Tech Editor and safety gear specialist Fox Morgan picks out some of the best liferafts for sailboats in the offshore ISO9650-1 category

We hope to never use some of the safety gear we have onboard, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make some informed choices. I’ve picked out some of the best ISO9650-1 liferafts for sailboats and especially those who go further offshore or crossing oceans, racing or rallying long distances.

All of the rafts in my guide have options for canister or valise and come in sizes from 4 person to 12 person capacity. Given the size and weight of 12 man rafts, boats with full crews onboard often opt for two smaller rafts, such as 2 x 6 man to make them easier to handle and easier to stow. You can buy one and rent one too, so if most of the time there’s no more than six of you onboard but sometimes you go fully crewed, then supplementing with an additional rental raft can be a good solution. I’ve clambered aboard many liferafts in my time as a professional and corinthian sailor, getting in up that ladder has never got easier no matter how many times I practice. If you have the choice I highly recommend a raft with either a semi rigid or inflatable entrance ramp.


Ocean Safety Ocean ISO9650-1 Liferaft

Reason to buy

trusted name in the industry, variety of packs to meet all current sailing event requirements, 20 year warranty

Reasons to avoid

a premium liferaft with a premium price tag.


4 man liferaft

Container Dimensions (cm) 71 x 49 x 28

Container Weight (kg) 30

Valise Dimensions (cm) 67 x 42 x 24

Valise Weight (kg) 28

6 Man liferaft

Container Dimensions (cm) 71 x 49 x 28

Container Weight (kg) 37

Valise Dimensions (cm) 74 x 43 x 24

Valise Weight (kg) 36

4 Person Ocean Safety Ocean ISO9650-1 Liferaft <24

The Ocean Safety Ocean liferaft  is made with PU Nylon Laminate. It has an insulated floor and is suitable for use in temperatures down to minus 15 degrees C.
It has a less than 24 hour equipment pack as standard, but it can be upgraded to either a greater than 24 hour pack or SOLAS B.

We’ll be testing this liferaft along with others in the buyers guide in a hands on real world test this summer.

Key Features of the Ocean Safety Ocean ISO Liferaft

The less than 24 hSOLAS approved internal and external lighting system

Strong boarding ladder with knee scoop & grab handles for quick boarding
Highly visible in yellow and orange
Rain water collection
4/5 x 75ltr ballast pockets for increased stability (300 litres ballast for the 4 man)
3 year service interval, 20 year warranty

equipment pack contains: 1 x Buoyant Knife, 1 x Bailer, 2 x Sponge, 1 x Paddle (pair) 1 x Whistle, 1 x Torch & Spares, 1 x Heliograph, Anti Seasickness Tablets (6pp), Seasickness bag (1pp), 3 x Red Handheld Flare, 2 x Parachute Rocket Flare, 2 x Repair Kit (Clam Seal), 1 x Bellows, 1 x Throwing Line (30m), 1 x Signal Card, 1 x Sea Survival Instructions, 1 x Repair Plugs (set), 1 x Immediate Action Cards.

Buy it now

Waypoint ISO 9650-1 Ocean Elite Liferaft

Reason to buy

SOLAS approved external and internal LED lights with lithium battery and manual control, Pictograms are used for instructions,

Reasons to avoid

at the top end of the price scale


Cannister 4, 6 or 8 man

Weighs 28kg

Fully tested to the ISO 9650-1 Group A specs, the Waypoint ISO 9650-1 Ocean Elite liferaft is extremely well built and designed for the toughest sea conditions.
This is one of the best liferafts in the market today for the ocean sailor.
It complies and exceeds the ISO 9650-1 Group A regulations for < 24 hrs and also > 24 hrs (with additional extra equipment).

It meets the MCA code of practice and complies with the ISAF regulations for Ocean Racing worldwide.

Made with PU laminate.
Constructed with 4 independent chambers. Two tubes, an inflatable boarding ramp and an arch that deploy automatically.
The waypoint has a large inflatable boarding ramp which makes boarding easier than the more simplistic models with a ladder only. If you’ve tried climbing into a liferaft during a sea survival pool drill, you’ll know how hard gettinginto a liferaft can be so the inflatable ramp is worth the extra you’ll pay for this higher specified model of raft.

It has a double floor with triple thermal insulatation.
4 large, (75 litres each) water ballast pockets underneath.
Bright nylon Flo orange self erecting canopy, with a large zip operated entrance, which also has a large overlapping flap to stop water entering in extreme weather conditions.

Strips of Solas reflective tape on all the sides of the canopy and on the floor make the liferaft visible in the dark from any angle, including if capsized.

Safety Contents: 1 x Rescue Quoit & 30 m. Line, 1 x Sea Anchor & 30 m. Line, 1 x Flo Orange Floating Safety Knife, 2 x Paddles, 1 x Bailer, 2 x Sponges, 1 x Pump (bellows), 1 x Repair Kit, 1 x Whistle, 1 x Table of rescue signals, 1 x Heliograph (Signalling mirror), 1 x Fishing Kit, 2 x Waterproof Solas Floating LED Torch, spare battery and bulb., 3 x Red Hand Flares, 2 x Parachute Flares, 1 x Liferaft Manual with survival instructions, 6 x Anti Sea Sickness Tablets per Person, 2 litre water collection graduated bag with tap, Graduated cup, 1 x Sea sickness bag per person

Buy it now

Seago Sea Master ISO 9650-1 Liferaft

Reason to buy

more affordable than some other iso 9560-1 liferafts, inflatable door ramp

Reasons to avoid

black tubes may be less visible than others with brighter tubes.

Specifications: Valise Container

Sizes – 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 person

Valise |  Container
4 man : L650 x W300 x H420 | L730 x W490 x H310
6 man : L720 x W340 x H460 |  L730 x W490 x H310
8 man : L720 x W340 x H460 |  L780 x W530 x H365

Colour – High viz orange canopy & ballast pockets. Black lower tubes

The SeaMaster ISO 9650-1 life raft is a great option from this well known brand in the marine leisure world.  It’s one of the few liferafts on the market in this category that still have the black tubes/inflatable sections.  This part is made from butyl rubber which is well known, tried and tested for many years.

Fitted with high visibility SOLAS approved retro reflective tape on canopy and underside of raft floor.

Ballast Pockets – 4 x 55 Litre lead weighted, (total 220 litres ballast)

SOLAS Approved automatic high visibility flashing external light to enable quick recovery. Also has an Internal light.

This liferaft is intended for use in extended offshore, racing yachts and coded boats.

Service & Warranty – 3 Year service interval, 12 year warranty

Emergency Pack – 1 x Bailer, 1 x Drogue (sea anchor), 1 x Floating knife, 1 x Hand pump, 1 x Life saving signal card, 1 x Pair of oars, 1 x Repair kit, 1 x Rescue quoit with 30m of line, 1 x Signal mirror, 1 x Waterproof torch & batteries, 1 x Wet notes, 1 x Whistle, 2 x Parachute rockets, 2 x Sponges, 3 x Red hand flares, 6 x Anti sea sickness tablets

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Lalizas ISO Racing Liferaft

Reason to buy

lightweight, brightly coloured, reasonably priced

Reasons to avoid

might be a little too lightweight for some


Lalizas 6 Person Racing Liferaft
ISO 9650 Type-1 Group A < 24HR

Weight 29kg :  dimensions  L680mm W480mm D240mm

The Lalizas ISO Racing Liferaft is an ultra-light and compact liferaft. The modest size provides easy storage, making this liferaft a good choice for boats tight on space.

Available in sizes for 4 – 12 people, packed either in a canister or in a waterproof valise.

This liferaft, despite its compact and lightweight design has a thermally insulated floor and twin buoyancy tubes with safety valves. There’s a rainwater collection gutter built into the canopy.

The self erecting canopy is International orange with retro-reflective tapes.

External and internal lifelines and righting device suitable for handling by one person
Operating temperature -15° C to + 65° C

Equipment pack includes, 1 x Portable Buoyant Bailer, 2 x Sponge, 1 x Pair of Paddles, 1 x Whistle, 2 x Water Proof Torch and Spare Bulb, 1 x Signalling Mirror, 1 x Sea Sick Bags (1 per person), 1 x Repair Kit, 1 x Bellow (pump), 1 x Operating Manual, 1 x Table of Lifesaving signals, 1 x Logbook, 1 x Immediate Actions Card, 1 x Throwline with Quoit, 1 x Knife, 1 x Drogue with 30m of line, Distress Flares, 3 x Red Hand Flares, 2 x Red Parachute Flares

Buy it now

VIKING RescYou Pro liferaft

Reason to buy

semi rigid ramp, self righting,

Reasons to avoid

black tubes might be less visible than brighter coloured options, the most expensive raft in our guide


Sizes: 4-8 persons, available in a container or valise.
4 person, container dimensions 80 x 57 x 32 cm | weight 40 kg
4 person, valise dimensions 84 x 43 x 34 cm | weight 38 kg


The  Viking RescYou Pro is their top of the range leisure liferaft. Apparently this raft is self righting. I’ve heard that before and yes, in flat calm conditions they do, but I’d like to see it perform in some real world conditions… (we’re planning to do just that very soon)

The inflatable double floor gives thermal insulation from cold water. Four x 55L ballast bags for stability. Bright yellow canopy is the brightest of the bunch but the black rubber tubes might be a bit of a throw back to the rafts of 10 years ago. A lot of the manufacturers are moving away from black rubber tubes in their top of the range models. There’s nothing wrong with rubber tubes structurally, but they do lack visibility at sea.

This raft has a blue liner, which is supposed to be calming. I’m not sure how much you’d be taking in of your raft details and colours if you were using it for real, those boffins must know what they’re doing to insist on that level of detail. There’s an external strobe light and an internal light. Internal and external lifelines and a rain water collector.

Curtained windows and openings give a 360 degree view of the horizon. Externally the canopy and raft chambers have SOLAS reflective tape for maximum visibility under flashlight.

Buy it now

Plastimo Transocean+ Liferaft

Reason to buy

The Golden Globe round world yachts were all equipped with these, brightly coloured,

Reasons to avoid

inflation canister positioned right by the entrance/boarding ramp


4 Person Plastimo Transocean ISO/ ISAF <24h Liferaft

The Plastimo brand from France is well known for a wide range of leisure marine equipment. Wander around any chandlery and you’ll see something made by plastimo. My handbearing compass for example is a plastimo.

Double insulated floor with fluorescent orange canopy with automatically erecting arch tube. 4.3 candela outside light, with radar and retro reflecting stripes.

The Transocean ISAF also has a boarding ramp with an inside grab handle to help haul yourself in and roll over the top tube.

The Golden Globe boats were all equipped with top spec plastimo liferafts, so that’s a fairly good endorsement. Tapio, the competitor whos boat sank suddenly spent a day and a night in his and commented on how comfortable he was while he awaited rescue. I’m not sure they were built for comfort, but more for survival. Anyway, there’s some great pics of this liferaft in his rescue story.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

<24h Equipment Pack (sold as standard) , 1 x floating anchor with 30m line, 1 x Pump, 2 x Thermal Protective Overalls SOLAS, 2 x Paddles, 1 x Floating Knife, 1 x Rescue Quoit with 30m Line, 1 x Bailer, 2 x Sponge, 1 x Repair Kit, 1 x Check book and Liferaft Instructions Manual, 1 x Survival Instructions and Signal Card, Personal Survival, Rain catching gutter on canopy, Rainwater collecting pouch, Water 1.5L (Qty per person), 500g Food Rations (Qty per person), 1 x First Aid Kit, Seasickness Pills (6/person), Seasickness Pouch (1/person), Signalling Equipment, 3 x Handflares SOLAS, 2 x Parachute Rockets SOLAS, 1 x Signalling Mirror, 1 x Outside Light on Canopy, 1 x Inside Light on arch tube, 2 x Waterproof Torch with spare batteries and Torch, 1 x Whistle

Buy it now

Crewsaver ISO Ocean Liferaft ISO 9650-1

Reason to buy

trusted brand with good reputation for safety gear,

Reasons to avoid

lower freeboard than others in this category


4 man canister <24hISO OCEAN LIFERAFT 4 MAN | dimensions L800mm W570mm D220mm | weight  36.1 kg

The Crewsaver ISO Ocean life raft has a semi-rigid boarding ramp which is easier than a basic ladder but not quite a luxurious as the floating ramp seen on other models  in this guide. This raft is make with polyurethane as per others with brightly coloured tubes.

The water ballast pockets on the 4 man liferaft give 150l litres of ballast. Crew saver have just large capacity pockets on this 4 man raft. (4 Man – 2 x 84 litre water pockets. 6, 8 and 10 Man – 3 x 84 litre water pockets. 12 Man – 5 x 60 litre water pockets) How this makes the raft handle in tough conditions will be interesting to find out in our hands on test coming soon.
Tough polyurethane coated nylon canopy with  a simple zip closed canopy door.
Thie raft has Interior and exterior lifelines, an external strobe light to aid night location by search and rescue teams and an internal LED light.

At the rear of the canopy is a rainwater collection scoop.

Buy it now