If you work in a profession where your employees’ lives are in your hands–particularly if you work around open bodies of water–you need to be sure that all of your gear is not only up-to-date, but of the highest quality. Trusting your crew to anything less than this can result in equipment failure, and even put your employees at risk. So when it comes to working around (or within) large bodies of water, you’ll need to not only know the difference between aviation vs. marine life rafts, but also when each one is applicable–and which one is best for your circumstances. By examining what to look for in a life raft–both aviation and marine–you can set yourself up with equipment you trust with the lives of your crew as well as yourself.  

The peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve invested in the highest quality protective gear is unparalleled. Knowing your crew is prepared in the event of an emergency means you can spend less time worrying about avoidable problems like equipment failure and more time on logistics, rescue, and communications. The professionals at the Life Raft Store specializes in life rafts of all magnitudes–get your questions answered today at 321-821-4724 and get your crew on track for success in the event of an accident!

What Is an Aviation Life Raft?

Aviation life rafts are compact, easily deployed life rafts that often can fit inside a case the size of a small briefcase. These lightweight, inflatable life rafts typically weigh around 20 pounds and are an essential piece of safety equipment for vessels flying over open water areas, such as the ocean or lakes. Why add any extra stress when flying in dangerous circumstances? With a life raft aboard, you will experience the peace of mind that comes with knowing you’ve done your due diligence to protect yourself and your crew. 

Examples of aviation life rafts include: 

 - Winslow Dualsafe models 

 - Winslow Offshore Light models 

-  And the basic Winslow Rescue Raft

What Is a Marine Life Raft?

A marine life raft is a flotation device–either inflatable or a dingy–that is meant to support passengers in the event their ship catches fire or sinks. Marine life rafts are best utilized when they are able to withstand unfavorable elements, such as extreme wind or wave activity.  

Examples of marine life rafts include: 

- Winslow models 

- Switlik models

- Or Revere Survival models

When Is a Life Raft Required?

For marine adventures, a life raft capable of accommodating the total number of people on board is required any time the vessel goes further than 12 miles off the coastline. (For more on the requirements for maritime expeditions, check out this resource from Cornell Law.) 

In aviation, a life raft is required similarly to be able to accommodate every person on board any time the vessel travels 50 nautical miles or more beyond the shore. (For more on the regulations around this topic, please reference the Code of Federal Regulations.)    

Who Needs Life Rafts as Part of Their Daily SOPs?

Whether you're cruising through the choppy waters of the ocean or soaring high above the clouds, unpredictable circumstances can leave even the most experienced captains or pilots in need of help. In situations like these, marine and aviation life rafts become essential pieces of equipment to ensure your survival. These life rafts are specially designed to protect you and your crew from the harsh elements of the environment by providing shelter and safety until rescue occurs.

Are Life Rafts Considered Dangerous Goods?

While it might seem counterintuitive to call a life-saving device a “dangerous good,” due to the CO2 canisters within the casings, life rafts do in fact make this qualification. Like any piece of equipment, training and proper use is essential in order for it to be effective and to be utilized as it is intended.

Why Pilots and Boat Captains Need Life Rafts

Pilots and boat captains who operate in remote areas or those who travel long distances should prioritize having marine or aviation life rafts on board their vessels.. When traveling offshore, weather conditions can quickly turn from fair to dangerous, and emergency situations can arise without warning. In these cases, marine life rafts offer protection from hypothermia and dehydration due to their built-in shelter and survival equipment, while aviation life rafts provide flotation and rescue signaling devices to quickly alert nearby rescue teams. Investing in a dependable life raft can make all the difference between life and death in distressed situations.

What to Look for in a Quality Life Raft

When it comes to survival in the open water or in the event of an aviation accident, having a quality life raft can make all the difference. But what should you be looking for in a life raft? For both aviation and marine life rafts, durability should be a top priority. These rafts must be able to withstand the harsh conditions of the open ocean. A quality raft should also be easy to inflate and deploy in a timely manner, which is especially important in emergency situations.

Aviation Life Rafts

In the world of aviation, life rafts are a must-have for pilots and their passengers. The raft should be compact and lightweight for easy storage in the cockpit. It should also be equipped with a canopy and a sea anchor to protect occupants from the elements and provide stability in rough waters.  Here are some factors to look for in a quality aviation life raft: 

- Good capacity 

- Reliable performance

- Fast inflation time

- Superior buoyancy

- Durable materials

- Highly recommended from other pilots

- Lightweight, easily stowable design

- Reflective, with flares

Marine Life Rafts

Marine life rafts, on the other hand, must be larger and have a higher capacity to accommodate entire crews. These rafts are designed to be kept on board for extended periods of time, so they should be equipped with supplies, such as food, water, and emergency signaling equipment. Here’s what to look for in a good marine life raft:

- Durable–ideally very sturdy life rafts or dinghies

- Reflective, with flares

- Sufficient quantity on board to support every crewmember

- Reliably buoyant

- Relatively simple to operate

-Highly recommended from other captains

Can You Rent Life Rafts?

For pilots or captains who experience seasonal or contracted work, you may be wondering if it is possible to rent life rafts rather than to buy them outright–as they are not cheaply made and their price often reflects that. Should you ever find yourself stranded in the open ocean, you would likely be glad you spent the extra couple hundred dollars splurging on a quality life raft. But did you know you can rent life rafts as well? The Life Raft Store is your go-to destination for life raft rentals, offering dependable, quality life rafts at a fraction of the cost!

Best Life Raft for Pilots and Captains at The Life Raft Store

Whether you are a captain or a pilot, having a quality life raft on board could be the difference between life and death. It's important to do your research and invest in a reliable and sturdy raft that can withstand the elements and provide protection in emergency situations. Don't take any chances when it comes to survival, and make sure you have a quality life raft on board! You can experience the confidence boost that comes with knowing you’ve taken care of yourself and your team by investing in quality safety materials. If you have any doubts about your choice in life raft or just want to talk shop with the experienced team at The Life Raft Store, contact us today at 321-821-4724 or shop our top quality life rafts here to learn more!  

For more related gear you might also want to invest in, check out these highly-rated options:

- Personal locator beacons

- Life jackets

- Marine flares

- Immersion suits

- Dye markers

- Marine radios, and more!