Choosing a Lifejacket or Buoyancy Aid

  • Overview
  • Trying on your Buoyancy Aid
  • Lifejacket Inflation methods
  • CE Categories Explained



The type of watersports activity you are about to undertake may determine whether you require a buoyancy aid or lifejacket. A buoyancy aid is mainly used for active surface watersports and would be unsuitable for offshore use, particularly when wearing heavy waterproof clothing. "Newtons (N)" refers to the amount of lift provided by the aid/lifejacket. A 50N rated buoyancy jacket provides 11lbs/5.5kg of buoyancy. A 100N rated buoyancy aid provides 23lbs/11kg of buoyancy.

Buoyancy Aids

Buoyancy Aids

A Buoyancy Aid is just that, an Aid to Buoyancy. It assumes the wearer can, to a degree, help themselves to either swim back to the shore or swim enough to get themselves back to a boat. It therefore assumes that help is close at hand, that the conscious wearer can swim or is comfortable enough in the water to wait for assistance and for this reason usually worn in sheltered waters.



A Lifejacket may help if the wearer is unconscious or unable to help themselves and is almost always the preferred option for sailing coastal waters/offshore. The type of lifejacket worn will be determined by the conditions/ environment and the type of clothing worn and usually provide at least 150 Newtons.

Parents, please note: It is unlikely that a Buoyancy Aid or Lifejacket with two years growing room will be suitable or safe.

All Buoyancy Aid/Lifejackets we sell carry an EN (European Standard) number. Products newly designed, developed and introduced to market will now carry the CE mark and approved to BSEN 12402. These standards, which also have the status of British Standards, are intended to ensure that all Lifejackets sold in this country meet very stringent requirements regarding the design, performance, materials and components used.

The information within this table is a guide only. The final purchasing decision and liability thereof is left to the individual.

Trying on your Buoyancy Aid

Trying on your Buoyancy Aid

When trying on your Buoyancy Aid for the first time, make sure to loosen and undo all the straps. This will make putting it on very easy. You can then tighten the straps to the desired fit.

A buoyancy aid is designed to fit on your chest to give maximum freedom of movement.

Lifejacket Inflation methods

Lifejacket Inflation methods

Manual inflation


All Crewsaver/CSR Air Only Lifejackets sold by Watersports Warehouse can be Manually inflated, by pulling a lanyard. This allows the wearer to swim without the Lifejacket activating automatically. This can be useful if you wade when launching or tending to craft in calm waters.

1. Pull a lanyard.

2. CO2 canister is fired.

3. Jacket inflates.

4. Delivers full buoyancy in approximately 5 seconds.

5. Can also be inflated orally.

Automatic Inflation


This inflation option is available on most Crewsaver/CSR Air Only Lifejackets sold by Watersports Warehouse and provides an alternative to the Hammar Mechanism. Inflation occurs automatically when the paper retaining collar dissolves on contact with water.

1. Capsule fires within 5 seconds of entry into water.

2. Mechanism pierces canister, inflating Lifejackets.

3. Can also be inflated as manual version or orally.

CE Categories Explained

CE Categories Explained

It is important that you pick the correct CE Category to suit your type of activity and experience.


150 Newton Inflatable Lifejacket

Activity: Yachting, Sportsboat, Powerboat (including RIBs). Widely used for providing safety cover for dinghies and by those teaching yachting, sports and powerboat classes.

Suitability: Suitable for Swimmers and Non-swimmers

Conditions: For use in all but the most severe conditions

Assurance: They give reasonable assurance of safety from drowning, to people not fully capable of helping themselves

Protection: May not immediately self-right an unconscious user wearing heavy waterproof clothing. Equivalent performance to previous BSI Approved Lifejackets.

EN (European Standard Number) : EN 396 or EN12402-3


100 Newton FOAM Buoyancy Aid

Activity: Dinghy Sailing, Sportsboat, Powerboat (including RIBs). Ideal for non-active roles on board yachts and motorboats.

Suitability: Swimmers and Non-swimmers in Inshore & Coastal waters

Conditions: They give a reasonable assurance of safety from drowning in relatively calm waters

Assurance: They give a reasonable assurance of safety from drowning in relatively calm waters

Protection: Not guaranteed to self-right an unconscious user wearing waterproof clothing and should not be expected to protect the airway of an unconscious person in rough water.

EN (European Standard Number): EN 395 or EN12402-4


50 Newton FOAM Buoyancy Aid

Activity: Dinghy Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Windsurfing, Waterskiing, Kite Surfing. A variety of active recreational surface watersports.

Suitability: Only suitable for competent swimmers

Conditions: Sheltered water use where help is close at hand.

Assurance: Sheltered water use where help is close at hand.

Protection: Only provides support to conscious people who can help themselves.

EN (European Standard Number): EN 393 or EN12402-5