We did it! We test fired an inflatable PFD. The result was educational.

We did it! We test fired an inflatable PFD. The result was educational.

Caught on Film: Testing the MTI Helios Inflatable PFD
By Paul Lebowitz

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You’ve always wondered what would happen if you pulled the yellow trigger tab on an inflatable PFD, haven’t you? We have too. When MTI’s Lili Colby offered us an MTI Helios with an extra compressed air cylinder, we couldn’t say yes quickly enough. All we lacked was a test pilot, and we got one when Terry Gowen volunteered at a Clear Lake, California photo shoot.

Gowen’s an experienced kayak angler and a heck of a paddler, but he didn’t know what he was up for. He gamely threw himself off his Predator and into the cold water (it took considerable effort – that ‘yak is STABLE), and yanked the cord.

In a blink the compact horse collar transformed into a taut yellow life saver. It easily supported Terry’s head out of the water where he could take in as much fresh air as he’d like. Climbing back on his ‘yak looked easy enough. Watch the final seconds of the video closely. Terry pulls the ends of the PFD apart, and says, “It’s oh. It’s a whole lot of stuff.”

Translated, the inflatable PFD’s grip around his torso and neck was a tight one. This is the one instance it makes sense to wear a PFD loosely strapped – before you trigger an inflatable.

In case you’re wondering, the Helios folded neatly back into its cover. It’s ready to go right now.