Differences Between Lifejacket and PFD – Which is Life Saving

Safety is the utmost concern when it comes to purchasing a life jacket or a personal floatation device. The purpose of such devices is to save lives, and if it doesn’t cater to that aspect, it won’t do justice to purchase in the first place. The coast guard authorities recommend the life jackets and PFDs as it prevents drowning of the person due to an emergency event. It can happen to anybody, being a non swimmer or an experienced one cannot face the turbulent currents and the coldness of the water.

In most cases, people think that they assume that inland waters are shallow and you wouldn’t drown, or feel you could hold onto something and survive. These notions have to be quashed as its never safe in the water. There are chances you can hit your head or injure yourself and can’t manage to swim to safety. This is when life jackets and PFDs play a vital role in keeping you afloat until rescue arrives. Every person owning or renting a vest or a PFD when venturing into the water, even though you may be a professional swimmer or have years of being years in the water.

Below Are The Differences Between Life Jacket & PFD

There are times when the weather can play havoc, and the waterbody can get rough. Controlling yourself or the vessel you are in can be very difficult. There are chances of you going overboard or the vessel carrying you may topple. This is where the need for a good quality life jacket or PFD can help you out to stay afloat in the water. There can be various other reason that you may need a life jacket too such as 

  • Mechanical failure of the boat in the middle of the waterbody, you may find it difficult to swim to the shore because of the depth, currents, and other factors.
  • You can have a heart attack.
  • There could be a boat collisions.

All the above reasons can hinder the ability of the person to swim for themselves and reach safety.

You can never predict how the waterbody will change course or what can happen in the middle of an adventure in unknown waters. Having a life jacket would be the only kind of safety measure that you can use to help yourself out of the sticky situation. These life vests act like a seatbelt in a car and help you to be safeguarded in case of an emergency.

The differences are not many, but if you must know that both of them are used for your safety.

  • You should be wearing PFDs before entering the water, as the best course of precaution.
  • PFDs don’t offer as much bouncy in water as life jackets.
  • PFDs get used to most used water-based activities.
  • It gives more freedom of movement, both front and back.
  • It doesn’t require inflation.
  • These are more comfortable and smart looking
  • Used more for recreational activities.
  • PFDs may be cheaper
  • The life jacket is more worn during an accidental emergency.
  • It helps to keep the head above water.
  • It is more used for life-saving events and has to undergo scrutinized quality tests before merchandising.
  • When used, the person has a better chance of survival than PFDs.
  • It has many things that help detect the person overboard, prevent drowning, and keeps your head above water at all times.
  • Good quality life jackets come a little expensive.


Whichever waterbased activity that you venture into, safety is the primary concern. Making sure that the person adheres to all the precautions and uses the right gear at all times can save lives.