How to choose a lifejacket

Buoyancy Aids, Foam Lifejackets, Gas Lifejackets, How to -

How to choose a lifejacket

Choosing the right lifejacket is essential for being safe on the water. There are a few factors to consider when deciding which one is needed.


The first thing to do is consider the activity you need the jacket for. This will quickly determine whether a buoyancy aid, a foam lifejacket or a gas lifejacket is best suited. There may be a slight cross over in some activities, but generally there is a jacket that is right for the purpose.

If the activity is close to shore, where help is near and / or you can swim to safety and you are very likely to end up in the water, then you can look at a buoyancy aid. This will include activities such as dinghy sailing, standing up paddle boarding, jet skiing, kayakingwater skiing and angling. If you can't swim or aren't competent then a 100N foam lifejacket is probably more suitable.

Read more about Buoyancy aids here

If the activity is in coastal waters and help might not be so close to hand then a 100N foam or 150N inflatable lifejacket would be recommended. Inflatable (gas) lifejackets inflate when either the wearer falls into the water or when the toggle cord is pulled. They are particularly well suited to activities where something small, light and unobtrusive is needed. Both foam and gas lifejackets can be used for sailing, angling, speedboats and motor yachts.

Read more about lifejackets here

If the activity is offshore or ocean based then a higher newton inflatable lifejacket would be required such as a 275N. This will include activities such as offshore sailing, ocean sailing and ocean motor yachting.

Read more about lifejackets here

Now you know what jacket you'll most likely need, there are a few more details about each that are worth being aware of.

Details to consider

Buoyancy aids

Buoyancy Aids come in different buoyancy weights and sizes. For nearly all activities, 50N is sufficient but if you are taking part in sports in fast running water then 70N is recommended. Buoyancy aids are cutaway around the arms giving you good manoeuvrability. You should buy one which is right for your body weight but it should also fit snuggling and be tight to the chest. A shorter buoyancy aid can be more comfortable if you will be sitting down and pockets can be useful for storing equipment.

View our 50N buoyancy aids here

Foam lifejackets

Foam lifejackets are 100N and different from buoyancy aids in that they are designed to preserve life; they will turn the wearer on their back and support the head. Similar to buoyancy aids, they come in different sizes and should match the weight of the wearer whilst being a tight fit making sure that they can't rise above the wearers head when in the water.

View our 100N foam lifejackets here

Inflatable (gas) Lifejackets

Inflatable (gas) lifejackets are one size only, but you will need to decide whether an automatic or manual version is best suited.

  • Manual inflation - gives the wearer the decision on whether the jacket needs to be inflated or not. This can be useful in situations, such as angling, where you might accidentally fall into the water. The downside is that if you are unconscious, panic, or lose mobility then you may not be able to pull the chord.
  • Automatic inflation - will deploy itself when the wearer falls into the water meaning that if you are unconscious the lifejacket could save your life.

View our gas lifejackets here


About Tornado Lifejackets
Tornado Lifejackets are passionate about safety on the water and we want you to enjoy your activities with peace of mind. We therefore sell quality jackets that are affordable and accessible for adults and children. Our lifejackets are all from Europe's largest manufacturers complying to the highest standards for safety include ISO accreditation and CE approval. Our knowledgable team of experts are always on hand to answer any water safety questions you may have.

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