LIfe Jacket or Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

Do I need a Lifejacket or a PFD? The terms lifejacket, life vest, pfd, personal flotation device, life belt, are often used interchangeably. But there are important differences between a lifejacket and a PFD.

In very simple terms a Lifejacket is an approved device that will float someone with their head well out of the water but also has the ability to turn that person onto their back with their face up even if they are unconscious. A PFD or Personal Flotation Device provides sufficient flotation to keep a person afloat at the surface, but is not self-righting. Because of the extra flotation material required and the positioning of it on the chest a lifejacket tends to be bulkier than a PFD.

For more information about life jackets and PDFs, and choosing a device suitable for a given on-water activity, see