Should Surfers Wear Life Jackets?

Have you ever watched a surfer with so much admiration and fear? You may even ask questions like, "do they have 9 lives..?" Surfers are known for risking their lives amid big waves and big waters without a life jacket on. This may not sit well in the eyes of the viewer, but the truth is that no man is willing to die. Surfers already carry out safety measures before their adventure. 

In this article, we'll get to discover some reasons why surfers don't wear a life jacket and also get to see the importance of getting a life jacket on. Read on to find out! 

Why Surfing Requires No Life Jackets 

Surfing exercises require flexibility, different flips, throws, and chases of waves. Life jackets are not needed by surfers as it prevents their movement on the board. This is a result of several activities done while surfing, which include paddling, duck diving, and different flips. To prevent surfers from drowning and getting pushed down by the whitewater, surfers are required to make use of their duck diving skills. 


Paddling is another important skill that helps surfers catch waves. The ability to maneuver on the board is another skill surfers have, and this helps surf effectively. The use of a life jacket slows down a surfer's speed. 

Ability to Perform Stunts

The ability to throw different stunts and flips also defines a surfer. All these activities can't be carried out on a life jacket as it prevents free movement and effective surfing by putting much pressure on the upper part of the body. This also makes it difficult for surfers to balance and control the board.

Surfers Already Have a Natural Flotation Device

The surfboards are used by surfers and are designed to provide safety. Wearing a life jacket may not necessarily be needed as the surfboards are built to float; they are as well attached to the ankles, giving utmost surfer's safety. 

Also, professional surfers are familiar with surfing etiquette, making it safe for them to surf without a jacket. Due to the floating features of life jackets, drowning is also likely to occur. The sharp-shaped edge helps surfers protect themselves from shark attacks and accidents; additionally, some surfboards have flags that prevent wave movement. 

Strong Swimming Skills and Ocean Knowledge

Surfers are sea-gods who know the ins and outs of the ocean. They also understand the movement of waves, the position of cliffs, currents, tides, and the depth of oceans, and this is the reason why you may not necessarily find them wearing a life jacket.

Most surfers are often good swimmers, too, and every surfer must be one; they should also know how to hold their breath underwater to prevent drowning. 

As a surfer who is familiar with the swimming rules, it's important to follow them to prevent water accidents and surfer collisions. They are also required to understand the water behavior and study the weather to avoid surfing at the wrong time of the season or dangerous depths and currents. The surfing game is not a sport for non-swimmers and, therefore, should be emphasized as often as possible. 

When Surfers Do Wear Life Jackets

Beginners who are new to surfing may need to use life jackets while they learn. They may require guidance and necessary support to prevent water accidents and drowning. Another common case where a life jacket is required is during big wave surfing; surfers may surf over 20 feet high, raising massive power and speed that causes surfers to lose control and balance. 

These waves can also push surfers down into the deep ocean, but with the help of life jackets, surfers can easily apply them to prevent drowning immediately. They may as well use inflatable life jackets, which have carbon dioxide canisters that help revive surfers and keep them safe. 

An amazing feature of surfers' life jackets is that they are lighter and more flexible, which allows surfers to move and perform easily. People who are handicapped and are either physically disabled or crippled are advised and are known for using the life jacket. 

They may experience limited mobility, organization, and planning and may need extra support and assistance in water. It helps them to float, and prevent water accidents and drowning during wipe-out. They should also be monitored closely and guided; other healthy surfers should assist them in catching waves and steering boards and render necessary support while surfing. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Wearing a Life Jacket While Surfing

Using life jackets is not common to professional surfers, but there are cases where it's important for surfers. Some of the benefits are:

  • It guarantees absolute safety and protection of the surfer's life during wipeouts and water accidents and prevents surfer collisions.
  • Life jackets also give surfers comfort and boost surfing confidence. Wearing the Jacket eliminates fears and increases a surfer's self-esteem. 
  • Life Jackets give visible attention to surfers as they are easily seen in cases of collision and drowning.

Some of the drawbacks are:

  • It prevents surfing flexibility as the life jacket might be heavy; this could also prevent them from enjoying the surfing fun. 
  • Using a life jacket looks unprofessional and doesn't put the well-trained surfers in a good spotlight. 
  • While using the life jacket, surfers might be engrossed with the safety it brings, ignoring necessary current limits and dangers during surfing. 

Final Thoughts

The fun of surfing comes in perfecting your skills and understanding necessary surfing challenges and how to overcome them. Safety is an important factor that should be prioritized, and that's where the need for life jackets may come in place. But it's often reported that most professional surfers don't buy the idea of it as it limits their movement, fun, and adventure. 

Since they already have an in-depth knowledge of the water, swimming, and surfing skills in addition to their surfboard, their safety is guaranteed. However, life jackets are still needed for beginners and handicapped surfers, it is therefore essential to understand where the need is required to enjoy surfing and protection.

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

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