Difference Between Life Jackets And PFDs

Most people mistakenly believe that life vests and personal flotation devices (PFD) are the same things. Aside from the form and aesthetics, there are significant distinctions between a life jacket and a personal flotation device (PFD). Though they’re often confused and discussed as if they’re the same thing, there are several key differences between life jackets and personal flotation devices (PFDs) that you should be aware of.

Life Vests

The life vests that are often seen being worn in the sea and exhibited on boats and other sailing vessels are called life jackets. They resemble vests rather than coats and are generally orange or red in hue. Because most of the buoyant components are at the front of the jacket, they are also relatively bulky, which is why some people find them unpleasant to wear. A wide collar is also included on these jackets to support the head.

Although most people know that these jackets will keep them floating while in the water, many are unaware of the jacket’s most crucial feature. For example, the finest jackets will allow an unconscious person to breathe by turning them from a face-down to a face-up posture. Some experts advocate these jackets for youngsters and poor swimmers since they provide more buoyancy and increase the wearer’s chances of survival.

Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

PFD refers to any equipment that aids in flotation or keeps the wearer afloat. As a result, a life vest is also regarded as a PFD. Jackets and other forms of PFDs, on the other hand, are vastly different. The main purpose of these jackets is to shift an unconscious individual from a face-down to a face-up posture. Other forms of PFDs, on the other hand, do not have this capability. It implies that, even if the unconscious wearer is afloat, their face might be immersed in the water, preventing them from breathing. Hence, only persons participating in water sports such as wakeboarding, paddleboarding, and other similar activities should use PFDs.

 Investing In a Life Vest

Purchasing a life vest should not be difficult. However, if you’re still feeling overwhelmed by the options, the following suggestions should make the decision-making process much more manageable.


Life vests may be highly unpleasant is one of the primary reasons, so many people dislike wearing them. In any event, make sure your life vest is comfortable because you will be less inclined to use it if it isn’t.


You must obtain a life vest that fits you adequately. Adult life vests are sized according to chest size. In the case of children’s life vests, the size is determined by their weight. A properly fitted life vest should feel snug but not constrictive, and it should not interfere with one’s ability to take deep breaths.


If possible, seek life vests with adjustable straps. These straps will allow you to modify the fit of the life vest, which will be helpful if you intend on using it all year.


The words life vest and personal flotation device (PFD) are frequently interchanged. It is presumably why so few people are aware of the distinctions between the two. Regardless, one must wear a life jacket if they participate in any water sport or activity, particularly for youngsters and those unable to swim. Whatever you name it – life vest, jacket, PFD – remember that it only functions if you wear it.

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