Getting a well-fitted and comfortable life jacket is not only for safety, it’s also going to make your day out on the water much more enjoyable. We only stock the best brands in watersports floatation devices which are Australian Standard Approved, high quality and come with 12 months warranty. Use this Life Vest Buyer’s Guide to find out which life jacket will suit you best and help you avoid a fine on the water!
The type of life vest you choose depends where you want to go and what you want to do on the water. Remember, the rating of a life jacket can always be found on the inside panel along with other important information such as the weight rating. This is what authorities will look to if they pull you up in your boat so make sure you get it right to avoid a fine!
There a three major types of life vest:
LEVEL 50S (PFD TYPE 3) life vests are designed for use in smooth water only and will cover you for most rivers, lakes and dams. These life jackets are the most common for use in waterskiing, wakeboarding, tubing and wakesurfing as this is usually done in smooth water. They are not restricted in colour and are available in many different colourways and designs.
LEVEL 50 (PFD TYPE 2)life jackets canbe worn in both Smooth and Partially Smooth waterways. If you’re on a Personal Water Craft (PWC) they can also be used in Open Waterways which make them a popular choice for freestyle jetskiers. The main difference between a L50 and L50S flotation device is the colour. L50 life vests must be a bright colour to be approved under Australian Standards and are typically a red, yellow or orange colour over the shoulders.
LEVEL 100, 150 OR 275 (PFD TYPE 1)is alevel of life vest cannot be used for any towable watersports or jetskiing. They are designed to be used in the boat and can be taken offshore in Open Waterways. As these types are used for general boating in open water and can’t be used for watersports or jetskiing we only stock a limited range of these life jackets.
Each state in Australia is responsible for deciding on the classification of waterways so make sure to check out the relevant website to find which life vest you will need to wear.
TIPS FOR JETSKIERS: Buy an L50 life vest. Even though you don’t get much choice in colour it will legally cover you for absolutely everywhere you want to go on a jetski; including offshore. Also, a lot of L50 life vests have awesome jetski features like grab handles and lower back support.
Making sure you have the correctly rated life jacket is only half of the story. A life vest that is too loose won’t float you in the water properly and isn’t safe. Most watersport life vests are made of neoprene which means they need to have a snug wetsuit-like fit to work effectively. When you put a life vest on it should have to stretch by about 5-10cm to zip it up. Life jackets come in different shapes and sizes so just because you are a large size in one life jacket this doesn’t mean you will be a large size in every life jacket.
The best way to find the right life jacket for you is to try them on and see which fits best. If you’re buying online you obviously won’t be able to do that so all the life vests we sell online have a size guide for reference. Remember - if in doubt, go tighter rather than looser as neoprene will soften when it gets wet. If you go through all that and still get the wrong size we are always happy to accept an exchange. Read our warranties and exchange policy for more details.
FITTING KIDS LIFE VESTS:Getting the right fit for kids can be difficult. Firstly, be sure to check the weight rating to make sure the life vest will have enough buoyancy. Getting a tight fit is crucial for the jacket to be safe so the next step is to check for a snug fit around the waist and shoulders. Be careful when looking at bigger sizes than needed or longer style adult jackets for kids. Doing the zip up around the hips instead of the waist will leave them too much room in the shoulders of the vest and is not safe to wear. We all want to get the most out of our gear but safety is always the first priority!
They all float the same but make sure to pick a life vest that is going to suit your specific needs. If you’re mainly waterskiing, a low profile life vest is going to keep out of your way on starts and allow you freedom of movement in your arms. Look for life jackets with a 4-panel design which allow the foam to be spread more evenly through the front, back and sides. If you’re skiing into the colder months some life vests are even insulated with quick-dry material on the inside to keep you warmer. A thin life vest might also suit if you’re wakeboarding but if you will get better protection on crashes with something thicker.
If you’re on a jetski think about what you do most on the water. If you’re towing the kids around all day or going for long rides a life jacket with a kidney belt and grab handles will make life much easier. Or if you’re more into freestyle jetskiing, try a side entry vest that gives you better chest protection. Hate L50 colours? Hit up a reversible design that you can change for different waterways.
We hope this guide has helped you to find the best life vest to suit your needs on the water. If you have any further questions please don't hesitate to CONTACT our friendly sales staff.