How To Store Life Jackets

How To Store Life Jackets
Spread the love

People who frequently engage  in water activities may decide to invest in their own life jackets. Buying a life jacket can be a great advantage for frequent boaters and swimmers, as it ensures that the wearer can get a jacket in which they truly feel comfortable while wearing.

However, life jacket owners should learn how to store life jackets, so that they last a long time. There are a variety of methods to store life jackets, depending on the amount of space available and the required ease of access.

Storage for Convenient and Frequent Access

During warmer seasons with frequent boating and swimming activities, it is a good idea to store life jackets in a way that they can be easily accessed and properly put away. Depending on the size, type and weight of the jackets, there are a few  common methods for storing life jackets.

One method is to install wooden dowels or PVC pipes that extend perpendicularly from the side of a shed, boathouse or garage about two feet in length. From there, jackets can be hung by the body or by the straps on the poles.

Typically, one pole will support 4-5 life jackets, or more if they are child-sized. This method works for any style of life jacket but works especially well for Type III PFDs.

How To Store Life Jackets

Another common way to see life jackets stored is in a similar manner, but instead of installing separate racks on the side of a shed or boathouse, a free-standing rack is built. This rack consists of three longer pieces of pipe or wood, forming three sides of a rectangle, with two more supports at the bottom of the open end of the rectangle forming a base.

These racks resemble clothing racks in their shape and size, but life jacket racks are typically shorter (around three feet in height).

From there, some types of life jackets can be hung by their neck support, hanging freely over the rack. This type of rack works best for Type 2 PFDs, which are common in boating situations. Type IV PFDs can either be stacked or hung in the same style as life jackets, depending on the material of which they are made and structure of the device.

Off-Season Storage

During the off-season, it may be best to store life jackets out of the way of other equipment that is more fitting for the season. In limited space situations, life jackets can be stored in other ways which are less convenient to access.

Plastic laundry bins are a great solution and can hold 4-5 jackets on a larger shelf. Laundry baskets are ideal for life jackets because they allow any excess moisture to escape through the holes in the basket.

If a storage space is limited in square footage, one solution to store life jackets is to build shelves along one wall and racks along another, allowing for both on and off season storage.


There are certain rules to keep in mind when storing life jackets to increase their lifespan. If the jackets are made of foam, they should be checked for rips where the foam is located and patched immediately.

Open, exposed patches of foam can degrade more quickly, shortening the life of the jacket. Nothing heavy should ever be stacked on life jackets, as this compresses the foam in the jackets and reduces their buoyant capacity. Inflatable life jackets are typically self-inflated by carbon dioxide canisters, so the specific requirements for storing the canisters and the life jackets (especially regarding temperature and exposure to the elements) should be checked before leaving the jacket in a place where it could be damaged.

Carbon dioxide canisters also expire before the jacket becomes unusable, so before the season starts, all inflatable life jackets should be checked for expired canisters.

Life jackets, both foam and inflatable, can be hand-washed in cold water with laundry detergent and hung to dry. This can counter mildew and keep them from smelling. Life jackets should never be machine-washed, tumble-dried or dry-cleaned, as all these things can impact the longevity of the jacket.

Final Thoughts

By properly storing life jackets, boaters and swimmers can preserve their jackets for use for a much longer time, getting the most out of their purchase. Life jackets can be stored in a variety of ways, depending on the season and usage frequency, and should be both stored and cleaned carefully so as to avoid inflicting unnecessary damage.

By following the information in this article, you should have absolutely no trouble at all when it comes to the proper storing of your life jackets.

Click here to add a comment

Leave a comment: