January 19, 2022 8 min read

If you own a boat, you need to have life jackets on hand and they should be Coast Guard approved. You should also have them in the right size for each person that will be using your boat. It is important that everyone knows how to swim and can put their jacket on quickly if needed. In addition, children under 13 should always wear a PFD when boating. The aim of this article is to show the right way of choosing a perfect life jacket for different situations and find out the best features to look while looking for your life vest. 

What Are They? 

So, what should I look for when buying a life jacket? A life jacket is a piece of safety equipment that will bring safety and comfort to anyone that wears it. These jackets are designed to help you stay afloat when you're in the water, and they're designed with neoprene foam lining to help you stay warm when the weather is cold. You'll want to make sure that you find a jacket that is the correct size for you. If the jacket is too big, it may slip off when you're in the water, and if it's too small, it will be uncomfortable and may restrict your movement. Make sure the jacket fits your needs for warmth and safety. 

How to Choose a Life Vest 

I'm struggling to check and find the perfect life jacket for my kids. I'm tired of fighting with them about safety and swim lessons. It's tough to find a life jacket that will be the right size and the right style. I'm looking for something that will be comfortable and something that they will actually want to wear. Something that will save them and not hurt them. I'm not sure what to do or where to go. What should I look for when buying a life jacket? What should I look for when buying a life jacket? Are you looking for a PFD (personal flotation device) for you or your child? What should you look for? Let’s find out. 

What to Look While Buying a Life Jacket 

If you're in the market for a life jacket, there are a few things to think about before you buy. First, you'll need to figure out if you want a life jacket to be buoyant or a water safety device. A buoyant life jacket will keep your head above water and provide a flotation device, while a water safety device will keep you afloat and provide a flotation device.

Next, you should think about the type of material the life jacket is made from.

Although the majority of life jackets are made from nylon or neoprene, there are a few other options to consider. If you're an avid boater or swimmer, a life jacket made from a material that allows for natural movement will feel more comfortable. 

How to Choose a Fishing Life Jacket or PFD 

Properly choosing a life jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is essential to protect oneself during fishing or any recreational activity for that matter. Before I go ahead and list the steps of how to choose a life jacket for fishing, I would like to first go over what you need to know. A life jacket needs to fit snugly around the waist, chest, and armpits to keep you afloat. Other factors to consider are weight, features, and yes, even fashion. Here are the steps on how to choose a life jacket for fishing:

Research the different types of life jackets for fishing.

Choose the right size of life jacket based on your weight and height. 

dog wears a life jacket

There Are Different Kinds of Life Vests 

When purchasing a life jacket, there are a few different things to take into consideration. Firstly, how often will you be using the life jacket? If you will be wearing it more often then you may want to purchase a more expensive one that will be more durable and last longer.

Secondly, if you want a life jacket for a child, you will want to make sure to purchase a life jacket with enough room for them to grow. Lastly, if you are purchasing a life jacket for an infant, make sure the life jacket has an approval label on it saying it is appropriate for infants. 

What to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Life Jacket or Personal Flotation Device 

What type of fishing do you do? Knowing the type of fishing you do is important as this will affect the type of life jacket you purchase. When fishing from a boat, you will need to purchase a buoyant, inflatable life jacket. For stand-up paddleboarding, a conventional life jacket is recommended.

What size do you need? When purchasing a life jacket for fishing, there are a few things to consider: weight and stature, as well as the load you will be carrying. Ensuring that the life jacket will fit snugly against your body is crucial for proper weight distribution, as it will help keep your head above. 

Additional Tips on How to Choose a Fishing Life Jacket or PFD 

As a fisherman, it is important to think about different situations that could arise. Fishing can be a long, tedious process. If you take a wrong turn, or if your seatmate falls overboard, you need the right gear to help. A life jacket is an essential item for boating and fishing, Properly choosing a life jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is essential to protect oneself during fishing or any recreational activity for that matter. Before I go ahead and list the steps of how to choose a life jacket for fishing, I would like to first go over what you need to know. Also, you should be prepared in case something goes wrong with the water. Being prepared not only keeps you safe but could also mean the difference between life and death in severe conditions. The material used in a life jacket should be as light and soft as possible. A heavy or stiff life jacket would be uncomfortable and may not fit properly on you. Your life jacket should also have adjustable straps which would make it easy to fit on anyone. A good air-bag-style life jacket would be the best choice for fishing. 

How Should I Fit a Life Jacket to Feel Safe in the Water? 


A life jacket should fit snugly, should not bind anywhere, and should not ride up to expose your chin or throat. The chest strap should be tight enough to lift your chin an inch or two off your chest. 

Size, Safety, and Other Features of Life Jackets 

When you are out on the water and something happens, a life jacket could make the difference between a trip to the hospital and a quick recovery. But there is a lot of confusion about what to look for in a life jacket.

Size. Customers need to try on a life vest to find one that is the appropriate size. Inflatable life jackets that are too big will let water in, while one that is too small will leave an unfit person susceptible to drowning.

Safety. Look for a life vest with a safety clasp, a whistle, a strong seat belt, and an inconspicuous design. 

Life Jacket Standards and Ratings. Choosing the Right Type 

The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is responsible for maintaining safety aboard vessels on all US waters. The USCG is also responsible for the safe operation of the Great Lakes and coastal waterways and is authorized to set and enforce all maritime laws governing commercial and recreational boating. If you're planning to be on the water this summer, one of your most important safety precautions should be wearing a life vest. But what kind of life vest should you be wearing? Buying a life vest may seem like an easy task, but there are a few things you should keep in mind. Let's check them. 

What Features are Important 

What Features are Important If you’ve ever gone to buy a life jacket, you may have seen that there’s a dizzying array of choices. Luckily, you don’t need to puzzle at the racks for hours to find the perfect one. “You’ll want to get one that will be comfortable and accessible,” says Tom Matson, director of public affairs for The United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. “It should be snug enough to stay put but not uncomfortable. You'll also want it snugly fitted”. “It’s important to get one that will be accessible when you need it,” he says. 

lady wears life jacket on board

How to Choose the Right Fit and Size for Your Boat 

It's true that selecting the right life jacket can be confusing, but you'll find that by following our advice, it will be much easier. The first thing to look at when buying is the type of life jacket. If you are boating, you'll want to go with a Type I or Type III. If you are in or on water other than the open sea, you'll want to purchase a Type II. Type II is not enough protection in choppy water, but they will work for calm water activities. The next thing you will be asked is how old the wearer is. If the wearer is over 16 years of age, no worries. 

Final Thoughts 

A life jacket is an amazing invention. It does help and save lives. When choosing the best life jacket for you and your family, it’s important to consider each of these things. It’s also a good idea to review the product manual and safety guidelines of the manufacturer before using any type and size of life jacket or pdfs. Life vests play a crucial role and can save your life and the lives of your family members. 

Commonly Asked Questions

What does 100N mean on a life jacket? 

100N is normally found on life vests that are designed to work in water at 10-15°C. The idea is that a person in the water at this temperature can remain afloat with the use of a 100N, buoyancy aid. At water temperatures of 15-35°C, the standard buoyancy of a lifejacket is 120N, and when the water is 35-40°C or warmer over 120N is indicated. If a vest is marked “100N” do not use it in water under 10-15°C. 

How much buoyancy do I need in a life jacket? 

The buoyancy in your life jacket is designed to keep your head afloat, so you can easily see where you're going while treading water. If you can keep your head above the water by using arm strength alone, you don't have enough buoyancy in your life jacket!

How tight should a life vest be?

Lifejackets must be worn in the water when you are off the boat. Even if you only go up on a ladder, you need a life jacket to stay safe. Your life vest should be a snug fit so that it doesn't come off in the water, but if it is too loose it will not keep you properly above the water level. Likewise, if it is too tight and you have fallen into the water, it may restrict your breathing.
Author - Aleksandra Djurdjevic
Aleksandra Djurdjevic          

Senior Content Creator

Aleksandra Djurdjevic is a senior writer and editor, covering surf, kayak and various watersports activities. She has previously worked as ESL teacher for English Tochka. Aleksandra graduated from the Comparative Literature department at the Faculty of Philosophy in Serbia. Aleksandra’s love for the ocean / rivers, getting out waves, season after season, seeking epic adventures across the globe helps her continue to be a top expert at CSG.

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