What Are The Characteristics of a Type 3 PFD? It Won’t Turn You Over!

Which is a characteristic of type III life jacket?

The United States Coast Guard requires you to wear a personal flotation device when paddle boarding outside areas designated for swimming, bathing or surfing.

In our article on paddle boarding life jacket requirements, we looked at Types I, II, III and V life jackets. You can read that article to see what every type of life jacket looks like.

The Type 3 life jacket is the most popular for paddle boarding. But first, you might want to know why this is so. Why not type II, or type V PFD? What is a characteristic of a type III PFD?

Keep reading. We will see everything you need to know about it.

Type 3 PFD Characteristics

The main characteristic of the type 3 PFD is that it is designed to be worn by conscious people with a high chance of being rescued. This personal flotation device will not turn you over if you fall into the water head first, probably after losing consciousness if you hit your head on the board.

Also read: Are inflatable surfboards any good?

Since you cannot go too far into deep water when you are paddle boarding, the PFD can keep you afloat until help comes.

A common type III life jacket is the Body Glove Adult Water Life Vest that you can buy on Amazon.com.


a)The general design of the type 3 life jacket

These jackets are simplistic by design. They come with a zipper and buckle closure or they can come with a front buckle alone.

The most important characteristic of a PFD is its buoyancy rating. The Type 3 PFD is designed with the same buoyancy as a Type II life jacket.

Their buoyancy rate is higher than 15.5 pounds. However, it cannot turn you to face upward as a Type 2 PFD would.

You might wonder how such a low buoyancy rate can support your entire body in the water, without sinking.

It is a no-brainer really. You can get one with a higher buoyancy rate. For instance, your body is 75% water. You can also remember that you have about 15% body fat.

If you do simple math based on your weight, you can find out what buoyancy rating you need to get in your life vest/jacket.

When you are buying a type 3 life jacket, check the weight rating for it. it is better to have higher buoyancy rating than less.

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Still on the design, while this PFD will not turn you to face upwards, it is designed to make you fully mobile. Even if you fall face first into the water, it is easier to maneuver yourself to face upward.

Because of its flexible design, this PFD is more wearable when you are doing surface water sports.

Since paddle boarding requires you to move the whole body even when steering, you need a life jacket that can allow such movement.

Designed for use in calm waters

To be safe when you are enjoying your water sports, you need to use your equipment for the environment they are designed for.

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Since the Type 3 PFD does not turn you upright, if you become incapacitated in rough water, you can drown easily.

To avoid this, only use it when you are having fun in fairly calm waters such as lakes, rivers, close to the shore and dams. If you fall in calm water, you can turn yourself to face upwards easily.

Best material for a Type III life jacket

The most used material for life jackets is nylon. It is strong and affordable. However, today, you can even find life jackets that are made of neoprene material and they are a slightly more expensive.

The key thing is that both neoprene and nylon material are super light in weight. Even when they absorb water, it is to the minimum.

Neoprene is the same material used to make wet suits for snorkeling, diving and swimming, and most water shoes.

Nylon or neoprene material is used for the outer shell. On the front side, the manufacturers enclose PVC foam and on the back, they enclose EPE foam. EPE means expanded polyethylene, one of the best lightweight foams in the market.

It is rare to find a PFD with metal buckles because they tend to rust too fast. The best PFDs come with plastic buckles.

When buying your type 3 personal flotation device, get one with two or more straps/belts, with high quality plastic buckles. The width of the belts should be about 1.5 inches. Some life jackets come with up to four belts.

Disadvantages of a Type III Life Jacket

We cannot discuss all the benefits of a type 3 PFD, without looking at some of its downsides, and there are a few.

The biggest one is that this flotation device does not turn up to face upward. Thus, if you fall off a boat, a hard or inflatable paddle board due to incapacitation, you can drown easily.

Most people ask: What is the key characteristic of a life jacket? The answer is the ability to turn you over so that you can face upward. This is the only way you can be able to breathe properly and avoid drowning.

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The type 3 PFD does not do this, so it is advisable to use it in places where rescue would not take too long to come to you.

Enjoy water sports close to the shore and most importantly, do not go out to the open water alone. Go in a group.

Keep your life jacket in serviceable condition

Buying a USCG-approved life jacket is not enough. You also need to keep it in great shape all the time. Inspect the seams all the time, the stitches and the material for perforations.

Ensure the belts are in good shape and the buckles hold fast, without slipping from their holds. If there is a defect with the life jacket, it might not do a good job of keeping you afloat in the water.

Also, when you are buying the PFD, look for one that comes with a whistle, since this is one of the must-have tools according to the USCG. You also need to carry a flashlight.

Type III Life Jacket Characteristics FAQ

Life jackets come in different sizes, materials and buoyancy. For a beginner, it can be hard to buy one. These frequently asked questions and their answers will help you make a decision.

What are the characteristics of a life jacket?

Some of the most obvious things about life jackets is the bright, and reflective color used on them. This is what makes them visible from a distance and in lowly-lit conditions.

Another thing is the material used to make the life jackets. This is durable PVC material. It is also repairable, especially when the flotation device is not too old.

An important characteristic of a life jacket is buoyancy. In fact, all personal flotation devices work on this principle.

An object floats on water by displacing an amount of water equal to its weight. However, a life jacket comes with foam blocks, so you displace less water when floating.

A buoyancy rating of 15.5 pounds is very good. You will float with almost all of your body on the water since you won’t displace too much of it.

What does USCG Type III mean?

This means that the Type III life jacket is approved by the United States Coast Guard. It is approved for the use in stand up paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing and other water activities in areas where you can be rescued fast if there is an accident.

This type of life jacket is good for water skiing, fishing and boating. The Type 3 PFD does not turn you over if you fall into the water unconscious. It can only help you float in water or even tread water until rescue comes.

When selecting a life jacket what should be the most important consideration?

Some of the most vital considerations when buying a life jacket is the intended use. For instance, if you will be boating in the middle of the ocean, a Type I life jacket might be better than a Type II or III. It can turn you over, which is very helpful if you fall into the water unconscious.

It is also very important that your jacket fit you properly. Because of the tug and pull of the water currents, it is possible for the jacket to slip off if it is too big.

Even when you are buying it online, you can still find the size and fitting information in the product description.

What are Type 1 2 and 3 life jackets?

What are Type 1 2 and 3 life jackets

These are the most commonly bought life jackets for different types of water activities. When ordering yours, please make sure it is USCG-approved.

Type 1 life jacket – It is recommended for people who engage in boating, shipping and other water activities that take them far off-shore. The type 1 life jacket can turn you upside so that you don’t inhale water into your lungs.

Type 2  – With a buoyancy rating of higher than 15.5 pounds, this is one of the most favorite life jackets.

It is not as bulky as the type I PFD, but it too can turn you upwards if you fall into the water unconscious. You will float on your back until rescue comes.

Type 3 life jacket – This is one of the favorites for people who are looking to enjoy stand up paddle boarding, surfing, fishing and other water sports that don’t take them too far off shore. They are designed to be used in places where rescue can get to you fast.

The Type 3 PFD are comfortable to wear for a long time. Even if you wear it all the time you will be on the water, it won’t make you feel too exhausted after paddle boarding.

What is the difference between a life jacket and a life vest?

There is not much difference between a life vest and a life jacket. Indeed, they are just different terms for more or less of the same thing.

Both the life vest and the life jacket are PFD – personal flotation device. By including the word “personal” it means you wear it on your person. And this applies to both the life jacket and the life vest.

In some instances, both the life vest or jacket will be referred to as personal flotation aids. They are the same thing.

The only difference is the levels, buoyancy rating and intended use. For instance, Type I and Type II life jackets are best for unconscious people. They turn one over so that their face is upward.

Type III life jacket is designed for use by a conscious person as is the type IV.

Wrapping Up: Which Is A Characteristic Of Type III Life Jacket?

The main characteristic of a type III life jacket is that it keeps you afloat while you are conscious, until rescue comes.

This PFD cannot turn you over in the water, so you will need to be in a condition in such a way that you can turn yourself, so your face can look upward.

Another characteristic of a type III PFD is that it allows more movement. You need this kind of flexibility for different surface water sports.

If you would like to buy a Type III life jacket, order O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG Life Vest on Amazon.com.

The USCG regulations require you to have it on board your SUP if you are older than 12 years and you are paddle boarding out of swimming, bathing or surfing zones.

For SUP enthusiasts below 12 years, they should wear their PFD all the time, even when in zones designed for surfing, bathing or swimming.

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