Life jacket /bouyancy aid

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Phill2132
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Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by Phill2132 »

Question could you use a lifejacket rather than a bouyancy aid to paddle at sea/ lakes with ?

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MikeB
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by MikeB »

Why not? It'll be bulky and uncomfortable but apart from that - -

Owen
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by Owen »

Yes you can and a few people do. There are two main types the solid over the head type with a big block of foam on your chest which aren't very helpful when your trying to swim on your front or climb back into your kayak. Then there's the yachtie inflatable type which need you to pull the toggle to blow them up. Problem with these are if you go into the water unconscious you're not able to activate them. There's no buoyancy in them until you do pull the cord so nothing to help you stay afloat in the first moment after you've gone in. And, once you've pulled the cord they put you on your back where you can't do much except wait for someone else to come to your aid. They really do get in the way of a re-entry.

The advantages are once activated they float you on your back so your face is always out of the water. There is more buoyancy in them than most buoyancy aids so you are floating higher in the water. When un-inflated you're less restricted by bulky foam blocks as you are in a BA.

A few years ago there were a couple of hybrid life jacket/BA's on the market but these seem to have disappeared, a pity as they were an interesting idea if quite expensive. It's really up to you what you use either is in some way a compromise between different aspects. With a BA if you do end up in the water you have buoyancy on you, you don't have to do anything, you will float but if your unconscious you might be floating face down. As long as you're conscious you can swim in a BA and climb back into your kayak far more easily than you can in a life jacket.

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MikeB
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by MikeB »

Owen wrote:Then there's the yachtie inflatable type which need you to pull the toggle to blow them up. Problem with these are if you go into the water unconscious you're not able to activate them. .
Indeed so - less bulky - I know two people who paddle with these. It is possible to get ones which will automatically inflate on contact with water - which isn't necessarily a good idea for kayaking!

K/tat offer a hybrid, a BA which also has a CO2 cartridge. http://kokatat.com/products/pfd/seao2-pfd.html

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

If you can get one this would be ideal or http://www.crewsaver.com/product/p/4705
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by MikeB »

My brother has something similar on his boat - one of which he lent me one day we went sailing. Very neat and far less bulky to move around in than a ba, especially below deck. But, I noticed I got much colder than I was expecting, and as I'd taken my own ba with me, put it on instead. Such a difference. The other thing which makes them less useful for "our" purposes of course is the lack of pockets and suchlike.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by CM2 »

Something with the inflatable lifejackets is as you are higher out the water there is more weight pushing you down (relative to the life jacket) Depending on the fit and your body shape you may find it impossible not to have the life jacket end up half over your head in the water. Most of these life jackets come with, or have an option for leg straps but they couldn't be worn with a spray deck.

A "kayaker" type hybrid is available in the US thought as pointed out rather expensive. http://www.outdoorplay.com/Kokatat-SeaO ... Lifejacket. The 7.5-22.5lb buoyancy equates to 33-100N. This compares to 50N for a standard BA and 150 for a life jacket.

buxtonmick
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by buxtonmick »

Hmm, it would be quite an expensive option for someone like myself who tends to be in the water quite often...

ian the badger
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ian the badger »

My wife uses a life jacket, and she finds it less restrictive than a BA, the downside being no pockets for stuff. I did remove the automatic inflation device, after experiencing inflation, whilst rinsing it in a car park causing much amusement to all concerned. I do replace the cartridge every three years, which are about £6 a shot, if you shop around.

tg
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by tg »

I use both types; depending on conditions, even my mood.

BA if I'm near rocks and, Life Jacket (Crewsaver Horseshoe style 150Ns) for less bulk and maybe if I might find myself bobbing around for some while.

LJ; less bulk, more area for all that expensive GoreTex to do it's thing. Huge amounts of bouyancy and really the best thing if you were to go a bobbin'. Less protection from impacts, not a massive consideration for me. Definitely a toggle (non automated) inflation. Automatics could really foul up a stylish surf landing I figure. LJ can be deflated via a valve in the manual (mouth) inflator, and given a few puffs via the same prior to launch without the need to fire the CO2 cartridge. No pockets, but you do get a free whistle.
"I sink therfore I am".

ian.miller
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ian.miller »

If you end up unconscious and on your front wearing a manual inflation lifejacket you will drown but wearing a BA will give you the exactly the same outcome. No pockets on them but what do we have deck bags for. If you carry a lot of stuff in pockets it can be a positive PITA in rescues. The big advantage of a lifejacket is that you often get a lot more bouyancy, a big help if you are floundering in big seas where it is not unknown for BA wearers to be at risk of drowning from water inhalation rather than immersion. In the past the RNLI contemplated running a campaign to persuade us all to wear lifejackets because of the risks associated with BA's. A lot of paddlers now use dry suits so relying on your BA for extra warmth is probably unnecessary.Also the dry suit gives a fair amount of bouyancy which allows plenty of time to activate the inflation of a lifejacket I gave up a manual lifejacket and moved back to a BA and find it is like wearing a strait jacket by comparison so I'll probably get another life jacket.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by Incayak »

Regarding the life jacket option, has anyone experience of paddling when wearing one inflated?
eg.. re-entry and roll scenario, subsequent paddle out of danger, repacking for the next swim.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

I don't think the best plan is to inflate it if you are attempting to get back in the kayak. It will give you some bouyancy when not activated especially if it's slightly inflated prior to use using the mouth tube. You would only activated the life jacket of all attempts to get back in the kayak have failed
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by pathbrae »

I'm certainly considering the life jacket school of thought for trips at sea. I find self rescue with a BA on to be a major problem due to it getting stuck on deck lines, cockpit coming, spare paddles and all the other bits of clutter that end up on the decks.
Wearing a dry suit should be enough to keep me afloat. My only worry about that is that I might be afloat with my feet up and my head down if the air goes the wrong way.... Has anyone tried jumping out of a kayak with no BA in a dry-suit in a fairly big swell to see what would happen?
One thing I would advise though is to get a spray-hood to go with a life jacket. It can be a real life-saver in a big sea to prevent you drowning from inhaled spray - and gives a good hi viz target for rescuers to home in on.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

I've landed in the sea upside down a few times in a dry suit with a life jacket and not had a problem with air in my feet turning me upside down. You can avoid the potential problem by once fitting your dry suit squat down and open the neck seal - this will alow any excess air to escape. I know when we were diving we used to wear ankle weights to reduce the problem but during diving you inject air into the dry suit to control bouancy and this is where the stories of ending up upside down in a dry suit come from.
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by CM2 »

ruralweb wrote:I've landed in the sea upside down a few times in a dry suit with a life jacket and not had a problem with air in my feet turning me upside down. You can avoid the potential problem by once fitting your dry suit squat down and open the neck seal - this will alow any excess air to escape. I know when we were diving we used to wear ankle weights to reduce the problem but during diving you inject air into the dry suit to control bouancy and this is where the stories of ending up upside down in a dry suit come from.
When you say with a life jacket on do you mean uninflated?

If you remember to squeeze the air out you should be OK, but if you are worried give it a try with someone on hand to help if you have problems. If you have an inflatable life jacket on worst case scenario is you forget to squeeze the air out and have to inflate your life jacket to get the right way up, followed by a donation to the chandler's to get another spare.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

Yes uninflated. I get the impression that many people think that as soon as you enter the water a life jacket will inflate - it's important if you use them for kayaking that you get a manually operated version - odds are you will never need to inflate it.
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by uxb »

ruralweb wrote:I've landed in the sea upside down a few times in a dry suit with a life jacket and not had a problem with air in my feet turning me upside down. You can avoid the potential problem by once fitting your dry suit squat down and open the neck seal - this will alow any excess air to escape. I know when we were diving we used to wear ankle weights to reduce the problem but during diving you inject air into the dry suit to control bouancy and this is where the stories of ending up upside down in a dry suit come from.
I was taught to do a somersault under the water if this was becoming a problem when diving. I was never sure if it would work or not...

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

I was taught the same - :)
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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by MikeB »

How on earth could you end up upside down, on the sea, while wearing a drysuit? Especially if you're also wearing a BA or even a LJ. At worst, you'll be floating flat on the surface.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by Dave Gorman »

B/a is my choice, although I have no personal experience of using a life jacket I have seen a few canister jackets owned by other people who were fishermen that were discovered to have had empty cylinders for no apparent reason. A b/a always works provided it fits properly, is fitted correctly, is not loaded with too much weight and is not so old that it has lost a lot of it's buoyancy. It also provides a good deal of warmth and impact protection,. I've been glad of both on various occasions. I myself don't like the 'what if factor' that any piece of equipment may not work at a critical time. That's why I still paddle with a set of thirty year old schlegel extreme paddles.

Good luck on your choice.

Dave Gorman :-)

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by CM2 »

MikeB wrote:How on earth could you end up upside down, on the sea, while wearing a drysuit? Especially if you're also wearing a BA or even a LJ. At worst, you'll be floating flat on the surface.
It is unlikely to happen while actually kayaking but if you fell into the water from height it can happen. Once I went cliff jumping and wore my drysuit and a BA, I had squeeze my suit and landed feet first but I did half a summersalt and could feet the air that was left in my suit rise to my feet. A quick rotation of the arms was enough to let the BA raise my top half to the surface but if I had not purged the air out and/or not had a BA on I could see possible possible problems.

I deliberately jumped and landed feet first I suspect it is more likely if you fall from height and go in head first (for example if you are launching from a mother-ship and fall overboard while trying to get a kayak back on the deck).

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by pathbrae »

From helping folks in surf wearing a dry suit,I know it can be difficult to get my feet back under me in anything deeper than waste deep water if I get bundled by a wave.
I can see the same thing happening in a wet exit with an un-inflated life jacket. Upside down in the boat, having my shoulders deeper than my feet which would still be in the cockpit could well squeeze any air in the dry suit into the legs leaving me with very oddly distributed buoyancy. (Probably compounded as I like to wear my sailing wellies in winter...)

Popping the LJ inflater would sort it out in no time but the whole point would be to wet exit, empty the boat and re-enter without BA or LJ getting in the way.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by neil_f »

`
ruralweb wrote: You can avoid the potential problem by once fitting your dry suit squat down and open the neck seal - this will alow any excess air to escape. I know when we were diving we used to wear ankle weights to reduce the problem but during diving you inject air into the dry suit to control bouancy and this is where the stories of ending up upside down in a dry suit come from.
My drysuit inflates quite a lot (presumably with sweat vapour) as I paddle, so I can still see it being a potential problem even if you were careful to get as much air as possible out before setting off.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by CM2 »

neil_f wrote:My drysuit inflates quite a lot (presumably with sweat vapour) as I paddle, so I can still see it being a potential problem even if you were careful to get as much air as possible out before setting off.
I'm no expert but I don't think e sweat much that is gas at body temperature. I believe water vapor is tiny droplets of liquid water in the air. therefore the increase in "air" volume in your suit is the volume of the liquid water you sweat, even if you have perspired a kilo of water that is still only one litre of "air".

Squatting lets out the excess air not all of the air. You can get more out but going into (calm) water up to your shoulders and opening the neck seal but the more air you let out the less warm it will be, squatting is probably the best compromise.

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

Most of the problems I've encountered with being upside down in a dry suit have been to do with sub Aqua diving where it is quite common and parachuting into the sea where you end up dropping the last 10m or so in a bit of a mess if you get it wrong. Even with a life jacket if you end up upside down all the air will move to your feet then it's a case of getting upright or firing your life jacket - I don't think a BA would have enough bouyancy in it to turn you back up. Another way of getting the air out is to pull out your neck seal and put it over your mouth then breathe in through your mouth and out through your nose in effect pumping the air out of your suit - vac packing yourself into the suit. This also prevents another problem associated with entering the water from hight which is blowing the neck seal due to the high pressure created in the suit when you enter the water at speed.

Another option not applicable to kayaking at all is to carry a knife on your lower leg and if your upside down cut the suit open - extreme but it works
Mal

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

I forgot to mention that you can reverse the vac pack method if your are in the water to gain extra bouyancy and warmth - that is assuming your kit allows you to get to you neck seal
Mal

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by RickC »

As already mentioned by OPs, Kokatat offer a hybrid PFD known as the SeaO2 that has positive foam buoyancy as well as an inflatable bladder. It's not CE marked and therefore unavailable in the UK (to the best of my knowledge) but if you can stand the import duty it's readily available though outfitters (stores) in the USA and Canada. I bought one years ago and like it very much. It's extremely light and very low profile in it's uninflated state as there is only one pouch on the front plus a dedicated radio pouch which makes self-rescues/re-entry etc easier. Some people may find this insufficient storage for their own personal kit. There is no hydration pouch on the back and it's not compatible with Kokatat's add-on bladder.

If you do need the additional buoyancy you can use an oral inflation tube (easy and no cost) or pull the toggle and manually activate the CO2 canister. There is no automatic inflation system. When inflated a reassuring amount of buoyancy floats you the right way up and well out of the water similar to a "proper" lifejacket. Most of the inflated buoyancy is at the front but a small amount is present at the back. It's quite difficult to swim efficiently when it's inflated but you won't sink and you can choose to deflate/inflate as necessary. Be aware that the CO2 canisters aren't cheap and can be a little tricky to get hold of in the UK so it's worth including a couple of re-arming kits at time of order.

However, a couple of years ago a prominent coach from the East Coast USA told me a little anecdote with a warning. He was with another paddler who came out of his boat in a powerful tiderace in the Bay of Fundy and found there wasn't enough foam buoyancy in his SeaO2 to overcome the downward sucking effect. He was going down in a strong whirlpool and couldn't find the inflation toggle to "boost" the buoyancy. Luckily he was firmly in the "let your toggles dangle" camp, managed to grab the bow of the boat and all ended well but it's worth having this in mind if this would be the only PFD you own.

I took Gregs warning seriously and as a result I now use a Reed PFD (lots of foam) if rough play is on the cards or it's cold and save the SeaO2 for more gentle conditions or long summer trips. I guess you could always put a few puffs into the bladder if you anticipated needing it!

Hope this helps, Rick

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by CM2 »

One concern I have with putting a few puffs of air in an inflatable life jacket is what happens if things later get scary and I pull the toggle. Would the over-inflation of the lifejacket by more than an air canister worth of air be liable to lead to catastrophic failure (it bursts under the extra pressure).

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Re: Life jacket /bouyancy aid

Post by ruralweb »

most jackets have a pressure releaf valve because they need to worknin a wide variety of temperatures - in cold temps more CO2 is needed to inflate the jacket than in warmer temps so if the warmer temps the excess gas is vented to prevent failure
Mal

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