Float coats or flotation jackets are jackets that have a built-in floatation device (pfd) used while boating. Sometimes referred to as bomber jackets, these are basically coats and life vests combined. Float coats are most often used when boating in cold conditions. The two major manufacturers of float coats are Mustand Survival and Sterns. Newcomers to the float coat industry include Onyx and Absolute Outdoors, both of which are typically less expensive alternatives. Several considerations should be thought of when choosing the right float coat.
Choosing the Right Float Coat
When looking to purchase a float coat the following list will help you think about what options to weigh.
- If I fell overboard, how cold is the water I might be in? Look for a float coat that can handle waters for your area. Be aware that cold water (less than 70 degrees F can lower your body temperature. Even if you're wearing a PFD, your body can cool down 25 times faster in cold water than in air. An example of a float coat used for cold water is the Mustang Survival Thermofloat Coat.
- Do I need a hood for additional protection? Some hoods are sold separately. Some are attached. The Kent Float Coat is an example of a floatation jacket with a hood.
- Visibility. Does the float coat have Solas reflective tape on it? USCG and Canadian approvals are on certain float coats. Mustang Survival, Classic Bomber Life Jacket W/ SOLAS Reflective Tape, Float Coats, Type III is an example of a float coat with reflective tape.
- Is the float coat breathable? If you are working in your float coat, it might get hot and it is nice to have one that is breathable and waterproof. The Mustang Survival Catalyst is an example of a breathable flotation jacket.
- Do I need a float coat in a large size like 5XL? Large sizes are typically special order, but it is important to get a float coat that will fit you and be buoyant for your size.
- Do I need tight fitting arm bands to keep water at bay? Most float coats come with neoprene cuffs to keep water from intruding
- Do I need a float coat with high visibility? Mustang Survival makes several float coats in ANSI Fluorescent Yellow.
The US Coast Guard recommends carrying two life jackets for offshore sailing, fishing, etc. A Type II or III should be worn under most circumstances and a Type I life jacket
should be carried to be donned when the weather turns bad or for the actual abandon ship situation. There are a variety of float coats on the market, finding one that fits right is important. Contact us if you have any other questions on float coats or pfds.