Choosing the Right Life Jacket

Choosing the Right Life Jacket

In the blink of an eye, a fun day on the water can quickly turn into a dangerous survival situation when unexpected accidents occur. Regardless of whether you're fishing, kayaking, cruising on the boat or being towed on a tube, you should always be wearing a life jacket. Life jackets are designed to keep you afloat in the water, and come in many shapes, sizes and colors. So you may be asking yourself: which life jacket is best for me?

Types of U.S. Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets

Type I life jackets are the most buoyant and are best suited for waters were a rescue would be slow. Type I jackets are designed to turn an unconscious person to a vertical or slightly backward position. These vests are typically used for commercial or recreational boats traveling offshore or on Great Lakes.

Type II life jackets are great for everyday boating activities. These vests are not as buoyant as Type I, so they are better suited for calm inland waters or near-shore.

Type III life jackets are typically the most comfortable and provide a superior range of motion, making them the preferred choice for water sports. Most ski vests are Type III, and come in a wide array of colors and designs.

Type V life jackets include automatic and manual inflatable life jackets and other special-use flotation wear. Although inflatable life jackets are Type V, some manufacturers claim that their vest exhibits Type II or Type III performance. Inflatable life vests are becoming increasingly popular for kayakers and fisherman because they are extremely light weight and have no added bulk.

Its important to take into consideration your location, activity and state regulations when choosing which type of life jacket to bring.

Life Jacket Sizing

A life jacket should fit snug on the person wearing it to prevent them from slipping out. When purchasing a life vest, take into consideration the weight and chest size of the person you are buying it for.

Proper sizing is especially important when it comes to children, since they grow so rapidly. The U.S. Coast Guard categorizes children's vests by weight, ranging from Infant Life Vests (under 30lbs.) to Teen Life Vests (90-120 lbs.). To test the fit on a small child, lift them by the shoulders of the life jacket; the child's ears and chin should not slip through.

Commercial life vests are design to accommodate a large range of people; their sizes are universal and broken down into three categories: child, youth and adult.

Although life jacket requirements differ from state to state, there are some basic U.S. Coast Guard requirements you need to follow. A recreational boat must have a U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket for each person on board. Those life jackets must be easily accessible, which means they cannot be stowed in plastic bags or in closed compartments.

Wholesale Marine carries a wide variety of life jackets suitable for different activities on the water. If you need assistance finding the right life jacket for you, give us a call Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM at (877) 388-2628.