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Life Jacket Buying Guide (2022)

Life Jacket Buying Guide (2022)

on May 30, 2022

Life Jacket Buying Guide

When it comes to fishing, safety should always be a top priority. That's why it's crucial to have the right gear, like a life jacket, when you hit the water.

Knowing which one is right for you can be challenging with so many different life jackets on the market. And if you've finally decided to go shopping, we recommend buying at Marine Supplies Us.

In this guide, we'll walk you through the basics of life jacket shopping and help you find the perfect one for your needs. And once you’re ready to buy, why not choose from our selection of personal floatation devices. 

Importance Of A Life Jacket

Anyone who goes into the water needs a life jacket, also known as a personal flotation device (PFDs). This is because drowning was responsible for 70% of boating fatalities. 85% of those who perished due to this sort of incident were not wearing a life jacket.

A life jacket is required by law. However, no matter how skilled you are or how tranquil the water is, you should always wear one. All boats operating on the water in the United States must have a person wearing a life jacket aboard. United States Coast Guard insists on this.

Life vests are not required for adults. They are, however, necessary if you sit at the rear of your boat while you're in the water. And children under 13 years of age on a moving vessel must wear a suitable life vest.

All watersports require that life jackets be worn at all times.

Life jacket laying on the sand

What To Consider Before Buying A Life Jacket

Select the Right Jacket

If you're planning on spending any time out on the water, it's essential to have a life jacket to keep you safe and comfortable. And which one will help you depending on your activities.

There are two main types of life jackets: nylon and neoprene.

Nylon Life Jacket

Nylon life jackets are typically less expensive and more comfortable for long periods. However, they're not as effective at insulating your body in cold water. We recommend typing this Onyx Nylon General Purpose Life Jacket, it’s among the best. 

Neoprene Life Jacket

Neoprene life jackets are expensive, but they provide a better fit and warmth in cold water. If you're going to be swimming in cold water or spending extended periods of time in the water, a neoprene life jacket is the better choice. Just as the Onyx MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest would be. 

Check the Inflation Methods

When it comes to choosing the right life jacket, one of the most important considerations is how it will be inflated. There are three main inflation options for gas-only life jackets: manual, automatic, that's activated by water, and the other is activated by pressure.

Manual Inflation

Pulling a rope inflates these lifejackets. The CO2 bottles are inserted into this, which causes them to inflate. False activation may be caused by a wet or faulty automatic mechanism or a user being struck by a large wave.

Automatic Life Jacket Started By Water

The water-activated automatic firing head has a tiny pellet/bobbin that retains a powerful spring. The pellet/bobbin dissolves quickly in water, releasing the spring and pushing the firing pin towards the gas bottle.

Due to cold shock, most individuals choose a lifejacket that inflates automatically if they enter the water.

Automatic Life Jacket Activated By Pressure

The Hammar (Hydrostatic) life jacket is one example of this kind. It works the same way as an automatic one, except that it contains a dissolving pellet. The pellet is kept dry inside the case and only activated if immersed for a few seconds.

The fire will not go off if it is fully submerged.

This lifejacket is a must-have if you regularly participate in activities that put you in contact with water or high spray.


If you go fishing or need to keep your gear close by, a jacket with zippered pockets is worthwhile. A pocket can also be utilized to warm your hands and is an excellent bonus.

A guy wearing a life jacket

Check the Correct Size

Most people don't realize how important it is to have a life jacket that fits properly. If it's too loose, it can come off in the water, and you could drown. It will be uncomfortable and restrict your movement if it's too tight.

Either way, it's not going to do its job correctly. That's why it's so important to find the right size life jacket. Most companies will provide a size chart to help you find the right fit. Just make sure you take your measurements carefully.

It's better to be a little bit too big than too small. Once you have the correct size life jacket, you'll be able to enjoy your time in the water with peace of mind knowing that you're safe.

Gear Loops and Lash Points

Most life jackets come with a few gear loops and lash points. These features offer another way to attach equipment to your life jackets, like a flashlight or whistle. But you can also use them to connect other things, like a knife or even a fishing net. Here are a few products we recommend you try out;

So, if you're looking for another way to keep your gear close at hand, consider adding some gear loops and lash points to your life jacket. You may find them to be a lifesaver.

Mesh Panels

Most people don't think twice about wearing a life jacket when they're out on the water. But for those who work in hot environments, a life jacket can mean the difference between life and death.

PFDs with mesh panels and mesh vents help to keep the wearer cool while still providing the same level of protection as a traditional life jacket. In addition, mesh panels allow water to pass through, making it easier for the wearer to stay hydrated.

For anyone who works in a hot environment, a PFD with mesh panels is an essential piece of safety equipment.

Hypothermia Protection

Most people think of life jackets as something you only need to wear in summer when boating in warm weather. However, life jackets are just as important in cold weather when they can help to prevent hypothermia.

Hypothermia occurs when your body temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, and it can be life-threatening if not treated immediately. Wearing a life jacket helps insulate your body and maintains your core temperature, even if you are immersed in cold water.

In addition, life jackets provide buoyancy and support, so you can float safely until help arrives. If you are boating in cold weather, make sure to wear a life jacket. It could save your life.

Reflective Accents

In an emergency, every second counts. That's why it's essential to make sure you're as visible as possible to rescue personnel. One way to do this is to choose a life jacket with reflective accents.

Reflective accents help to reflect light, making you more visible in low-light conditions. In addition, they can also help to reflect heat, which can be beneficial if you're stranded in a cold environment.

Whether you're out on the water or hiking in the woods, reflective accents can help you be seen and get the assistance you need in an emergency.

Check The Type For Your Activity

When participating in water sports, it is vital to wear the proper life jacket for the right watersport. 

There are many different life jackets on the market, so it is essential to know which one is right for you. For example, if you are going to be spending time in the ocean, it is crucial to choose a life jacket designed for saltwater. These life jackets are usually made of heavier materials that can withstand the harsh conditions of the ocean.

Alternatively, if you are planning on spending time in a lake or river, you can choose a life jacket designed for freshwater. These life jackets are usually lighter and more comfortable to wear.

No matter what type of water sport you plan to participate in, check the kind of life jacket before you buy it.

Life jackets hanging on a rack

Life Jacket Types

The United States Coast Guard has classified PFD life vests and jackets into five main categories. In addition, a PFD must meet specific criteria to be approved by the USCG. This includes a minimum level of buoyancy.

Type I PFDs

This classification of PFD is designed to keep a person afloat in open, rough water for a prolonged period. The Type I USCG-approved life jacket provides a high-level buoyancy (at a minimum of 22 pounds for foam models and at least 33 for inflatable models). 

It will keep an unconscious person in the water. Type I PFDs can be used on large vessels such as ocean fishing boats, cruise ships, and freighters to provide emergency life jackets.

Type II PFDs

The Type II PFD, also known as a near-shore buoyant vest or PFD, is designed to keep someone afloat in calmer waters. 

The Type II vest, which is USCG approved, has a minimum buoyancy weight of 15.5 pounds and is slightly lighter than the Type I vest. This vest will keep the unconscious person in calm water face-up.


The Type III USCG-approved PFD is designed for water sports such as wakeboarding, waterskiing, and recreational kayaking. It has a minimum buoyancy weight of 15.5 pounds. 

This type is less bulky and may not keep an unconscious person from getting in the water.

Type IV PFDs

A Type IV device is intended to be thrown at someone who has fallen in the water or used as an emergency flotation device. One of the most popular types of throwable devices is the ring buoy.

 In addition, many watercraft and aircraft come with detachable seats that can double as Type IV Personal Firearms.

Type V PFDs

This category is called "special-use." Inflatable Type V PFDs have buoyancy ratings between 22-34 pounds. Foam Type V PFDs have 15.5 to 22 pounds of buoyancy. 

Professional whitewater guides, coast guard rescuers, and offshore deck workers use these Type V life vests.

Hybrid PFDs 

This type of PFD has a solid foam flotation material and an auxiliary air bladder which can be used for additional flotation. The majority of hybrid PFDs fall within the Type III or V category.

Inflatable PFDs

Some PFDs can be inflated while the wearer is still in the water. This category includes life vests that are found on commercial aircraft. Inflatable PFDs are classified as Types I, II, III, or V.

They are smaller than foam PFDs in the same category and less bulky. Most inflatable PFDs can be inflated by pulling a small tab that activates a CO2 cartridge. To be approved by the USCG, an inflatable PFD must include an oral backup inflation tube.

A family wearing life jackets on a kayak

Life Jackets For Different People

Life Jackets For Women

While both men and women need life jackets, it's vital to get a life jacket that fits properly. That's why women's life jackets are designed to provide a woman's body.

These jackets are typically shorter in the trunk and can be contoured to serve a woman's body better. This allows them to do better and can be safer in an emergency. These are the best life jackets that Marine Supplies US currently has;

PFDs For Children

Every year, countless children drown because they were not wearing a life jacket. Many parents believe that life jackets are only necessary for adults, but this is not the case. Children under 90 pounds should always wear a life jacket near water.

There are many different types of life jackets on the market, and it is essential to choose one that is appropriate for the child's weight and age. Some life jackets are made specifically for infants, while others are designed for toddlers or young children.

It is also essential to make sure that the life jacket is USCG-approved. Your child's PFD must also fit securely. Many models for children smaller than six years old have a strap that fits between their legs.

By taking these precautions, parents can help to ensure their children's safety near water.

A bulldog standing on the beach with a life jacket

PFDs For Dogs

Many dogs can swim well, but others may have difficulty with the water. Although dog PFDs may not be USCG-certified, they can save lives and allow your pet to enjoy the water.

For the perfect life jacket for your dog, check these features;

  • It should be snugly fitted so that your dog can't twist, step or swim around it.
  • It would be best to choose a style with a lower profile that is less likely to catch a snag.
  • It would be best if you were looking for one that has easy-release buckles.
  • Make sure it has a handle that can lift your dog out of the water.

Rules and Regulations

Most people know that life jackets are an essential safety measure when out on the water. But what many don't realize is that the rules and regulations for using life jackets can vary from country to country.

In the United States, the US Coast Guard establishes the requirements and laws for PFDs (personal flotation devices). Kids less than 13 years old should wear a PFD at all times while on a boat or near open water, although this age may vary according to state law. Wearing a life jacket is not only the law in many cases, but it could also save your life or your child's life. 

Marine Supplies US offers a wide variety of life jackets for you to choose from, so you can be sure to find the perfect one for your needs. We have a whole selection of Personal Floatation Devices to choose from.  


Can you drown with a life jacket?

Your chances of drowning are very slim if you don't get trapped in a vessel or drag under the current.

A life jacket, which is similar to the snorkel fins that help you move through the water quickly, or the water shoes that protect your feet from cuts and scrapes, is designed to keep you protected in the water.

How to Take Care of a Life Jacket?

Life jackets must be hand washed and let dry naturally. Your life vest's buoyancy will be affected if it is tumble-dried. So please make sure you inspect everything before using it. Also, be aware of mildew and any rips. If you have any doubts, replace it as the life jackets are designed to save your life.

Inflatable life jackets can be damaged, so be extra careful. First, it would be best if you inspected the inflatable life jackets for any punctures. Then, inflate it using the auxiliary nosepiece to check if the life jacket is still airy.

Your life jacket should never be left out in the sun. Over time, UV rays can damage and weaken the materials. So, allow it to dry in a cool, sunny place.



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