Life Rafts 101: Life Raft Types

No matter if you are boarding onto a cruise ship, a sailboat, or a race boat, they all are sea vessels that will be in open water. And what’s the one thing that all vessels ‘should’ have on board? Yes, life rafts.

A life raft is designed and meant to keep crew members, and passengers safe on a vessel that has become uninhabitable and it’s one of the most important equipment to have on your boat during an emergency. The overall general requirements for life rafts are to be able to offer protection for 30 days and stay afloat in any sea state, be launched from a height of 18m and still be in operating condition, and also be durable, resisting repeated jumps from a height of at least 4.5m above the bottom (jumps from people boarding into the life raft).

Life Raft and Survival Equipment, LRSE, offers a variety of life rafts for sales AND rentals.


Life Raft Types

There are 2 major Life Raft Types in LRSE’s website - Recreational Rafts or Commercial Rafts. Both have specifications that every boater should consider before choosing which raft is the best for their vessel.

  • Recreation Life Rafts are intended for lite use and are usually smaller, lighter in weight and are simpler to operate.
  • Commercial Life Rafts are intended for longer term use and are normally larger, heavier in weight, have more features and are meant for multiple crewmembers.

Recreational Rafts

Revere Offshore Elite

Unlike the Crewsaver ISO Ocean under 24hrs, this Revere life raft is a much more suitable life raft for offshore use, it has all of the bells and whistles, having double independent tubes over 11 inches in diameter, automatic inflated canopy and spacious interior to offer the entire crew easy usage and longevity. It’s the most lightweight offshore life raft available at only 54 pounds, yet very durable offering a 12-year limited warranty. This life raft comes in three types of unique packaging: a canister alone or canister and cradle to mount onto your ship, and also in a Valise bag model.


Crewsaver ISO Ocean

Crewsaver ISO Ocean under 24hrs

This life raft is the most popular for recreational/leisure crafts and can be used for coastal and inland waters. This is a cost-effective solution for a life raft that is catered towards the leisure market by a successful design of utilizing minimal deck space. This life raft ranks above the Revere Offshore Elite in size comparison because there are options for 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 person rafts!

Only one of the recreational rafts satisfies the International Standards Organization, (ISO) specification. The ISO 9650 type 1 are more widely available, so the Crewsaver ISO Ocean under 24hrs is a great pick regardless.


Commercial Rafts

Both of our commercial raft models are IBA, Inflatable Buoyant Apparatus life rafts which comply with the Coast Guard’s regulations.


This life raft offers double buoyancy chambers which are constructed from specially formulated polyurethane proofed nylon fabric. This life raft is the best suited for small passenger vessels, high-speed crafts and fishing vessels. This raft can be ordered in the size of 4, 6, or 8 person rafts. This Zodiac life raft comes with equipment pack including but not limited to compact paddles, safety knife, extra batteries, sea anchor, and repair kit. Unlike the Viking USCG IBA (Large Capacity) this raft can come in a low profile hardcover container or in valise, a travel flexible type bag.


Viking USCG IBA (Large Capacity)

This life raft is a rugged and durable safety craft solution for use on commercial vessels operating in US coastal waters. This raft can handle a larger scale of capacity of persons, available to fit 12, 25, 50, 100, or even 150 person size! This life raft only comes in a round container with cradle and hydrostatic release offering one choice, unlike Zodiac IBA USCG that offers two options of how boaters want to store the life raft. Also, this life raft has an award winning boarding ramp for easy access allowing for easy entrance into the raft from the water.


Maintenance and service...

After you have picked which life raft you will take on board on your travels, remember that all life rafts have different spans of servicing periods.

The suggested time periods for inspection and service are every 3 and 5 years. Life Raft and Survival Equipment provides services for life rafts, EPIRBs & PLBs, MOMs, immersion suits, and also training.

Life Raft and Survival Equipment has been servicing and supplying major brands of life rafts, inflatable boats, and safety equipment to the public for over 30 years. We invite you to call us at 1-800 451-2127 or visit our state of art, modern service facility in Tiverton, Rhode Island!


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