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What to look for when you are selecting a lifejacket

Whatever boating activity you are undertaking, a lifejacket or buoyancy aid is one of the most fundamental bits of kit you should be taking with you. Before you decide on what to buy take a quick look at our ‘Lifejacket or buoyancy aid – what’s the difference article to decide which is most suitable. If you have selected a non-foam lifejacket, read on!

Quality of manufacturing is important. Even the standard budget-friendly models of Ocean Safety’s lifejackets are manufactured to the highest of safety standards, and all the jackets in Ocean Safety’s Sport range are subject to rigorous approvals, and quality control. Then there is the style. There are a few key considerations – one, how active are you going to be? Are you going to be wearing it for long periods? If so, you will be looking for the ‘minimalist’ jacket so that it doesn’t get in the way. This is typically the choice of very active experienced sailors, who might choose the advanced Ocean Safety Sport Pro whose inflation bladders are neatly tucked away. That said, all our lifejackets are styled to be low profile. The lower cost jackets such as the Sport XF are snapping hard on the heels of the professional models in terms of ‘cut-away’ styling.

An important consideration is whether to buy manual or automatic. A lifejacket armed with a water activated automatic canister will inflate as it hits the water whereas a manual one will need the toggle to be pulled to activate inflation. Choose manual if you are likely to be getting wet without needing to inflate, but always try to go for automatic if you are not expecting to fall into the water – if you are injured or unconscious you may not be able to pull the toggle.

Do you need a harness? If you need to be attached to the boat, or want to make sure you can be hauled more easily out of the water, choose our harness options. Other essential features are a crotch strap – this prevents the lifejacket riding up over your head; a whistle – to attract attention and a specific lifejacket light such as the Aquaspec AQ8 or AQ40 – to be seen in bad visibility or at night. Consider choosing a model with a sprayhood to keep the water away from your airway making it easier to breathe and reduce the risk of drowning. If you want to be equipped with a personal locator beacon, ensure that you have it fitted by an approved service station.

If you are unsure which type of lifesaving aid is right for your activity just contact one of our expert advisers at