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Post by Shan27 » Wed Oct 30, 2019 10:57 pm

Hey there,

I'm new to the forum and looking for a bit of advice!
Have started doing kayaking and canoeing this year (hiring them out and doing day trips etc.)

And I have just bought a canoe for my partner and I. Dying to get out on it!
And i was just looking for a bit of info and advice on life jackets and buoyancy vests?!
Should I be buying an inflatable life jacket or a buoyancy aid is the question? Just a but clueless in this area to be totally honest.
Any advice would be very much appreciated! :)

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Post by charleston14 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:52 am

Bouyancy aid is what the vast majority use: simple, can be reused multiple times on the same outing (if you fell in a lot), when you’re in the water it’s also fairly low profile so doesn’t restrict your ability to perform an effective rescue, handy pockets and hydration bladder versions etc

A Lifejacket on the other hand, is designed for an unconscious person.
In the water, it inflates and rolls you over to face up. They use a firing cartridge which has to be regularly checked (or it may not go off) and need a new gas cyclinder after each inflation. They are also downright difficult to swim in, and it’s almost impossible to climb up out of the water unassisted by someone on land onto a steep bank when wearing one as the inflated chambers prevent your chest from getting close to the ground. I was shocked that in a swimming pool I was unable to climb out with a freeboard of only 12 inches or so.

I wear a life jacket at work but a bouyancy aid for paddling.

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Post by Jim » Fri Nov 01, 2019 10:50 pm

If you can swim, for most people most of the time a buoyancy aid is the best choice, especially if you expect to be regularly falling in or jumping in. It also provides insulation and padding which can be useful on some trips.

If you are very confident about never falling in and just want something as a last resort, there are low profile lifejackets which you almost won't notice you are wearing, and a few people do prefer to use those, but as Charleston says they can be a real faff once actually deployed. You will only be able to swim on your back and re-entering the canoe afloat will be impossible, you will bave to get to the side and get out first. If you want to carry on, it will be very bulky to paddle in, and until you can service it and replace the gas cartridge you won't easily be able to re-inflate it if you let it down (you could use the top up tube, but that is meant for topping up, it would take too long to blow all the way up with it especially if you have already fallen in before you start!).

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