Types of Life Jackets and Their Uses

May 20, 2022 12:00 am Published by Leave your thoughts

Life jackets are essential safety equipment for anyone spending time on the water. But with so many different types and designs on the market, it can be hard to know which life jacket is right for you. This article will look at the different types of life jackets available and their uses.

Inherently buoyant

The inherently buoyant jacket is designed to keep the wearer afloat without the need for inflation. These jackets are usually made from foam or other buoyant materials, and they’re ideal for activities like swimming. The minimum buoyancy required for an adult life jacket is 22 lbs and 11 lbs for children. The categories of inherently buoyant life jackets are:

Offshore life jackets are designed for use in rough, open water where rescue may be delayed. They’re usually bright orange or yellow, and they have a large amount of buoyancy to keep the wearer’s head well above water.

Flotation aids are less bulky than life jackets, and they’re uniquely made for use in calm waters where rescue is expected to be quick. They don’t have as much buoyancy as life jackets, but they’re still capable of ensuring the wearer is afloat on water.

Throwable Device

A throwable is a life jacket with features making it suitable to be thrown at a person in the water rather than worn. The jacket is made from buoyant fabrics or foam, and they’re often brightly colored so that they’re easy to spot in the water. Throwable devices are not intended to be worn, and they’re not as effective at keeping the wearer safe from drowning as a life jacket.


Inflatable life jackets are worn, and they’re usually much more comfortable and less bulky than inherently buoyant jackets. Inflatable life jackets use CO2 cartridges or hand pumps to inflate the jacket, providing buoyancy and ensuring the wearer’s head remains above water. Inflatable life jackets are available in two types:

Automatic: Automatic inflatable life jackets will automatically inflate when they contact water. They’re ideal for activities like fishing and sailing, where the user may be unaware of impending danger.

Manual: Manual inflatable life jackets require the user to pull a cord or activate a lever to inflate the jacket. They are meant for activities like kayaking and canoeing, where the user may be aware of impending danger but unable to reach a throwable device.

Hybrid Inflation

The hybrid inflation life jacket combines the two types of inflation described above. Hybrid inflation life jackets have an automatic inflation mechanism and a manual inflation option. This provides the ability to automatically inflate the jacket in an emergency and the ability to inflate the jacket when necessary manually.

Bottom line

Cool Breeze Boats & Jet Ski Rentals offers a variety of life jackets for your safety while on the water. We carry inherently buoyant life jackets, throwable devices, and inflatable life jackets in automatic and manual inflation types. We also have hybrid inflation life jackets that combine the best of both worlds. Contact us today to find the right life jacket for you.

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