Information about Life Jackets
LIFE JACKETS & BUOYANCY SUITS
So, where do we start, what is the most important item that you should focus on? As the saying goes “Safety first” so let’s look at life jackets and what the difference is between them all.
The first thing to check is the Rating or level of vest that you require. The rating or levels refer to the vests buoyancy levels and colouring for use in particular water zones. For Watersports a Level 50s (PFD2) and 50 (PFD3) are acceptable due to their design and shape. Level 100 (PFD1) are a full life jacket that are for use in open waters and are not recommended due to the large collars around the neck, (the exception to this is for kids 1 to 6 year olds that can’t swim then a Level 100 is a much safer way to go). To be sure which level life vest you would need for your area its best to check with your states maritime or water safety website.
Life jackets will generally come in two different construction types, Nylon and Neoprene. The Nylon vests are usually designed to be a highly adjustable vest that can accommodate a variety of sizes. Nylon vests will mostly have three buckles in the front of the vest to allow for adjustment and security, this makes them a great option to have on board as extras for those who come along with out their own gear. A Neoprene vest is made from the same material as a wetsuit with floatation built into the vest; they also are designed to give the user a much snugger and personal fit with the addition of zippers and other support features built into the vests. Neoprene vest tend not to ride up which makes them much more comfortable, the design and shapes of Neoprene can vary from one to another, this give you more options when trying to find the right shape and fit. A life vest should be a snug and firm fit when trying them on, they will have stretch and give once they have been used a little. Having a firm and comfortable fitting vest will ensure that it stays down and in place giving you more safety. A big mistake a lot of people make is buying a vest, especially for kids is getting a vest bigger so they can grow into it, sounds good but if the vest is to big it will ride up above their shoulders & head pushing their head under the water and then they will be struggling to keep their heads above the water line risking possible drowning doing the exact opposite to why you are buying the vest in the first place safety!
Another option for floatation devices are Buoyancy suits. Buoyancy suits combine the floatation properties of a life jacket with the warmth of a spring style wet suit. Buoyancy suits come in a few varieties from a standard design which is suitable for water skiing and wakeboarding right through to thicker designs which are specifically designed for activities like barefooting. Buoyancy suits only come in Level 50 (PFD3) and are not suited to PWC outside of still water (Dams & Rivers) best to check with your local authorities first.
The range of jackets and buoyancy suits seem never ending, so please feel free to call or e-mail a member of our team if you need any advice or help with finding the right design for you!