Can You Cliff Dive With a Life Jacket?

Jumping off high places is probably one of the strangest compulsions you get when looking down from crazy high places. Every human feels it at least once, and overcoming this urge is usually how we know how we will react to hights. However, there are a few places and ways that you can safely jump from somewhere high up. One place that has been popular since the dawning of our ability to swim is jumping from a high place into a lake or body of water.

You cannot cliff dive with a life jacket, and you will get hurt or possibly drown from the damage the life jacket will cause. Cliff diving is not something you should be doing if you still require a life jacket to swim safely. It should only be done if you have the utmost confidence in your ability to swim and hold your breath.

There are many reasons that you should not jump off high places with a life jacket, and understanding them all will mean you are much less likely to hurt yourself. The inherent danger of jumping into the water from any high place makes it so much more dangerous to use life jackets while cliff diving; not only is it a lot more difficult to dive, it can be deadly.

Diving with a life jacket is never a good idea, and here is everything you need to know about it.

Why will it not work?

When you cliff dive, you will usually have to have almost perfect form to do it properly or simply enter the water feet first. This is to break the water and ensure that it does not hit you as hard as a rock, with your hands or feet serving to break the immediate water tension.

You may see cliff divers throw in rocks ahead of their jumps to serve the same purpose if the water is too tranquil. It is the same reason you may not see this being done in the ocean, where ocean waves break the water tension. Even in these events, cliff diving with a life jacket can be extremely dangerous.

The jacket is designed to purposefully stay at the top of the water, which means that it will refuse to sink at all. When you hit the water, the life jacket will push you up and stop you from sinking safely into the water, thus absorbing all your momentum. The life jacket pulls and tightens around you, preventing you from safely cliff diving.

What is the reason people on boats have to wear life jackets?

While on a boat, things can be fun, and usually, some rough waves will be hit at speeds. This causes people in the boat to sometimes lose their footing. Whenever someone is on the water, it is highly recommended that you know how to swim, but sometimes people who cannot are out on boats. It is for these two reasons that life jackets are worn when out on lakes or the ocean.

The life jackets’ purpose is to keep people afloat if they accidentally hurt their head while falling in the water. Further, if the water body is quite large, the life vest will help keep people afloat and ensure that they do not get tired while having to stay afloat while in the water. Something it is vital to do when lost in the ocean or a great lake.

These are just a few basics of why people wear life jackets while on a boat, and most countries will have laws that require people to wear a life jacket on smaller boats. Usually on larger boats that are safer to be on and much more stable will have fewer laws on when a life jacket must be worn.

How does a life jacket hurt you if you jump from high up?

When you first wear a life jacket and experience how it keeps you afloat in the water, you may wonder how exactly it will hurt when jumping from a higher place. Usually, there are four things that can happen when you jump from such a height that causes you to be hurt by the life jacket.

  • Tearing: When you jump into the water from a height, the life jacket will tear at your skin and body. Usually causing scarring and several bruises to form if you have it just loosely tied on. This tearing is caused by the sudden impact with the water and the life jacket not sinking into the water at all, usually refusing to even go a few inches under the water.
  • Snapping: There are several straps and clasps on life jackets that will ensure the jacket stays on your body. This is amazing if you are jumping or falling into the water from only a few meters. However, if you are cliff diving, these straps may break and pinch your body with sudden force.
  • Pulling: Few people realize that the life jacket will pull on your body as you sink into the water from almost any height. This is even worse when cliff diving, where the height of the jump can cause straps to break and the life jacket to become so entangled that the life jacket will pull you upwards, which can cause strangling and other dangers.
  • Cords: All life jackets have some type of cord on them, sometimes they simply go around your waist, and others have more complex systems that go around your hips and through your legs. These cords would tear off and become entangled around your neck and face if you were to cliff dive. Causing breathing problems and even strangling you as you try to swim up for air.

What are the types of life jackets most commonly used?

There are several life jackets that you will encounter in the world. Some are only used in emergencies, and some are only for decoration on your uncle’s boat. Each life jacket serves a purpose, and several things will set them apart. However, that being said, there are only two types of life jackets that you will have easy access to.

These would be sponge based life jackets and inflatable life jackets, each type being used while out playing with boats or just fishing on a lazy afternoon.


This is the most well-known life jacket and is usually quite big and bulky. It will be made out of canvas and have an extremely lightweight and water-resistant sponge in the middle. These are the most affordable and also the most effective life jackets on the market.

Even the smallest ones can help in some way to keep most grown men afloat, if not entirely, in a safe manner. This is why they are standard on every type of vessel that can go on the water, usually required by law to be worn by anyone on that vessel.


These are rarer and a lot more loved by those spending much of their lives on a boat. This is because, in their uninflated state, inflatable life jackets are quite small and will not impede movement to a larger degree. Usually only becoming impending once the cord has been pulled to inflate the jacket.

You may think these can be word while cliff jumping, but these vests are not entirely capable of keeping you afloat if you do not already know how to swim. These work more as assistants to keep you afloat.


Cliff jumping is one of the most dangerous things that almost everyone near a lake has done at least a dozen times. If you cannot swim, it is not something you should even attempt, and no life jacket will ever offer you the safety and stability required to do so properly.

Just be sure not to try and jump onto an inflatable either; they are not made for sudden changes in pressure of that magnitude.

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