Kids Life Jacket VS Puddle Jumper VS Swim Vest


Paddle Jumpers vs life jacket or puddle jumpers vs swim vest is one of the most spread debates among people with kids. With the summer rapidly approaching, the time when you’ll be packing your stuff and going to the seaside is almost there. If you have kids, they are most likely looking forward to the trip and counting days to it. Or you’ll be simply visiting a local lake, or boating on a river, it doesn’t matter. It all should be fun and enjoyable, and to ensure it stays that way and avoids any possible water-related problems, it is essential to get a PFD for every kid included.

Now, the problem may come in the shape of the question – what to choose? There are lots of different options, and the question is which one of the swimming aids and flotation devices is the best one for your little ones? This article will lead you through the difference between life jackets for kids, swim vests, and puddle jumpers, so when the time comes you’ll already know what you want.

Things You Have To Know

First of all, not all kids are the same. Their bodies can vary, so it is important to fit the size well. Also, it is good to know how skilled every kid is when it comes to swimming, because some kids may like to spend the most time in the water, swimming, while the others won’t be so thrilled about going the distance and would love to stay close to the shore, so it is important to find the best option for their activity.

Life Jackets

This personal flotation device is made of waterproof and buoyant material, so it keeps your head above the water surface. These are available in all imaginable sizes – from infant life jackets, toddlers, to numerous sizes for adults. They are mostly used for boating combined with boating safety guidelines, or when swimming in open water. Some states require them to be worn by kids younger than 13 when abroad.

When it comes to availability, most stores that sell sports equipment have these in their offer, and you may also find life jackets online, but be sure you’ve read the product description.

But the essential pro argument for life jackets is the fact that they are approved by the Coast Guard. This means they’ve been tested, so when buying one, make sure it says that. It should also come with manual instruction that shows how to wear it properly and how to use other possible features.

There are three types of life jackets:

  • The first one, Type I, is made for rough waters, so unless you plan on going to the white water rafting or something similar, you probably won’t need it. They look bulky but have the most buoyancy and they’ll turn the person face-up if they lose their consciousness.
  • Type II is a bit more comfortable to wear but also less buoyant. These are used when a boater is alone, or when the nearest help is far away. Also, these are recommended for kids (or adults) that don’t know how to swim or those who are not sure about their swimming skills and who don’t feel completely comfortable when in the water.
  • Type III life jackets are the most comfortable, but not so buoyant. Mostly used on occasions when multiple people are being aboard at the same time, they are also recommended for kids who know how to swim as they’ll keep them above the surface, but they don’t tend to flip a person to their back as the other two do.

Puddle Jumpers

If you take a life jacket, swim aid, and combine these two with a swim vest, you’ll get a puddle jumper. It works the way it uses arm floats attached to a small vest, you should then strap on around the kid’s chests to lock it down.

It is easy to wear, lightweight, and it is designed for kids between 30 and 50 pounds. The materials used for puddle jumpers are comfortable, so the kids shouldn’t have any difficulties wearing these.

They help to keep the chest and arms above the water while allowing a natural swimming touch to develop. The good thing is the fact that they are most often approved by the Coast Guard which sees them as Type III PFD.

The ease of use, combined with the comfort they provide and their stability makes them the most popular option for keeping the kids safe while having fun in the water.

Swim Vest

Unlike a life jacket and puddle jumper, a swim vest is not a personal flotation device. It is a swim aid. They are not Coast Guard approved because they won’t keep the kid’s head above the water.

If your goal is to teach your kid how to swim, toddler swim vests are your “go-to” option. They’ll keep the child comfortable and help them concentrate on the swimming itself.

Swim vests are made of neoprene material and they’ll provide warmth and buoyancy. The size could vary, and putting them on is easy – there is a strap that goes between the legs that you buckle to the vest to keep it on your kid.

You might also like:  Guide On How To Choose A Life Jacket

Which One Is The Best One?


The first step in achieving a high safety level for your kids is to teach them to follow a safety guide. Then, it is time to turn to safety swimwear and gear.

To answer the question of which one is the best floating device, you’ll have to know what you’re going to do on your vacation.

If you plan on going somewhere where the chance of falling into water is higher than usual, like rafting or boating or sailing, or even kayaking with kids, a life jacket is the best choice.

If you’re going somewhere where you’d love your kid to stay safe while also being able to swim and have fun while in the water, then the puddle jumper is the one for you.

And if the goal is to teach your kid how to swim with you being alongside and watching closely, a swim vest is recommended.

Globo Surf Overview

Water is fun, but if we’re not careful enough it may be really dangerous. To avoid these dangers, it is always recommended to use PFD for your kids. Although it won’t be enough just by itself and you’ll still have to pay undivided attention to your kid’s actions, PFD will most definitely help. Which one? In the topic puddle jumper vs life jacket and puddle jumper vs swim vest, the only answer is – go with what fits you and your needs the best.

More Life Jacket Safety Guides: