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Are Comp Vests Legal in Michigan?

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  • Are Comp Vests Legal in Michigan?

    I’ve tried to look this up on the MDNR website and a few other places, but cannot find a definitive answer:

    I have always understood that in MI a person being towed simply has to have a USGC approved life vest on board the boat. Wearing it was optional, and thus comp vests could be perfectly legal provided you have another vest in the boat. However, I had two different people tell me last summer that this changed fairly recently and that now it is required for any person being towed (or even propelled by a boat’s wake as is the case with surfing) wear a USCG vest.

    I’m basically looking for confirmation on this. And, also curious if there’s an age limit, as I’d like to get my daughter a comp vest if it’s legal, because all the USCG vests we’ve found for her are pretty bulky.

    Conversely, I would also be very interested in recommendations on the least bulky USCG approved youth vests folks have found.

  • #2
    Based on my search it looks like you have to have a USCG approved Type I, II, or III for each person on board and that you must be wearing one when being towed by a vessel or while riding/being towed by a PWC (inflatable types are not allowed for towing or PWC). All children under 6 have to wear one all the time on the boat.

    So short answer, nope, you'd probably end up with a ticket if a DNR officer decided to check.

    https://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,4570,...ile%20underway.


    There are some high-quality USCG vests out there, I love my Ronix Capella vest, it's longer and slimmer than any other USCG I've used. Not sure if they have a youth version.
    Edit: found this "Teen" sized Capella vest: https://www.amazon.com/Ronix-Drivers.../dp/B09K4BYGPW
    Tim
    2021 Lone Star MasterBash
    Ohio State Engineering - Go Bucks
    1998 MC MariStar 225VRS
    1995 MC ProStar 205
    ISO MC 205V/XStar/X2/X1

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    • #3
      Not legal here in WI either, but our whole family wears the Phase 5 Comp Vests. So much more comfortable when on the surfboard for 20+ minutes per ride. Our lake is minimally patrolled; so not sure if DNR would check for USCG or not. I'll pay the ticket if they do.

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      • #4
        It has always been my understanding that they do not meet the letter of the law and you could get a ticket for it. That said I've been wearing one for at least 15 years and never got a ticket.

        As far as a child goes IDK, I didn't start letting my kids wear comp vest until they were 14 or 15 and they spent all summer on the lake and were strong swimmers. For guests it's always CGA vests regardless of what they want unless they show up with one of their own.

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        • #5
          We are 100% MI boaters. I spoke with the marine sheriff on our lake (Coldwater, near IN), and he said that every person in the boat needs to have a USCG approved device in the boat. He said device because some cushions actually count. My wife and I ski / board / surf in comp vests. In addition, he said that he would not stop a boater for towing someone with a comp vest, BUT my understanding of the MI law is that comp vests are basically useless unless you want to float around. Another crappy MI life jacket rule: any person under the age of 6 must have a life jacket with the head restraint! We break this rule every time we are on the boat. But it is a rule.

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          • #6
            So no they are not legal in Michigan.

            This is the one that regulates if a comp vest is legal;
            "Each person riding on a PWC or being towed behind a PWC or other vessel must wear a USCG–approved Type I, II, or III personal flotation device. Inflatable PFDs are not allowed on PWC or while being towed behind PWC or other vessels."

            That said I exclusively ski with a non-USCG vest - but I'd recommend something like the O'Neill Revenge Comp - it looks like a USCG vest and honestly floats like one. I'd avoid anything that is very clearly not a USCG vest behind the boat.

            But what's going to get you checked out is how you operate the boat more than the vests themselves. If you're are acting like a dick you'll get messed w/.





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