In PFDs there are three basic styles.
#1- Inflatables- These are lightweight and do not float you until you hit the water, at which point it inflates and floats you to the top. These are easy to wear but also easy to forget so be aware. It is also important to test them and if it has been inflated once, you have to go buy a new cartridge so it will work next time.
#2- Permanently Buoyant- These are the typical life jackets that are worn. They can be a bit bulky and usually get stowed because of it. A stowed PFD rarely saves a life when compared to one that is worn.
#3- Hybrids- These are a mix of the two types and offer some flotation with being inflated.
The US Coat Guard classifies PFDs into five different types.
Type I- This is a PFD that will float a person right side up in the water. It is typically used in ocean vessels or places where rescue will be a long way off.
Type II- This is similar to a Type I. It doesn't have the same flotation power however and may not right you in the water. These are for offshore uses where rescue may be a bit faster and you can see land.
Type III- This is your typical recreation life jacket. It will float you but won't right you and this should only be used in lakes, not open water, and rescue should be at hand.
Type IV- Remember the life preservers from the Love Boat? Ok, maybe not. Remember the big ring at the lifeguard stand? That's a Type IV. Anything you can throw that will help someone float that isn't worn typically falls under this category.
Type V- These are specialized PFDs for activities like kayaking, skiing, and other water sports.
One last thing before we get to the selections:
Remember that in Texas: