Liferaft Buying Guide - Things To Consider

Buying a liferaft can be a daunting prospect. Here's our guide to the ins & outs of buying a raft, as well as some key features of our best selling liferafts

Liferaft Size. Most of our rafts are available in 4, 6, 8 and 10 person sizes (some also come in larger sizes). Needless to say this is the number of people the raft is designed to fit, so it's worth thinking about the number of people you are likely to have onboard, particularly during extended offshore passages.

Trade Secret. Don't go for a raft that is too big - it may be tempting to think of the extra space but the people in the raft can help form part of its ballast so bigger isn't always better! See more >

The ISO Standard ISO9650. The ISO standard was introduced to help give buyers peace of mind when choosing a raft. This system sets minimum standards for each size of raft, including everything from minimum freeboard to ballast pocket sizes and boarding systems. For some, such as commercial operators, this is not optional and they must have an ISO approved raft, but for leisure operators the ISO standard tells them that the raft has been designed to a recognised standard

Trade Secret. Commercial vessels will require an ISO approved raft, normally containing a SOLAS B survival pack. If you are considering chartering your vessel in the future, you could fall in to this category. It may be worth talking to an MCA surveyor now to avoid a costly raft changes in the future.  There is also an RYA publication that can help. See more >

Servicing & Warranty. Your raft will need servicing, normally every 3 years for leisure use. It will also be covered by a warranty. Much like buying a car, you will need to service the raft in order to uphold the warranty. Rafts are relatively large items that also contain pyrotechnics (flares), so transporting them can be difficult. Servicing can also be quite expensive, but varies between manufacturers. It's therefore worth considering servicing before you buy.

Trade Secret. Our latest Seago Liferafts come with both an industry leading 18 Year Warranty and fixed price servicing. You can also drop it in at any Force 4 Store and pay no carriage to get it to Seago! Find your nearest store here >

Features & Dimensions. We only pick rafts from quality manufacturers, and as a result they all come with the necessary features and equipment for offshore use. Some rafts dimensions and weights may suit you better though, and your local Force 4 store can help advise on the different makes and models available. We can also assist with getting additional items packed in to rafts, and finding a grab bag to accompany your raft.

Trade Secret. Many customers ask us to pack things in to rafts. In most cases we can have this done by the manufacturer (subject to available space etc and also a repacking charge), or we can recommend a suitable accompanying grab bag. This can be particularly important for customers that require regular medication such as insulin. See more >

Valise or Canister. Most of our rafts are available packed in either a valise (a soft bag) or a canister (a hard plastic case). As a rule of thumb, valise rafts should be stored inside the boat, or in a locker. Canister rafts can live outside in a cradle or stored on the deck. Obviously your choice will depend on your individual storage solution, but we do sell a range of cradles and chocks if you are starting from scratch. Generally canister rafts can be installed in a position where no lifting is required, either in a cradle where they can just be pushed overboard, or on deck where they can be largely slid in to the water.

Trade Secret. Many customers choose a canister because they think it covers all bases, but beware, canisters are much harder to lift from lockers and up companionway steps than valise rafts. As one customer said to me after purchasing a canister raft, "I can't lift it, it's like a giant bar of soap!" See more >

Happy Sailing!

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