Jump to content

Flares -- which?


Recommended Posts

The group buy has come down to these two choices, both by Orion, but both different than the Skyblazers often recommended by NSPN folks. Anybody have pros and cons, particular uses for each, etc?

For one, I cannot tell or find information on the physical size of these, whcih bears on how they get stowed and used in a kayak. I can check next time I'm in a marine store, but until then...

Thanks. --David.

Pocket Rocket Red Aerial Flares (two views, same product (I think))...



Handheld Marine Red Signal Flares...


Link to comment
Share on other sites

David: I'm not familiar with the Pocket Rocket, but the Orion Red Handhelds are about 10-12" long and fairly heavy (alot of fuel to last three minutes versus the Skyblazer type that burn for 6-7 seconds. The Skyblazer is much lighter and smaller than these. The Pocket Rocket looks like a decent price for this type of "shells with launcher" flare, and would appear to be comparable to the Skyblazer in altitude, candlepower, etc., but maybe just a little trickier to use, juggling shells with launcher?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

The big Orions are the kind that want to live in a dry bag or some other kind of boat bound stowage. They are unhappy when they get wet as there is friction striker. And they are indeed flares. You got to hold them, well away from you and watch out for burns on the drysuit.

The Pocket Rockets are I think more waterproof than the sky blazers but you have to load them to fire them. They last about the same amount of time as a sky blazer and go up about as high. The sky blazers now seem to have a better dud ratio than they used: the pull cords are nylon, not metal.

The pocket rocket launcher needs to be used with care as there you have to pull the firing pin back and hook it in a notch before screwing on the flare. Its not hard to inadvertently trigger it when cold wet hands are trying to get the shell loaded.

Bigger and safer is the 12 gauge pistol and flare system but it is also boat bound.

I replace the pfd flares every year as they get immersed alot teaching. NSPN can probably organize a fire off with the CG, something that is highly educational. CG Auxliaries also host these.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Pocket Rockets:

Launcher - 5.5" long, 1/2" diameter

Flares - 1.625" long x 0.625 diameter

I have used these as both my PFD flares (launcher + 3 flares in vac-sealed bag) and my ditch bag flares (launcher & 9 flares in clear vinyl drybag) for the past 4 years. I have never had a dud that was not damaged by exposure to water. Regardless of what the marketeers say, if you want a pyro device to work when you need it most then keep it dry always! Even with water damaged flares I've only had one dud in the past 12 units (I fire off old flares every year).

As Ben pointed out these can be a bit tricky with cold wet hands but they are cheap and reliable. Just don't cock the launcher until after your screwed on the flare. Make no mistake, pyrotechnics are dangerous. Many people are injured every year by mishandling pyrotechnics of one sort or another. A CG officer suggested that I hold the launcher upside down with my left hand and release the stiker / activate the flare with my right hand (I'm right-handed). The idea is that since the hand holding the launcher is reversed any reflexive action in response to the firing of the flare would turn the device away from my face and body.

>The Pocket Rocket looks like

>a decent price for this type of "shells with launcher"

>flare, and would appear to be comparable to the Skyblazer in

>altitude, candlepower, etc., but maybe just a little

>trickier to use, juggling shells with launcher?

One nice touch is that cheap replacement flares are available for the Pocket Rockets just like they are for 12 guage meteors.


"The ability to defend an opinion with absolute certainty . . .

. . . is inversely proportional to one's actual experience."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Brian here (on Linda's PC). Personally, I'd rather have self contained flares like the Sky Blazers. Fumbling with a launcher in an emergency situation seems like a recipe for disaster to me. If the launcher is dropped and lost, the flares are useless. Sky Blasers also happen to be a bit less expensive than Pocket Rockets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


You are on-the-money regarding the 3 pack PocketRocket.

All of the pieces are very small. If you drop a piece on land (launcher, or flair) you just bend over and pick it up. At sea.............hummmmm!

On the other hand, they have a "MiniFlair 3 Kit" that is standard issue in all US Coast Guard rescue vests. It uses the same launcher and flairs as the PocketRocket. The difference is that it contains 8 flares (vs. 3) in a rubber bandoleer that has a secure storage slot for the launcher. It's a tight, very compact package (6" x 2.75" x 0.75").

Bandoleer and the launcher are designed to allow them to be tethered together. Just attach a 20" tether from the launcher to the bandoleer and wrap the line around the kit or flemish against one side.

As with any pyro device, a heavy duty ZIP type plastic bag or sealing the kit in an airtight food sealer bag would be a good idea.

The complete kit will easily fit into a PFD pocket.

Easy to operate with gloves.

The "MiniFlair 3 Kit" with 8 rockets takes up less space than a 3 pack of the "StarBlazer.

Hand held flairs.....NOT ME.

Living to learn.

Romany White, Blue trim

Link to comment
Share on other sites

___________________SkyBlasers___________Mini Flares

Altitude:____________Up to 450'____________60 Meters (198')

Average Burn Time:___6.9 seconds__________6 seconds

Average Brightness:__16,000 candela________3,000 candela

Price:______________~$20/3 ($6.67 ea.)___~$75/8 ($9.38 ea.)

The SkyBlazer data is from Orion's website (http://www.orionsignals.com/Marine/Products/aerial.html). When Orion bought out SkyBlazer, they upgraded them to the same performance level of the Star-Tracers that they used to make, which were notably superior. Star-Tracer performance with the SkyBlaser size and shape is a great combination. They're brighter than Pocket Rockets, too.

I haven't seen the Mini Flares in any configuration other than the full kit, which means if you use a few, you have to buy the whole thing again if you want to carry the full compliment.

In my experience, SkyBlazers are well sealed and work fine even after getting wet repeatedly. I had some that had been in a foam block holder in the cockpit of my boat for over a year, getting wet every time I went out and they all worked when I test fired them. I'm not suggesting that this is the proper way to treat them, but I feel confident in them, even if they get wet.

I guess it comes down to whether you would rather have 8 tiny flares in a compact kit or nearly a dozen larger ones for the same price.

If you're willing to put up with the bulk and hassle of flares with a separate launcher, Orion is now selling their 25mm gun in a smaller kit with 3 flares and a bandolier. The 25mm metor flares are more than twice as bright as SkyBlazers, but the real star of the show is the 25mm parachute flare. It lauches more than twice as high and burns ~5 times longer, but is small enough to carry several in a kayak. No one who sees it is likely to confuse it with fireworks, either. The downside is that the 25mm parachute flares are more than $30 each.

Personally, I'll stick with SkyBlazers for the type of paddling I do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with Brian about the self-contained Skyblazers. The cylindrical Pocket Rocket kit (as marketed) takes up too much volume much on a life vest. Jed repackages the 3-shot Pocket Rocket kit into about the same shape & size of two Skyblazers. But I don’t have a vacuum sealer and the assembly procedure could be tricky with cold wet hands.

I surely want the hand-held flares onboard if there is ever a need to get a fire going on the beach.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the group buy, we "may" have the option to full circle and instead go with the single packaged SkyBlazers.

Because it will be a group buy, we all need to decide on one or the other - personally, I could go either way and see each with it's own benefits.

With that said, does anyone have any experience or data points on quality and reliability of SkyBlazers. I know the Pocket Rockets are a very high quality flare (high, bright, long burn, low dud rate), but I do not know that of SkyBlazers. What about dud rate for SkyBlazers?

If we can get these data points, I will take the discussion of switching the aerials buy back to the group (in offline email thread).

Much thanks!


"Would a knife help protect you against a ‘curious’ shark? I don’t know but I would like the option." - Trevor Gardner

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Skyblazer reliability?

Well, a bunch of rowdy, land-bound kayakers did some target practice with some expired skyblazers (among others) last year at a(n unamed) cove in the fog in Maine last summer. I believe the dud rate was very low -- perhaps somebody recalls it exactly -- though they did not succeed in setting the targetted house on fire.

Assuming they are reliable, I vote for Skyblazeres over Pocket Rockets. I'm concerned about the separate launcher with the latter.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

According to the Orion website


SkyBlazers win on all counts. Here's the data:


Altitude: Up to 450 feet

Average Burn Time: 6.9 seconds each

Average Brightness: 16,000 candela

Pocket Rockets:

Altitude: Up to 300 feet

Average Burn Time: 6.5 seconds each

Average Brightness: 10,000 candelas

Even the 12 Gauge flares beat Pocket Rockets in brightness:

Altitude: Up to 300 feet

Average Burn Time: 6 seconds each

Average Brightness: 15,000 candela

The 25MM flares beat them all:

Altitude: Up to 375 feet

Average Burn Time: 7 seconds each

Average Brightness: 35,000 candelas


Altitude: Up to 1,000 feet

Average Burn Time: 29 seconds each

Average Brightness: 17,000 candelas

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I found the information at the link below to be of interest. In daylight conditons only the orange smoke devices were deemed to be effective.


From the conclusions section:

"From our experience, small boats in daylight near shore and with heavy boat traffic should consider carrying three hand-held smoke flares to guide assistance vessels to them..... Smoke is the best option for day-only signaling."

Joe Galloway

"The older I get, the better I was."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

BoatsUS has a sale going on right now on the Skyblazers. After instant and mail-in rebates, a three-pack is $17.49. Plus, they've got a coupon for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more. That can reduce the price another 20% to about $14 if you buy three packs. Sale runs through this weekend.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is a good deal. The Skyblazers expire in April-2007. They may give you the mismarked price of $19.99 before the $3 rebate. The 3-pack of hand-held flares cost $17.99 and expire in November-2006. Spend $50 or more and you get $10 off at the register and a free pair of 7x 21 binoculars. They are not waterproof but folded they measure 1.5 x 2.5 x 3.63.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...