A life jacket is among the most important accessories to ensure the safety of the crew on a boat. But not all jackets are the same. How do we know which one is best for us? What are the types of vests and how are they classified?
How to choose the right life jacket
Wearing the right jacket can save our lives by providing buoyancy and comfort appropriate to the situation we are in. Choosing the right one can increase the chances of getting back on board without too many problems, even in the event of a rescue. The most important classification is the buoyancy class, which identifies life jackets by their buoyancy force expressed in newtons (N):
- 50N: galegging aid, provide support only, have no collar
- 100N: usually rigid and ready for use in dangerous situations, they have a collar
- 150N: comfortable to wear permanently on board, for coastal sailing
- 275N: for offshore sailing and extreme weather conditions
Seatec. Types of life jackets
Depending on buoyancy, the type of life jacket also changes; there are rigid ones, automatic ones, and semi-automatic ones. Inside the shop of SVB Marine you can find guides and tutorials that explain how to best choose a life jacket, how to wear it correctly, and how to use any accessories such as flashlights or beacons. Prominent among the brands featured is the Seatec range , a corporate brand of SVB Marine whose line offers a selection covering all buoyancy ranges from 50N to 275N.
More than body weight, the weight of the clothing worn, the type of sailing (coastal, offshore, inland water…) and use (water sports, offshore sailing, drifting…) intended to be done should be taken into consideration when choosing the most suitable life jacket. For example, classic 50N foam jackets are actually a buoyancy aid, as they cannot guarantee very prolonged buoyancy. The 100N ones are also popular, usually have a waist belt for closure and tend to be standard sizes.
Semi-automatic vests usually have buoyancy between 150 and 250 newtons and are the best middle ground between rigid and automatic vests. In fact, they have a mechanism that is manually operated (by pulling a cord) and unlocks the CO2 capsule useful for inflating the jacket. They allow them to be worn comfortably for several hours, do not impede movement and prevent unintentional triggering in case of splashes or contact with water.
Finally, automatic vests, similar to semiautomatic vests but equipped with an automatic trigger mechanism , with a soluble tablet that activates the CO2 cartridge when it comes into contact with water. In this way, the buoyancy chamber automatically inflates when the wearer of the vest falls into the water, but it may happen that it also inflates in case of a wave or splash. For this reason, automatic jackets are not recommended for those involved in water sports.
SVB Marine will be present at the upcoming Venice Boat Show scheduled from May 31 to June 4, 2023 within the slipway area