The most important thing to remember is that if you have one, WEAR IT! Your PFD should fit comfortably and be suited for the specific type of water activity you are doing. If the PFD is comfortable you are much more likely to wear it and most inflatable PFD vests are compfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Inflatable PFDs come with either manual or automatic activation. The manual version inflates by pulling the jerk tab that hangs from the PFD at waist-height. You may wish to choose a manual inflate if you are involved in a water sport such as paddling, rafting or wade fishing where there is a high likelihood of water contact. Automatic Inflatables are your best choice if you don't expect to end up in the water, but want the confidence of knowing that it will inflate automatically in seconds if the unexpected happens.
There are two types of automatic vests: Standard Automatic which inflates when a soluble tablet becomes saturated with water after immersion and Hydrostatic Activation which relies on a water pressure sensor to inflate the vest after immersion in at least 4 inches of water. Hydrostatic activation is less likely to have a false activation from being drenched from rain or high waves. All of these inflatable vests use a CO2 cartridge tn inflate the bladder of the vest.
You should always have a extra inflatable re-arm kit for your vest because it is not much good without one. Purchasing a re-arm kit at the same time as your PFD is a great idea if the unexpected happens you'll be back on the water in no time.
The two most popular Brands of inflatable PFD vests are Mustang Survival of Canada and Spinlock Deckvest of Great Britain. Some inflatable PFDs come with an integrated harness which sailors like so that they can easily attached a tether without wearing a separate harness. Most of these inflatable PFD vests give you twice the buoyancy of a foam vest. One of our most popular inflatable PFD vests is the Mustang Elite 38 Hydrostatic vest which is lightweight and comfortable to wear even while working on deck or below. The Spinlock Deckvest Hammar is also very popular with a spray hood and integrated harness
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