The easy answer is a USCG-approved life-jacket that you’re comfortable in – so you’ll wear it. But let’s apply some science. First, 80% of a person’s weight is water, which has no weight in the water, and about 15% is fat, which is lighter than water. Consequently, by subtracting the weight of the body’s water and fat from the total body weight, we end up with the real weight of a person in the water. So, said another way, what should a 60 kilogram woman wear, in case she ends up in the Chesapeake, where her “net weight”, if I may, will be about 6 kilograms – a little more than 13 pounds? Throw in 4lbs of clothes and you’re about 17lbs (or 8 kilograms), soaking wet and immersed. (I rephrased it because a lot of the literature is in kilograms.)

This implies an “N100” rated life-jacket since it can lift 10 kilograms (22lbs) in the water. But there is one additional consideration. All USCG-approved life-jackets have most if not all of their buoyancy up front so, if you get knocked unconscious, there’s a good chance that the life-jacket will turn you over, face up, keeping you from drowning. Some, like this example, also have a cushion behind the head. So, it gives you a little extra protection.Life Jacket

Bottom line, pick one that’ll you’ll wear (try to keep to the bright colors, like orange (so much easier for is to find you then when you’re wearing a dark blue life-jacket in blue water) and that is rated at N100 or higher.

Commodore Vin Pica

BTW, if you are interested in being part of USCG Forces, email me at or go direct to the D1SR Human Resources department, who are in charge of new members matters, at DSO-HR and we will help you “get in this thing…”

We’d appreciate it!