Lifejackets are a necessity on any offshore fishing trip. The classic foam lifejackets that have reigned supreme for decades may offer safety, but they are also bulky and difficult to store. Inflatable vests offer safety and reliability in a much more compact package, making them increasingly popular among offshore anglers. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing an inflatable vest and in today’s blog, we’ll explore them.
3 Tips for Choosing the Right Inflatable Life Vest
Auto-inflatables are best for offshore trips
When choosing an inflatable vest, you’ll have to pick between an automatic or manual style. While manual vests have the benefit of being slightly cheaper than auto-inflatables, they’re not as reliable for high-speed boat rides and are better used for kayaking or slow-speed trawling. Auto-inflatables are the best choice for accidents that occur suddenly because they are water-activated, which means that they will deploy as needed as soon as you hit the water.
Consider the buoyancy rating
The National Coast Guard is currently analyzing their buoyancy ratings and changes are likely to be coming down the pike soon, but a good rule of thumb is to choose a higher buoyancy rating based on where you do most of your fishing. Inflatables always offer more buoyancy than foam vests and the Coast Guard recommends at least 22 pounds of flotation, but you may need up to 35 pounds if you frequently encounter big waves on the open sea.
Check your vest routinely
Hydrostatic vests contain an inspection window that will show green if your vest is good to go. Bobbin-style vests should be checked every 6-12 months to ensure that they are fully intact. If you live in an area with heavy rainfall or high humidity, vests should be checked more frequently. You should use the oral-inflation tube to check the integrity of the bladder and be sure to visually inspect the shell as well.
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