Looking for a new life jacket this season? Here are a few helpful notes and answers to common questions about selecting a new PFD. We have great options from brands like Stohlquist, Gill, Zhik, NeilPryde, Astral, and more.

Front Zip vs Side Zip

Front zip vs side zip refers to the location of the zipper on your PFD. A front zip is most common and familiar for the average sailor - on and off just like any other jacket. A side zip can be a bit trickier at first, but the advantage is often a less bulky feeling in the front of the PFD. A front zip tends to have pockets on either side while a side zip will have one large center pocket.

What is a Buoyancy Aid?

Life jackets sold in the U.S. are often divided in two categories - USCG Approved PFD's and Buoyancy Aids. USCG refers to the U.S. Coast Guard, which regulates floatation devices for U.S. sailors. Most youth and U.S. Sailing events require use of a USCG Approved life jacket during competition. Buoyancy Aids are rated under the European Standard, which has a different flotation requirement. Both ratings agree with how much floatation is required to keep someone afloat, but USCG approved life jackets are required to carry additional floatation beyond that minimum. In simple terms, a life jacket tends to be a bit bulkier due to the extra foam floatation. However, keep in mind that these are not the life jackets of years past - a modern PFD is designed to fit comfortably while providing the security you need in the event you take a quick swim!

 Your Perfect Life Jacket

In addition to entry and rating, other factors to consider in a life jacket are storage pockets, amount of adjustablity, and the durability of the fabric. We've hand picked our selection to offer a variety of styles and options that work well for the active sailor or anyone spending time on the water. Does all that sound a bit overwhelming? Fear not, all of our life jackets will do the job just fine. The important part is that you wear one! Check out our full range of life jackets below or give us a call anytime. We're here to help!

Life Jackets and Buoyancy Aids

May 1st 2014 West Coast Sailing

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