A life jacket is indispensable if you want to practice wakeboarding or other water sports. A vest is mandatory for all cable cars in the Netherlands, and you must also provide a life jacket behind the boat. There are specific wakeboard vests (impact vests) but also life jackets that are intended for more general use such as water skiing or on a funtube. A life jacket must fit well, but it must be comfortable. A vest stretches something over time and adjusts to your body. When buying a life jacket, make sure that it is not too loose. In addition to being uncomfortable, this can also be dangerous.
Types of life jackets
There are roughly two types of life jackets:
Impact vests (wakeboard vest)
These vests are light, flexible and have buoyancy, but less than buoyancy vests. The life jacket often has separate panels and is also intended to protect against the "impact" that you can get from a hit on the water or against an obstacle.
Floatation vests (USCGA vest)
Floatation vests have more buoyancy than impact vests (wakeboard vests) but are a lot less comfortable for wakeboarding because they are thicker. Many of these life jackets are CGA approved. A quality mark of the American coastguard that guarantees good motive power and good connection through attractive belts
A life jacket with zipper pulls on and off easily. The zipper can be on the front or on the side. Overhead life jackets have no closure and you have to put them over your head like a t-shirt. You then have no problems with zippers that close badly, open or wear out. Putting it on and taking it off is a bit more difficult, but with the tip to put an arm through the arm hole and then flip over your head it is a lot easier. Many cardigans are fitted with straps. This gives you the option to tighten the life jacket around your waist and to fit it better.
Almost all life jackets are nowadays made from neoprene. This material has the property that it fits well with the body, is soft and flexible. In addition, neoprene keeps your body warm better than traditional nylon life jackets.
Choosing the size
To choose the right size for a life jacket, 3 sizes are important
- Chest circumference: the most important indication for the size. Measured at the widest point.
- The hip circumference: also measured at the widest point
- Body length.
You can then see in the size chart which size would fit best.