Comment choisir son gilet de sauvetage

How to choose your life jacket for sailing


How to choose your life jacket for sailing


1- Understand the different types of life jackets

Do not confuse a  life jacket with a buoyancy vest. The latter only helps with buoyancy and requires the user to be able to swim, while life jackets allow an individual to be turned over onto their back, so they can breathe if found unconscious.

There are two types of life jackets: foam and inflatable.

Both are equally effective, but the inflatable one is recommended for regular use, since it provides greater freedom of movement.

Your life jacket must be worn to be useful (do not leave it in the bottom of the boat)!

For your safety, it must be worn OVER your sailing jacket and harness.

2- CE Safety standards

Every life jacket sold in Europe must be in conformance with the current standard and bear the CE marking, proving that it has been tested and approved.

The standards validate a minimum flotation, which is indicated in Newtons (N), as well as the ability to turn over an unconscious individual and keep them on their back (airways open).

These life jackets are designed under the ISO 12402 standard, expressed based on buoyancy:

          12402-4 for 100 N
          12402-3  for 150 N
          12402-2  for 275 N

Remember: 10 Newtons correspond to 1.01 kg of buoyancy force.

Type of personal flotation

How to choose your life jacket for sailing How to choose your life jacket for sailing How to choose your life jacket for sailing
100 newton foam life jacket 150 newton foam life jacket 150 Newton self inflating life jacket

Life jacket specifics:

In order to ensure that an unconscious person will turn over,  life jackets are shaped with an asymmetrical volume, with more foam (or more air) on one side than on the other:

How to choose your life jacket for sailing

3- Choosing your life jacket

Choose your vest based on your weight, a vest of the wrong size could compromise its effectiveness.


Weight in kg

100 Newton buoyancy

150 Newton buoyancy







> 70




4- Foam life jackets

Foam life jackets are just as effective as an inflatable one. There are many brands with different buckling systems.
The "entry price" models, which look like rectangular blocks of foam, meet the standard but their shape is not suited to the user's movements.
The TRIBORD life jackets offer, beginning at the lowest price, ergonomics designed for sailing.

5- Inflatable life jackets

Inflatable life jackets contain a CO2 cartridge which allows the jacket to inflate in under 10 seconds after a manual or automatic blow.

We do not recommend using manual vests, which we consider dangerous if a person who has lost consciousness falls into water.

The major advantage of self-inflating vests is their smaller size, which provides you with excellent freedom of movement

The different models:

How to choose your life jacket for sailing

Remember: a mouthpiece present on all the vests allows you to inflate the air chamber by mouth, and also allows for deflating after use.

6- Required tracking assistance equipment on your vest

  • A whistle attached so that it is easy to use
  • Reflective strips to increase your chances of being spotted.

7- Additional safety equipment

You can be completely safe by:

  •   Adding an electric and/or chemical (flare) light source to your vest, permanently attached and capable of providing twelve hours of light
  •  Using a harness and leash, particularly when sailing in difficult conditions, at night, and/or alone. The harness is built into certain models. This ensemble can be permanently attached to the boat. (careful, do not use it as a harness for climbing the mast!)

8- Life jacket care advice:

Life jackets have a limited life span, since they are subjected to many different conditions (ultra-violet rays, sea salt, abrasion, compression ...).
To increase its life span, you must rinse it after each use, then dry it quickly.

For the  inflatable models, you must detach the inflation system, rinse, dry the vest, then re-attach the system.

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