Handy Buying Guide For Life Vests

A life jacket or vest provides you with more buoyancy so you can remain afloat in water. If you engage in kayaking or canoeing, this personal floatation device (PFD) becomes an essential piece of gear for you. Choosing the right life jacket is necessary for engaging in these water sports. Today you can find life jackets from various brands like Jet Pilot, Rip Curl, Follow, and KGB online. Thus, you can select from a diverse range and find a vest that perfectly fits your needs. Keep reading to know what to consider to find a suitable life jacket.

Standard Versus Inflatable Life Jacket

A typical life jacket resembles a vest and relies on foam for buoyancy; these jackets are Type III USCG-approved. They require little maintenance and are naturally buoyant. It is not necessary to activate it to provide floatation and use it for water sports such as canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding.

An inflatable life jacket can also be utilised for canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Their slim profile makes them comfortable to wear and covers a smaller portion of your body than a standard one. It keeps you comfortable even in hot weather. But if you regularly engage in high-impact activities like river rafting or whitewater kayaking, consider the standard life jacket.

Find the Right Size

It’s important to note that your chest size rather than weight determines the size of the life jacket you need. So you should measure your chest’s circumference at its widest point. Use this number with the manufacturer’s size suggestion to determine the right size for yourself. 

Consider life jackets that are shorter and mid-fit around the waist, have larger armholes, and have less room around the neck. Your life vest should feel snug but not too tight. You should be able to move freely and not chafe when you paddle and play. 

Know about the Types of PFDs

  • Type I PFDs – They are best suited for remote or rough waters. Although they are bulky, they offer the most buoyancy. The increased buoyancy of this kind of jacket allows you to stay higher above the water, which is vital in large waves. 
  • Type II PFDs – They are appropriate for calm inland waters. They feature a basic design that’s less heavy than Type I PFDs. You can find them in inherently inflatable, buoyant, or hybrid configurations.
  • Type III PFDs – They provide freedom of movement. These PFDs are so developed that the ones wearing them can put themselves in a face-up stance. They also come in inherently inflatable, buoyant, or hybrid designs.
  • Type IV PFDs are floatation devices thrown to a conscious person in an urgent situation. Some examples of this type of PFDs include buoyant cushions and life rings. 
  • Type V PFDs – They are special-use devices used for particular activities. To be USCG acceptable, these PFDs should be worn at all times and be utilized for the sport specified on their label.

Look for Essential PFD Features

When exploring a life jacket, it’s important to be confident that they have the following features.

  • Pockets – Most standard life vests have pockets on the front. 
  • Colour – A bold coloured life vest enhances visibility. 
  • Tabs – Tabs allow you to attach accessories like a whistle and knife.
  • Ventilation – A life vest should have built-in vents for the body heat to escape. 

These are some of the essential points to know before shopping for a life jacket. These points will help you become familiar with this PFD, and you can benefit from a sound purchasing decision.

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