Life Jacket, Life Vest  and PFD Reviews

Life jackets are the single most important safety factor when taking part in activities on water. We are not just talking about being safe out at sea. It’s about being safe wherever, and whenever, you are participating in an activity on water.

You may be surprised to know that 90% of drownings occur in inland waters. Most of them were within just a few feet of safety. We are still amazed at the number of times we see in the news that people have got themselves into danger and they have chosen not to wear a life jacket. It doesn't matter whether you buy, borrow or rent, please wear a one and keep safe.

Their purpose is to keep you afloat in the water and give you extra time. This extra time is for the rescue services to reach you. Time that can mean the difference between life and death. It doesn’t take long to drown and you will be surprised about how quickly things can take a turn for the worse. In fact, it only takes 60 seconds for an adult to drown and 20 seconds for a child to drown.


best life jackets guide

Before we get started on more detailed information on life vests we need to be clear on one thing. A life vest will only work if you actually wear it.

The United States Coast Guard recommends that you not only carry life vests but that you actually wear them. I know, it's common sense right? Well 85% of drowning victims had access to a life vest but did not wear it.

It’s not there to grab once you are in trouble. Obviously it is going to be extremely difficult for you to put one on once you are actually in the water. It is there to wear in the event that you fall into the water. No one thinks they are going to fall into the water or get themselves into a dangerous situation but it does happen.

If you are concerned about wearing one because of how it might feel, how bulky it is or even how it will look on you then you have nothing to be concerned about. Life preserver technology has come a long way in recent years and you will find one that will suit your needs. You can also get life jackets for dogs and other animals.

The bulky, ugly, old orange life jacket is a thing of the past. Manufacturers are listening to consumers and refining fit, increasing size options and improving colors. Radical changes in design such as extra-large armholes, shaped fit, flexible panels, pockets, inflatables and more comfortable materials are making them much easier to wear.

You will also hear them referred to as life preservers, floatation aids, personal floatation devices and PFD’s. Although people will generally use the terms as interchangeable and meaning the same thing, there are differences between them.

A life jacket and a life vest are the same. They are designed to turn an unconscious person from face down to face up in the water, allowing them to breathe. A personal flotation device (PFD) is different. They are designed to keep a conscious person afloat in calm conditions.

PFDs have less buoyancy and the floatation material is on the back of the device. This makes them less bulky and more comfortable allowing for greater movement.


How Do Life Vests Work?

All life vests work on the same principal, they add buoyancy to your body. As your body already has some buoyancy, a life vest doesn’t need to support all of your weight. It just needs to add enough buoyancy to keep your head above water and therefore keep you safe until help arrives. The average adult needs just seven to twelve pounds of extra buoyancy.

The amount of buoyancy needed for each individual is different and it can be quite technical to work out. It is based on your weight, fat levels, lung size, the clothes you are wearing and the water conditions. However, you don't need to work it out exactly like that. The easiest way to find the correct life jacket for you is to go by body weight (more on that later).

They will also help your body to retain heat if you fall into the water. This is even more important if you fall into particularly cold waters. It has been reported that up to 50% of drowning deaths are actually from hypothermia rather than from water getting into the lungs. When you are in the water you lose heat by moving therefore wearing a floatation device of some kind allows you to keep still and ideally you can get into the HELP position (Heat Escape Lessening Posture).


Which Materials are Used?

When they were first produced the main materials used to create the buoyancy were cork, balsa wood and kapok (a naturally buoyant material from a tropical tree). The most popular material used today are plastic foams, such as polyvinyl chloride and polyethylene, and these types are classed as inherently buoyant. You can also get inflatable life jackets that have a chamber which inflates, manually or automatically, via a gas canister.

The outer shell is most commonly made from nylon, polyester or neoprene. They are all very durable materials and they can be produced in different colours so you can get those bright, stand out colors, which will help you be seen in the event of an accident. Nylon is the most common while neoprene is mostly used for water sports.

Although the materials are durable, taking care of your life jacket will extend its life.


What Should You Consider When Choosing Life Preservers?


Is Your Life Preserver Suitable for the Activity?

You can find life preservers tailor-made for specific activities like canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, angling, boating, sailing, rafting and wind surfing. There are four basic life preserver types (5 when you include throwable flotation aids). All life preservers are not suitable for all activities so you should choose your life preserver based on your planned activities and the anticipated water conditions. This may mean that you need more than one type of floatation device if you participate different activities.

Is It US Coast Guard Approved?

Always look for the United States Coast Guard (USCG) approval number before you purchase any personal floatation device. This will ensure they meet the strict safety regulations. The legal requirements of the United States Coast Guard are that a Type I, II, III, or V PFD should be marked with an approval number. They should also be the proper size for each individual wearing it. More on the different types of personal floatation devices later.

Is It The Right Size?

This is not a one size fits everyone situation so you need to make sure you spend time understanding what size you need. Buying the correct size will ensure you have the correct fit and that is as important as wearing a life vest in the first place. You don’t want it slipping off you as you slip into the water. For adults they are based on chest size and for children they are based on weight.

We have also found that each brand has a different, shall we say, interpretation of chest sizes so a large in one brand might not be the same size as a large in another brand. Our advice is to check the sizing charts. Better still, check customer reviews as they usually include how the jacket was for sizing and you can get a better idea of the size you will need.

Is It The Right Fit?

You will find that different makes have different methods for putting them on and different methods for adjusting them. The main types are pullover jackets, zip up jackets and side entry jackets. Our advice is to not be concerned with how you put it on but to focus on it being the right fit for you.

The end result will always be the same – they should achieve a snug and secure fit and not ride up your body when you are in the water. Different activities will require a different design as your movement will be different with each activity.

Your movement on a boat is different to how you move on a stand up paddle board which is also different to when you are kayaking. You will need a life jacket which allows you enough movement while still being secure so it won't slip off. Life jackets for water skiing and wake boarding need to be a tighter fit you as you undoubtedly will have an impact with the water at some point.


Life Jackets for Children (sizing)

Children's life jackets fall into 3 weight categories: -

Infant = 8 lbs – 30 lbs

Child = 30 lbs – 50 lbs

Youth = 50 lbs - 90 lbs


Life Jackets for Adults (sizing)

The sizes available for adults vary by manufacturer. Women's are the most consistent across the different brands with the vast majority offering Extra Small (XS), Small (SM), Medium (M), Large (LG) and Extra Large (XL).

Men's have a bigger variation of sizes available across the different brands but all of them offer SM, M, L, XL, XXL and 3XL in their ranges. From there you can also find some makers offering XS, 4XL and 5XL. This is a sizing guide for typical men's adult life jackets: -

Extra Small (28-32” chest)
Small (32-36” chest)
Medium (36-40” chest)
Large (40-44” chest)
Extra Large (44-48” chest)
2X Large (48-52” chest)
3X Large (52-56” chest)

As already mentioned, when it comes to adults, the sizing can vary somewhat so you need to pay attention to the sizing and what size you need. You cannot simply judge it by what size clothing you currently wear, you have to actually measure yourself (obviously you can get some help with that if you need to) and compare your measurements to the sizing charts.

What are the Different Types of Life Jackets?


Off Shore Life Jacket

These are best suited to open waters, rough seas or remote locations where rescue may not be immediate. Recommended when boating or fishing alone and you may be far from the shore.

The main benefits of these are: -

• The provide the most reliable flotation and highest amount of buoyancy
• They are designed to turn most unconscious wearers face up in the water and they help to retain the most body heat.
• Available in a variety of highly visible colors and can have reflective material to help with search and rescue

Type I PFD


Near Shore Buoyant Life Vest

These are best suited to calm or inland water, when you are close to shore and where a fast rescue is likely to happen. Ideally suited to fishing, sailing and boating.

The main benefits of these are: -

• They turn some unconscious wearers face up in the water
• Less bulky and more comfortable than the foam off shore life jacket (Type I PFD)
• Approved for multiple sizes from infant through to all adults
• They are a good choice for children



Floatation Aid

These are a good for conscious users in calm inland water or where fast rescue is likely to happen.

The main benefits of these are: -

• They are usually the most comfortable for continuous wear
• Designed for general boating & designated activities marked on the device such as water skiing, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, paddle boarding, wind surfing and many others.
• Available in many styles, including vests and flotation coats



Throwable Device

Type IV Life Jackets include buoys and boat cushions. They function as throwable devices and are not designed to be worn.

The main benefits of these are: -

• They can be thrown from a craft or from land
• Provide back-up to wearable life jackets
• Some styles may be used as seat cushions so they don’t take up any additional space



Special Use Devices

Type V life jackets are intended for very specific activities. These include board sailing vests, deck suits, pullover vests, work vests, some hybrids, inflatables with OCR harness and many others.

They are only appropriate for specific uses or conditions so you should check the label instructions.. Some Type V life jackets meet the U.S. Coast Guard’s Carriage Regulations only if worn in accordance with the label.

The main benefits of these are: -

• Designed for specific activities—check label for limits of use
• Continuous wear prevents users from being caught without protection

Type V PFD

Types of Inflatable Mechanisms

Automatic PFD vs. Manual PFD

Automatic inflation devices are supposed to inflate on contact with water and usually it does take being submerged in water to activate. A spray of water will not normally be enough to make it inflate. The real benefit of this is that it could save your life if you are knocked unconscious while going into the water. The downside is that automatic inflatable jackets could also inflate inconveniently if you, for example, plunge through a wave and you get water dumped on you. This can be combatted by choosing an automatic inflatable vest which is activated with water pressure.

A manual inflatable life vest requires you to be conscious and aware of what you are doing so you are able to pull the release for the cylinder. This is the more reliable of the two inflatables and requires less servicing but doesn’t have the added safety measure of inflating if you are knocked unconscious.

Whether it’s automatic or manual, some will also have an oral tube incorporated into the design. This allows you to top up the air bladder when needed. Many manufacturers have a CO2 cylinder which will not fully inflate the vest and therefore you may need to top up the bladder, depending on how long you are in the water before you are rescued.


How does the Automatic Inflation Work?

An Automatic inflation life vest uses a water-soluble capsule attached to the inflation unit. Its mechanism pierces the CO2 cylinder and releases the gas when submerged or when it senses other water-related triggers (e.g. water pressure). Units with automatic inflation mechanisms may also be manually inflated by using the ripcord.


How does Manual Inflation Work?

A manual inflation vest releases the CO2 gas from the cylinder via ripcord Cylinder Seal Indication: Makes it easier to determine if the CO2 cylinder is properly armed. Jackets with cylinder seal indication are considered more reliable.
The CO2 cylinders in life jackets without cylinder seal indication must be inspected regularly to determine if they are charged.


Should All Life Preservers be Tested?

Trying your life preserver on before your start your planned activity will make sure it is the right fit and that it will perform exactly how it should do in the event of an accident.

You should test it in shallow waters to ensure you are completely happy with its performance. You can check the buoyancy of life preservers by relaxing your body and tilting your head back. Ensuring your life preserver keeps your chin above water and that you can breathe easily. If your mouth is not well above the water then you will need a life preserver with more buoyancy.

Your life preserver should not ride up your body when in the water. However, If your stomach is larger than your chest, some ride up may occur but this should not impairs its performance. It should still keep you safe by keeping your head above the water.

How to Choose a Life Jacket Suitable for Your Activity

Life Jackets for Boating

To meet United States Coast Guard requirements, a boat must have a USCG Approved jacket for each person aboard. Boats 16 feet and over must have at least one Type IV throwable device as well. You have plenty of choice as all you need are standard jackets, which tend to be the best value, as you don't need any additional features like you do for other activities. There are even a lot of different colors to choose from.

You should also consider having life jackets on board that will fit various sizes as this will ensure you cater for anyone, and everyone, you have on board. You don't have to push the boat out to achieve this (see what I did there?) as you can get universal fitting jackets which will cater for a wider range of size. As usual you should still check and test it fits each person properly before setting off.

All states have regulations regarding life jacket to be worn by children. You can check out your state here

In states where no children's life jacket law is in place, a US Coast Guard interim rule requires children under 13 on moving boats to wear a USCG approved life jacket that fits.

Life Jackets for Kayaking and Canoeing

In a canoe or kayak you need to paddle which means you need freedom of movement. Therefore you need to choose a life vest which will not interfere with what you’re doing. A vest with large arm holes and one which doesn't have too much of the floatation foam on the shoulders & upper chest. This will allow your arms and upper body to have enough freedom of movement to paddle as well as ensuring you don't suffer from any rubbing or chafing.

Another good feature is one which has the floatation foam sitting high on the back so you can wear it comfortably with high back seats. Having mesh on the lower back is also good for ventilation on those hot days.

We always find a good kayak or canoe pfd is one with zipped pockets to store some of the necessities like glasses, sunscreen and snacks as having these close at hand will make your time on the water a lot easier.

You may also find our Waterproof Bag Reviews useful.

Life Jackets for Water Sports - Water Skiing & Wake Boarding

When it comes to choosing the right life vest for water skiing and wake boarding, the golden rule is tight is right. You should think of it as a second skin and it should therefore be a really snug fit. You want to make sure there are no air gaps between your body and the jacket. Air gaps can cause bruising to your ribs when you fall. They are typically made of neoprene which means they will stretch slightly when wet.

They usually have a lower profile (which makes them look slimmer compared to other types) as the foam is more evenly distributed across the the front and back of the vest.

Activities like wake boarding, water skiing, being towed on an inflatable tube and riding a personal watercraft include a risk of hitting the water at high speed. The best watersport life jackets must withstand these impacts, stay intact and stay attached to your body.

Fasteners will come in the form of belts or zips. Belted vests will have three or four strong belts encircling your torso which ensures they won’t get torn off easily, even when you crash and burn at high speed. Zips will mainly be at the front but you can get some with the zips at the side or at the back. Zips at the back of a vest obviously make it more difficult to put on and take off on your own.

Look for vests that have water sports marked on the label and you can be sure of getting a life jacket that will give you the protections and freedom of movement you will need.

Life Jackets for SUP Stand Up Paddle Boarding

First thing to mention is that the United States Coast Guard has classified stand up paddle boards as a vessel when they are used outside of  swimming, surfing and bathing areas. This means that you are required to have a USCG approved life jacket as well as a whistle, a distress light and flashlight (if you are on the water after sunset). The World Paddle Association have a good article on it.

Freedom of movement is important when paddle boarding so you need to choose one that gives you the protection and safety you need without hindering you as you move. You are really looking at 3 options - one with large arm holes and no floatation foam on the shoulders, an inflatable jacket or an inflatable life belt.

All of these will give you the freedom of movement you need so it may come down to come down to your preference. Price isn't an issue as you will find they are quite similar in price.

Fishing Life Jackets

You will need a vest that allows you to have the freedom of movement depending on where you are fishing and what type of boat you are in. You should be looking for fishing life vests which has no floatation foam on the shoulders, has large arm holes and has the foam high up at the back as this will allow you to comfortable sit on seats.

The key difference with fishing life jackets is that you, as do most anglers, will want to have integrated features such as large pockets, D rings and clips. This allows you store your collection of lures, leaders and tools.

You also have the option to have an auto inflating life vest which gives you the benefits of an anglers vest with the added safety feature included.

Automatic Inflation Life Jackets

Automatic inflatable life jackets are very popular as they can be worn without the bulk of an traditional life jacket. When you fall in the water the inflatable will inflate automatically. They can also be blown up manually in case of malfunction.

These are highly visible when inflated and turn most wearers and unconscious users face-up faster than traditional PFD’s. Many inflatables have more buoyancy than foam types and many of them come with additional features.

There are a large number available which, although are very good, do not have USCG approval. We have only listed those with United States Coast Guard Approval. We believe this is by far the better option as it gives you peace of mind and keeps you compliant in situations where you must have a USCG approved jacket.

As with other water sports, you will need a one that will allow you the freedom of movement while still giving you the safety you need in the event you find yourself off your board and in the water. You will need a life vest that offers a degree of stretch and flexibility. This will allow a tight fit while still giving you the freedom to move around.

Life Jackets for Children

As highlighted earlier, life jackets for kids fall into three size categories and these are based on the child's weight: -

Infant for 8 lbs - 30 lbs          Child for 30 lbs - 50 lbs          Youth for 50 lbs - 90 lbs

The same rules apply as they do for adult life jackets, it must be the right fit and it must be appropriate for the activity they are taking part in. What is suitable for the swimming pool or beach may not be suitable for when they are on a boat.

For infant and child life vests we recommend you get one with an adjustable safety belt which goes in between their legs and stops the jacket from riding up when they are in the water, therefore ensuring their head is kept above the water. For infant vests look for one which has collars to support their head.

There is plenty of choice when it comes to youth sizes as they are essentially a smaller version of the adult jackets with materials, fasteners and entry systems being exactly the same. We recommend buying the youth version of any adult life jackets where possible as you will be familiar with it and you obviously like it. If it's not possible then reading customer reviews is a good way to go..

One of the most popular children's life jackets is the Stearns Puddle Jumper. Although the Puddle Jumper is United States Coast Approved we wouldn't recommend this to be used as a full on life jacket when you are out on boats etc. It's great for learning how to swim and is fine for when you are anchored and you want to swim/play in the water but we would recommend you buy a standard life jacket when you get moving.

As with adult life vests, you should carry out a test in shallow waters to ensure it fits correctly, stays on and keeps their head above the the water.

The Last Word

The last piece of advice I will give you is do not cut corners when it comes to choosing the right life jacket. That doesn’t mean buying the most expensive. It means buying the one that is right for the activity you will be using it for. There are ways to get good value for money without compromising on safety. And remember: -

A life jacket will only work if you actually wear it!

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Best Life Jacket for Boating

Enjoy a comfortable day on the boat in a Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest.

The US Coast Guard approved PFD is designed with three adjustable chest belts that help make a day on the water a comfortable one.

With webbed 1-in. straps, a durable nylon shell and PE foam inside, this life jacket is sure to be on the boat with you season after season.

Basic flotation for the boating enthusiast. The AIRHEAD Type II PFD is designed specifically to provide minimum buoyancy and turn an unconscious person face up in calm water situations.

Less bulky and more affordable than a Type I offshore life jacket.

U.S. Coast Guard Approved Type II Personal Flotation Device (PFD).

Adult size Universal fits adult chests 30"-52" and over 90lbs.

Adult size Oversize fits adult chests 40"-60" and over 90lbs

The O'Brien Traditional Neo Life Men's Life Vest has a neoprene outer for extreme comfort all day long.

Zip closure and two belts secure the fit of the traditional vest without inhibiting movement.

As you would expext from O'Brien, it is USCG approved.

Available in a choice of colors - Yellow, Red, Black, or Blue.

Men's sizes: XS(28"-32"), S(32"-36"), M(36"-40"), L(40"-44"), XL(44"-48"), 2XL(48"-52"), 3XL(52"-56").

United States Coast Guard Approved General Purpose Boating Vest by ONYX.

It boasts a three, 1" belt buckle design to ensure a snug and secure fit. Constructed from PE foam with a 200 denier nylon outer fabric. Universal Adult.

Available in Blue, Blue/Black and Red/Black.

The O'Brien Ladies Impulse Neoprene Vest is a comfortable flotation vest that is US Coast Guard Approved. The vest has wide armholes designed for active use.

Whether boating, boarding or skiing it provides freedom of movement.

The 1.5mm neoprene outer gives extreme comfort and fit.

The zippered front closure with 2 adjustable belts equipped with squeeze style side release buckles make donning and doffing fast and easy and provides a secure fit.

The vest is hinged in the front for added comfort and manoeuvrability.

The Body Glove has a super duty nylon outer shell and 100% PE foam flotation for maximum comfort.

Four heavy duty 1.5 " belts with quick release buckles.

Oversize arm holes and strategically placed drain holes.

Feel comfortable and safe in the O'Brien Empress Women's Life Vest. The articulated design has a front hinge that wont bunch up on you as you move around on the boat or in the water.

Wide armholes give you the freedom of movement you need.

The US Coast Guard approved design counts as a flotation device on your boat. Made with new BioLite material the Empress is lighter than Neoprene and eco friendly too.

Front panels with hinge allow for unrestricted movement and all day comfort. The Eco friendly BioLite outer improves comfort and is lighter than Neoprene.

Breathable materials makes warm days cooler. Printed using earth friendly Soy based inks. There is a zip closure with two buckles to eliminate pressure points with a custom fit.

The wide armholes won't restrict movement or ride up.

Best Life Jacket for Kayaking and Canoeing

A vest that conforms to your body like a glove.

The innovative vented channels on the ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest will help to keep you cool while paddling.

There is a soft, comfortable floation foam - a bubble foam - on inner back for added comfort.

SOLAS grade reflective material for high visibility. 200 denier nylon ripstop and nylon oxford.

Various sizes available.

Moves easy, cools perfectly. The most comfortable vest ever that won't hold back your paddlesport enjoyment.

The revolutionary ONYX MoveVent Curve is sculpted to give you total freedom of movement as you paddle.

It is crafted to maximize venting so you can stay cool through the most strenuous exertions. It fits like a glove, floats like a life preserver and cools like central air.

U.S. Coast Guard Approved consisting of flotation foam plus Bubble Foam on inner back.

Many other features including shoulder adjustments with neoprene pads, adjustable side belts, mesh in lower back, 200-denier nylon ripstop and nylon oxford, and SOLAS grade reflective material.

Onyx 1222 Aqua MoveVent Curve Type III PFD.

High performance economical equivalents of Stohlquist's Cruiser vest featuring 400 x 200 denier ripstop outer shell and soft 210 denier inner liner.

It's high back flotation fits comfortably above the seat backs found in today’s sit-on-top kayaks.

The Stohlquist Women's Flo Personal Flotation Device is ultralight and ultra cool with open sides, mesh shoulders and mesh back for ventilation.

Cross-chest cinch harness for zero ride-up and built-in supportive inner cups. Large bellow pockets with drainage.

A life vest that provides excellent mobility for kayaking, canoeing, and stand up paddling.

There are ventilation panels in the front and back to keep you cool.

The sculpted and flexible foam design conforms to your body and stays in place when paddling.

Bubble foam on the inner back for added comfort and mesh in the lower back fits high back seats.

Expandable zippered pockets with mesh drainage and SOLAS grade reflective material for visibility.

It has shoulder adjustments with neoprene comfort pads. The ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Vest is constructed from soft, comfortable flotation foam and heavy duty nylon fabric

Specifically designed for the female touring kayaker and sit-on-top paddler.

The Stohlquist Women's Cruiser is shaped for women, it has a smaller cut, shortened torso and supportive inner cups.

It boasts the new Wrapture shaped torso. The back side has half flotation/half cool mesh to fit comfortably above the seat back found in today’s rec-tour boats.

Neoprene padded shoulders and lower back waistband are easy on the skin when worn with a swimsuit.

Available Colors: Balck/Pink, Mano/Gray, Blue/Gray, Sage/Sand

The women’s specific Stohlquist Women's Betsea Personal Floatation Device features the ergonomic WRAPTURE shaped torso that wraps around the body for a close, low profile, and comfortable fit.

The cross-chest cinch harness keeps flotation positioned low on the torso, eliminating ride-up while providing the most effective in water buoyancy.

A true women's PFD that is narrower in the shoulders and shorter in the torso than men's equivalents.

Built-in contoured supportive cups offer support without crushing.

Available in a wide range of colors

The MTI Reflex PFD is perfect for kayaking or canoeing, light touring or day-long paddles. A best seller year after year because of its great fit.

With a deep V-neck, adjustable shoulders, and soft panels and wrap-around foam distribution, the Reflex fits a wide range of body shapes.

Eight points of adjustment and comfortable smooth padded adjustable shoulder straps perfect the fit.

Additional features include, a hat hanger loop so you don't lose you favorite hat, durable 300D Polyester shell, and reflective trim. Roomy zippered stretch mesh cargo pockets provide storage for items you want close at hand.

Want to personalize it? The shoulder strap holder panels on the Reflex can be custom embroidered (you arrange for embroidery) with the name of your organization, club, cottage, lake, or favorite paddler.

SPECIFICATIONS: USCG: Type III, Buoyancy: 16 lbs. 6 oz.

Sizes: XS/S (30"-36"), M/L (36"-44"), XL/XXL (44"-56")

The Stohlquist Rocker PFD is 16.8 pounds of flotation and amazing comfort. The Wrapture® shaped torso creates an ergonomically articulated body wrapping foam.

A cross chest cinch harness and self-tensioned  shoulders create a balanced fit. To prevent ride-up there's a Gripp-Loc interior non-slip panel for zero ride up.

There are also 6 adjustment areas with side-pulls and a front waist closure.

The PFD is low cut with an offset front-zip entry and zipper grab tab. It comes with a ventilated lumbar pad for better air circulation.

Free-floating suspended shoulder straps stretch as you move. and ballistic nylon textured surface with stiffeners for portaging/added shoulder protection.

High visibility 3M(tm) refl ective accents. The Stohlquist Rocker also has a hands free expandable mesh beverage pocket and a large streamlined main pocket for secure storage

Available in various color options.

The world's first breathable PFD. The Astral Buoyancy V-Eight combines Airescape® technology (patent pending) with an ergonomic design and light weight construction.

It is suitable for recreation, touring, kayak fishing and sailing.

Airescape® is a revolutionary air flow system that eliminates excessive heat buildup and perspiration to maintain a comfortable core temperature.

A mesh back makes for a great fit for high seat backs. Pre-shaped foam in the front and back make this a great fit for men and women alike.

Large front pocket plus one interior storage sleeve. Quick Access Knife Tab and Reflective Trim.

Small / Medium: 31-37". Medium / Large: 38-44". Large / Extra Large: 45-51". Certification:

USCG approved Personal Flotation Device. Design Buoyancy: 16.2 lbs. Pounds 1.22

Water Sports - Water Skiing and Wake Boarding

O'Neill vests provide one of the best fits in the industry. They continue to set new standards of expectations for all wake and waterski athletes.

Minimal bulk design with strategic armhole size. Quick release dual safety buckles and mesh for drainage.

Made from lightweight polyethylene foam and coated polyester shell. Soft and comfortable with quick-release Delrin buckles.

The O'Neill Superlite Vest is USCG Approved.

Other colors also available

Enjoy a comfortable day grabbing wakes in a Stearns Adult Watersport Classic Series Vest.

The comfortable, US Coast Guard-approved PFD is designed with four adjustable chest belts and two large armholes for better movement.

With webbed 1-in. straps, a durable 200D nylon shell and PE foam inside, this life jacket is sure to be on the boat with you season after season.

Four adjustable straps and open sides for better fit.

Universal size for most adults over 90 lbs.

Also available in Blue and Red.


A United States Coast Guard Wakeboard and Waterski Vest.

The Women's O'Neill Reactor 3 Life Vest is Constructed from segmented foam core for flexibility and lightweight breathable materials.

It has a heavy duty front zipper and quick release buckles.

Other color choices are available

O''Neill have designed this vest with minimal bulk in mind while providing one of the the best fits in the industry.

Constructed from Closed Cell PVC Marine Foam with a 100% polyester lining and a segmented foam core.

Other features include strategic armhole size, quick release dual safety buckles, mesh for drainage, overlock stitchingwith a super-strong seams zipper, safety tab, filter tech outer envelope, anatomical flex points, concealed dual belt system, and expansion panels.

The O'Neill Reactor continues to set new standards of expectations for all wake and waterski athletes.

USCG/ULC Approved.

The MW Watersports 4-Buckle Nylon Life Vest is simply the finest Type III nylon vest on the market today.

While most others use cheap material, this model is made with premium 200-denier nylon, includes EZ quick release buckles, and adjusts to give you a snug, perfect fit.

Sizing Guide: XS: 28 - 32 Chest | S/M: 32 - 40" Chest | L/XL: 40 - 51" Chest | 2XL/3XL: 51 - 60" Chest | 4XL/6XL: 61 - 70"

The Full Throttle Nylon Water Sports Vest is designed for the water sports enthusiast looking for style, comfort and safety.

It boasts adjustable belts and chest strap, 200 denier nylon and 150 denier poly-twill.

A lightweight, durable flotation foam which is U.S. Coast Guard Approved.

Great for skiing, boating fishing or relaxing on the water

Also available in red

The O'Neill R&D process provides the best quality, fit and functionality in the industry.

Our USCG vests continue to set new standards of excellence in design for all wake and water ski athletes.

There are so many features included in the O'Neill Assault Life Vest - Concealed Dual Belt System, Integrated Lumbar Pad, Anatomical Flex Points, Minimal Bulk Design, Strategical Armhole Size, NytroLite Foam, Durable Exterior, Lightweight Fluid Foam Neoprene Shell, Overlock Stitched: Super-Strong Seams.

Of course it is USCG Approved.

More color options available.

USCG Approved Type III Personal Flotation Device with segmented foam panels and superior drain abilility.

It has 2 Concealed 1.5 in. Straps.

The Hyperlite Ladies Indy Wakeboard Vest is available in Pink.

Sizes: X-Small, Small, Medium, Large, X-Large

Best Life Jacket for SUP Stand Up Paddle Boarding

Onyx M-16 Belt Pack has a unique design which keeps stand-up paddle boarders (SUP), anglers, boaters, and other paddlers safe without compromising movement.

It has a 16 gram CO2 charge which provides 17 lbs. of buoyancy and the oral inflation tube can be used to provide additional buoyancy up to 26.5 lbs. when fully inflated.

Extremely low profile with a 1” buckle and body belt and a D-ring attachment for small accessories.

Made from 200 denier nylon oxford protective cover.

The Onyx M-16 is a U.S. Coast Guard Approved Type V Life Jacket / Personal Flotation Device PFD with Type III Performance.

The NRS Vapor PFD has an easy entry and adjustment due to the two side buckles. You can simply slip the jacket on and buckle up.

Once adjusted, it fits right every time and the soft foam wraps around your body and moves with you for that "I forgot I had it on" comfort.

The action-cut design frees your arms for unrestricted paddling and its light weight will never slow you down.

A chest zipper opens a huge pocket that covers the front of the jacket and behind the pocket is a roomy hand warmer pouch for chilly fingers.

Also includes a lash tab for your knife and reflective piping for low-light visibility

More color options available.

The NRS Ninja PFD athletic design won't interfere with paddling, rowing or swimming.

Four side adjustments and two shoulder adjustments provide a custom fit which is particularly great for paddlers with short torsos, who may have a difficult time wearing more conventional life vests.

Soft PVC-Free foam flotation panels are shaped for comfort and a floating front panel adjusts to your body's shape and gives you a warm place to put your hands when it's chilly.

The side entry is secured by quick release buckles, making it easy to put on and take off. A front mesh pocket secured with a quick release buckle holds the essentials.

Constructed from 500-denier Cordura shell which wears like iron. Soft, stretchy fabric on the inside lets the NRS Ninja PFD flex and enhances breathability.

An innovative, high mobility, low profile boating vest for whitewater, SUP and wet- sailing.

The body-wrapping, ergonomically articulated WRAPTURETM shaped torso combined with the padded/contoured shoulders and ultra small "footprint" and side pull adjustments ensure a great fit.

A top loading front pocket allows you to carry all the needed essentials.

Each size features ultra soft buoyancy foam that has been graded to create an even better fit over the range of sizes.

Mesh sides for maximum ventilation.

The Stohlquist Edge Life Jacket is UL & ULC Listed- USCG and Transport Canada approved.

SM/MD: 15 lbs., 8oz LG/XL: 16 lbs., 8oz XXL: 17 lbs., 8oz.

More colors available.

The NRS Zen is based on the popular NRS Ninja and has 17.5 pounds of PVC-free flotation. It is so low profile and comfortable you'll forget you have it on until you need it.

A 1 1/2" quick-release rescue belt with stainless steel attachment ring gives you the safety you need for detaching easily from a rope or other anchor point. Reinforced shoulders take the strain of rescue maneuvers.

Front floating panel gives a better fit and a quick-drying VaporLoft-lined place to warm your hands when it's cold. Padded protection along the arm holes and sides of the jacket provide crucial impact protection.

Convenient side entry for easy donning of the jacket and a large front pocket for the rescue gear you want close at hand. A large pouch with hook-and-loop closures behind hand warmers holds additional rescue gear.

Carabiner attachment loop for end of a tow tether has a convenient release tab. Strobe attachment loop on the back of the jacket for use in low-light situations.

Lash tab for your rescue knife. Four side and two shoulder adjustments for a custom fit.

Made with 500-denier Cordura shell which wears like iron.

The MTI Race 1 Belt Pack is loaded with features. The body hugging pack design securely holds the pack to your core while paddling.

Padded 3D mesh back panel and buckle flap are soft, cool and quick drying. The top loading pack design with Velcro closure is easy to open and repack.

A compact inner bladder with printed fold lines is less bulky, saves weight and is easy to repack. An adjustable webbing strap between the bladder and the belt for better fit when inflated and being worn.

Inflation is via a premium Halkey Robert inflation mechanism with an indicator which shows you if the mechanism is armed. This indicator is visible through a window in the pack so you can tell at a glance if your pack is armed and ready for use.

The easy to install 24 gram bayonet style CO2 cylinders are readily available. There's a zippered storage compartment on the top lid and a D-ring on the side for attaching a phone case, waterproof watch, or other essential items.

To aid with safety, every Fluid 2.0 PFD comes complete with a signal whistle that rides nicely in a whistle holster on the waist belt. The soft comfortable 2" waist belt opens to accommodate approximately a 50 in. waist size.

Best Life Jacket for Fishing

The NRS Chinook Mesh Back Fishing PFD is designed with anglers in mind. It features 7 front pockets for everything from small tackle boxes to tippet, perfect for kayak fishing, fly fishing and extended tours.

The mesh lower back is a great fit on high-back seats and provides ventilation when the weather's warm. It's roomy front-entry design with 8 adjustment points lets you customize the fit for comfort and security.

Soft PlushFIT foam flotation conforms to your body as you wear it for unsurpassed comfort. A coil tool retractor allows you to clip on line snips, forceps or other tools that you want to have handy.

It includes a D-ring on the back for attaching your net, plus a strobe holder loop for those low light conditions.

Other outstanding features include rod holder loops, a knife lash tab, multiple D-rings, attachment loops, fishing tool retractor, net attachment D-ring, back strobe holder loop, multiple D-rings and attachment loops

Comfort and water safety with all the necessities close at hand. While you play the Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Floatation Device provides excellent cockpit management with places for the little things that could end up in your seat, or overboard.

Ready to load with new features which include an array of pockets with anchor-points, front zip entry closure, padded neoprene shoulders, plus new ultra-soft and Gaia flotation foam.

The dual front-mounted tool pouch pockets have protective EVA stiffened outer shells to protect pocket contents. The EVA inner platform is a fold-down work surface.

It has a velour (hook & loop style) inner lining which is sized to fit small plastic lure boxes.

Complete with inside accessory pockets and stowage for tools.

As you would expect from an angling vest, the Fisherman vest has mounting locations for tippets, retractor(s), nippers, leader-line, hemastats, and pliers.

The Onyx Kayak Fishing Vest is feature-rich but yet a great value! Designed with four different pocket designs and functions to hold your essential gear and keep you fishing longer.

In addition to the zippered fleece-lined pockets and the zippered chest pocket, radios or pliers can slip down and clamp to the pocket/vest through the opening at the top of the pocket which keeps them easily accessible.

The one-button push drop down tray pocket holds a small tackle box. A lash tab to hold a knife or whistle etc. is also included and can also be used to hold fly fishing tippets, sunscreen, or keys.

The six adjustment straps can be adjusted up or down depending on your activity or the heights of the boat seat or kayak.

The high back of the vest does not get in the way of the seats and has mesh for breathability.

There is ample drainage to keep the vest dry when not in use.

Universal fits 30"-52" chest. Oversize fits 40"-60" chest.

A convenient, breathable design that will have you wanting to wear it on the boat when it's a Stearns Comfort Series Collared Angler Vest.

Forget the balancing act of getting over to the other side of the boat for a new rig. Keep your favorite tackle in two large zippered front pockets that pull double duty as hand warmers on brisk days.

Of course, the most noticeable difference is the mesh fabric on the shoulder panels that allow for added ventilation on breezy days and the flexible neoprene collar that prevents chafing.

The US Coast Guard approved design is constructed of PVC/PE flotation foam surrounded by a durable 200D nylon oxford shell with a zippered front and two adjustable 1-in. (2.54-cm) webbed straps.

If you are looking for the perfect vest for the fisherman looking for style, comfort and value then the Flowt Mesh Fishing Adult Life Vest Type III PFD is for you.

The two roomy pockets are great for keeping your fishing necessities close at hand.

It's lightweight durable foam contours to your body and therefore won't hinder your movement.

Other features include two clips for knives and a D-ring attachment for small accessories and kill switch.

Colors available are tan, green and camo.

The Bradley Adult Fishing Vest is the most versatile available on the market today.

It can be used for a wide range activities from Fishing to Water skiing to Boating and Tubing, plus they are adjustable enough to fit the majority of adults and teens (90 lbs+).

Made from durable polyester construction with 2 front pockets and secure 1" webbing.

Type III, US Coast Guard approved.

Best Automatic Inflation

The Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable provides a wide range of motion and movement with minimal bulk.

The slim life vest inflates manually by pulling a simple T-cord attachment, or automatically when immersed in water.

Its slender design keeps you cool in warm weather, and a soft neoprene neckline means you can comfortably wear it all day on the boat or at your favorite fishing spot.

Durable ripstop nylon material resists tears and punctures while holding up to the rigors of outdoor use. Reflective piping offers greater visibility.

U.S. Coast Guard Approved Type V with Type III Performance.

Not recommended for non-swimmers or weak swimmers.


The Onyx A/M-24 Deluxe Automatic/Manual Inflatable provides comfort, safety and peace of mind, without knowing you have it on, until you may need it.

It automatically inflates upon immersion in water or when the wearer pulls the "Jerk to Inflate" handle and also comes equipped with back-up oral inflation.

Equipped with utility pockets for a spare CO2 cylinder, waterproof camera or any other gear you want to carry.

Convertible from automatic/manual to manual only inflation should you find the need to do so.

Heavy-duty 420 denier nylon ripstop and 400 denier Stretchable Flex-Back insert.

Features also include utility pockets and a padded, fleece-lined, sunglasses pocket

United States Coast Guard approved Type V PFD.

This PFD is shockingly slim, but it does have a few requirements. These include that you know how to swim, you're older than 16, and you aren't engaged in high-speed, high-impact water activities.

PFDs are different than traditional (and bulky) life jackets because they rely entirely on inflation for buoyancy.

The Mustang Survival Corp M.I.T. 100 Auto Activation PFD will inflate automatically as soon as it is submerged.

Alternatively, you can pull the manual activation handle and when you are back on dry land, simply deflate the vest and head for home.

The 500D Cordura fabric provides tough, puncture-proof, flotation and the easy-to-fold design makes the M. I. T. simple to bring with you whenever you head for the water.

A clear window lets you check on the status of the inflator. Comfortable buckle straps won't ride up or let the vest slide over your head when you take a plunge.