When it comes to life jackets, different jackets provide varying levels of safety as per Australian Government requirements. If you are active in water sports or are simply curious about the life jacket styles available on the market today, it may be helpful to learn their differing levels of safety as well.

In this blog, we’ll detail three types of life jackets with the highest levels of safety and which ones are most suitable for different water sporting situations.

Level 100 Life Jackets

Level 100+ life jackets are generally used for open-water water sports (e.g. on the ocean or in the sea) and provide relatively high levels of protection and safety. Life jackets that are capped at level 100, in particular, are intended for individuals who may have to wait for rescue while in the water. 

Level 100 life jackets include neck support to help keep their wearers’ heads above water, even when unconscious. However, they are not designed to withstand rough waters or when there is a wave splash. Hence level 100 life jackets are best used in sheltered bodies of water such as rivers and lakes. Level 100 life jackets are most commonly worn when boating and fishing in open waters.

Level 150 Life Jackets

Level 150 life jackets provide one extra layer of safety than level 100 life jackets, in that they can be used during rough weather conditions and withstand large splashes and waves.

Unlike level 100 life jackets which can only keep their wearers’ heads above water (when they are already floating upright), level 150 life jackets can turn an unconscious individual into a safe position in the water, provided they are wearing light swimming attire. Such life jackets can also maintain a safe position for their wearers for a long period of time.

Level 275 Life Jackets

Level 275 life jackets provide one of the highest buoyancy and safety levels, out of all life jackets. They are designed primarily for offshore use, and for individuals who need to wear significantly heavy clothing or carry equipment when in the water. 

Wearing excess clothing may trap air and have adverse effects in regular life jackets, hence level 275 life jackets help to prevent such consequences from occurring. Level 275 life jackets will help keep their wearers’ mouth and nose above water at all times.

Making the right choice for you

Now that you have a better understanding of the different levels of safety provided by the life jacket types mentioned above, it’s time to make the decision of which one is best for you. When selecting a life jacket from a reliable distributor, it is always best to go with the mindset ‘better safe than sorry’. Even if weather forecasts predict the absence of rough waters, it may still be best to go with a level 150 life jacket over a level 100 jacket.

However, it is also important to choose a life jacket that is designed specifically for your water sport, even if there are alternatives that may provide higher levels of safety. For example, a level 100+ life jacket may be too heavy and extreme of a choice for your average pool swimming, and instead make things more dangerous for you if things do go wrong.