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What’s the Difference Between a Flotation Suit, Flotation Wetsuit, and a Float Suit?

Updated: Apr 22


When it comes to flotation clothing, similar product names can cause confusion for consumers. It’s difficult to tell which product you need for safety or swimming—or what suit works best for adults or children.


To clear up the confusion, we broke down the crucial differences between a flotation suit, flotation wetsuit, and float suit. We describe each garment, what it can be used for, and who should use it.


Flotation Suit

What is it?

A flotation suit (also called a flotation coat or anti-exposure flotation suit) is an above-the-water safety garment made of bright-colored materials (such as yellow, red, or orange). These suits are shaped like bulky rain vests and trousers which have thermal protection, multiple pockets, and belts and loops for attachments. The bright colors are intended to make people easier to see if they fall in the water.


What can you use it for?

Flotation suits are safety devices. They are primarily intended for people working on ships or near bodies of water. The suit provides protection from rain and wind and provides buoyancy if a person falls in the water. It is not made for swimming or water-based recreational activities.


Many flotation suits are certified by the United States Coast Guard as personal flotation devices, so check for certification before purchasing.


Who should use it?

Flotation suits are made primarily for adults.


Flotation Wetsuit

What is it?

A flotation wetsuit is similar to a regular wetsuit but provides more buoyancy for a swimmer to stay above the water. While regular wetsuits are typically made of neoprene materials to provide buoyancy, a flotation wetsuit adds additional buoyant material inserted within the fabric to create extra support for flotation. Like wetsuits, they come in spring suits and full suits and can be used by adults, children, and people with disabilities.


What can you use it for?

Flotation wetsuits are a swim aid and can be used for all water-based recreational activities such as swimming, surfing, boating, and aqua therapy. The unique design of a flotation wetsuit enables swimmers, snorkelers, aqua-therapy patients, and water rescue personnel the ability to swim faster and farther with less effort. Both the casual swimmers and rescue personnel embrace the flotation wetsuit because it provides greater freedom of movement while solving the ongoing problem of water fatigue - allowing one the ability to rest without having to tread water.


Who should use it?

A flotation wetsuit is made for people of all ages (from toddlers on up), people with disabilities, new swimmers, expert swimmers, snorkelers, surfers, etc. for recreational activities in the water. If you're in need of extra buoyancy when swimming, wear a flotation wetsuit. It provides peace of mind and is the solution for all aquatic activities.


Float Suit

What is it?

A float suit is a buoyant swimming costume (flotation swimsuit) for children that is part-swimsuit and part-swimming aid. The float suit uses foam floats on the tummy and back to keep a young swimmer above the water.


What can use it for?

The float suit is a swim aid—not a safety device. It is intended for children to be used in adult-supervised, water-based activities. Float suits often have a center ring of floaties and in some cases also have floaties on the arms.


Who should use it?

Float suits are intended for children between the ages of one and six.


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