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Comp Vest yes or no

Hi - I'm still not wearing a comp vest ... seems I go against the grain. Can someone tell me if there is a performance added value to wearing one? Or are they just more comfortable and hence give better performance? Are they safe? Im a bigger guy 235 lbs 6,4".... probably can't find one to fit me to be honest - but will it float me enough? thanks


  • FSSPCatFSSPCat Posts: 136 Baller
    There will be some that fit you. But the question is, how comfortable are you in the water with one? How are your drivers? How hard do you fall when you crash? They’re comfortable to wear, but if you’re fine in you pfd, no need to switch.
  • lpskierlpskier Posts: 3,063 ★★★Triple Panda Award Recipient ★★★
    At 235, I have to think that a slalom vest would be a lot less bulky on an already big frame. You certainly will be able to get your elbows closer to your sides and that might be more comfortable. I think Eagle makes a XXL which would probably be about the right size. At 182 I wear a large and it’s a hair too big but a medium is a hair too small.
    John Wilkins- Si non pro sanguine quem ludus ne. #iskiconnelly
  • RednucleusRednucleus Posts: 554 Crazy Baller
    Talk to the folks at Stokes, they will make you happy!
  • jpattigrjpattigr Posts: 246 Crazy Baller
    I am 6’5 and about 240. XL Billabong vest works great. Be careful not to buy too big. They all stretch out and get bigger with wear.
  • LK_skierLK_skier Posts: 57 Baller
    @FSSPCat Drivers are pretty good and on the ball, crash....hmmm generally I don't crash but there's always that one time. The PFD I wear is ok - but Im just starting to notice it now that I'm skiing a little more shorter line lengths - hard to describe... maybe its all in my head...
  • GaryJanzigGaryJanzig Posts: 93 Baller
    edited December 2020
    Not legal in Pennsylvania. Even on a private lake the your property rights stop at the waters edge. The Fish Commission can come in at any time. The only exception is a barefoot suit, or trick skiing. You still have to have a USCG approved vest on board for all passengers and skiers. The comp vests are too thin. I like having padding for those bad crashes. I have two Ski Warm/Connelly USCG neo vests.
  • The_MSThe_MS Posts: 6,044 Member of the BallOfSpray Hall Of Fame
    Shut up and ski
  • LoopSkiLoopSki Posts: 782 Mega Baller
    @GaryJanzig thats ridiculous!
  • MDB1056MDB1056 Posts: 581 Crazy Baller
    Age old discussion. Will a comp vest float you as well. No . Will they float you enough? Maybe. Pro/Con - padding in a fall - no way to really prove marked results. IMO everyone should have a couple of each. I love comp vests - light feel and freedom of movement, no riding up. Don't want to spend a lot? I've snagged amazing deals on Eagle and Oneil vests on SIA and Ebay. Well under $50, to your door.
  • WayneWayne Posts: 551 Solid Baller
    There really isn’t a yes/no here due to safety implications. The situation and surroundings drives a lot of “what ifs”.

    In a controlled environment, like a dedicated slalom lake, they can be sufficient to float you for starts and provide some impact protection. If you get knocked out, there is minimal depth and current so chances are it will be easy to assist you in an emergency.

    When you get into more open waters, all of that control goes away. If the worst should happen, with a CGA vest you are at least floating and easy to find. With a comp vest that not guaranteed, I sink if I exhale while wearing mine.
  • ScottScottScottScott Posts: 1,068 Mega Baller
    I have no issue floating in a comp vest. If I get knocked out, I don't think it will be an issue keeping me at the top of the water. It won't keep my head up or face out of water, but I won't be out there alone, and the boat should be back quick enough. If your vest won't keep you on the top of the water, I would look at other options.

    I find the impact claims interesting. I don't think there is any real testing or studies done to see exactly what approach is best for minimizing rib injuries. A CGA vest has more padding, but is that necessarily best, maybe thinner/stiffer foam are better? Some comp vests have smaller individual foam panels, others have larger. I would think the larger areas would help disperse the impact where the small panels may localize that impact into a smaller area. But, smaller panels provide more flexibility. There's a lot of speculation and theory as far as impact resistance, and some trade offs.
  • igkyaigkya Posts: 738 Crazy Baller
    At 240+ lbs, the Stokes XXL was too big, went to an XL and after a season, it's almost too big. They float me fine, keeping in mind I ski on a made made lake. Depending who my driver/passengers are, I wouldn't wear one in open/public lakes.
  • 6balls6balls Posts: 5,556 Mega Baller
    At you size you are an approved flotation go with the comp vest!(just razzin'). Kidding aside yeah go with one and don't look back
    Dave Ross--die cancer die
  • LK_skierLK_skier Posts: 57 Baller
    @6balls - I like to think I make the boat work harder than most... lol. :D
  • dvskierdvskier Posts: 694 Crazy Baller
    Get a Stokes vest. You’ll be happy, mine floats me higher than any other non USCG vest I’ve tried. Comfortable as well and doesn’t get bent out of shape in an OTF.
  • dbutcherdbutcher Posts: 454 Crazy Baller
    I am almost always the only one at the starting dock with an old fashioned, Coast Guard approved vest. But guess what, I am old and don't care what anybody else thinks. The old style vest floats me better and keeps my head out of the water when I shorten the line or fall. Yes, the comp vest is comfortable - I have tried a couple of them - but for me they are not as good. They are not really comfortable when you have to hold your nose up to breathe. My old fashioned CGA vest is more protective of the ribs (my opinion) and is not restrictive or a hindrance to me in any way. For icing on my cake, it costs about a third of what a comp vest costs.
  • ALPJrALPJr Posts: 2,382 Mega Baller
    edited December 2020
    O’Neill Assault CGA with lumbar support and the new version has nice lightweight foam.
  • mike_mapplemike_mapple Posts: 153 Water Ski Industry Professional
    Hey @LK_skier As a fellow bigger guy 6'8 295-310lbs If you are wanting to stick with a CGA, one of the best that we have in the shop right now, that we sell a ton of is called the Liquid Force Watson, a bit longer cut which is nice with being taller. I have plenty of comp/impact vests, O'Neill makes some great ones as well, the shop opens at 10 if you ever have any questions feel free to give us a call!
    [email protected]
    [email protected]

    If you have a blister, pop it, pour some lemon juice on it, and then add salt. -Andy Mapple
  • Timr71Timr71 Posts: 51 Baller
    Just throwing in my $.02 and it's probably not worth that much. I'm not a big guy, 5'9" 155. And, I've just started skiing in the course a lot this past season. I was in a regular CGA jacket for the first half of the season. Then, I took a fall that resulted in some cracked ribs. So I purchased a comp vest, Eagle, for the tighter fit around my dinged up ribs. After a couple of weeks I was able to resume skiing. I do find the comp vest to be more comfortable and less bulky too. But, I can't say that I ski better with it.
  • ralral Posts: 1,812 Mega Baller
    edited December 2020
    You are safer with a comp vest on a man-made waterski lake with an experienced crew in the boat than with a USCG vest in open water with uncle joe at the helm after his 3rd beer...
    Rodrigo Andai
  • gsm_petergsm_peter Posts: 804 Crazy Baller
    My 2 cents
    A wet suite add some flotation.
    A comp vest and a plus 2mm full suite is then sufficient. At least for me.
    Life is too short not to enjoy every day!
  • skialexskialex Posts: 1,164 Crazy Baller
    If you are knocked down and breathless, you are going down. I do that at the drops while waiting... exhale and start sinking then at the last moment I take a deep breath and come up again...
    I believe that a tight comp vest gives me a better chance to save my ribs in a bad fall than a bulky cga one, but as far as keeping you afloat in a knocked out fall, it’s not gonna work...
  • pregompregom Posts: 311 Baller
    This summer I got a Stokes EVO2 comp vest - @Thomasasher was very helpful finding the right size for me (Large, fits me really well). The EVO doesn't make me float as well as my previous CG approved O'Neill vest and I had to make some adjustments getting out of the hole. Now I like it a lot and it allows me to keep my elbows closer to my waist. As for sinking, I tested it and it holds me on the surface.
  • LK_skierLK_skier Posts: 57 Baller
    @skialex - guess that's where your relying on your crew to spin and save you
  • smalorsmalor Posts: 70 Baller
  • skibrainskibrain Posts: 204 Solid Baller
    edited December 2020
    I know this is a buoyancy conversation, but in terms of safety even CGA type III vests are not designed to turn an unconscious wearer.

    “A TYPE III PFD, or FLOTATION AID, is good for calm, inland water, or where there is a good chance of quick rescue. This PFD type will not turn unconscious wearers to a face-up position. The wearer may have to tilt their head back to avoid turning face down.”

    I’ve been through WSI training. CGA vests are required in MN on public water where we ski, but I choose to wear a comp vest (zipper plus 2 buckles) for early morning skiing with a trusted boat crew.
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