Originally Posted by Nos4r2
Lifejacket-always IMO. Personally I'd use a manual gas one for a small sib .
Thats a very definite answer there...
I'm not convinced of the benefits of a manual gas one - but if you go auto gas then a pressure rather than moisture activated one would be better. The major selling point of a L/J over a bouyancy aid is it is supposed to turn an unconscious casualty the right way up (how sure that is may be another issue). But if your unconscious you can't pull the toggle on a manual jacket. There have been a few people drowned wearing manual jackets which were functioning - but for some reason they seem to have paniced (cold shock?) and not triggered it.
Bouyancy aid offers better wind protection/warmth than a lifejacket for routine use.
Bouyancy aid's don't "fail". Gas inflation jackets of all sorts need careful attention to ensure cylinders don't work loose, rust etc and that bladders don't leak. if you do "fire" a l/j on a long trip you really need to carry a spare cylinder or two - which with no lockers is a PITA. If I am not mistaken Chewy's bro is quite young - still at school? In which case the cost of using it may mean he waits longer to pull the cord than you or I?
I would consider a canoe style bouyancy aid with pockets etc....
I guess another factor may be when else he might use the same jacket - does he sail (dinghies or yachts)? will he be going out with chewy? does he canoe? etc...