Lifejackets – Which One Should You Buy?

The RNLI indicates “Each year around 200 people drown in coastal waters around UK and Southern Ireland, some of which happen to people who are carrying out water based activity.

Research suggests that wearing a lifejacket can increase your chances of survival by up to four times if you’re immersed in cold water.* Whatever your activity, wearing a well-fitted, well-maintained and suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid could save your life”.

Source* Professor Mike Tipton 2012.


We are often asked at shows and events “which lifejacket could you recommend?” Our reply is always, “we don’t recommend any particular lifejacket as we don’t know what the type of water activity that you will use it for eg yachting, power boating, kayacking, dingy sailing etc,  everyone is individual and one size definitely doesn’t fit all!”. One of our pieces of advice is that you must be comfortable wearing it.

Our team runs lifejacket clinics throughout the year at local yacht clubs, marina’s and harbours.  If you would like us to run one for you or your club please drop us an email :

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Here are some of the top tips that you could carry out to ensure your lifejacket is fit for purpose (please note: these checks are not a substitute for a proper service at a service agent or recognised manufacturer)


  1. Inspect the outside of the jacket for wear and tear. Take a detailed look at the cover for any damage, webbing, harnesses, crotch straps, sizing and fit
  2. Even if it is a jacket with an inspection window, undoe the lifejacket at the point next to the inflator.
  3. Check the gas cylinder is hand tight, or if it’s a bayonet type, is it firmly locked in position.
  4. If the lifejacket is new to you, remove the cylinder and check it has not been fired.
  5. Replace the cylinder if required.
  6. Look for the green coloured indicators on the trigger and if fitted, on the automatic firing system.
  7. Keep spare cyclinders and replacement parts for the automatic firing system on hand. So, that the jacket can be re-armed. Or, keep a spare jacket for each person onboard. The replacement parts are relatively inexpensive to purchase. Don’t forget jackets for your dog(s) if you take them on a voyage!
  8. Get the jacket serviced at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals.  This is highly recommended.
  9. Undertake a thorough inspection of each and every lifejacket at least once a year – more often if the lifejacket is used frequently.
  10. Conduct an inflation test of the bladder annually. Inflate the bladder through the oral inflation tube via a low pressure air pump or simply blowing into the tube. Leave inflated for at least 24 hours in a termperature stable environment to check the bladders integrity.

Useful links :

The RNLI’s complete guide to lifejackets

How to choose a lifejacket and maintain it – RNLI

Andling and fishing safety Advice – RNLI

Lifejackets Useless Unless Worn – Thanet RNLI CS

Lifejacket Clinic Sends Out Massive Safety Message

How to book a free RNLI lifejacket clinic