Lifejacket vs. PFD

boy with life jacket

Lifejackets and PFDs are often confused. They are both used in case of water accidents, but they are different in a way. When it comes to distinguishing the two, it is all about learning how they work. Each of them works different, and this is what makes them unique.

There are also some differences in the look of lifejackets and personal floatation device. It is all about learning how to tell the difference. In case of a water accident, the main thing is to save a life. Here are some differences between a lifejacket and PFD:

How They Work

life jacketsLifejackets are beneficial when the person is unconscious. The role of the life jacket is to make sure that the person continues to breathe long after they lose consciousness. They work by making the victim stay in an upright position so that they can breathe and not continue drowning.

A PFD, on the other hand, is for conscious people. These devices are meant to keep you calm and stay afloat while waiting for help. In case of a water accident, things can get tense, and a PFD will help you to stay afloat.


Buoyancy is all about how the look and feel. Generally, life jackets have more buoyancy. The buoyancy of life jackets on the front, and this is what keeps you afloat when unconscious.

On the other hand, PFD is still buoyant but not as much as lifejackets. PFDs are, and it is easy to move around when wearing them. In case of a water accident, it is still possible to move around when wearing a PFD because it is comfortable.


The lifejackets and PFDs are different in terms of color. There are safety standards that have been set to make sure that the two devices are different. The standard colors for lifejackets are red, yellow and orange.

When it comes to PFDs, there are no standard colors. However, it is recommended that they have bright colors. The bright colors will be ideal for visibility in case of an accident.



Lifejackets are meant for people who are not a good swimmer. Using a lifejacket can save you if you are not confident about your swimming skills.

A PFD, on the other hand, is meant for seasonal swimmers. They will help you stay safe in case you are not able to swim for one reason or another.

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