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Kitty, I'm not sure what my antique has in terms of lift, it predates the "newton" vests. An uninflated vest doesn't have much bulk. The only point where it really impacts you will probably be chafing the back of your neck when you are in light clothing. I won't tell you how many years to took me to figure out that some adhesive velcro and a scrap of good silk solved that problem.
In the water, inflated, EVERY vest of every type becomes a mixed blessing. If you want to float, you want lots of buoyancy so you can bob around. But if you are trying to swim, you want to let out as much gas as you can and slim it down. Any full Type-I or fully inflated PFD is going to make swimming difficult, with a sidestroke or backstroke being easier if you need the inflation.
Then there's pockets or belt pouches or what-have-you. If you keep a ministrobe, or a small folding knife, or a smoke cannister, mirror, etc. "in" the vest, there's usually little provision to realy keep anything in it. I've got a whistle, mirror, and small knife folded inside mine, a PLB couldn't fit, no way no how. And I keep the manual inflation cord tucked up inside the vest so it can't foul and catch on anything. I figure, if I'm concious when I need the vest, I'll manage. But if it gets pulled by accident--I've got no automatic backup left.
Sometime when you have sheltered water, great weather, extra crew, and nothing better to do, try jumping overboard while underway and doing a real MOB drill. There's nothing like actually being IN the water, to see how the vest works, how it fits, whether anything needs adjustment. Yes, it will cost a repack but there's nothing like "I've been here before" to give you confidence in case it happens for real.
Last edited by hellosailor; 02-29-2012 at 12:04 PM.