Updated: May 29, 2015
Life Jacket Reviews:Personal flotation devices (PFD) are the only way to make sure you are safe when venturing into the water. Whether you are swimming in a river, boating on a lake, or wakeboarding, a life jacket will let you float on the waters surface if something should go wrong. I grew up wearing life vests whenever we took our family boat out as it was the law. We used to take an inflatable raft out on a local reservoir and we always wore our life jackets. Each summer we hear about senseless deaths on rivers and waterways around America where kids and adults unfortunately drown and most of the time they could have been saved simply by wearing a life jacket vest. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) classifies all flotation devices (Type I, Type II, Type III, Type IV, Type V) so make sure the one you choose is appropriate for whatever watersport you will be doing (fishing, boating, waterskiing, etc.). The top brands to consider are Stearns, WinningEdge, Coleman, Kent, Body Glove, O'Neill, and Hyperlite. Expect to spend at least $15 for the basic ones and up to $100 for the high end life jackets.
Most of the general purpose life vests and boating vests will work on the water. The majority of life jackets come with buckle closures and some offer a zipper as well. The 3 types of flotation devices are foam, inflatable, and hybrid. Foam are the common variety in stores and most likely what you will buy. The USCG says the foam life vests are the most reliable - great for swimmers or non-swimmers. If you want the range of motion for swimming in lakes or rivers, then the inflatables will perform better than the foam style. Hybrids are just a mix of both styles. The most important feature to any life jacket is to make sure it fits properly. Your weight and size determine the size you will buy. When you shop for a life vest check to see what the size recommendations are from the manufacturer. Life jacket reviews are available on websites like Safelifejackets.com, Shop4lifejackets.com, Cabelas, and Amazon.com. Most sporting goods stores carry the latest life vests - Dicks Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, etc. We found a great selection online at Amazon.com with reviews posted by actual owners which makes the buying decision much easier once you've read up on which products perform the best. We found an excellent life jacket buying guide here (http://www.shop4lifejackets.com/choose-the-right-life-jacket.htm) with the Coast Guard Life Jacket Regulations and general recommendations for personal flotation devices. You can browse the top selling life vests and jackets online here.