The typical personal flotation device (PFD) most people think of to bring on their boat is a simple life jacket. The issue with this kind of PFD is that they are often bulky and uncomfortable, making boaters and guests not want to wear them. This is obviously an issue if someone happens to accidentally fall into the water! Another option for boaters is to purchase an inflatable PFD that is right for them.
PFDs are more comfortable than normal, large life jackets. They will effectively keep you face up in the water. Many can turn a face down person over to face up position quicker and more easily than a lifejacket.
Automatic inflatable lifejackets are not as useful for activities that involve a person going in and out of the water frequently (kayaking, watersports, etc.). However, you can use a manual inflatable PFD in this case. Inflatable lifejackets are not recommended for children under 16. Lastly, inflatable lifejackets need to be inspected and serviced every 1-2 years, whether they are automatic or manual.
A popular type of inflatable lifejacket is one with a belt. It is worn around your waist and you can manually deploy it so it turns into a jacket that you can put around your neck. This is a great kind of PFD for people who enjoy watersports. This belt pack PFD can be found at Hodges Marine. Other inflatable PFDs include jackets that are worn around the neck with a strap around the back. This type can be either automatic or manual, and can also include a harness that will tether the wearer to the boat, which can help prevent you from going overboard. This type of inflatable PFD would be great for anglers. This inflatable life jacket can be both automatic AND manual. Find it at West Marine. While the “perfect” personal flotation device may not exist yet, these types of inflatable PFDs are sure to be a little bit more comfortable and practical than the standard lifejacket.
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