Impact vest vs life jacket for kitesurfing

What is a good impact vest or floatation vest for kitesurfers? And what is the difference between an impact vest and a floatation vest? Read on and you will know!

What is a Impact Vest?

Impact vest ion vector

An impact vest for kitesurfers protects the upper body from hard impacts on the water. The vest fits snugly against the body or wetsuit so that no water penetrates and the padding in the vest absorbs the impact of the fall. The padding has a slight buoyancy, but is not a life jacket!

Beginners in kitesurfing are often pulled over the board. An Impact vest that protects you from hitting the water is really a solution. Experienced freestylers also wear protection. A fall on the water can be hard, and a vest that fits snugly around your torso will protect so the blow doesn’t hurt your sternum or back. In the winter, it’s also extra protection against the cold.

Well-known brands like Mystic and Ion sell impact vests for kitesurfers. The impact vest seen in the photo is the Ion Vector.

What is a Floating Vest?

Floating Vest

A floatation vest, as the name implies, provides enough buoyancy to stay on the water. Life jackets or floatation vests have a CE mark that indicates buoyancy:

  • 275 Newton
  • 150 Newton
  • 100 Newton
  • 50 Newton

For kitesurfers, 50 Newton (EN 393 ISO 12402-5) is normally used. These are life jackets for people who can swim well and have help nearby in case of emergency. With this life jacket you have enough buoyancy while swimming to the side and you have enough freedom of movement to do sports like kitesurfing and windsurfing. If you are unconscious, this is not enough to stay afloat!

What do you look for when buying?

If you want to buy an impact vest or floatation vest, it’s important to pay attention to a number of things.

First, you have to ask yourself if I want buoyancy or just protection. If you want buoyancy, make sure the vest carries the CE EN 393 ISO 12402-5 quality mark. This is sufficient for kitesurfers to be able to swim back independently or if (emergency) help is nearby.

Also, you can choose whether you want to wear a zipper or one over your head. It’s nice if the vest is narrow at the bottom so you can tuck it under your harness. Make sure the Impact vest fits tightly so you don’t get water between the vest and your neoprene. In short, what do you look for:

  • Buoyancy and / or impact only
  • For buoyancy, look for the quality mark
  • Which closure do you like?
  • The right size is important

Stay safe on the Water! 🙂

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