When we talk about life jackets and PFD or personal flotation devices, many people think both of them are similar. Even though it is true in a certain way, but there are some marked differences between both of them apart from their style and design. 

Here we are going to outline some differences & why it is important to know them. We will throw in a few tips when buying the life jacket vs PFD so you will not feel overwhelmed or confused when entering the sporting store to purchase one.

There’s a big difference between both the lifejackets and PFDs that we will check here, thus it is very important that you weigh down the features of both of them to decide which is well-suited to your type of water activity and requirements.

What are Lifejackets?

The lifejackets offer a better protection level compared to PFD. Lifejackets are available in different colors like red, yellow, and orange and have got SOLAS-grade strips that with bright colors, make it simple to see things inside the water. Also, they have 30 pounds flotation, are generally well-equipped with the whistle and are made to turn anyone in the face-up position. Also, they’re reversible and should be approved as it is indicated by their attached label. 

What are PFD’s?

(PFDs are Personal Flotation Devices, unlike customary lifejackets, they are highly comfortable as they are made for constant wear. But, PDF’s do not give similar protection than lifejackets to stay afloat and turn the unconscious person on their back to breathe easily. 

PFDs are accessible in many approved types, colors, and sizes, thus it is very important you select one as per your needs & boating activity. For instance, if you are planning to operate the vessel at very high speeds, search for the high impact PFD that features three and more chest belts to give proper security. For cold water boating, you must go with the PFD with thermal protection. 

You will find a huge selection of the PFDs made particularly for on-water activities like kayaking, sailing, personal watercraft riding, canoeing, and angling. They come in many different sizes that are appropriate for small kids to big adults.

Life Jacket vs PFD

Life Jacket vs PFD

Type of Equipment

The life jacket is one kind of personal flotation gear, and PFD isn’t essentially the life jacket. Both of them are personal protective gear made to keep any wearer afloat when in the water when doing various recreational activities and are buoyancy aids that are suitable for use on occasions when you are planning to go inside the water and want to swim easily. But, PFDs don’t necessarily provide a similar protection level as the life jacket does to stay afloat.

Know the Purpose

The PFD is generally used for referring to any kind of protective device that helps in the flotation, whereas a life jacket is like the public term preferred when you are talking to the general public about wearable PFDs. Whereas both of them are used interchangeably, there’re a few subtle differences between both of them. Life jackets are a bit versatile piece of safety device that has got large collar and it helps to keep mouth and head over the water no matter whether a wearer is conscious/unconscious. Alternatively, a PFD doesn’t guarantee to turn any unconscious person to look up in the water.

Must Fit Perfectly

A life jacket you prefer to buy must fit properly. For adults, life jackets and PFDs are generally measured based on chest size. When it comes to buying life jackets for kids, the measurement will be based on weight. There’re a few PFDs designed particularly for women. These PFDs generally have shorter torso lengths that prevent them to ride up. The perfect fit PFD needs to be tight and must not be very restrictive and not affect the wearer’s capability to take a deep breath.

Offers Comfort

Another reason why a lot of people do not like wearing personal flotation devices and life jackets is that they will be very uncomfortable. In the case of the life jackets, there’s not much you may do to make it feel comfortable looking at their huge design. But, with PFDs, there’re lots of options accessible that will be comfortable and do not feel very restrictive. Thus, you will have to ensure your life jacket and PFD is comfortable as you’re less possible to wear this if it isn’t.

Right Adjustments

Look for the life jackets or PFD’s that have got adjustable straps over them. The straps can allow you to adjust a perfect fit of your life jacket and r PFD that will be very helpful if you are planning to use this every year-round. Like, if you want to sail on hot day, then wear less clothing or tighten the straps of your PFD or life jacket to get better fit. Alternatively, if you will go out during the cold weather, you may loosen its straps so that you will wear different layers of the insulated clothing below the PFD or life jacket.

Final Words

When selecting the lifesaving appliance, know the differences in the functionality between the lifejackets and PFDs. Choose one that suits your requirements and think very carefully before you buy them. 

Make sure to consider the color when making your final choice. The bright colors are simple to spot when in the water. So, the best PFD or lifejacket is easy to wear when you’re out on the water. 

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