I've one gas inflate LJ and the rest are permanent buoyancy aids/life jackets. I only use the gas LJ myself and usually only sailing for freedom but mainly for the safety harness built into it. I place a high value on a buoyancy aid that just works without anything to go wrong. Falling in on our coasts is always a shock and off a fast boat may also knock the wind right out of you so having to locate and pull a tiny tag is not ideal. Manual inflate is not good for someone unused to boats or unused to falling out of boats so I give my adult passengers buoyancy aids and have a couple of permanent buoyancy life jackets for smaller kids. Auto life jackets are good for convenience but there's even more to go wrong with them and any gas inflate is bad news in a confined space like a boat cabin.
I'm also against gas inflate on small boats as it's not so easy to carry, and maintain in good condition, re-arm kits.
There was a misfortunate chap lost his life a few miles from me with a well known upmarket gas inflate LJ. He fell overboard while mooring, the jacket was quickly inflated and immediately deflated. He drowned within 30 meters of the shore and his watching wife. A defective one way valve was blamed but it seemed to me it wouldn't be hard to introduce a defect yourself just testing your jacket, e.g. get a hair or grit in the manual inflate valve. No amount of manual inflation is going to keep you afloat with a damaged valve or holed bladder.
Another risk is the cylinder coming partially unscrewed when it obviously won't inflate the jacket because it won't go off or it'll leak.
They can also be quite uncomfortable if you're not wearing more than a Tshirt and a buoyancy aid also has the advantage of helping keep the wind off and adding a little insulation.
I like the face up LJ advantage for an unconscious person but overall for my RIB use I'm a firm believer in permanent buoyancy jackets.
Originally Posted by kerny
Mine is less than 6 months old
on my more expensive LJ the gas bottle is encased in neoprene which stops the bottle from impacting the bladder if dropped, maybe all LJ should have this protective casing fitted to stop this from happening.
Or simply retro fit something yourself - an old sock would be a cheap start