking .

    Josh

    P.S.
    I'm really confused now.
    A boyancy aid is any form of lifejacket?
    Does it mean the same thing as a PDF?

  18. #18

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    OK

    A PFD is the american term for a bouyancy aid - it stands for "personal flotation device" They have different ratings and have some permanent flotation that doesn't require inflation. Some have collars and loads of bouyancy and extra inflatable bouyancy and would actually be classed as lifejackets in the UK as they will keep you afloat when unconcious and will turn you face up (see http://www.nrsweb.com/pfd.asp scroll down to "coast guard approval ratings)

    A bouyancy aid is similar with permanent (usually closed cell foam) flotation they are rated from 50 newtons for sheltered inshore water, and very unusually, up to 275 newtons and above for serious nasty water.(though at that level of flotation it would be classed as a lifejacket) For canoeing you probably wouldn't use anything over 100 newtons. see here: http://www.crew-safe.co.uk/acatalog/...n_Ratings.html

    A lifejacket can be called that if it is above 100 newtons of flotation. They can be inflatable and do not need to have permanent bouyancy. At the upper ranges they will turn you face up if you are unconcious and will keep you afloat in serious waves. see here http://www.crewsaver.co.uk/crewsaver...es/newtons.htm

    It is confusing, read the info pages I've linked to and you'll probably get some idea of all the possible categories - but basically for paddling you would generally use something with closed cell foam flotation with around 50 - 75 newtons of bouyancy. If you are out at sea or on a big loch where you might end up in the water for a long time you might want to add an inflatable collar type lifejacket like John's - a lot of sea kayakers carry them as a backup.

    Hope this helps

    george
    Last edited by george; 9th-December-2005 at 09:20 PM.

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    Hi Guys,

    Having just come over from the darkside (kayaking) I find this debate very interesting - I have been paddling now for about 15 years and am a coach and canoe safety assessor - not that my opinion is any more valid then the above.

    In all that time I have never seen any one using a Lifejacket - automatic or manual ! - the jacket style lifejackets above don't seem particulary suitable for canoeing - most canoeing BA's are cut for freedom of movement and can be tensioned / untensioned to allow air movement and aid comfort - fit etc - as for pockets / harnesses etc - The basic canoe safety concept is KEEP IT SIMPLE - if you don't need it - don't carry it.
    and if you carry it - know how to use it.

    There were also a few plans mentioned earlier about swimming for shore with your dry bag etc. - may I suggest a better strategy is to stay with your boat - having made sure it has extra bouyancy air bags etc and you have practiced re-entry's then head for your destination - doyou really want to be on a remote shorline with just the contents of your drybag for company?

    This is only a brief overview of a few thoughts and as a final comment I think you need to think on a broader base then just which PFD to use safety starts before you have out the boat on the car roof - a few quid spent on a Canoe Safety test course may be a wise investment

    Cheers - see you soon
    Gary
    Put a canoe on the water and see the world

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary
    In all that time I have never seen any one using a Lifejacket - automatic or manual ! - the jacket style lifejackets above don't seem particulary suitable for canoeing - most canoeing BA's are cut for freedom of movement and can be tensioned / untensioned to allow air movement and aid comfort - fit etc - as for pockets / harnesses etc - The basic canoe safety concept is KEEP IT SIMPLE - if you don't need it - don't carry it.
    and if you carry it - know how to use it.
    In a kayak you are just getting wet way to often for a lifejacket to be an option. Plus if you overturn you really should roll back with you still inside, as I understand.

    The black PFD with the pockets above is cut to give reasonable movement, the green one not so much but it is an issue and one reason why I went for the automatic braces.

    Regarding the pockets and stuff, that is a sign of the type of canoe use I make. If I were river running etc then I would have a wetsuit and slim PFD but I am using my canoe for tripping (see below). Also in open water if I go over the side and my canoe stays right way up there is every possibility the wind will catch it and make it imposable for me to catch it. In this situation I will be glad of the few bits and pieces I have in my pockets when I have to swim to shore.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary
    There were also a few plans mentioned earlier about swimming for shore with your dry bag etc. - may I suggest a better strategy is to stay with your boat - having made sure it has extra buoyancy air bags etc and you have practiced re-entry's then head for your destination - doyou really want to be on a remote shorline with just the contents of your drybag for company?
    Given that my drybag would have dry clothes, my phone, a tarp, hammock, mat, sleeping bag, food, cooker, axe, saw and generally enough stuff to live in comfort for a few days to a number of weeks, I can imagine worse situations

    I think this is at the heart of this discussion. I have been in the water, by accident once in the last year and I consider an unusual exception when I was out for a play. My canoe use is generally for exploring and camping on flat water. I have no intention of being in the water but if I do end up taking a bath I do not want to drown. Ideally I want to get back in and continue on my journey, as you rightly say, but first of all I do not want to drown, second is not getting hypothermia.

    Buoyancy bags are certainly a valuable asset but in my case the room they would take is being filled with kit. In saying that the kit will be in dry bags and will have a positive effect on buoyancy.

    I do not think there is any ideal PFD they are all compromises based on what your requirements and needs are. I think this thread highlights that and makes for an interesting discussion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary
    This is only a brief overview of a few thoughts and as a final comment I think you need to think on a broader base then just which PFD to use safety starts before you have out the boat on the car roof - a few quid spent on a Canoe Safety test course may be a wise investment

    Cheers - see you soon
    I am all for any form of safety training and would strongly recommend that to anyone. As well as canoe safety I would push First Aid, something I really need to address better myself. I would be a shame to get back into your canoe safely only to die of hypothermia sitting in your wet clothes in a cold wind

    I have to say this thread is throwing up a lot of interesting views.
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

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    Hi John

    Your dead right this is throwing up some good discussion and we seem to becoming to similar conclusions from opposite ends of the scale.
    Your right about kayaks - you shouldbe able to roll but this is by no means garaunteed in which case a BA not only keeps you afloat but also offers some protection against knocks and bangs and will also offer some heat retention when your on dry land again. Also kayakers in this country don't normally go on multiday trips so arguablely kit capacity is not so much of as issue.

    My maxim for any piece of kit is - you should know why you have chosen it- rather than it just looks nice!! - I think here we agree.

    You have also obviously weighed up the risks you will encounter and chosen your kit to support this - which is an excellent approach.

    Finally - and this is a serious question does your kit bag with your gear in float ? - I am in the process of putting together similar kit and am trying to estimate how much stuff to take and in what size dry bag to try and get the positive bouyancy we refer to.
    Gary
    Put a canoe on the water and see the world

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary
    Finally - and this is a serious question does your kit bag with your gear in float ? - I am in the process of putting together similar kit and am trying to estimate how much stuff to take and in what size dry bag to try and get the positive bouyancy we refer to.
    Yes it does float. actually my kit is generally divided into three bags now. One for my food and cooker as I tend to need this more often. One for frequently needed stuff / day bag, which has spare clothes, waterproofs, dark glasses, gloves, first aid and some repair kit (duck tape). The third big bag takes the rest. I do have a Lowepro Dryzone bag for my camera gear as well.

    The size of the bag is largely irrelevant. almost anything you are putting in it will be lighter than the same VOLUME of water. So it does not matter that your stove would normally sink. If it is in a dry bag it will float due to the volume of air incorporated in with it.

    So my advice is to get big bags. you can always roll them smaller if you want but you can't make a smaller one bigger.

    Hope that makes sense.
    John

    I started at the bottom and I like it here

  23. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by george

    You might have noticed that I don't like lifejackets

    They have their place but IMO it's not in a canoe.

    george
    agreed. I dislike pfd's and lifejackets, because they are items of last resort. Once you are in the drink with an inflated lifejacket on you are effectively out of the game [an accident victim if you like], self help is almost impossible, [ever tried swimming in an inflated l'jacket?].
    I have several l'j's at home both auto and manual, and would certainly never ever use an auto anywhere I thought I ran the chance of ending up in the water as a matter of course ie - dinghies, cats and canoes.

    A manual I would consider, but it's still a pain, as is a BA to be truthfull. Whilst I would always wear a BA when the situation warranted it [rough weather, rough water where the unexpected will happen] I would rather be attached to the best liferaft in the area ie the boat/canoe.
    Last edited by Obscured by Clouds; 5th-January-2006 at 03:50 PM.
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    Not at all keen on the idea of having no buoyancy aid and being tied to the canoe.

    What would you do if you cannot get back into the canoe? Trying to swim the canoe to shore would be difficult and swimming without it and a PFD would be really dangerous.
    John

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    Not at all keen on the idea of having no buoyancy aid and being tied to the canoe.

    What would you do if you cannot get back into the canoe? Trying to swim the canoe to shore would be difficult and swimming without it and a PFD would be really dangerous.
    For what it's worth, I never tie in to the boat. I do sometimes wear a PFD, but not always - and generally I think of it as body armour as much as anything, having been hit by my boat in the past and not finding much pleasure in the experience.

    I agree that personal floatation is an item of last resort, but that said, applying the usual risk assessment principles one eventually gets down the list to the [risk] management being personal protection equipment ...

    I can see occasions where being attached to the boat would be useful, especially on big open water, but equally, I can see it being a pretty big problem too, but maybe by then you'd be out of options anyway.

    Interesting discussion for sure.

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    Default PDF -womens fit

    i have (via father christmas) a women's fit palm PDF (rogue) and it fits! highly recommended for us women...

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    Default Lifejacket

    For what it's worth, i do a lot of sailing, and last year did a sea survival course, which involved jumping in a pool with a lifejacket and oilskins on, and i'd agree with the comments that its well nigh impossible to swim with one on - the best i could manage was on my back doing a frog kick. As regards getting into a canoe, getting into a liferaft (which has a special knee board, underwater ladder and handholds and is very difficult to capsize) is hard enough, but trying to clamber into a canoe with one on seems seriously hard. On the other hand, buoyancy aids don;t give you a lot of flotation - but you can swim in 'em!

  28. #28
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    Default PFDs, lifejackets or wetsuits

    I've found this discussion fascinating and would like to add some comments and a different view or two.

    First as I understand it, automatic inflating lifejackets generally have a pre-cocked striker using a compressed spring that drives a pin to penetrate the end of a CO2 cartridge. The pin is held back by a pellet that dissolves in water. They are great for a fighter aircraft say, where they are very well maintained & kept dry until needed. However damp conditions tend to soften the pellet allowing the spike to slowly move forward & gently cause a leak in the gas cartridge. So when needed --- nothing.

    Therefore I prefer the manual type, being far more reliable, (but watch out for corrosion seizing the mechanism up). I wear a helmet for any whitewater, etc, so hopefully unconsciousness is unlikely. I've had one of these manual gas lifejackets (an RFD) for 20 years plus for sea kayaking, but carefully wash it in fresh water, inspect & repack it after each trip.

    For open water Canoeing it's also a good choice in my opinion. They are very light & un-restrictive to wear.

    But for rivers I try to keep as snag free as possible, especially from overhanging trees & underwater branches. So am even wary of the waist / neck strap.

    What I prefer is a simple long John wetsuit which gives buoyancy, some protection against knocks & most important protection against hypothermia. I add a wetsuit vest over the top for extra padding / buoyancy / warmth as necessary. This has served me well for many, many years. It's snag free, enables you to swim, climb, re-enter, etc. more easily & is much easier to roll a canoe / kayak. I feel you are unlikely to drown unless rendered too cold to swim. If you are too cold to swim, you will probably drown in a PFD as your face falls forward into the water.

    So usually I wear no PFD, sometimes a gas inflatable lifejacket, but always a wetsuit (unless conditions are super sublime).

    I am looking for a PFD for those really hot days, but have yet to find one I really like. The closest are some of the impact vests that kite surfers wear. Not too much buoyancy, close fitting, no straps, excellent impact protection & some warmth.

    Bear in mind that if you are shooting weirs and some natural falls, too much buoyancy will drown you, by trapping you in the stopper. The only way out is down to the bottom & out with the current. Being held on the surface is lethal.

    Iknow these are controversial views & I'd be very interested in any thoughts please ?

  29. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by ChasDWarren View Post
    I've had one of these manual gas lifejackets (an RFD) for 20 years plus for sea kayaking, but carefully wash it in fresh water, inspect & repack it after each trip.

    For open water Canoeing it's also a good choice in my opinion. They are very light & un-restrictive to wear.

    I feel you are unlikely to drown unless rendered too cold to swim. If you are too cold to swim, you will probably drown in a PFD as your face falls forward into the water.

    Iknow these are controversial views & I'd be very interested in any thoughts please ?
    I've taken some of the bits from your post that I'd personally question. And I am actually intrested in your answers to some questions, and comments I have.

    In the years of paddling how many times have you HAD to deploy your vest. How did you re-enter your kayak. if you had to deflate what safety did you have then, did you insert a new cartridge (considering you'd still be in the environment that caused you to swim in the first place)

    I find the inflateable lifejackets while comfortable when down become a pain when up.

    I'm now down to 3 BA's and all have more floatation on the front than back this may not turn you around if floating face down but when floating on my back I tend to stay like that, in a situation where cold becomes the issuye I'd get my self in this position before I could bo nothing else.

    I'd rather have the equipment that would allow me to paddle the boat ashore, so I will continue to paddle either with a BA or not but not a life jacket unless I'm happy to stay in the water until rescued.
    just my thoughts
    JD
    He knows not where he's going, For the ocean will decide, It's not the destination, It's the glory of the ride

  30. #30
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    I understand your point & indeed have never had to activate my lifejacket in anger. Most of it's use has been sea kayaking / surfing. My plan is always to roll, if not, swim or re-enter as appropriate using wetsuit buoyancy. Activating the lifejacket is for me last ditch, when all else has failed, I am un-able to help myself or have rest of the group help me & can only wait for rescue. But i do find the wetsuit gives good buoancy to swim with & minimum obstruction to enable self / assisted rescue.

    Therefore no I don't carry spare cartridges, but mouth inflation using the inherent wetsuit buoyancy is a back up option.

    Quote Originally Posted by bikemec View Post
    I've taken some of the bits from your post that I'd personally question. And I am actually intrested in your answers to some questions, and comments I have.

    In the years of paddling how many times have you HAD to deploy your vest. How did you re-enter your kayak. if you had to deflate what safety did you have then, did you insert a new cartridge (considering you'd still be in the environment that caused you to swim in the first place)

    I find the inflateable lifejackets while comfortable when down become a pain when up.

    I'm now down to 3 BA's and all have more floatation on the front than back this may not turn you around if floating face down but when floating on my back I tend to stay like that, in a situation where cold becomes the issuye I'd get my self in this position before I could bo nothing else.

    I'd rather have the equipment that would allow me to paddle the boat ashore, so I will continue to paddle either with a BA or not but not a life jacket unless I'm happy to stay in the water until rescued.
    just my thoughts

  31. #31

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    I'm relatively new to canoeing, but not new to being in the water.

    I'm in the military and have done some sea survival training with the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. Basically the gist of the abandon ship drill was to wear a once only survival suit and inflated life jacket and then jump into the sea. Tread water for however long the sadistic instructor thought was long enough and then to swim 20yds to the liferaft and climb in. The liferaft has a kneeling mat/ladder type thing to aid you in clambering in, but it wasnt much use, especially with being so wet and cold, never mind being encombered by a life jacket.

    I have also completed some cnaoeing courses which aim to get you wet to teach you how to get back into your boat. Although a PFD/BA made this somewhat difficult I was glad of the thing when after an afternoon of these drills fatigue starts to become a factor. Fatigue could so easily be a factor in real life when you have been paddling all day and then thats when you wind up having an impromptu swim.

    Another thing that I enjoy is open boating on rivers, the best and biggest river I've been on was the Spey. On the Spey I happened to take a wee dip, totally unplanned and again was glad of the PFD/BA that i was wearing. I managed to go in on a grade 3 rapid and the current swept me downstream before I really knew what was happening, however, I was afloat without having to think about it which gives you one less thing to think about.

    We are all adults and free to make whatever choices we want, however to assume that you'll be alright just because you have a plan for every eventuality is not really a plan at all. The water is a dangerous place regardless of flat water, rivers or loughs or wherever you happen to paddle.

    I believe from experience that the wearing of proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) should be mandatory.

    I have worked in the SAR (Search and Rescue) world and have had to get out of bed at night too often to go to the aid of someone who has gotten themselves into bother when they've been poorly equipped. It never ceased to anger me/us that a loved one had to get the information that no loved one should get all because of lack of knowledge and lack of equipment.

    Respect the evironment you are in, respect the dangers and plan accordingly.

    The dangers of course arent just drowning. Theres banging heads when falling in so wear a helmet. Theres the threat of cold injury so wear appropriate clothing. Above all else proper training will help prepare you for most if not all eventualities.

    Well thats my two penneth worth. Rant over. Back to the river.

  32. #32
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    Wink On with the discussion - and the BA!

    I have been paddling - both open canoe and kayak, as well as sailing and operating fast rescue craft - for almost 30 years, and I have never gone afloat, in any sort of situation, without some kind of personal flotation. For most purposes, I prefer the freedom of movement and sense of security of a BA.
    While working in the outdoor industry as a watersports instructor, I was involved in assessing the benefits of both bouyancy aids and lifejackets for various activities. The centre at which I worked got rid of the vast majority of their lifejackets, as it was felt the manuals were too difficult to inflate and the autos unreliable. Testing also proved that several designs struggled to turn an unconscious casualty on to their back with head clear of the water. BA's, on the other hand, as others in the thread have pointed out, provide sufficient flotation to let the wearer swim back to their boat or wait to be rescued by another craft, as well as impact protection from rocks, paddles and other boats and insulation in cold water (lots of that in Scotland!).
    Finally, I have been required, as part of rescue training and in real life situations to re-board open canoes, various sailing craft and powered rescue craft - none of my multi-pocket expedition or swift water rescue type BA's has ever prevented me doing so. I have caught a strap or pocket once or twice, but always managed to free it and get back in.

    So it's a BA, and any other appropriate PPE for me - every time - and basic survival gear, even if I'm only on the local canal, as I was this afternoon!

    Rant over - for now!!

    Happy paddling to all, whatever side of the force you represent

  33. #33
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    OK folks, but in the UK is very often cold in the form of hypothermia that actually kills (though drowning following the hypothermia may be on the death cert, so shouldn't we be talking about how to deal with that as much as stay afloat.

    That's why I advocate a wetsuit or perhaps (though I have no personal experience of them) a drysuit & suitable clothing).

    What does anyone think ?

  34. #34
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    I think this is now starting ask two questions, the life jacket or BA debate and survivablity once in the water.

    I'll stick with my BA for most situations if I'm heading off on a friends yatch then the lifejacket will be worn.

    The reasons for this is so I can swim easier and can get back in to my open canoe and sea kayak, My play boat sinks when I try!

    This also helps with the cold as I'm back in my boat and out of the water.

    Wetsuits can be good they do have their own bouyancy, and give a nice amount of protection from light bumping around when swimming.

    But they work best when wet, I find they can get uncomfortable and too hot if you stay dry, dry suits don't protect you from the cold but do allow you to wear the correct clothing underneath.

    One thing I don't like is the mention of mandatory or complusory. I don't want to have to put on a full dry suit, helmet, BA or worse lifejacket. for every time I paddle.
    The people who make rules often aren't involved in the sport and just see water and canoe (this would include kayak), and I would not want to wear the same gear on a grade 4 as in my sea kayak , as in a multiday trip in my open etc...
    JD
    He knows not where he's going, For the ocean will decide, It's not the destination, It's the glory of the ride

  35. #35

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    The argument for not wearing a PFD/BA seems to be one of "I normally paddle on flat water, therefore dont expect to fall in and get wet".

    Which is all very well and good, but then read the threads for dry bags or barrels and everyone seems to have one or knows where to get a decent price on one or knows which is the best to buy. If YOU are not going to fall in, why have a barrel or dry bag for what, at the end of the day, are ONLY possessions. Albeit expensive ones, possessions n one the less.

  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Homer View Post
    The argument for not wearing a PFD/BA seems to be one of "I normally paddle on flat water, therefore dont expect to fall in and get wet".

    Which is all very well and good, but then read the threads for dry bags or barrels and everyone seems to have one or knows where to get a decent price on one or knows which is the best to buy. If YOU are not going to fall in, why have a barrel or dry bag for what, at the end of the day, are ONLY possessions. Albeit expensive ones, possessions n one the less.
    We are all different, but speaking for myself - far from it. I paddle rivers including whitewater & in particular weirs and lakes / lochs large & small wearing a wetsuit in preference to a BA. On small rivers or those in spate in particular, a modern bouyancy aid covered in straps & loops can very easily tangle in a tree branches & trap you underwater. One of the high buoyancy types in particular can easily trap you in the stopper of a weir. The over the head types, especially if wearing a helmet, would be very hard to remove in such a situation.

    I think you have to look at the real causes of death. People don't generally drown until they are unconscious or totally incapacitated. That happens normally either thru cold or a blow to the head. I wear a good helmet whenever that is likely & a wetsuit to counter the cold, add bouyancy & provide padding without inhibiting self rescue.

    Jumping into a canoe on a cold lake or river say & feeling safe just because you have put your BA on is to me a false sense of security.

  37. #37
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    Default PFD's...

    Here's another grim thought - let's suppose you aren't wearing a PFD, something happens and you die.
    In the subsequent enquiries ( including the coroner's.. ) that will follow, the fact that you weren't properly equipped may invalidate any compensation that your life insurance may decide to pay out...? It would be no different from me taking the bike out for a sunday blast without a crash helmet on and landing on my head...
    So think about that one next time you say goodbye to your loved ones as you head off for a paddle!

    Owain.

    ( anyone in the insurance world like to clarify that? )

  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by owain harris View Post
    It would be no different from me taking the bike out for a sunday blast without a crash helmet on and landing on my head...
    not sure you can make this assumption. on a (motor)bike you have to wear a helmet by law. there is no law that requires you do wear a PFD in a canoe. at least not here in the netherlands.

    i would not worry about this unless your insurance contract either clearly states something along these lines, or an insurance lawyer can confirm this.

  39. #39
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    Default Pfd...

    Quote Originally Posted by lowlander View Post
    not sure you can make this assumption. on a (motor)bike you have to wear a helmet by law. there is no law that requires you do wear a PFD in a canoe. at least not here in the netherlands.

    i would not worry about this unless your insurance contract either clearly states something along these lines, or an insurance lawyer can confirm this.
    You don't have to wear a helmet in this country if you are a Sikh....apparently their religion protects them...!

  40. #40
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    Default PFD Advice Sought

    Hi all

    I'm relatively new to the site and canoeing having just taken the plunge (so to speak) and bought my first. Having said that, I live in SW France and have used hire canoes quite a few times in a number of locations before giving up and investing in my own stuff which as yet, doesn't include PFDs (or Lifejackets).

    Anyway, I have some questions before I decide on the best way forward...

    Normally the PFDs with the hire kit are uncomfortable and far to hot to wear in the late spring/summer here (30 degree plus heat) so I have to admit that they have ended up as additional padding for my ample behind on most occaisions. Does anyone know of a product that is not too hot to wear, maybe like the mesh biker jackets you can get ?

    As I said, I'm not built like a Japanese Racing Snake so need to find something to fit a 50" chest and a good 19 stone. My experience of supposed XXXL in the past is that these can vary massively in actual size. Any thoughts on what would be best ?

    Finally, this may be a bit cheeky but I wondered how many people actually don't bother with these things when on Grade I or II (which is most of what is around us). I'm not advocating being an idiot and jumping into serious stuff with no kit, I'm just looking for a rough rule of thumb.

    PS. If any members are down this way (Lot Valley, France) and need assitance with language or anything else, I'm happy to do what I can.

    Cheers all ....

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
    ...I'm not advocating being an idiot and jumping into serious stuff with no kit, I'm just looking for a rough rule of thumb.
    ....
    Cheers all ....
    Rule of thumb:-

    For inland water and solo, "Would I happily take a deliberate unassisted swim in that?" - if the answer is "Yes", then go right ahead and skip the PFD if you want to.

    Offshore there are a different set of questions, of of which is - "Will it only serve to prolong the agony?"

    Have fun.

  42. #42
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    Default Good Point

    Thanks DougR, that's not a bad way to look at it and its probably where I am with it as I sometimes stop to jump in for a swim at the end of day but then only in the right place. I certainly wouldn't think of swimming in other bits I pass through so I do use PFD (and sometimes helmet there, hot or not). I also make sure I have the option by taking something with me, hence the question on the best to buy within a budget.

    As to offshore, I hadn't considered that as I'm miles away from sea, but I have to say that the sea to me is a bit like a desert trip (with the life underground ... cheers Neil) and the idea of being out there with winds, tides etc without specific training, some means of alert and someone knowing where I meant to be by now when I started off is just dumb. But then I don't like to put people out and my familly were all merchant navy so I guess they hammer additional respect into you over time.

    Any suggestions on kit ?

    atb Mark

  43. #43
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    I'd be reluctant to make any specific recommendations but the usual advice points are:

    1 - Try before you buy - anything that rubs, chafes or is uncomfortable can tempt you to leave it in the bag - not good.
    2 - Try it after you buy it - take a test swim - make sure you can still see out when swimming (THIS IS NOT A JOKE).

  44. #44
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    Good question Mark,

    As you'll see from the thread above your question, I rarely wear one on inland waters, but I do wear a wetsuit. In your part of the world in the summer that is perhaps a hazard itself. The best question is am I happy to swim it ? If so & the conditions are warm enough so that hypothermia is not an issue, then going without is in my view reasonable. If you are a big guy you will of course float more easily than the skinny ones !

    If there are any rapids a helmet however would make sense, I've seen people capsize & knock themselves out on grade II rapids.


    Happy paddling

    Chas
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkL View Post
    Hi all

    I'm relatively new to the site and canoeing having just taken the plunge (so to speak) and bought my first. Having said that, I live in SW France and have used hire canoes quite a few times in a number of locations before giving up and investing in my own stuff which as yet, doesn't include PFDs (or Lifejackets).

    Anyway, I have some questions before I decide on the best way forward...

    Normally the PFDs with the hire kit are uncomfortable and far to hot to wear in the late spring/summer here (30 degree plus heat) so I have to admit that they have ended up as additional padding for my ample behind on most occaisions. Does anyone know of a product that is not too hot to wear, maybe like the mesh biker jackets you can get ?

    As I said, I'm not built like a Japanese Racing Snake so need to find something to fit a 50" chest and a good 19 stone. My experience of supposed XXXL in the past is that these can vary massively in actual size. Any thoughts on what would be best ?

    Finally, this may be a bit cheeky but I wondered how many people actually don't bother with these things when on Grade I or II (which is most of what is around us). I'm not advocating being an idiot and jumping into serious stuff with no kit, I'm just looking for a rough rule of thumb.

    PS. If any members are down this way (Lot Valley, France) and need assitance with language or anything else, I'm happy to do what I can.

    Cheers all ....

  45. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChasDWarren View Post
    Good question Mark,

    As you'll see from the thread above your question, I rarely wear one on inland waters, but I do wear a wetsuit. In your part of the world in the summer that is perhaps a hazard itself. The best question is am I happy to swim it ? If so & the conditions are warm enough so that hypothermia is not an issue, then going without is in my view reasonable. If you are a big guy you will of course float more easily than the skinny ones !

    If there are any rapids a helmet however would make sense, I've seen people capsize & knock themselves out on grade II rapids.


    Happy paddling

    Chas
    Hi folks,
    I do read these threads regularly but rarely post on them.... untill now.

    I am extremely concerned that the above comment will be read by other paddlers and be seen as acceptable and normal to go paddling without a PFD/BA or even a life jacket. A wetsuit is absolutely no substitute whatsoever.

    The body has lots of bits that could suffer entrapment issues. hands, arms, feet, legs, head could all get stuck between rocks (and have done over the years). a well designed BA will be as 'clean' as possible to all loops and straps that could snag. The ones that can snag are often designed such that a pre-weakened clip would break and release the snag, rather than the situation become life threatening.

    I can only suggest that everyone should do a form of canoe safety training that is appropriate to the water they paddle (be it FSRT for sheltered water or WWS&R for whitewater). These courses explain the uses of the kit and uses/limitations and gives you the chance to practice in a 'safe' environment.

    I have run numerous such courses (though I ain't touting for business here) and everyone goes away with a very clear understanding of what works and what doesn't, when swimming and/or rescueing in and around moving water.

    Buoyancy Aid - a must for all paddling situations in my opinion, even the times when I definitely won't be falling in.

    Helmet - A must for all kayaking and canoeing when there is a real chance of capsize and me banging my head. I wear one more times in a kayak than in a canoe.

    Wetsuit - I don't like these because they reduce flexibility and don't really keep you very warm till they're wet (and I don't necessarily plan to get wet very often). I haven't worn one for about 12 years! If it's cold then I wear a drysuit. If it's warmer (like now), I'll wear a cag and neoprene shorts.

    The only other thing I wear is decent footwear. 5:10 canyoneers are solid and allow you to move quickly on rough ground in a rescue situation. Wetsuit booties are thin soled and weaker than the broken bottle that you may tread on......

    Hope this helps
    Ian

  46. #46

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    My only issue with PFDs are they are all to small for me, i am a bigger person, and xxl ones are still too tight.
    - Nunz

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian dallaway View Post
    Hi folks,
    I do read these threads regularly but rarely post on them.... untill now.

    I am extremely concerned that the above comment will be read by other paddlers and be seen as acceptable and normal to go paddling without a PFD/BA or even a life jacket. A wetsuit is absolutely no substitute whatsoever.

    The body has lots of bits that could suffer entrapment issues. hands, arms, feet, legs, head could all get stuck between rocks (and have done over the years). a well designed BA will be as 'clean' as possible to all loops and straps that could snag. The ones that can snag are often designed such that a pre-weakened clip would break and release the snag, rather than the situation become life threatening.

    I can only suggest that everyone should do a form of canoe safety training that is appropriate to the water they paddle (be it FSRT for sheltered water or WWS&R for whitewater). These courses explain the uses of the kit and uses/limitations and gives you the chance to practice in a 'safe' environment.

    I have run numerous such courses (though I ain't touting for business here) and everyone goes away with a very clear understanding of what works and what doesn't, when swimming and/or rescueing in and around moving water.

    Buoyancy Aid - a must for all paddling situations in my opinion, even the times when I definitely won't be falling in.

    Helmet - A must for all kayaking and canoeing when there is a real chance of capsize and me banging my head. I wear one more times in a kayak than in a canoe.

    Wetsuit - I don't like these because they reduce flexibility and don't really keep you very warm till they're wet (and I don't necessarily plan to get wet very often). I haven't worn one for about 12 years! If it's cold then I wear a drysuit. If it's warmer (like now), I'll wear a cag and neoprene shorts.

    The only other thing I wear is decent footwear. 5:10 canyoneers are solid and allow you to move quickly on rough ground in a rescue situation. Wetsuit booties are thin soled and weaker than the broken bottle that you may tread on......

    Hope this helps
    Ian
    At the end of the day it is a personal choice.

    I entirely agree with your comments about helmets.

    Wetsuits have moved on a bit in 12 years. Any half decent one is very flexible & 4 or 5 mm of neoprene gives protection, buoyancy & warmth wet or dry.

    Good wetsuit boots are really quite tough & also flexible / comfortable in a canoe / kayak. My big feet don't fit well in anything more rigid !

    I have two lifejackets & one bouyancy aid which I wear as appropriate when conditions justify it. If for any reason I was not wearing a wetsuit, I would be wearing one of them. But in the conditions described & to which the reply was directed & with a wetsuit, & helmet if appropriate, I still believe it's a reasonable choice.

    It is however one to be thought about & entered into consciously, after at least a mental risk assesment. I do believe many people simply don a BA, not thinking about the real risks & assume they are safe. For example some weirs are safer paddled without a BA, so that if caught in the stopper you can swim down & out rather than remaining to go round & round indefinetely.

    Give it some thought, weigh up the likely dangers & their probability, then make an informed personal choice.

  48. #48

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ChasDWarren View Post
    some weirs are safer paddled without a BA, so that if caught in the stopper you can swim down & out rather than remaining to go round & round indefinetely.
    This is not the opinion of 'recognised' experts in the Whitewater safety environment. I suggest you get hold of Franco Ferraro's Whitewater Safety and Rescue book and read it. http://www.amazon.co.uk/White-Safety.../dp/0954706153

    It'll hopefully dispell a few myths and old wives tales about weirs.

    With a BA on you will float higher and hopefully be able to breathe. You'll also have a greater chance of being rescued from a stopper by your paddling buddies. Without a BA you aren't likely to float high enough to get a breath before you even think about swimming 'down & out'. If you do manage to swim 'down & out,' you are likely to be too knackered from the ordeal to swim to the side and without the BA to help keep you afloat - you may end up in a worse situation downstream. Also, floating lower as you aren't wearing a BA, you're more likely to snag on debris on the river bed and have an entrapment issue.

    You'll have to trust me on this (unless you read that book above or get onto a rescue course yourself.). I do spend a fair time swimming in stoppers when I run WWS&R courses. There is no way on earth that I would do this without a BA. Nor would I let any of my clients do it on one of my courses.

    I think a better strategy is to assess the weir before you run it. If you ever come up with an opinion (through your dynamic risk assessment) - "that I think I'm better off removing my BA to run this weir because it'll be safer...."
    .................. I'd suggest keeping your BA on and maybe portage the weir instead!

  49. #49
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    SW France
    Posts
    2,263

    Default My Solution - an xxl pfd that fits

    Hi all

    having taken on board the various bits of advice kindly offered by everyone I thought I'd update the actual results of it all for posterity ...

    1. As per advice - Found a relatively local canoe club and spoke to them about the whole thing. I managed to get to try a few PFDs and this at least helped to work out the style I felt was most comfortable fi not the exact model.

    2. Eventually bought a couple of 'Nookie Explorers' from www.wetsuitoutlet.co.uk at a reduced price of around 40 each. The price was OK (reduced from list of 74) and the club visit showed that the extreme budget stuff just didn't do it for me. Given that I plan to be in the thing a lot this summer, I thought this was a fair enough investment and there was a 21 day return option if there was a problem.

    3. Received them no problem (shipped from UK to SW France) . The XXL one is perfect for me (50 inch chest and 38 inch waist) and is very comfortable. Would recommend this one for the bigger sort.

    4. Put mine on and tried it out in a mates pool just to make sure as advised here. This was a good idea as it rode up a bit as it doesn't have a 'crotch strap' but not too badly. A bit of adjustment followed by more dips sorted this out to the point where I'm fine with it and can swim ok and also get out of it if I need to. Then took it for a quick couple of miles down the Lot to see how we got on. I did intend to try it in the pool again when the thunder stops to decide if I need to put any other straps on. Don't think I'll need to now though.

    5. Finally, arranged a bit of mixed safety and general tuition while at the club which I wondered about whether to bother or not. In hindsight, definately worth it as I learned a load of stuff and practiced things I thought I already knew but properly for once.

    Anyway, in summary, the nookie explorer pfd fits me in the xxl version and is a good option for the bigger bloke in my opinion, but I'd still say try it first if you can or use an outlet with a decent returns policy at least.

    Now sitting with thunder storms all around planning a trip which started as an overnight and is now up to about 5 days .... all I need is the time and cash.

    Have fun all

  50. #50

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    Hello All.
    New member and a novice Kayaker. Currently 1st year in local club and expanding kit. Any advice on a PFD. current models etc. Basic slow water river touring stuff with a bit of low grade white water,
    thanks

  51. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cedric View Post
    Hello All.
    New member and a novice Kayaker. Currently 1st year in local club and expanding kit. Any advice on a PFD. current models etc. Basic slow water river touring stuff with a bit of low grade white water,
    thanks
    If you fit either of the sizes available, then I don't think you'd beat this for the price?
    w w w.escape-watersports.co.uk/equipment/palm-helix

    Jim

  52. #52

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    Jim
    obliged, your right there are some huge reductions. Im XL which doesnt help to much. Going to wait for Jan and hope theres a sale out there.
    cheers
    Steve M

  53. Default

    They do have an xl/xxl option as well- did you see?
    I won one a couple of years ago- it's fairly basic; no fancy pockets or harnesses, but it doesn't get in the way and is very comfy.

  54. #54
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Antrim, Northern Ireland
    Posts
    139

    Default

    I bought this pfd through this very offer and took it out for a try yesterday and although I was very sceptical and love my peak tour pfd that cost 120 in July this palm helix is superb. Went on well over my dry suit wasn't restrictive on my swim, and provided great protection to my back as i took a slip down a bank. In all total bargain for the price. Photos really don't do the pfd any justice. Very adjustable and really comfortable.
    highly recommend this and with free post where can you go wrong

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