In this post I’ll outline why buying a comfortable life vest is one the most important purchases you can make for your boat.
Comfortable Life Vests Are Worn More Frequently
Life jackets are only effective when they’re worn.
Choosing a comfortable life vest will determine how effective the vest is for you, because it will be a major factor in how often you wear the vest.
In recent years the US Coast Guard has run several major campaigns to encourage boaters to wear their life vests, not simply stow them below deck.
In the moments that matter, having a PFD “readily stowed” might not be enough. Even if you’re a strong swimmer, going overboard can be traumatic: you might be knocked unconscious or have the wind knocked out of you. That means that wearing your life vest is extremely important.
You’re far more likely to be wearing your vest if it is comfortable and provides you a full range of motion than if it is bulky, heavy, uncomfortable, or otherwise restrictive.
Comfortable Life Jackets Can Be Worn Longer
Unfortunately, in order to wear your PFD in the moments that count, you need to wear it all the time. This means that you will be getting very familiar with your vest, and need to be able to wear it comfortably for several hours straight.
If you’re going to be out on the water all day, you’re going to want the life vest to feel like any other piece of clothing.
Inflatable life jackets are an excellent option for full-day comfort, since they take up far less space and allow for greater agility than their foam counterparts.
Another option is to have multiple life jackets available. There are a number of close-fitted vests that can be worn like a t-shirt and allow for full athletic movement. While these vests are not always USCG approved, it can be a good intermediary option that provides some daily protection while keeping a USCG vest readily stowed.