What Is The Difference Between Type 1, 2, and 3 Life Vests?

What is The Difference Between Type 1, 2 and 3

There are several types of PFDs, so it’s important to know the one to use while on the water, whether it’s an open rough or remote water or you’re just frolicking near shore in a life vest. What is The Difference Between Type 1, 2 and 3 ?

Life Vests:

A life jacket is a piece of kit that makes the wearer float on the water before help arrives. Some PFDs also turn some unconscious wearers around, keeping them in a face-up position. Statistics also shows the vital need of PFD.

What’s next? 

Let’s explore the difference between Type I, Type II, and Type III life jackets, amongst other things.

Who Needs a Life Jacket?

The United States Coast Guard specifies that all passengers on a boat or other qualifying vessel must have a coast guard approved life jacket whenever onboard. 

You need to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) in dangerous conditions like high boat traffic to enable easy rescue. 

Whether you are on the water for recreation or business, a life jacket is an essential safety equipment.

USCG Standards

Personal Flotation Devices PFDs come in inflatable and inherently buoyant designs. These U.S Coast Guard approved PFDs can be sorted into types based on performance.

  • Type I: 

The Type I life jacket is compulsory for commercial vessels. The Type I jackets are bulky and uncomfortable for recreational purposes. 

The Type I flotation device has 22 pounds of buoyancy for adult size models and keeps the wearer high above the water. The PFD Type I also helps turn an unconscious wearer face-up.

  • Type II: 

The single-strap, boxy, orange life jackets are under Type II PFD. The Type II PFD offers 15 1/2 pounds of buoyancy for adult size models. 

The PFD Type II is designed to turn some unconscious wearers around and keep them in a face-up position.

  • Legacy Type III and Equivalent Level 70: 

The Type III PFD provides buoyancy of 15 1/2 pounds for adult size models. The PFD Type III also helps turn an unconscious wearer face-up.

Classifying Inflatable PFDs by Coast Guard Types

Inflatable PFDs can be classified into Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type V PFDs. 

Unlike foam vests, the inflatable PFD doesn’t come as Type IV PFDs. Seat cushions, ring buoys, and the horseshoe buoy are examples of a Type IV PFD. 

That’s because inflatable PFDs don’t provide flotation unless already inflated, and a Type IV throwable device is to be thrown to a person in distress.

What Type of PFD do I Need?

What is The Difference Between Type 1, 2 and 3 Life Vests

This depends on the type of boating activities you enjoy. Here are some recommendations:

  • Recreational

When using boats in calm and warm waters, you need to wear Type III PFDs. The Type III PFD supports a large range of movement, unlike the Type II. 

Type III PFs are also suitable for activities like water skiing in open water. The Type II PFD might work for this, but they may restrict movement.

  • Water sport

The PFD should be the belted vest type, and these PFDs used for watersports must be worn correctly. 

When shopping for life jackets to use on the water, choose a PFD with a “watersports” mark on the label. 

Also, make sure you choose the child size for a child and an adult size for an adult. That way, you will get a snug fit.

  • Day Sailing

PFDs for day sailing must be worn tightly to your body. 

The PFDs must give maximum freedom of motion. And the preferred style for Day Sailing is a jacket made from soft foam and has a zippered closure.

  • Fishing 

Life jackets used for fishing should have built-in pockets to make room for anglers that hold a lot of leaders, lures, and other gear. 

A high-speed bass boat requires fishing vests designed to survive high-speed impacts. This will make sure that the PFD is in good shape for easy rescue.

  • OffShore Sail

A suitable life jacket for offshore sail should provide a lot of freedom of movement and buoyancy. 

The PFD must have a safety harness that the wearer attaches to jack lines to connect to the vessel. Offshore sail PFDs should have 35 pounds of buoyancy to increase chances of rescue.

  • Offshore Power

This activity requires a life jacket with high buoyancy and that is suitable for rough or remote waters. 

Even though there are lower chances of going overboard on a trawler equipped with an enclosed pilothouse, the crew members must always wear PFDs with high buoyancy anytime they are on the deck.

Features to Consider

Here are some other attributes of life jackets to consider.

  • Hypothermia Protection

When boating in cold weather, you need to wear a float coat. Make sure your chosen type of PFD has hypothermia protection. 

A snugly fit Type III life jacket can help delay the start of hypothermia. A good float coat lessens the effects of hypothermia. High buoyancy life jackets enable the wearers to assume the Heat Escape Lessening Posture (HELP). The HELP decreases the amount of body heat lost to the water and increases survival time.

  • Maximum Freeboard

Where a crew member of a boat has gone overboard, the person might become unconscious due to injury or hypothermia. 

The Type I PFD is very appropriate for such a situation. The Type I PFDs have extra buoyancy, which increases the freeboard of the victim. 

Freeboard is the distance from the water’s surface to the mouth. The Type I PFD turns the unconscious wearer on their back, facilitating a successful rescue.

Conclusion: What is The Difference Between Type 1, 2 and 3

There are different life jackets for boating activities. 

Whether you need the PFDs as work vests, deck suits, or for recreational purposes, you need a child size or adult size PFD to keep you afloat before rescue arrives. 

Make sure you’re acquainted with the options available and choose the best for your needs.

This is an investment you’ll never regret.

Related: The Best Life Jacket – Definitive Guide (2024)

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