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Life Jackets

A life jacket is the most important piece of gear for anyone spending time on the water. Shop our selection of great fitting and durable US Coast Guard approved life jackets, Buoyancy Aids, Inflatable PFDs, and pinnies for adult and junior sailors.

Sailing Life Jackets, Buoyancy Aids, & Inflatable PFDs

Sailing life jackets are an essential part of your apparel kit and the one piece of gear that can truly save your life. The importance of a life vest, especially for kids, is obvious and cannot be taken lightly by anyone who gets on a small sailboat. Be safe and enjoy your time on the water with these comfortable and stylish life jackets. We carry US Coast Guard approved life jackets as well as CE approved Buoyancy Aids and Inflatable PFDs. Options available for men, women, and kids in a variety of styles, colors, and price points, so we have something for every budget.


/// Types of Life Jackets ///

US Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets
These are US Coast Guard approved, Type III life jackets (sometimes called personal flotation devices or PFDs), and meet all requirements for US Sailing. Type III life jackets are the most common among small boat sailors. They have more foam buoyancy than a buoyancy aid and are designed to keep a person facing upwards in the water, even when unconscious. This is the primary safety benefit over a buoyancy aid and why a proper USCG approved life jacket is recommended for most sailors, particularly youth sailors and those who are poor swimmers.
Shop USCG Approved Life Jackets

Buoyancy Aids
Popular in Europe, buoyancy aids are typically lighter and more slim fitting than USCG approved PFDs. They have less foam buoyancy than a proper life jacket and will not keep a person upright in the water if unconscious. These should only be used by experienced swimmers and in conditions where there is access to quick rescue and/or sailing in sheltered water.

Inflatable PFDs
Designed for larger boat sailing, these vests automatically inflate in water. Popular among keelboat and offshore sailors. They are not recommended for dinghy sailors who may more routinely enter the water in the event of a capsize as this will trigger the inflation. They offer similar flotation properties to a standard Type III life jacket.

Pinnies & Spandex Vests
Typically worn over a life jacket or buoyancy aid, these stretchy spandex tops help prevent snags. They are often decorated for team sailing. By no means a required piece of gear, they have become popular among many dinghy sailors to represent clubs and sailing teams.


/// Shop With Confidence ///

Expert Advice & Sailing Apparel Resources
Not sure what gear you need? See our What To Wear Guides for recommendations. (opens in new window)
Questions above sizing? Check out our Size Charts (opens in new window)
Need to chat with an expert? Call or text us at 503-285-5536 or email info@westcoastsailing.net

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