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Life Jackets and PFD's: Staying Safe While Boating


Marine life jackets are an essential part of any boating excursion.
The best way to make sure that they are effective is to make sure that they are worn while underway.
Knowing the appropriate life jacket to suit the type of boating as well as the body type of the person wearing them are important when choosing the right life jacket for the excursion.

Selecting the Right Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

Depending on your activities here are a few key factors to consider:
  • What type of life jackets will you need?: The USCG recommends Type III and V PFDs for activities such as kayaking, white water rafting, waterskiing, and other boating sports where a person might become immersed and be unconscious due to impact. Type III and V give the wearer the most mobility when doing activities, such as paddling, or sitting in a kayak without the bulk Type I and II PFDs rely upon for optimum flotation. Again, the most effective vests are ones that are worn at all times, so comfort and effectiveness are key.
  • How many are you required to have?: Laws vary by state but typically one for every passenger on the vessel.

  • Life Jacket sizes for all ages:

  • Adult PFDs: Fit is determined by measuring the chest, rather than weight. The fit should allow for no movement of the jacket above the chin while floating. If the PFD cannot be adjusted to prevent this, the jacket is too big and a size lower needs to be used. Form fitted jackets for women are also a better option, and will fit better, be more effective, and more comfortable.
  • Child PFDs: Children sizes for those under 16 (or more typically under 90lbs) are determined by weight. Again, it is important to test the fit by pulling up on the shoulders of the jacket. If the PFD goes above the chin, it is too large, or needs more adjustment. It is important that a child's vest be effective for non-swimmers or especially those who might become unconscious and need to be face up until rescue.

  • Proper Use of PFDs and Life Jackets Styles

  • Inflatable PFDs: Some PFDs feature an automatic or manual inflation feature. Typically, these PFDs are for activities where total immersion is not as likely, such as fishing or flat water boating. Sometimes they are used in water sports which require a lower profile and less bulk that can interfere with movement, such as SUPs and even some forms of kayaking. Hybrid PFDs feature a buoyant material as well as an inflatable chamber which also cuts down on bulk and allows for ease of movement. Thesepersonal floatation devices are not recommended for high-speed activities where a user may become unconscious on impact, since inflation often relies on the wearer. CO2 Cartridges as well as blowing into a device are the most common methods of inflation.
  • Commercial Life Jackets: These are extremely reliable regardless of a wearer's ability to swim. These PFD?s or life jackets are more universal in their fit, brightly colored, as well as being bulky yet reliable. Typically, they will turn a wearer face up for rescue.
  • Offshore & Rescue PFDs: Type I jackets are designed for comfort as well as long durations in the water. They feature pockets for rescue gear and other tools.
  • PDFs for Pets: The perfect way to make sure your pets are safe in the water, these devices ensure buoyancy even for animals that may get confused and swim further away from shore. They are very effective in whitewater rafting or a day out at the lake.
  • Watersport PDFs: Type III and V PFDs allow for comfort, mobility, and somewhat stylish designs for a day on the lake or the river. When high impact is a matter of concern, these specially designed personal floatation devices have you covered.
  • Throwable Flotation Devices: Type IV rings and cushions help rescue those who have fallen overboard. They are essential in your water rescue kit, as specified by the US Coast Guard requirements for safety.

  • Featured Brands

    Stearns, Mustang, Full-throttle, and Onyx are just some of the featured brands Defender offers.
    Trusted from years of use and a well-earned reputation, Defender has what you need to stay safe on the water.

    Come Equipped and Be Prepared

    Being equipped with proper safety equipment is not only the law, but an essential part of safely enjoying the water.
    Nothing ruins a day on the water more than an injury that could have been prevented.
    Statistics show that more lives are lost on versus other boating accidents.
    The best life jackets are the ones that are being worn.

    Contact Defender to see what we have in stock to equip your next excursion.
    Whether it is a morning of yoga paddleboarding or an afternoon of waterskiing, whitewater rafting, or just a fishing trip, you need a life jacket that works best for you and your activity.