Undoubtedly, the sea is the scene of unforgettable vacation moments at this time, but also, it must never be forgotten, a dangerous habitat. To reduce risks it is important to wear a good life jacket .
The practice of water sports or a boat route are attractions that are difficult to reject, but you must enjoy it safely. In this context, life jackets for the aquatic environment are an indispensable tool.
Of those selected, we opted first for the Sport II model from the prestigious Norwegian brand Helly Hansen .
We do it for its very economical price and for satisfactory performance for standard water sports or for people who have low levels of swimming and even cannot swim.
In general, the life jacket is a versatile product that can be used for different activities, although, in some cases, they have specificities marked by the sport or use to which they are oriented.
Therefore, knowing what it is going to be used for as a priority is the first advice prior to its acquisition.
What is a life jacket?
A life jacket is a garment designed so that a person’s body remains on the surface and their head above the water.
The semantic term encompasses several different alternatives ranging from life jackets themselves to survival suits.
Its configuration is different depending on the degree of protection required and the size of the surface to be protected.
Mode of operation of a life jacket
In short, the material inside the vest traps air in order to keep the body afloat when submerged underwater.
The accumulated air weighs less than water. Therefore, the water pushes up the vest, making it stay afloat and thus supports the extra weight without sinking.
How to put on the life jacket
If this is the first time, it is advisable to attend to some instructions that, we must not forget, will vary slightly according to the models:
First, undo the straps and tuck the vest over your head.
Pull the strap that has been undone and wrap the back towards the front.
Firmly adjust the strap on the front of the vest.
If it includes a warning whistle, confirm that you have it and that it will be at hand in case you need it.
What are life jackets made of?
The two most common manufacturing materials are:
Nylon : Cheaper and lighter. It is the most common in rowing sports. Their characteristics make them feel comfortable and be able to move their limbs without problems in activities in which it is essential.
Neoprene : It is the material par excellence in water sports. It is a more expensive type of fabric, it adjusts very well to the body and has greater buoyancy.
What is buoyancy?
The buoyancy of a body in water is determined by three variables: our weight, lung capacity (the air inside the organs) and the percentage of body fat.
For this reason, manufacturers do not specify the kilos that it supports, but rather a range of weight for certain Newtons (N).
And it is that the buoyancy index is measured in Newtons . This parameter can range between 50 and 275 N divided into four categories of vests :
50 N: For inland and calm waters. It is used in kayaking or waterskiing by people who know how to swim. The buoyancy is 5 kg.
100 N: They can keep a person who cannot swim afloat, but cannot keep him unconscious on his back. Its buoyancy is 10 kg.
150 N: In this case, they are capable of keeping an unconscious person on their back. They are normally used on ships. Its buoyancy is 15 kg.
275 N: Very specific. Very heavy and, therefore, it is very difficult to move with them. They are only used in high altitude navigation and extreme conditions.
What types of life jackets are there
We are going to distinguish two large groups:
Traditional : Their flotation material is usually foam and they are often used in rowing sports. They have advantages such as minimal maintenance since it is enough to be careful so that it is directly exposed to sunlight. It does not need any action on the part of the user in the event of falling into the water. It can even incorporate pockets and it is therefore a lighter version adapted to the activities for which they are designed.
Inflatable : Obviously, when inflated they are bulky, but once the air is extracted they are very light and comfortable to transport.
There are three modes of inflation: buccal, manual or automatic mode .
The manual is carried out through a handle that operates the gas cylinder striker. It depends on the models they have some disadvantages. For example, some you have to inflate yourself, which is impossible if you are unconscious. Therefore, it is better to use them in low impact water sports.
The self-inflating ones fire on their own when they come into contact with water. They do so by means of a tablet of salts that dissolve in contact with water and release the striker or through a hydrostatic system. In the latter case, it responds to the effect of water pressure acting on a membrane that triggers the firing pin. When the person sinks in the water, the pressure increases, the membrane lets the water through and the vest inflates automatically. They are the most recommended, and required by regulations, for ships and cruises. In fact, according to Spanish legislation, inflatable life jackets must be inspected annually by an Authorized Service Station.
What to consider before buying a life jacket
Type of boat
If it is going to be used in boats, it is obvious that it depends on which one, one model or another of life jacket will demand. All this based on mobility.
Thus, nothing has to go on board a small boat than on a cruise. For example, a small sailboat requires a vest that allows easy movements or what to say if it is a kayak that requires accelerated movements of the extremities.
If the boat is large, the floats that will be carried will be inflatable and larger.
This factor will assess the stability of the garment in the event of strong water shocks. That is, if one is more risky and adventurous, they should look for a garment that is much more resistant than if the option is a quiet ride on a boat.
Prevention against hypothermia
It is not, far from it, common to suffer from hypothermia . In any case, if the use to be made is in waters that are not very warm, it is best to opt directly for a neoprene vest. Its perfect fit to the body, and the material itself, will be a good relief against the cold.
When not in use, please do not expose it to the sun for long periods. Vests should always be stored in a dry place.
Drying will always be done outdoors without sunlight.
After use, give it a fresh water rinse.
It must be completely dry before storage.
It is advisable to carry out periodic checks according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
In the case of inflatables, the gas cylinder will be checked every year and the condition of the salt tablet every month.
Helly Hansen Sport II: More than economic and effective in its waters
A very good option for common users who do not usually practice high-risk water sports or go on excursions on large boats.
For a more than affordable price, this model from the prestigious Norwegian brand is comfortable, functional and made with good materials.
It is important, as in all these garments, to calibrate well the size that will be needed taking into account that, if you choose, it is better that it fits the body well.
Ideal for sports such as kayaking, both in its adult and children’s version, and to bring more safety on excursions through the water if swimming is not your strength.
In the case of sports use, it has a great quality in its finishes since there is no friction with the seams, one of the main problems that arise in these recreational activities.
It is not at all cumbersome to optimally fulfill the functions for which it is oriented. It is obviously not a sophisticated or useful vest for offshore sailing, but in the domestic sphere it is an excellent alternative.
Jobe Neoprene: To enjoy the sea
Another range both in price, by high, and in its role. Its neoprene manufacture already says that it is indicated for water activities such as surfing, kitesurfing, wind or water skiing.
For example, if you buy it for sports that involve rapid and abrupt movements such as those derived from rowing, its effectiveness will decrease considerably.
Do not forget that when soaking in the water it takes on more weight and that makes the action even more difficult.
However, in its own way it performs excellently at the cost of a much higher outlay than in nylon models.
Among the many positive aspects its high buoyancy that almost even saves you strokes when you are in the water with it.
If normally fine-tuning with size is very important, in the case of neoprene even more so since its effectiveness depends largely on this.
Rrtizan Unisex: An inflatable basic
A basic inflatable model and, therefore, to be filled with your own lungs. Nor does it involve so much effort since it is limited to two bands that are cushioned with the air.
For the affordable price that it has, it fulfills its functions more than correctly. For example, it is very useful for snorkeling near the surface, for fishing or for swimming.
It is therefore more recreational than sports oriented . Once they are deflated, which is almost more expensive than the reverse task, they can be put anywhere because of how little they occupy.
It incorporates an adjustable waist strap so it can serve people of different weights. In this case, the manufacturing materials are divided between polyester and PVC.
Lalizas Performance: Special for rowing
A nice mid-priced model that fits very well to the body thanks to its two straps and its zip.
The value for money is quite satisfactory if it is used mainly in rowing sports. The ratings in the case of the kayak are excellent.
It is a nylon model on the outside that also has very flexible PVC foam for the interior configuration.
Acceptable buoyancy given the aquatic environments where it performs best.
Crewsaver – 9015NBA: High-level minimalism
It hardly appears, but its effectiveness is commensurate with its not low price. Maximum comfort thanks to that minimalist design.
Very suitable for recreational sailing and as a complement to fishing in difficult environments.
Comfort, its most powerful asset, makes it enormously versatile since it would not even interfere with intensive movements of paddle water sports.
Lalizas 71077: For the little ones
It is a life jacket designed for the bodies of boys and girls, weighing between 15 and 30 kilos. A very interesting model for the safety of our little ones.
In this case, the Lalizas vest has an ergonomic design thanks to its zippers and adjustable straps for the chest and legs. In addition, it has great visibility thanks to the orange color of the vest and its reflective stripes.
It includes a whistle to, if necessary, blow it and warn of its position.
Has the certification ISO 12402-4 yt ODO material is certified according to ISO 12402-7 and ISO 12402 -8, for their greatest strength, quality and durability.
Sailing and Fishing Level: Bonbela Mutifunctional
Designed for those who like water sports and fishing. It is designed in 400D Oxford fabric, which makes it a breathable and comfortable life jacket while being resistant to wear and tear.
It has a high buoyancy index thanks to its removable EPE foam , with which it is designed inside.
Its design is colorful, with a reflective and shiny surface, increasing safety at night. It is designed for people over 100 kilos in weight.
It incorporates three large pockets with several smaller bags to store whatever is necessary.
Sports use: Bozaap
Highly recommended for sports use, especially aboard a kayak, where its behavior is exceptional.
It is designed with pearl cotton and polyester fabric. As it should be, its drying system is very fast, in addition to weighing practically nothing and having great buoyancy.
It is adjustable according to the user’s body and indicated for weights between 50 and 95 kilos.
As for your safety, in addition to having an emergency whistle , its design is bright, eye-catching and finished with reflective strips that increase its possibilities at night.
Automatic lifeguard: 12skipper
The main feature of this life jacket is its automatic operation. And it is that, it is released automatically on contact with water. It also has, of course, if necessary, a manual release to activate it at any time.
It is certified with the DIN EN ISO 12402-3 standard and equipped with an adjustable harness, which has been tested and approved under the DIN EN ISO 12401 standard. In addition, this life preserver has a buoyancy of 165N and is capable of supporting 40 + kilos of weight, with a thoracic circumference of between 55 and 140 centimeters.
Second skin: Helly Hansen Sport Comfort
It is Helly Hansen one of the most prominent brands in the sector, sport in general, and specifically this model is characterized by its maximum comfort and firmness, to the point of feeling almost like a second skin.
It has such a flotation system, 50 newtons, that allows us to use it in small boats and during sports.
It is designed with soft foam to improve its use, while making it easier to put it on thanks to its front buckle closure.