Do life jackets have expiry dates?

September 09, 2021

Vaikobi life jackets and PFDs

The short answer is no. PFDs, life vests and Life Jackets do not have official expiry dates. 

However frequent use, wear and tear, and prolonged exposure to the elements eventually make life jackets unfit for use. In traditional life jackets, the foam progressively loses its buoyancy and ability to effectively keep the head above water. Inflatable life jackets have carbon dioxide (CO2) tanks responsible for inflation that expire according to manufacturer recommendations. 


How do I know if my life jacket has expired? 

While life jackets don’t have expiry dates, there are several factors to consider when deciding if a PFD has reached the end of its lifespan. Firstly, how long has it been since you bought it and how frequently have you used it? A life jacket that has been used every weekend for two years probably needs replacing. If you are unsure, check out the testing criteria below. 


At-Home Life Jacket Expiry Test 

The easiest way to test whether a foam life jacket has expired is to conduct an in-water test. 

Step 1: Check for visible signs of wear or damage.

Before going near the water, examine your life jacket for tears, mould, the integrity of the stitching, and significant discoloration. If there are visible signs of damage, get your life jacket replaced before you need it next. 

Step 2: Place the life jacket over your body and secure it firmly. Find some waist-deep water.

If the life jacket looks okay from the outside, seek out a pool or a calm beach. These serve as controlled and low-risk life jacket testing environments.

Step 3: Slowly submerge yourself in the water to check flotation ability.

Lift your feet from the sand or pool floor and determine how easy it is to float. If you have to tread water to keep yourself afloat or support your head to breathe, the life jacket is no longer functional. It is likely that the foam inside of your life jacket has degraded and is no longer safe to use. 


How often should life jackets be replaced? 

The answer to this question depends mainly on usage. For dinghy sailors or kayakers who rely on the effectiveness of a PFD every weekend over the summer and winter training periods, lifejackets should be replaced after approximately 12-24 months or when they show signs of significant wear. 

Investing in a specifically designed lifejacket for your watersport offers the best value in safety, longevity, and cost-effectiveness. The Vaikobi PFD Lifejacket collection has a range of purpose-specific and durable life jackets designed to keep up with even the most active paddlers and sailors. 

For dinghy sailors, the VX Race PFD Life Jacket has a minimal, stylish profile made from highly durable material for maximum comfort and performance. Its neoprene shoulder and side panels will provide a lasting firm fit.  

For paddle sports, the V3 Ocean Racing PFD Life Jacket has a super lightweight and breathable design with padded shoulders, form-fitting foam, and a hydration compartment located on the back. All Vaikobi lifejackets are ISO 12402-5 certified (50N buoyancy).

Life jackets stored or used less frequently on yachts and larger vessels don’t need replacing as often. Annual servicing of inflatable PFDs to check that the bladder, Co2 cylinder, reflective tapes, buckles, and straps are in working order is the best way to decide if a replacement is necessary. 

So the bottom-line answer to “do life jackets have an expiry date?” is no, but it doesn’t mean that they will last forever. Keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe on the water by regularly checking and replacing buoyancy aids. 


Check out the Vaikobi PFDs and life jacket collection page to read more about our products. 

Also in News

The Ultimate Guide to Dry Bags and Dry Backpacks for watersports
The Ultimate Guide to Dry Bags and Dry Backpacks for watersports

January 07, 2022

With so many sizes, styles, and options out there, navigating the dry bag and dry backpack market can be difficult. For instance, what size dry bag is suitable for kayaking as opposed to yachting? How much space should you have if you are planning an overnight trip? Are shoulder straps necessary on a dry bag? Vaikobi's chief reporter, Sarah Imlay investigates:.

Continue Reading

New Vaikobi Speed-Grip Boot Collection
New Vaikobi Speed-Grip Boot Collection

December 01, 2021

Meticulously designed to answer the needs of sailors, wingfoilers, paddlers and SUP athletes; these tricked-up Vaikobi sailing boots will be the ocean-addict’s new best friend.

Continue Reading

Vaikobi Xmas Gift Guide 2021
Vaikobi Xmas Gift Guide 2021

November 22, 2021

We've made it easy to get inspired and shop for some new Vaikobi gear to unwrap on Xmas morning. Ideal if you're looking to buy a gift for a sailor or a gift for a paddler.

Continue Reading


XXS   161 167  54 58 76 81 62 66 78 82
XS   165 172  56 63 82 87 66 70 82 89
S   169  176  61 68 88 96 71 76 90 96
M   174 181  66 73 97 104 77 85 97 102
L   178  185  76 85 106 114 86 95 103 108
XL   183  190  86 95 116 122 96 105 109 115
XXL   187  194  96 105 124 132 106 114 116 122


Size HEIGHT (Feet + Inches) WEIGHT (Pounds) CHEST (Inches) WAIST (Inches) HIPS (Inches)
XXS   5'3"  5'6"  119 128 30 32 24.5 26 30.5 32.5
XS   5'5"  5'8"  123 139 32 34.5 26 27.5 32.5 35
S   5'7"  5'9"  135 150 34.5 38 28 30 35.5 38
M   5'9"  5'11"  146 161 38 41 30 33.5 38 40
L 5'10"  6'8"  168 187 41.5 45 34 37.5 40.5 42.5
XL 6'  6'3"  190 209 45.5 48 38 41.5 43 45.5
XXL 6'2"  6'4"  121 232 49 52 41.5 55 45.5 48




Y-S 132 139 30 34 60 65 56 61 68 72
Y-M 140 148  33 39 65 71 61 68 72 78
Y-L 147 155  40 47 70 76 67 73 77 84
Y-XL 152 162 47 54 75 82 72 79 83 89







    HIPS     (IN)
Y-S 4'3" 4'8" 66 75 24 26 24 26 27 28


4'8"  73 86 26 28 26 28 28 31


5'  88 104 28 30 28 30 30 33
Y-XL 5' 5'4" 104 119 30 32 30 32 33 35

Fit Tips

If one of your body measurements is in between two sizes, order the smaller size for a tighter fit or the larger size for a looser fit. If your body measurements for hips and waist correspond to two different suggested sizes, order the one indicated by your hip measurement.

How To Measure

WAIST: Measure around the narrowest part (typically where your body bends side to side), keeping the tape horizontal.
HIPS: Measure around the widest part of your hips, keeping the tape horizontal.
CHEST: Measure the fullest area of your chest. Stand up straight and breath normally.



Vaikobi size guide