Difference between a buoyancy aid and life jacket

The difference between a buoyancy aid and life jacket often leaves people confused as to which is the best option for their abilities as well as their chosen water sport.

No matter what activity you are taking part in while on the water, a buoyancy aid or life jacket is essential – regardless of your own swimming capabilities.

Buoyancy aids and life jackets – what’s the difference?

Buoyancy aids do just as their name suggests – aid buoyancy. They are designed to assist conscious adults who are competent swimmers in order for them to reach land or their boat without tiring. Using a buoyancy aid assumes the wearer can swim or that help is close at hand, which is why they are usually worn in sheltered waters. For this reason, buoyancy aids tend to be popular for kayaking, jet skiing and dinghy sailing where spending some time in the water can be expected.

Browse our range of buoyancy aids

Quality lifejackets – when fitted correctly – are designed to keep the airways clear of water, even if the wearer is unconscious or injured and unable to swim. When inflated, a lifejacket also turns the body over, bringing the wearer’s head and face out of the water. Lifejackets are ideal for children or unconfident swimmers who may not be able to get out of the water easily.

Lifejackets are usually the preferred option for sailing offshore or on coastal waters, where sailors would not expect to spend any time in the water. Many sailors prefer the option of an inflatable lifejacket as they offer the advantage of being both light to wear and offer ease of movement.

Browse our range of life jackets

Fitting your life jacket or buoyancy aid

The type of lifejacket required is largely determined by environment as well as clothing worn whilst on the water. Your life jacket or buoyancy aid should be comfortable to wear so that your body is free to move without riding up when you are in the water. We would advise taking your chest measurement when considering which life jacket or buoyancy aid, once purchased these can be adjusted with the appropriate buckles/straps for a perfect fit.

Life jackets for children

When choosing a life jacket for a child it’s vital to choose one that will fit them at the time of use – not one that they will grow into. An ill-fitting life jacket can be dangerous and can ride up over the head, which makes swimming and staying above the water very difficult.

Quality sailing kit

In addition to life jackets and buoyancy aids, we also stock a great collection of sailing products including technical jackets, base layers, middle layers and salopettes.

If you have any questions about the products in our site or need further advice – please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team.

Ardmoor teamBuyers guidesGuidesHomeNewsSailingTips & advice