-- Last Updated: May-31-13 11:23 AM EST --
out there for paddlers, cut to be comfortable while you are sitting down and give you good arm and torso movement. I prefer conventional PFDs for several reasons:
1. They are always "on". For paddling, an auto-inflate PFD isn't usually practical, so you are going to have to have a manually inflating one. But what if you get incapacitated somehow and can't pull the cord?
2. You can use them to float without having to then rearm them, unlike inflatables.
3. They are foolproof, still float when punctured, and require minimal maintenance.
But, if it comes down to you not wearing a regular one, by all means get an inflatable if it means you are more likely to wear it.
On wearing an inflatable though - a reminder. There are plenty of paddling situations where it really isn't necessary to wear a PFD, for instance, for me when I am paddling the waist-deep water of the saltmarshes. I can have my traditional PFD sitting behind me in my kayak or canoe, and still be in compliance, but an inflatable PFD only fulfills the legal requirement of a PFD for every person on board if it is worn. Get caught not wearing your inflatable, and you could get a ticket.
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