Originally Posted by fredaevans
"So I said all that to let you all know about the deal, but also to ask which inflatable life vests should I get, which ones are the best bang for your buck!"
SOSuspenters. Horse collar sort of thing, and damned near bullet proof. That said, no PFD is worth anything ... if you don't have it on.
The collar type inflatable IS the way to go.
I've been using them since before they were coast guard approved simply because they made sense to me. I used to race sailboats both short and long distance and in weekly series. Doing the series you went out regardless of the weather because every point mattered in the final standings. In 2-300 mile races that stretched over several days you were at the mercy of the weather so the collar type life jacket was on me more than any I owned before.
- They are comfortable and not cumbersome. In hot weather they excelled over the jackets. Being comfortable you are more apt to wear it.
- The collar type is a true life jacket when inflated. It acts much like the old Mae West jackets in that it keeps you face up when dunked.
- The type I use inflates in three different ways. Automatically if you are dunked, manually with an inflation tube or manually by pulling a rip-cord.
In all the years I've owned them I only had them go off by themselves twice. Once when I left it on my parked 'toon in a full days downpour.
That was a shocker for those of us huddled under a canopy trying to stay dry.
The other time when it was down below on a boat when I was off-watch and trying to nap in a soaking wet cabin loaded with wet sails, foul weather gear and people. Another shocker.
The way I see it, if I'm in a situation where I need a life preserver I want it to work well enough to preserve my life and like you said, the only way that works is if you have it on.