Choosing a Properly Fitted Life Jacket

Life Jackets

Life jackets are not a one size fits all. A life jacket that doesn’t fit properly can result in a drowning. Avoid the tragic outcome with the right size and type of jacket.

Choosing a Properly Fitting a Life Jacket

How to Fit a Life Jacket

A life jacket should feel comfortable; not too loose or too tight. Do the following checks to ensure you have the right sized jacket for you and your passengers.

  1. Check the label of the jacket. Life jackets include details of the recommended size and weight of the wearer.
  2. Try on the life jacket and put your arms straight up above your head. Ask someone to gently pull on the life jacket to simulate the force of water and make sure the life jacket doesn’t ride up over any part of your face.  
  3. Check there is no excess room around all of the life jacket’s neck and armhole openings.

Wear your Life Jacket

The sign of a good life jacket is one that’s worn for the duration of a boat trip. People don’t drown because they didn’t have the right life-saving devices on board, they simply weren’t wearing them. There is rarely the benefit of time to put on a life jacket after a boat is swamped or flipped. Unworn life jackets can be trapped in the upturned hull leaving the boat’s occupants without anything buoyant to even hold onto in the water.

Inflatable Life Jackets offer Practicality

Life jackets have improved dramatically over the past decade to make them more appealing to wear all the time not just when an emergency hits. The old style life jacket can be bulky and hot, restricting the skipper from driving the boat, fishing and moving around.

The introduction of the inflatable life jacket means there is almost no bulk and the wearer can hardly feel the life jacket. Automatically inflating life jackets are not suitable for any child under the age of 16 or adults who can’t swim.

Inflatable life jackets require more maintenance than a traditional life jacket so only buy one if you have the time to self-check or take it in for servicing. You can read more information on Self-check and Servicing your Inflatable Life Jacket here - Check the service requirements of your life jacket in the owner’s manual.  

Bigger is Not Better for Children

Children need a fitted life jacket as an adult jacket can be too bigand this can be dangerous in the water as an over-sized life jacket can ride up covering part of their face. If there is too much movement inside the jacket, they won’t be kept buoyant and above the water. A life jacket that is too small may not provide the right amount of support for the child’s weight.


We stock all types of Life Jackets and PFDs to keep you afloat.

Browse our Range of Life Jackets or Call us on 1300 308 161


Water Activity Influences the Type of Life Jacket

Different life jackets are available for different purposes. A life jacket designed for calm water boating may not be sufficient for saving the wearer from drowning in rough, open waters. If you need a life jacket for water sports, then some self-inflating life jackets will not be suitable. Know what activities you need the life jacket for and carefully check the specifications before purchase. You may need more than one life jacket to cover the range of water activities you do.      

The chance of survival increases when an appropriate, properly fitting life jacket is worn before an emergency occurs. As the skipper, don’t take any chances with ill-fitting life jackets on board your boat. It may be necessary to have a fitting session with your existing life jackets long before you get to the boat ramp particularly if you have children on board who have grown since last season or you are taking out new passengers.

If you have any queries, ask the experienced team at Boat Accessories Australia by calling 1300 308 161 or by email We’d love to hear from you.

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