How Do You Pick the Right Life Jacket for You?

We all know that life jackets are essential when we try water sports and other recreational activities in the water. But how do you find the right jacket? There are different jackets made for different purposes and a multitude of styles and designs are available in the market. Here are some tips that you can follow before purchasing a good life jacket for you.

Pick Your Sport

There are inflatable life jackets that you can buy when you are boating; for leisure or for fishing. But when you are engaging in other water sports, each sport has differently suited life vests. A vest with multiple buckles is best for personal watercraft like tubing, wake surfing, jet skiing, or water skiing.

For an activity like kayaking, you will have to pick a vest made specifically for it. These vests come with wider arm openings that allow free hand movement and easier paddling. If you are hinting from a boat, then the vest you should choose a vest made for that specifically. Make sure to ask your sports instructor or your store staff which jacket suits your activity the best.


Life vests and other PFDs (Personal floatation devices) come in different types. Type I am an offshore life jacket that is easier to put on and am effective when rescue is getting delayed. Type II, the near-shore buoyancy vest is intended for waters that are calmer and when quickest rescue is possible. Type III or floatation aid is lightweight and comfortable. They are also good for continuous wear. These vests can place the wearers into a face-up position in the water.

Type IV means throw-able devices which are not intended for wear. These consist of offing buoys, horseshoe buoys, and buoyant cushions and should be used together with the vests. And finally, Type V is a special use device that is made for specific activities. These vests are only to be used according to the approval conditions mentioned in their labels.

Size and Fit

This is perhaps the most important thing you need to check when you are buying a life vest. The easiest way to get the size and fit is to measure the broadest part of your chest and match it with the measurements of the vest.

The correct fit is vital in determining your safety in the waters. For example, if you are wearing a loose vest, there is a risk of it slipping. This will keep you from getting the full protection of the vest. Size and fit also differ with age and gender. So, make sure to be specific when you are buying.

Men’s and women’s life jacket will have different sizing. If you are taking kids with you, then look for kids’ sizes separately. For children, choosing the vest based on their weight will ensure a better fit than the chest size. Being specific with your purchase will help you to find the best and the safest fit.

Remember you are buying a life-saving device and not doing your everyday shopping. So while there are other things you can consider such as the style or the material, priorities the fit, the activity, and when making your choice.

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