Life Jackets, Buoyancy Aids & Impact Vests
Life jackets, buoyancy aids and impact vests all have their essential uses out on the water, which is why we stock a broad range from the best brands for your personal safety. They may all look pretty similar, but there are key differences between them that make each one suitable for certain sports or abilities. The design of a life jacket means it will keep the wearer's head above the water, even if he or she is unconscious. It is also designed to roll the wearer over, should they find themselves face down in the water. This means that life jackets are essential for yacht sailing and for weak swimmers and young children. A buoyancy aid will assist a person to float in the water, but it is only effective if the wearer is conscious. It's less bulky than an inflated life jacket, making it the most popular choice for dinghy sailing, kayaking and SUP. An impact vest is not primarily a flotation device; its purpose is to protect the vital organs from damage should the wearer impact the water in sports like wakeboarding or kitesurfing. If you're still unsure which of these options is right for you, give our friendly and knowledgeable customer service team a call.
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You should never have to compromise on safety, which is why we only stock options from brands you can trust, such as Crewsaver, Gill, Yak and GUL. With the life jacket category, there are a couple of options to choose from - inflation or foam life jackets. Foam life jackets are generally used in situations where you might be in regular contact with the water, whereas inflating life jackets are designed for as a compact piece of safety clothing for use onboard. You can choose between manual inflate and auto inflate models. Among the automatic options, they either use a simple system that activates on water contact, or a "Hammar" firing system that reacts to water pressure, making it less likely to misfire in use. If a life jacket is inflated, you will need to buy a life jacket re-arming kit or a replacement cylinder before your next adventure. You'll also find that most top brand lifejackets also include, or provide options for, thigh straps to prevent the lifejacket riding up in the water (essential) and a hood to prevent secondary drowning from waves (sensible for coastal and offshore use). For sailors that need to clip on, you can get lifejackets with integrated harnesses and also ones which have LED safety lights although you can also buy those from us as accessories. Buoyancy aids similarly come in a range of options, from very simple to technical dinghy sailing models with features such as a pouch for a safety knife. The key buying decision here is sizing, so don't be tempted for example to buy a size larger for your child to grow into, the buoyancy aid has some adjustment but should be a reasonably snug fit to be effective.