5 Best Life Jackets That Will Keep You Alive In An Emergency

A day on the water is a fun activity for the whole family, but you don’t want to spend the day feeling anxious about going overboard.

Life jackets are essential when you’re out on the water and are a precaution that can save lives.

If you don’t wear a life jacket at sea, you’re putting yourself and your family at risk.

Respect the water and keep your family safe by wearing a life jacket.

Keep reading to find out more.

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OUR TOP PICK

Onyx 122200-505-020-15 MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest, X-Small/Small, Aqua

The Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest is built for durability.

This U.S. Coast Guard approved vest is designed using heavy-duty nylon fabrics to resist tears and punctures

This life jacket features mesh ventilation panels on the vest front, and the lower back to keep you cool whilst you’re out on the water.

Pros:

  • Large storage pocket - The Expandable zippered pocket with mesh drainage allows you to keep any essentials in easy reach and safe.

  • Heavy-duty front zipper - Helps to prevent vest ride-up whilst the large armholes provide freedom of movement for all paddling activities.

  • U.S. Coast Guard approved - You can rest assured knowing that your life jacket is reliable and safe!

Cons:

  • One customer claimed that they struggled with the zipper of this particular life jacket.

EDITORS CHOICE

O'Neill Men's Superlite USCG Life Vest,Black/Black/Smoke/White,Large

The O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG Life Vest features a durable and strong exterior whilst still being lightweight and comfortable.

The 4 heavy-duty 1.5 wide webbing belts with quick-release Delrin buckles allow for an adjustable fit and easy fastening for your comfort.

This life vest uses an overlock stitching that makes the seams robust and reliable.

Pros:

  • Dries quickly - The strategically placed drain holes keep the vest from retaining water and mean that this life jacket dries quickly for your convenience.

  • Durable and safe - This life jacket is coast guard approved to give you confidence when you’re out on the water.

  • Secure - This life jacket comes with four safety buckles to ensure the vest stays secure when you’re floating in the water.

Cons:

  • A couple of customers noted that the life jacket that they received was the wrong color.

BEST VALUE

O'Brien Women's Impulse Neo Life Vest, Purple, Medium

The O’Brien Women’s Impulse Neo Life Vest is designed to keep you safe whilst never compromising on comfort. 

The zippered front closure with 2-adjustable belts equipped with side-release buckles make getting this life vest on and off hassle-free and easy whilst providing a secure fit.

This life jacket is lightweight, so you never have to feel like your movement is compromised.

Pros:

  • Coast guard approved - So you can relax on the water without having to worry about your life jacket.

  • Front fastening -  For added comfort and maneuverability, this life jacket features a front
     fastening so that your movement is never compromised.

  • Versatile - This life jacket is approved for a variety of different water sports, so the sky’s the limit!

Cons:

  • One customer claimed that this particular life vest was smaller than they had been anticipating.

RUNNER UP

Body Glove Mens Method Life Pfd Jacket, Black, Large/X-Large

The O’Brien Women’s Impulse Neo Life Vest is designed to keep you safe whilst never compromising on comfort. 

The zippered front closure with 2-adjustable belts equipped with side-release buckles make getting this life vest on and off hassle-free and easy whilst providing a secure fit.

This life jacket is lightweight, so you never have to feel like your movement is compromised.

Pros:

  • Coast guard approved - So you can relax on the water without having to worry about your life jacket.

  • Front fastening -  For added comfort and maneuverability, this life jacket features a front fastening so that your movement is never compromised.

  • Versatile - This life jacket is approved for a variety of different water sports, so the sky’s the limit!

Cons:

  • One customer claimed that this particular life vest was smaller than they had been anticipating.

RUNNER UP

ONYX General Purpose Boating Life Jacket Universal, Blue

The Onyx General Purpose Boating Vest features classic open-sided styling for an everyday life jacket for all water activities.

This life jacket features a lightweight and durable flotation foam to ensure maximum buoyancy (which applies to PFDs and lifejackets).

Available in infant, child, youth, adult universal, and adult oversize to fit the entire family perfectly!

Pros:

  • Durable - This life jacket features a nylon oxford outer shell that is designed to withstand the test of time.

  • Brightly colored - The Onyx life jacket is brightly colored to ensure visibility when you’re out on the water.

  • Safe - The infant/child life jacket provides a leg strap, pop-up pillow, and grab strap for quick recovery.

Cons:

  • A few customers claimed that the sizing for this particular life jacket wasn’t accurate.

Best Life Jackets Buying Guide

There are a few factors to take into account when purchasing a life jacket, but it primarily comes down to the size, color, and material.

It is important to mention that you should never cut corners when it comes to your safety when you’re out on the water.

That being said, you need to ensure that you’re purchasing a durable life jacket that is made out of tough material and is going to last for years to come! 

Check out the factors below before going ahead with your purchase.

Size 

Arguably the most important factor you’ll need to consider when purchasing a life jacket is the size. 

Everything comes down to the size of the life jacket. If the vest is too small, then you will find that your movement is restricted which could be fatal if you fall overboard and can’t swim properly.

That being said, if the life jacket is too large, you’ll have trouble staying afloat.

To find the perfect size for you, you should really try the jacket put on in person as the sizes can vary between brands as a lot of them have different size guides. 

Once you’ve tried on the life jacket, if someone were to tug the PFD, the jacket needs to stay in its place, as opposed to inflating up to your neck and nose. 

I cannot stress enough the importance of the size of your life jacket. Failure to buy the right size could even result in the jacket being redundant altogether, which is incredibly hazardous if you fall in the water.

As a result, make sure you do your research and try a few different sizes to get the best fit for you. 

Color

Although you might not initially see the importance of the color of a lifejacket, it’s incredibly important when you’re out on the water.

This is because brighter colors, especially orange and yellow, provide better visibility. 

It is incredibly important that you are visible at all times when you’re out on the water, as it simply increases the chances of you being spotted should you go overboard.

Neon colors work well to attract attention as they are easy to spot, and thus, make it easier for you to be rescued should you need to be.

Material

An important factor to think about when purchasing a life jacket is the material.

Ideally, you’ll want a life jacket that is made out of puncture and tear-resistant material. 

Depending on the activity that you’re doing, water sports can be high-impact, so you’ll want to choose a material that can withstand the activity that you hope to be doing!

The majority of life jackets on the market are made out of either nylon, polyester, or neoprene.

I recommend doing some research in accordance with the activities you hope to be doing in your life jacket on the water.

Generally speaking, the core of inherently buoyant PFDs is often closed cell foam which provides buoyancy and flotation.

Intended use

Another thing to consider is the intended use of the jacket, as different types of water sports have jackets that are better suited for that specific sport.

Have a think about what you intend to be doing on the water, whether it’s simply a day of boating with your family or is for sports such as kayaking or fishing.

If you don’t get the right kind of jacket for the intended use, you could find that your movement is limited or the jacket isn’t suitable.

Safety

Another important factor to take into consideration when you’re out on the water with your life jacket is safety.

Good insurance that a life jacket is safe, is to make sure that it is Coast Guard approved.

You will need to check if the jacket is Coast Guard approved in the US. If it is approved, there should be a tag attached to the life jacket, as well as written inside.

However, it is worth mentioning that the idea of wearing a life jacket is not so that you can take unnecessary risks on the water.

In an ideal situation, the best option is to avoid falling in. 

The water is often cold depending on the season that you’re in, and cold water shock is a serious reality once you’re submerged in water.

Although the life jacket is going to minimize the risk of you drowning, it is incredibly important for you and your family to practice safe behaviors on the water and respect it, too.

The best option before heading out is to inform or remind yourself of what you should do in the event that you go overboard, so you are properly aware of the effects of cold water shock and what to do.

Always make sure that you do your own research on finding a Coast Guard approved life jacket and ensure that you are aware of your surroundings and the area before you head out.

Durability 

Something important you’ll need to take into account is the durability of the life jacket. When you’re at sea, you can’t afford to take any risks with your life jacket and need to ensure that it is going to withstand the test of time.

A good indication of whether a product is durable or not is to check the product reviews section.

Here, customers can leave feedback, good or bad on their experience with the product and can highlight any issues that they might have had.

Along with this, customers can also reveal their experience of a company’s customer service.

For instance, if the company weren’t able to easily rectify the customer’s issue with their product, then it is likely that they will let you know in the product reviews section.

Always do your own research and make sure that you are satisfied with the customer feedback before clicking ‘buy’ on your purchase.

Best Life Jackets - FAQ's

What do life jackets do?

As the name suggests, life jackets are designed to keep you afloat and help you survive should you fall overboard into the cold water.

Coldwater shock is the uncontrollable reaction of the body when it is first submerged in cold water.

Without a life jacket, even a competent swimmer will suffer from ‘swim failure’ after around 30 minutes of swimming in cold water. 

However, if you are wearing a well-fitted life jacket with crotch straps, you can concentrate on keeping warm, conserving energy, and making yourself visible instead of swimming.

As a result, it is essential that you wear a life jacket when you’re out on the water.

How do you maintain your life jacket?

As with most products, life jackets do not last forever. That being said, you need to regularly inspect your life jacket for wear and tear and maintain it properly if you want to keep it in the best possible condition.

Whatever type of lifejacket you use, it will need basic maintenance to keep it working properly.

This includes regularly inspecting your own life jacket after every trip out, according to the manufacturer’s instructions and in conjunction with an annual service. 

The important thing to remember is that a life jacket is only going to work as well as it can as long as you are taking care of it, so you need to keep on top of maintenance.

Last update on 2021-06-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API