Your Choice


• Variety of choices

• Factors to consider

• How to choose

• Lifejacket or PFD?

• How to fit

• Teach your children well

• Inflatable lifejackets



Variety of choices


canoe-kayak lifejacket/pfd
canoe/kayak vests
high profile, large armholes

boating vests lifejacket/pfd
boating vests
range of styles, colours

worksuits lifejacket/pfd
durable fabrics, mobility,
thermal & flotation protection


fishing/camo vests lifejacket/pfd
fishing/camo vests
pockets, fly patch,
wood colours

watersports/PWC vests lifejacket/pfd
watersports/PWC vests
impact protection, adjustable
straps, neoprene

snowmobiling lifejacket/pfd
flotation and warmth


children lifejacket/pfd
handles, crotch straps

inflatables lifejacket/pfd
collar vest, waist pouch

jackets & coats lifejacket/pfd
jackets & coats
clothing for flotation
and warmth


pet vests lifejacket/pfd
pet vests
handles, mobility

immersion suits lifejacket/pfd
immersion suits
survival suits for long term
immersion and rescue

turning ability, reflectors


back to top


Factors to consider

- Lifejacket or PFD?

- Type of activity

- Style, comfort & thermal properties

- Inflatables

- Protection means peace of mind

- It won't work if you won't wear it!


It is most important to read the label & tags
that come with your lifejacket.
Some PFDs are not approved or appropriate for certain activities. Size and weight characteristics are vital.


back to top


How to choose

For excellent performance when you need it most and for comfort and peace of mind when you are just laying back. The right design, fit and buoyancy makes all the difference.

Lifejackets, personal flotation devices (PFDs) and immersion suits are designed and tested with rigorous standards so that users can be sure they are getting the protection and performance they need from their safety gear.

A wide variety of styles, colours and customised uses have been developed by lifejacket manufacturers to meet the demands of modern consumers and professional mariners.

• Link to checklist for choosing a lifejacket


back to top


Lifejacket or PFD?

Do I need a Lifejacket or a PFD?

The terms lifejacket, life vest, pfd, personal flotation device, life belt, are often used interchangeably.

But there are important differences between a lifejacket and a PFD.

In very simple terms a Lifejacket is an approved device that will float someone with their head well out of the water but also has the ability to turn that person onto their back with their face up even if they are unconscious. A PFD or Personal Flotation Device provides sufficient flotation to keep a person afloat at the surface, but is not self-righting. Because of the extra flotation material required and the positioning of it on the chest a lifejacket tends to be bulkier than a PFD. See below for more detailed information about the classification and charactaristics of lifejackets and PFD's.
In the U.S.A. the Coast Guard has a different system of classification and approvals. They refer to all approved devices as Personal Flotation Devices and they are divided into 5 Types. Types I and II are what we recognize as lifejackets (with turning ability and more flotation), the Type III's encompass a range of vest type personal flotation devices (less flotation - no turning ability), the Type IV's are throwing devices and includes floating seat cushions and the Type V's are special devices for specific purposes and include collar and pouch inflatables.

Click for more information...
• Comparison of Lifejackets and Personal Flotation Devices Will It Float? Background Research Report (page 39-44) CSBC/SMARTRISK


back to top


How to fit


The following information is courtesy of the PFDMA (Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association) from their brochure "Facts about Life Jackets."

Trying your lifejacket

Try on your lifejacket to see if it fits snugly. Then test it in shallow water to see how it performs.

To check your lifejacket's buoyancy, relax your body and tilt your head back. Make sure your lifejacket keeps your chin above water and you can breathe easily.

Be aware that your lifejacket may not act the same in swift or rough water as in calm water. Clothing and items in your pockets may also affect how your lifejacket works.

If your mouth is not well above the water, you need a lifejacket with more buoyancy. Older foam lifejackets may lose buoyancy and may have to be replaced.

Lifejackets should not ride up on the body in the water. If a wearer's stomach is larger than the chest, however, ride-up may occur. Before use, test your lifejacket to be sure that excessive ride-up does not impair its performance.


back to top


Teach your children well

Lifejacket manufacturers recommend immediate in-water testing of children's lifejackets on the intended user. Children often panic when they fall into the water. While a lifejacket will keep a child afloat, it may not keep a struggling child face-up. Violent movement can counteract a lifejacket's performance; therefore, it is important to teach children how to wear a lifejacket and how to relax their arms and legs in the water.

Check your child's lifejacket for proper fit. To work correctly, a lifejacket must fit snugly. To check fit, pick the child up by the shoulders of the lifejacket. If the lifejacket fits, the child's chin and ears will not slip through. Check the lifejacket label to ensure it matches your child's weight.

Life jackets are not babysitters. Even if a child wears a lifejacket when on or near the water. an adult must always be present. Never use inflatable toys or rafts in place of lifejackets.

Click for more information...
• A few words on lifejackets and personal flotation devices in Canada (Finding the Right Flotation Device for Your Child) Transport Canada - Office of Boating Safety


back to top


Inflatable lifejackets

The following information is courtesy of the PFDMA (Personal Flotation Device Manufacturers Association) from their brochure "Facts about Life Jackets."

Inflatable lifejackets rely on inflatable chambers that provide buoyancy when inflated. Uninflated, inflatable lifejackets are less bulky than inherently buoyant lifejackets. Inflatables come in a variety defined performance types. The specific type of lifejacket is determined by characteristics such as its amount of buoyancy, its in-water performance and its type of inflation mechanism. To understand the details of your lifejackets, read the lifejacket label and owner's manual, and consult your dealer if necessary.

All Inflatables:

Contain a backup oral inflation tube (which also serves as the deflation tube).


Advantages of Inflatables

• High visibility when inflated

• Turns most wearers face-up faster than traditional lifejackets

• Will usually keep unconscious users face-up

• May be more comfortable than inherently buoyant lifejackets

• Superior in-water performance
Disadvantage of Inflatables

• Some require multiple steps to deploy

• Not suitable for nonswimmers because they cannot accomplish oral inflation if needed

• Not approved for children under 16 years of age

• Not appropriate for activities that involve frequent water entry or high-speed boating activities (e.g., personal watercraft use, racing, sailboarding, whitewater rafting)

• Require frequent inspection and maintenance
Maintain inflatable lifejackets

Check your inflatable lifejacket -including the buoyancy cell and inflation system- at least every 2 months, in addition to the following:

1. If the lifejacket does not have cylinder seal indication, remove the cylinder, and check for punctures and rust.

2. Check all components for dirt or corrosion.

3. Check the mouth inflation valve.

4. Store in a cool dry place.

5. Replace the bobbin on an automatic model every 12 months, unless specified otherwise.


Click for more information...
• A few words on lifejackets and personal flotation devices in Canada (Finding the Right
Flotation Device for Your Child) Transport Canada - Office of Boating Safety

Links to Canadian Lifejacket Manufacturers:

Protexion Products

Mustang Survival

Salus Marine Wear


back to top

Your Risk

clipsBoating is a fun activity when you know what to do.

A day in the sun, wind and waves can affect your vision, alertness and reaction times.

Your passengers attention and balance will be affected too! Alcohol is a big factor.

A capsize can happen unexpectedly in small boats. A fall overboard in cold water is very dangerous due to the gasp reflex.

Your Responsibility

zipperAs the owner or operator of a boat you have a duty of care to your passengers.

Can you ensure their safety?

Are you fully prepared for a sudden emergency situation? Does everyone know exactly what to do?

You must provide a lifejacket that fits each size of person properly. When should you insist that they wear it?