PFD Classifications

Once you’ve decided to purchase a Personal Flotation Device (PFD), and that should be an easy decision, the next step is to figure out which one is right for you. PFDs come in a variety of different shapes, colours and materials. No matter which type of PFD you choose, be sure to get the one that’s right for you – because the best PFD is the one you will wear!

Type I

Type I PFDs, are the most buoyant PFDs and suitable for all water conditions, including rough or isolated water where rescue may be delayed. Although bulky in comparison to Type II and III PFDs, Type I will turn most unconscious individuals to the face-up position. They range in sizes from adult to child. All foam vests in Canada are Type I.

US & CAD - Inflatable Type I PFD Minimum Buoyancy: at least 33.7 lb (150 Newtons)

US - Foam Type I PFD Minimum Buoyancy: 22.5 Ibs (100 Newtons)

CAD - Foam Type I PFD Minimum Buoyancy: 15.51 lb (69 Newtons)

Shop Type I

Type II

Type II PFDs – or offshore buoyant vests – are designed and developed for environments where wearers find themselves in isolated or rough waters. Offshore PFDs offer high buoyancy, and are suitable for most water conditions. Ocean racers to adventurous sailors seeking open water can eat, sleep, and push through long days in our offshore vests that give them full range of motion, complete comfort, and complete peace of mind.

US & CAD: Inflatable Type II PFD Minimum

Buoyancy: At least 33.7 lb (150 Newtons)

US - Foam Type II PFD Minimum Buoyancy: 15.5 lb (68.9 Newtons)



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Type III

Type III PFDs - or inshore buoyant vests - are specifically designed for activities where adventurers can see the shore on calm or inland waters. Inshore PFDs offer comfort without compromising on user safety, technology, or design. They stand up to the test of speed; some of our inshore solutions have some of the highest speed ratings on the market. Finally - inshore flotation that keeps up with you on your every excursion.

US & CAD - Inflatable Type III PFD Minimum Buoyancy: at least 22.5 lb (100 Newtons)

US - Foam Type III PFD Minimum Buoyancy: 15.5 lb (68.9 Newtons)



Shop Type III

Type IV

These are designed to be thrown to a conscious person in the water. These are not designed to be worn. A few examples of a Type IV PFD are a buoyant cushion, a life ring, or a horseshoe buoy.

US - Throwable Device Type IV PFD Minimum Buoyancy: 16.5 lb (73.4 Newtons)



Shop Type IV

Type V

These special use devices are to be worn for specific activities that will be described on the PFD’s label. To be effective, Type V PFDs must be used according to these specifications, and many must be worn at all times in order to qualify as a PFD. A Type V label will also list its performance as Type I, II, or III.

Buoyancy: Varies

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Level 70 Buoyancy Aid

Level 70 buoyancy aids are intended for use by those who have a means of rescue close at hand, or who are near to bank or shore. These devices have minimal bulk, but cannot be expected to keep the user safe for a long period of time in disturbed water.

US & CAD Harmonized Level 70:

Adult (more than 70 kg) min buoyancy 15.7 lb (70 Newtons)

Adult (60 kg - 70 kg) min buoyancy 14.6 lb (65 Newtons)

Adult (40 kg - 60 kg) min buoyancy 13.5 lb (60 Newtons)

Youth (25 kg - 40 kg) min buoyancy 11.2 lb (50 Newtons)

Child (15 kg - 25 kg) min buoyancy 6.7 lb (30 Newtons)

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Ready to dive in?

Learn more about the different types of inflatable.

Types of Inflatables