Once upon a time they were called life preservers – an apt description for today’s modern lifejacket. A lifejacket’s sole purpose, after all, is to save your life. But the lifejackets of today bear little resemblance to the cork- or kapok-filled life preservers of old. Today’s lifejackets are high-tech, compact and comfortable, and in most cases self-inflating as soon as they land in water.


Does it fit?


There’s a huge range in prices and extra features, but the one thing you must be sure is that your lifejacket is a proper size and fit for you. Lifejackets are rated in Newtons (N) of buoyancy, and have European Standards CE ratings to define the criteria they should be used for and how they’re expected to perform in certain situations. It’s not just a case of picking the colour you like – do a little research! 


What to look for?


Look out for things like crotch straps (essential to stop the jacket riding up when inflated in the water), buckles and straps allowing ease of adjustment, D-ring attachment points for harnesses and safety lines, lifting beckets, whistles, reflective tapes and strobe lights for night-time visibility.


As a general rule for most leisure sailing where the seas are not expected to be too rough, look for a jacket of more than 150N. Something like Crewsaver’s Crewfit 165N Sport Automatic or Sport Manual. Crewsaver have put more than 30 years of experience in lifejacket manufacture into ensuring their jackets feature the most advanced and essential safety features across the range.


If you’re larger than average or tend to wear a lot of heavy clothing aboard, then you might be looking for a 180N jacket like the Crewsaver Crewfit 180N Pro Automatic with Harness.


If you sail a lot at night, or in rough conditions, then harness attachments, spray hoods and strobe lights will become even more important: enter the Crewsaver ErgoFit 190 Pro Automatic with Harness, Light & Hood. The ultimate in Crewsaver’s lifejacket collection, the ErgoFit 190 Pro is highly specified but allows you to maintain excellent mobility when wearing it.