A "coast guard approved" vest and a "comp vest" (competition vest) are two different types of personal flotation devices (PFDs) designed for specific purposes, and they have distinct characteristics and regulations associated with them. Below we will outline the key difference and what these types of vests are primarily used for.
Coast Guard Approved Vest:
A coast guard approved vest, also known as a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket or PFD, is designed to meet the safety standards set by the United States Coast Guard (USCG). These standards ensure that the PFD provides adequate buoyancy and proper features to enhance the wearer's safety, particularly in emergency situations or water activities.
Coast Guard approved vests are designed for general water safety and are suitable for various water activities, including boating, kayaking, fishing, recreational swimming and water sports. They come in different styles and levels of buoyancy to suit different water conditions and the user's weight range. These vests are required to be worn and maintained according to the regulations of the US Coast Guard. Every person on a boat must have a coast guard approved life jacket on board, and anyone under 13 is required to wear it while on board.
Comp Vest (Competition Vest):
A comp vest, short for competition vest, is a specialized type of personal flotation device designed primarily for water sports athletes participating in wakeboarding, waterskiing, and other similar high-performance water sports. Unlike traditional life jackets, comp vests are designed to provide buoyancy without restricting the wearer's movement or hindering their performance.
Comp vests are often sleeker and more form-fitting compared to traditional life jackets, allowing athletes to have better range of motion and flexibility during their tricks and maneuvers. They prioritize freedom of movement and comfort, which is essential for athletes in competitive water sports. However, it's important to note that comp vests might not provide the same level of buoyancy as coastguard approved vests, which are designed with a primary focus on safety.
In summary, the main differences between a coast guard approved vest and a comp vest are their intended use and design. Coast Guard approved vests are designed to meet strict safety standards and are suitable for a wide range of water activities, prioritizing safety over performance. On the other hand, comp vests are specialized vests designed for competitive water sports, focusing on maintaining the athlete's mobility and agility while still providing some level of buoyancy.