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Thread: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

  1. #1
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    Default Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    We carry three in our Albin for donning under way, in addition to three foam-type vests for recreational activities in the water. Two of our vests recently flunked the USCG Vessel Safety Check (administered by our Power Squadron) due to their printed certification labels being illegible. Both of these vests are in excess of twenty years old. The vest that passed is much newer. Inflatable vests seem to have gotten a lot more expensive since I last purchased one. We don't need anything fancy with a lifeline harness, just a standard auto inflate/manual inflate vest. All of our existing vests were purchased at discount at the annual Chicago Boat & RV Show.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    I canít judge whatís any good but there are automatic inflatable life vests on Amazon for short money.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    Look online at local sporting goods fall (duck hunting?) sales, and manufacturer's sales on-line.
    Await dreams, loves, life; | There is always tomorrow. | Until there is not.

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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    I have a couple of those made by Mustang, one auto upon immersion, and one manual type for kayaking. Hunting around the web you can find them as low as about $99, but that seemed to be about the lower limit. They're very well made and it's not surprising that they are so commonly seen on game wardens, and other law enforcement folks. My wife has a couple of Onyx AM 24s which she likes. I think we found them for the best price from one of the eBay sellers and it was also just under $100. Some other brands can be had for as little as $60 or so, but I don't know how well they compare. It just wasn't something I wanted to skimp on.

    It would be really handy though if life vest manufacturers would really make durable printed labels to sew into their vests. I'm sure we have plenty of old foam vests (Omegas, Stearns, etc.) which still perform perfectly, but probably aren't technically legal due to the print wearing off of their labels.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    I recently purchased a used item, very reasonably priced, at the Boater's Resale Shop of Texas.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    There may not be many PFDs to chose from, much less at a bargain price. My wife was looking for a new one when she got her SUP last summer (many of the models I looked at were back ordered too) very limited supply means she is still using the 15+ year old one from the kayaks. The sporting goods industry has seen business boom during the pandemic shut downs as people look for outdoor recreation even as their supply chains have been hit pretty hard. Bicycles are hard to come by too.
    Steve

    If you would have a good boat, be a good guy when you build her - honest, careful, patient, strong.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    The fading labels are intended to fade as an indicator of wear. The idea is that if the label has had enough wear through use or sun exposure, then the PFD may not perform as required, if required. They have a lifespan, much like tires, which need replacing after a time regardless of use.
    There's the plan, then there's what actually happens.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    Just look for sales and pick the one that best suits your performance parameters. After all, these items deliver a roughly ten year lifespan. So even a $200 vest is cheap in the scheme of things.

    You can also consider an inflatable waist-pack/ belt type. These are manual inflate and require a conscious victim to pull the inflated vest over their head. Less protection, more convenient, less money.

    Ex no connection)
    $79:

    Screen Shot 2020-09-23 at 11.04.21 AM.jpg

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    The idea is that if the label has had enough wear through use or sun exposure, then the PFD may not perform as required, if required. They have a lifespan, much like tires, which need replacing after a time regardless of use.
    The only problem with that statement is that it isn't true, at least it isn't if you take good care of the vest. I still have whitewater life vests from the late 1960s and early 1970s, which are just as strong and effective as they ever were. Their only flaw is that the labels (inside the vest and not exposed to the sun) are losing their ink.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    No affiliation but the same item here for $59 - $64 https://www.sportsmansguide.com/prod...16&c=516&s=578

    Jim...

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Just look for sales and pick the one that best suits your performance parameters. After all, these items deliver a roughly ten year lifespan. So even a $200 vest is cheap in the scheme of things.

    You can also consider an inflatable waist-pack/ belt type. These are manual inflate and require a conscious victim to pull the inflated vest over their head. Less protection, more convenient, less money.

    Ex no connection)
    $79:

    Screen Shot 2020-09-23 at 11.04.21 AM.jpg

    Kevin
    The best helping hand you will ever receive is the one at the end of your own arm.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    The Fisheries Supply website is a good place to buy from and a good place to see what is available in personal safety equipment.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    How much does it cost to have some labels printed and glue/sew them on the old vests?

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rumars View Post
    How much does it cost to have some labels printed and glue/sew them on the old vests?
    black market pfd labels.....a ray of light just exploded in my head !

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    Depends on what you want. If like me you need a system suitable for a cruising sailboat, pull up Mustang Survival [https://mustangsurvival.com] and look over their inflatables. I like the units that have a built in harness. There are many products and many dealers. I go to Defender [https://www.defender.com] because I trust their service and because they can get products from a manufacturer that are not in the Defender catalog. Defender generally about as low a price for something you want but Mustang products are far from cheap.

    Note on supply chains - A friend recently had trouble with an order through Defender because the manufacturer could not deliver and there was a bit of froughhaha as to exactly who should refund the money.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Where does one shop to get a good deal on an inflatable life vest?

    Can I offer a counter point here? Inflatable PFDs range in price from ~$120 to ~$200 (and up depending on features). Getting the best possible deal on two of them *might* save a hundred dollars. Which you will not be thinking about at all if you are in the water and hoping that it will auto-inflate and not spontaneously deflate for some reason. (I know this for certain as I recently had occasion to "test" one of our Mustang inflatable PFDs. I was right next to the shore but even so I was quite happy that it worked as intended).

    Also don't buy the belt type. You don't want to have to fuss about with pulling the thing over your head. I use one for rowing but just because the other sort gets in the way.

    My advice is to go to your favorite marine supply store, local or online, buy the least expensive model they sell, and don't worry about getting the best possible savings. West Marine has a house brand inflatable for around $120 that seems pretty close to the classic Mustang PFDs that we use (we have one as a backup). The current model basic Mustang inflatable is somewhere around $150 from various places and I expect it's an upgrade on the older style.
    - Chris

    Life is short. Go boating now!

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