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I have searched the forum to no avail...This topic has come up a couple times, but after the recent drowning of an experinced guide this winter I have found myself thinking more and more about wearing a life vests at all times on or near the water. I usually don't unless I feel the conditions call for it, i.e. running rapids equal to or greater than 2.

I think the reason is that I don't own anything that is comfortable and easy to wear all day. HOWEVER, the other day I received an email saying Patagonia is recalling their Fishing PFD Vest. After looking at the picture...

patagonia.com/web/us/patagonia.go?assetid=7574

I could see myself wearing this day in and day out...at least in the WINTER! It looks small enough to stay out of the way and drab enough to blend in with the background.

Does anyone know why this product has been recalled? And, if there are any comprobable products out there?
 

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I fished with a gentleman a few years ago that had something similar to this.

orvis.com/store/product_choice.asp?pf_id=97RP&dir_id=758&bhcp=1

There have been a few on the market that looked reasonably safe. I intend on picking something up this year since I almost wound up a statistic on a few pools in 2006.

I hope I can get my stick on this belt because I'm starting to look like a mountain climber with all the gear. Floatation belt, neoprene belt (first line of defense), stick, vest or pack, plus whatever boxes I can get into my waders.

-Chris
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am not sure if I like the idea of the ripcord dangling behind me on the way to the river??
 

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Stearns do a fishing waistcoat that I routinely wear whilst on the larger rivers steelhead fishing; keeping my tippet and fly boxes in the pockets means I have to wear it - otherwise I would forget. Every couple of years I test it and it has gone off fine every time.

Barney
 

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from their website:

"Samples of these PFDs have been found that do not comply with the U.S. Coast Guard 15.5lb minimum buoyancy requirement and Underwriters Laboratories Standard 1123. To date there are no reports of accidents or injuries related to the products. Nonetheless, Lotus Designs, Inc. is acting pro-actively on this matter given the potential for accidental drowning, with an under-buoyant product."
 

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Argos,
I thought that PFD looked familiar...the "Clearwater" or "Chinook" by Northwest River Supplies at the very least looks identical. So maybe a patent issue?
Anyway, Dornblaster started a thread here about inflatable vests some while back. There are several on the market. You may wish to look at Stormy Seas jackets and vests as well. As some one mentioned in the previous thread, they are not USCG approved and have no intention of jumping through all the hoops to do so, BUT, there are damn few commercial fishing boats in Alaska that don't have several onboard.
 

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Patagonia Fishing PFD

I have one and called Patagonia Customer Service when I saw the recall notice a couple of months ago. According to the person I spoke to, the PFD was recalled because it only provided something like 14.5 Lb of bouyancy compared to the 15.5 required to meet Class III PFD spec. Not much of a concern for me since I am not that big of a guy, and I already float pretty well without any help.

Considering my situation and useage, I kept mine and continue to use it on a regular basis. I have used it "swimming" and there is plenty of bouyancy, even if I get turned turtle, it still works great at righting me. I wear it as an extra precaution on my float tube, or when wading during storm flows. Overall, I would probably not use it for white-water rafting, but in low/moderate threat environments it is a fantastic accessory.

And the mesh panel in the lower back allows you to sit normally in a kayak or float tube, instead of being pushed forward and having to perch on the edge of the seat. A great feature for all day comfort!

Best regards,
Bill
 

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SOSpenders by Sterns is another one I've seen several times ..

on the Rouge. Apparently somewhat of a fav with folks who use float tubes due t their compact size when deflated.
 

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SOSpenders, A mixed bag

I am not a fan of the inflatable PFDs for wading, tubing etc. The main reason is the fact that the floatation must be "deployed" and is not constantly in effect. There are two styles of inflatable PFD, those with a "rip cord" and those that are "automatic" and deploy when submerged. Neither is that good for wading etc. I'll give you a couple of examples.

First Ex. While wading in the river, you slip on a rock in and fall backwords and knock your noggin. The automatic vest deploys and saves you from drowning, the "rip cord" vest does nothing and your body proceeds on whatever course fate intends. Advantage, Automatic vest.

Second Ex. While wading a bit deep, but not unsafe, the "automatic" vest gets dunked. It goes off and must now be deflated and stowed away, not to mention no longer providing any lifesaving value. The "rip cord" vest will survive multiple dunkings with no ill affect. Always ready when you need it, if you can pull the cord? Advatage, Manual vest.

Third Ex. You and a couple of buddies are in a driftboat on a particularly fast/rough section, and the boat slams a rock and tosses someone overboard. This is what the "automatics" were designed for. They are what bass fisherman use so they will survive being bounced out of a boat at 70 mph. The sad story of the guide who drowned may have been averted with this style of protection, even if he had been knocked out.

In all three situations, a foam core Type III PFD is equal too or superior and will work repeatedly without a repack/recharge.

Last Ex. While float tubing in a pond you spring a slow leak. You head towards shore but start to settle into the water. At the moment you accept the inevitable, pull the cord and complete the "dog paddle" to shore.

Each type has its' advantages, but I find a traditional PFD fills more roles with more consistency (except comfort). Remember that this is about surviving. If you think the situation warrants a PFD then you are recognizing the potential for drowning. Why make any compromise at that point? I run class II/III water in my float tube, as well as float farm ponds, and always wear my PFD.

In my not so humble opinion, that is.

Best Regards,
Bill
 
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