The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. Thanks for helping us do what we love.

Inflatable Life Jackets | How to Inspect and Rearm

Inflatable life jackets, PFDs, and vests are a comfortable and low-profile alternative to traditional and bulkier foam-based varieties — they’re safe and reliable, too, if properly inspected and maintained. Wired2fish’s Scott Glorvigen demonstrates how to check and rearm inflatable life jackets.

FLOTATION DEVICES (retail links)

The most significant difference between inflatable and foam PFDs is that inflatable varieties have a mechanical and/or manual pull device that activates a CO2 cartridge and fills inflatable bags. An inflated PFD must be deflated, repacked, and rearmed with a new CO2 cartridge to reuse.

While the process may seem daunting and inconvenient, it’s easy. Glorvigen leads us through an overview of the anatomy of inflatable flotation devices, detailing the materials, construction, and mechanical and manual components. Remember that there can be significant functional and re-supply differences between manufacturers, so be sure to review the product manual or find specifics on the inflatable itself.

Despite differences, the rearming process is similar. Following the inflatable overview, Glorvigen walks us through the process of reloading a new CO2 cartridge in this detailed step-by-step instruction video.