A new boating season is here, and it is time to take inventory of things that you may need, or things that you may need to replace. Put Life Jackets or PFD’s at the top of that list. Every year in Alabama, people drown by falling in the water without a PFD on them, and, many times, there is one available in the boat. How many times have you heard that someone could “swim like a fish”, yet they drowned because they were not wearing a proper PFD? The old adage that “it is better to have it on and not need it than to not have it on and really need it” applies here. For your safety, make sure that you have a US Coast Guard approved PFD in good working order for everyone in the boat, and a good US Coast Guard approved throwable Life Ring or Cushion with a rope, just in case. At Bass Pro Shops, we carry many types and styles of PFD’s, so let’s go over a few so that you can make the best choice for you, your family, and your friends.
Type I Vest - A Type I type vest is usually referred to as an Offshore Vest. Normally these are offered in high visibility colors to aid in finding the man overboard. They also feature a design which includes a neck pad that rolls the wearer over in the water, leaving them in a face up position, reducing the chance of an accidental drowning. These vests are better in rougher water, and are generally the most buoyant available for long periods in the water, which is why many members of the military use them. The normal buoyance is 22 lbs.
Type II Vest – A Type II Vest is normally referred to as a Near Shore Buoyant Vest as is more comfortable, less restrictive, and less buoyant than a Type I Vest. This type is used when quick rescue is expected. The normal buoyancy is 15.5 lbs.
Type III Vest – A Type III Vest is usually the most comfortable and this category includes most of your general Recreational Vests and Fishing Vest. These are designed to be used in your more protected waters and lakes. They still offer ample buoyance for larger people, but may not roll a person over to a face up position in the water. Many of the Type III Fishing vests have pockets for stashing smaller items and are made with mesh for cooler comfort. Bass Pro Shops also carries a big selection of Type III Recreational or Ski Vest offered in nylon or neoprene. The neoprene vests are also sized to fit ladies, men, or children. The buoyancy rating for these vests is 15.5 lbs. Finally, for added convenience, Bass Pro Shops offers 4/packs of either Mae West Vests or Recreational Vest in a handy carrying case and sized in an adult universal one-size-fits-most size.
Type IV PFD’s – Type IV PFD’s include your throwable devices such as Life Rings and Seat Cushions. These can also have a rope attached for easy retrieval, and typically have 16.5 lbs. of buoyancy.
Type V PFD – Called a Type V Special Use Device, this category includes work vests, deck suits, and hybrids for restricted or special use.
Inflatable Life Vest – Depending on the design, they can fit into different categories, but all are US Coast Guard approved. Some of the vests are inflated automatically with a Co2 cartridge upon immersion, some are inflated manually upon demand by pulling a ripcord, some have oral tube inflation tubes for manual backup if the cartridge deployment fails, and some have a combination of these features. The higher end vest with Hydrostatic Valve technology can help reduce the chance of accidental deployment by rain, humidity, or bad luck. Replacement re-charge kits can cost anywhere from $25.00 to $75.00. All of these vest come with adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable all day fit for the larger boaters, and more than enough buoyancy at 24lbs or more to keep you floating until help arrives, or the gators get you. Either way, you’ll be floating.
Well, now that you have an idea what we offer at Bass Pro Shops, come on down and see us and get fixed up for the new season. We currently have several styles in all sizes on sale, so check the BPS Facebook page for constant updates. As for sizing, we do carry an extensive offering of PFD’s for infants from 0 lbs. to 30 lbs., children from 30 lbs. to 50 lbs., and youth from 50 lbs. to 90 lbs. In adult sizes, we carry everything from XS adult to 6XL adult.
I hope to see at Bass Pro Shops in Leeds, Alabama, real soon. In the mean time, check out our website at www.basspro.com
Thanks, Jim Mann