What Is The Difference Between A Life Jacket And A PFD

What Is The Difference Between A Life Jacket And A PFD

Here, we will figure out the difference between a life jacket and a personal flotation device (PFD) in order to enjoy safe boating.

There is a distinction between lifejackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs), and it is necessary to assess the pros and cons of each to choose which is best for your unique on-the-water activity and needs.

What Is The Difference Between A Life Jacket And A PFD

A Day Spent With Water Is Never Waste of Time…!

With so many options on the market, picking the correct flotation device for your water activities can be difficult. New explorers are unclear if they need a life jacket or a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) for watersports like boating, stand-up paddleboarding, or kayak fishing, and how to find the best option for their planned trips.

We also have shared the guide for When is The Best Time To Wear A PFD

But today you will completely understand the difference between a life jacket and a personal flotation device (PFD) for sure.

A life jacket might mean the difference between life and death when you’re out on the water. But, because not all flotation devices are made equal, how can you tell them apart?

It’s really tough to determine the difference between a life jacket and a personal flotation device (PFD) but here’s a quick answer: a life jacket is a personal flotation device (PFD).

Although wearing any life jacket or PFD is preferable to wearing a NO flotation device, getting the greatest possible moment out on the water—where your safety and security are equally important—is the ultimate goal.

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What does PFD stand for?

The abbreviation “PFD” stands for “Personal Flotation Device.”

What Is A Personal Flotation Device (PFD)?

A Personal Flotation Device (PFD) is a piece of flotation gear—usually in the shape of a vest or a suit—that is strapped to or worn by an individual for the purpose of preventing drowning in a body of water.

PFDs have evolved from some of the oldest forms of personal flotation, thanks to tremendous improvements in inflatable technology and innovative materials development. Transport Canada and the US Coast Guard have identified five varieties of PFDs (who work together, alongside industry, to set a Consolidated North American Standard).

PFDs range from vests built for specific conditions to throwable devices designed to be tossed to a cognizant person in the water, to gadgets created for unique and specific usage – only.

Here’s how to choose the best PFD for your maritime excursions, with the majority of recreational users opting for a Type II or Type III PFD.

To summarise and keep things simple, there are two primary differences between a life jacket and a PFD: level of protection and comfort. PFDs are made to be comfortable and tempt wearers to keep them on without thinking about it because they are constructed and designed for all-day use.

Life jackets, on the other hand, provide the highest level of protection for both keeping afloat and turning unconscious wearers onto their backs, which is critical when prolonged immersion in water in potentially dangerous conditions is required.

However, it may cost you your life.

As per the Lifesaving Society’s 2018 Canadian Drowning Report, 423 persons drowned in Canada in 2015. 84 percent of those involved in boating-related incidents were not wearing a life jacket or PFD, while another 5% were not wearing one properly.

What kind of PFD do I need?

This is determined by the type of sailing you prefer. Here are a few suggestions:

Sailing Throughout The Day

Day sailing PFDs must be worn close to the body.

The PFDs must provide the most flexibility of movement possible. A jacket composed of soft foam with a zipped fastening is the favored type for Day Sailing.

Water Sports

The PFD should be a belted vest, and it must be worn correctly when participating in watersports.

When looking for a life jacket to wear on the water, look for one that says “watersports” on the label.

Furthermore, make absolutely sure you get a child’s size and an adult’s size for a child and an adult, respectively. You’ll be able to acquire a good fit this way.


Fishermen who carry a lot of leaders, lures, and other gear should have built-in pockets in their life jackets for fishing.

A high-speed bass boat needs fishing vests that can withstand high-velocity strikes. This will ensure that the PFD is in good working order and can be easily retrieved.

Offshore Energy

This sport necessitates the use of a buoyant life jacket that is suitable for harsh or remote waters.

Even when the odds of going over the top are decreased on a trawler with an enclosed pilothouse, crew members must always wear high-buoyancy PFDs while they are on the deck.

Off-Shore Boating 

A good offshore sail life jacket should give you a lot of flexibility of movement and buoyancy.

A safety harness must be included in the PFD, which the wearer connects to jack lines to connect to the vessel. To increase the odds of being rescued, offshore sail PFDs should have a buoyancy of 35 pounds.

Type III PFDs are required while utilizing boats in calm and warm waters. Unlike Type II, the Type III PFD allows for a wide range of motion.


Type III PFs are also ideal for open-water activities such as water skiing. The Type II PFD may be suitable for this purpose, however, it may limit mobility.

A Video Guide About What Is The Difference Between A Life Jacket And A PFD

What Is A Life Jacket?

Lifejackets provide a better level of protection than PFDs. Red, orange, or yellow lifejackets include SOLAS-grade reflective strips that, together with the bright color, make you much more visible in the water.

They feature a minimum of 30 pounds of flotation, and a whistle, and are meant to turn a person face up. They’re reversible and, according to the attached label, must be Canadian authorized. There are three varieties of Canadian-approved lifejackets available right now.

Although life jackets and life vests are frequently used interchangeably with Personal Flotation Devices, they are distinct and distinct types of personal flotation.

Why? Because, in order to be classified as a life jacket, it must be able to shift most unconscious wearers onto their backs, putting them in a safe position where they are less likely to drown.

While most modern life jackets are composed of foam, cork was used in the early days of their use (even the British Royal Navy was using them in the early 19th century – issuing them to their sailors).

Cork vests eventually became a common issue for lifeboat personnel, with cork eventually giving place to kapok, a buoyant cotton-like material, and then foam.

Even though life jackets are heavy and inconvenient, they are still used today, particularly on off-shore vessels where rescue may be delayed. Many cruise ships and ferries traveling over the open sea will have these on board in case of an emergency.

SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Lifejackets

In the water, SOLAS lifejackets are the most effective. Even if you are unconscious, these lifejackets will turn you on your back in seconds to keep your face out of the water.
SOLAS lifejackets are only available in two sizes: one for people who weigh more than 32 kilograms or 70 pounds and the other for people who weigh less than 32 kilograms or 70 pounds. The keyhole model of SOLAS lifejackets is available.

Oceans7 US Coast Guard-approved Youth Life Jacket 50-90 lbs Amazon’s Choice

Lifejackets For Small Vessels

The slowest performance in the water is provided by small vessel lifejackets. Even if you are unconscious, they will turn you on your back to keep your face out of the water, but they may do so more slowly than the previous two approved lifejackets.

Small Vessel lifejackets come in three sizes: one for those who weigh more than 41kg or 90lbs, one for people who weigh between 18kg and 41kg or 90lbs, and one for people who weigh less than 18kg or 40lbs.
The keyhole model and the vest mode are both available in Small Vessel lifejackets.

Lifejackets of The Standard Type

SOLAS lifejackets perform better in the water than standard type lifejackets. Even if you are unconscious, these lifejackets will turn you on your back to keep your face out of the water, but not as quickly as SOLAS lifejackets.

Standard Type lifejackets come in two sizes: one for people who weigh more than 40kg or 88lbs and another for people who weigh less than 40kg or 88lbs.

The keyhole model of the Standard Type lifejacket is available.

What else to Look for in a Life Jacket and PFD?

The better option to have a PFD is to think about the brand and the situation in which it was developed. Finally, the most comfortable PFD to wear is one that seems the nicest, as this element is likely to boost its use. 

What Is the Difference Between Different Types of Life Vests?

There are numerous varieties of PFDs, so knowing which one to use when on the water is critical, whether you’re in broad rough, or distant water or just playing near shore in a life vest. What is the difference between Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3?

A life jacket is a piece of equipment that allows the wearer to float on the water until help comes. Some PFDs also spin unconscious wearers around, causing them to remain face-up. The importance of PFD is further demonstrated by statistics.

What comes next?
Let’s have a look at the differences between Type I, Type II, and Type III life jackets, to name a few.

Which Type of Life Jackets do People Like The Most?

“People always want a jacket that is less bulky,” Rork explained, “so you can wear a jacket that is thinner, lighter, and more mobile for wakeboarding and waterskiing as long as you have a coast guard-approved vest on the boat for the person you’re towing.”

How Can I Pick The Right Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or Life Jacket For Me?

When faced with high-risk situations such as river rapids, ocean waves, solo trips, or low light, experienced kayakers and sailors prioritize safety. The safest on-water gear, on the other hand, does not have to sacrifice maneuverability or beauty.

There are a plethora of alternatives available, with user-activated inflatable PFDs becoming increasingly popular, making it difficult for consumers to make a decision. The product information on our website will assist you in selecting the appropriate Vaikobi PFD life jacket for your on-water activities.

Who Needs a Life Jacket?

All passengers on a boat or other qualifying vessel must wear a coast guard approved life jacket at all times while on board, according to the US Coast Guard.

In risky conditions, such as strong boat traffic, you must wear a personal flotation device (PFD) to allow for a quick rescue. A life jacket is critical safety equipment whether you are on the water for fun or work.

Conclusion For What Is The Difference Between A Life Jacket And A PFD

There are many types of personal flotation devices (PFDs) available on the market, and it can be difficult to choose the right one for your needs. However, understanding the difference between a life jacket and a PFD can help you make a more informed decision.

In conclusion, the main difference between a life jacket and a PFD is that a life jacket will automatically turn an unconscious person face-up in the water, while a PFD will not. Life jackets are also typically more bulky and uncomfortable than PFDs. However, both devices can be equally effective in saving lives if they are properly used.

I hope you found our today’s essay about what is the difference between a life jacket and a personal flotation device (PFD) informative and entertaining. If you discover something incorrect or obsolete (pricing not mentioned, as it is always changing :), please leave a remark below and I will correct it as soon as possible. Thanks for reading this article.

Enjoy Kayaking! 🎣🚣🏻

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