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Kyle S

Can anyone recommend a quality PFD?

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I would guess that this question has come up before, but i'm still new and having trouble searching the forums. I recently purchased a fishing kayak and need a quality PFD. I have around $150 in gift cards to bass pro and would love if a recommendation could be to something I could purchase from there. I've done a little research and have seen prices all over the spectrum. The 'Mustang' brand, inflatable PFD looked really nice. however that $250 price tag didn't!! I like the thought of an inflatable vest due to its small size but that would be completely new to me as I have only worn the standard foam ones. Any suggestions are appreciated! Thanks, and I apologize once again if this is a repeat question.

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Cabelas tournament vest. Comfortable with both auto and manual inflate. Should be around $100

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I asked a friend who works for the Corps of Engineers what they use.  He said the Mustang because of quality and comfort because they have to wear them and work on the water all day long.

 

i bit the bullet and bought one.  I can wear it all day long even in the summer heat.  The 250 price tag is rough but hey it’s only your life that we are talking about.

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Its a good question.   And I agree that good information can be a bit difficult to nail down.  (Part of the problem here is that BR Search ignores three letter 'words' so searching 'PFD' doesn't get you much.)  And interwebs information is somewhat confusing to me, too.  

  I also kayak fish most of the time.  At risk of oversimplifying,  I narrowed search by evaluating 3 broad categories.   'Foam' type, as you described; manual inflate, and auto inflate.   Within those categories,  there is a pretty wide range of prices and options, but that's where I started.

  I ruled out manual inflate early,  because I think my greatest risk to need my PFD is something catastrophic,  like a boat collision,  or flipping in rocky river, and I want something that will work if I get knocked out.  Likewise, auto inflate would have to be one of those sensitive,  super shallow hydrostatic models.  

  I shied away from that option mostly for two reasons: cost and laziness.  I don't want to trust my life to my naturally negligent and lazy self doing proper maintenance.  Additionally,  I know that the good autos have come a long way, but I have small (unfounded?) concern about accidental inflation....not just the trouble and cost, but fishing remainder of day after it has inflated in heavy rain or accidental dunking.

So, I have the 'foam' type.  I don't like the bulk or heat, but, I wear it 100% of the time on the water,  and honestly I don't notice it most of the time.

  I got a Stohlquist Fisherman model and have been happy with it for several years now.

 

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24 minutes ago, Choporoz said:

So, I have the 'foam' type.  I don't like the bulk or heat, but, I wear it 100% of the time on the water,  and honestly I don't notice it most of the time.

  I got a Stohlquist Fisherman model and have been happy with it for several years now.

 

Same here, it's a PFD that doubles as a fishing vest. It's warm and the only problem I had is the zips broke (on both) but I had them repaired with better qualify zippers and they are fine since then :) On a cheaper side, I read and heard good things about the Stearns Hybrid Fishing/Paddling Vest.

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@Choporoz has some good advice. I would also recommend a foam type. It's a given that you are going to flip a kayak at some point. Auto-inflate doesn't seem to be a good idea in a kayak to me. I have used a NRS Chinook for 2 years and have been very happy with it. You should take a look at a kayak angler specific PFD and see which one feels best to you. They all have pockets and d-rings to attach gear which makes life easier.

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Bass Pro sells the Bass pro branded AM-24 made by  Onyx and identical to their AM 24 . Less than $100 if you catch it on sale.  Academy has the AM 24 on sale for $89. Wear mine in my bass boat and kayak, you almost forget you have it on.

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1 hour ago, Choporoz said:

Stohlquist Fisherman

Good PFD, I own 3 of them, and will be replacing one after this season. (Hit the 10 year mark and needs to be retired.) Since @Kyle S asked, I would use the gift cards on a new rod, reel, or lures and consider either the Stohlquist, NRS, or Kokatat PFD.

The hand signals are free.:tank:

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I have also been looking to replace my life jacket. I have to agree with @Choporoz about them. I want a good comfortable foam type if I can find one. I know I would be too lazy or forgetful change out the kits every so often in the auto inflate type. It is also another expense I don't need. I just can't make myself trust them to work when I would need it the most. Since I am in a boat I don't wear mine 100% of the time even though I should.

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For a foam type for kayaking, another vote for the Stohlquist Fisherman.  For inflatables, I go with a Mustang with HIT, but that's out of your range.

 

http://stohlquist.com/life-jackets/fishing-pfds/fisherman.html

 

 

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I got a NRS chinook when I got my first kayak. My thinking was that the most important thing is your safety equipment, and it is not to be skimped or cheaped out on. I’m glad I got one as it’s awesome. Very comfortable and I sometimes even forget to take it off when I get into the car!

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One thing to remember, the self inflatable vests DO NOT meet USCG reuqirements unless they are being worm. If you are approached and you aren't wearing it, it is NOT considered a life jacket. 

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I don't care that mine is slightly uncomfortable and sometimes gets 'in the way'. When I'm on the water...I'm wearing it (see my profile pic).

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I actually don't mind the PFD bulk, to me it's like plate carriers (hard body armor) I used to wear in the service in function.  It holds all my stuff - split ring pliers, kid scissors, crankbait tuning tool, qnd hook sharpener, along with safety gear like a whistle and river knife.  If I had to strap all that on or find a pocket to put it in, I'd be 1/2 hour getting kitted up.  Since I'm generally fishing alone or with a group for which PFD use is mandatory, it's an easy decision to wear it.

I've had the NRS Chinook for a while, and I guess they updated them just last year,.so I don't know about the new ones.  If your kayak has a high back seat like either of mine, this will be a huge improvement over the Onyx vest that worked for me with my lower backed seat Wilderness Ride.  (I still have it and can get the model if you're looking to eliminate models).  For about $20, less, there's the Stohlquist Piseas, and if my local shop had one, that's what I would have.  I've borrowed one and would have to say it's as functional as the Chinook.

 

 

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I prefer the Spinlock Deckvest Light USCG version but if you are limited to BPS/Cabelas I would just get any old inflatable. They are all fine. Whatever is comfortable and within your budget. I would personally recommend making sure that you get an auto that can be converted to manual when you want. So if you go kayaking or something rather than in a boat you can switch to manual mode and not have to worry about it inflating if you go in the drink which you are more likely to do on. A kayak or SUP

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Got mine at Bass Pro for $50 (BPS brand). Has a mesh top area and some pockets I will find a use for I suppose. All I keep in it is my multi-tool so far.

 

https://www.basspro.com/shop/en/bass-pro-shops-tournament-mesh-fishing-life-vest

 

It didn't look like the high backed ones would clear the back rest on my AirPro Max seat, and if it did I read about them riding up around people's necks. I find the full padded back just fine in my seat, and I have back issues. Also, the high-backs are 3 times the price, are not always very "high", and I don't see them being any safer in the water.

 

I like that it has a zipper as well as buckles to hold it shut. Leaving the zipper open allows for more air flow.

 

I don't even realize I'm wearing it.

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I wear the NRS Chinook and love it.  As much as I like how much cooler the inflatables are I just don't trust them.  I've heard too many stories from people who have fallen in and they did not inflate.  What's the point if it may not inflate?  The Chinook can get hot when it's really warm out but overall it's comfortable and useful with it's pockets and attachments.

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I have an inflatable, not the HIT version which i would like to have, and also a foam version that i use for rivers.  I wouldn't go to anything but an inflatable unless i have to.  One key to finding a good PFD is to try it out in your kayak seat.  Some will work better than others.  

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My Mustang HIT has worked all three times it was submerged.  Two were actual accident, one in cold water even.  The other was me testing an expired cartridge - still worked fine.  There's also a manual override.

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NRS Chinook, high back and comfortable even in warm weather.

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