How long does a PFD last?

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banzer
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How long does a PFD last?

Post by banzer » Fri Jan 12, 2018 1:30 pm

I know they lose buoyancy after a while. How long is a while?

It's not that easy to do a buoyancy test at this time of year, you would need a friendly local swimming pool that ok with you attaching weights to your manky gear and watching it sink.

Any suggestions? I'm asking because 1) There are some offers on the web; 2) My roll was shocking on my last Scotland trip, usually your PFD helps to bring you towards the surface but this didn't seem to be happening.

Thanks, Rich.
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Jim
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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by Jim » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:17 pm

My new rule of thumb, if you can't read the label that tells you the certification standard, buoyancy etc. then it is time for a new one. This is based on the requirement to have a USCG certified one for the Grand Canyon - I did still have one, but the label was unreadable and the rangers wouldn't have accepted it, so I bought a new one which I rarely use so that label will still be readable in 20 years time :)

1) is a good enough reason, just avoid saying things like "shiny" and "my precious" because that way madness lies.

2) is a poor excuse, you need to practice more - it should be easier to roll with a BA that has reduced profile because the foam has shrunk, in fact I normally paddle in race BAs now with minimal buoyancy compared to creek designs which often hae 40N or more extra, and I have not noticed my roll suffering as a result, if anything I'd say the extra flexibility I gain means I am less likely to swim and miss the extra buoyancy...

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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by Adrian Cooper » Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:47 pm

I have a friend who used to work in the 'foam' industry and he was pretty scathing about the durability of foam products and reckoned about three years was enough. I usually test by inspection; the BA is built with a fabric pocket large enough for the foam pad, when you buy it the foam fills the pocket. After a while, the foam shrinks and the pocket feels baggy, when this looks excessive, I buy a new one. Interestingly I saw a mate's BA the other day which was an old Extreme River Vest, about two or three versions ago and the foam still seemed to fill the fabric. Strange since he is a pretty regular paddler, maybe he has a few BAs.

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banzer
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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by banzer » Fri Jan 12, 2018 4:23 pm

Jim wrote:
Fri Jan 12, 2018 2:17 pm
2) is a poor excuse, you need to practice more -
The irony is I went to a couple of pool sessions before my trip and did LOADS of rolling and hand rolling. When it came to the river I was rubbish. However, I was unfit, and we had just done some mammoth missions of paddling, carrying and early starts the last couple of days. So perhaps I was just knackered after two big days out. There's no substitute for being 'paddling fit'!

(In case anyone wants a laugh, my 'poor roll' = swims at Poll Dubh then Randolph's.... ha ha)
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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by twopigs » Fri Jan 12, 2018 7:20 pm

IIRC the rules for Devizes to Westminster are that BAs should be less than 5 years old.

You could always try the sink test in a bath at home!
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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by Dan Yates. » Fri Jan 12, 2018 8:04 pm

This is the best / simplest explanation I have seen. It can be done in a dustbin. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsMr_ma7ceQ

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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by Jim » Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:16 pm

I've always said a carry in destroys my ability to paddle properly, I'd blame the 2 long days with carry ins rather than BA :)

Can't say I fancy either of those swims, but I did once get pinned in Randolphs in a bizarre way and needed rescuing. Must have been the carry down from the road...

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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by DaveBland » Mon Jan 15, 2018 1:26 am

I think the answer to that question is a combination of how well you look after it [or how much you use it] and what type of water you will likely be swimming in.
Obviously loads of use in sun and never rinsing or drying it out will last less well than one that's hardly used and carefully maintained.
Regarding the water type, if you are in lower grade, less aerated water, then it's less critical than boily, swirly stuff where every extra cm of float is kinda handy for breathing 'n that...

Personally I'd go for a if in doubt, chuck it out approach - they aren't that pricey and anything that makes swims less terrifying and unpleasant is worth it. But then I really can't swim that well.
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Re: How long does a PFD last?

Post by Poke » Mon Jan 15, 2018 11:18 am

I've heard an interesting theory that the number of times you fly with it degrades it significantly. The PFD ends up in the hold at a much lower pressure than normal atmospheric. Air in the foam expands and duly bursts some of the "closed cells", thus reducing buoyancy.

I guess the same may go for using it at high altitude. Definitely for using it as a seat. haha.
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