Different Kinds of Life Jackets

Different Kinds of Life Jackets
Life jackets are required for every passenger of a watercraft or vessel in the United States. They also are recommended to always be worn by children when swimming, regardless of conditions. The U.S. Coast Guard rates life jackets on a scale so that they are used in the proper environment.


Offshore, or type 1, life jackets are designed for use in remote waters. They are built to provide flotation for an extended period of time in case a rescue takes a while. They also are designed to turn an unconscious person face up in the water. These life jackets go around the neck and sit on the front of the body; this is what helps keep a person face up.

Near Shore

Near shore, or type 2, vests are designed for calm waters with little or no current. They are recommended for use in areas where rescue would not take long. This type is similar in construction to the type 1, but they are often made with less buoyant material.

Flotation Aid

Flotation Aid, or type 3, is what most people think of when they hear life jacket. It is a full vest that wraps from back to front and often has buckles or fasteners in the front. Type 3 also are referred to as water sport vests. This type will not turn an unconscious person face up.


Inflatable life jackets contain a pressurized air source that inflates a bladder when activated. This allows for a less-bulky life jacket that offers excellent flotation and turns unconscious victims face up. This style is popular with fishermen since they are worn over normal clothes and do not restrict movement as traditional life jackets do.

Article Written By Matthew Knight

Based in Southwestern Michigan, Matthew Knight has been writing outdoor and technology articles since 2008. His articles appear on various websites. He holds a bachelor's degree in computer information systems from Western Michigan University.

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