Updated: December 2017

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.
life jacket

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.

Best Life Jacket:

RECOMMENDED - One of the top sellers is the Stearns Adult General Purpose Life Vest which is perfect for any man or women. Comes with 3 adjustable belts, 200 Denier nylon oxford shell, durable Crosstech flotation foam, and it's US Coast Guard approved for use on a boat. This type III life jacket comes in red or blue colors and most owners say it's the "best life jacket for the price". On almost sites we looked at the Stearn Life Jackets get excellent feedback and score for safety and comfort. Check them out online at Amazon and buy the one that is right for your watersport needs.

Life Vest:

A life vest is typically worn for more active water sports like waterskiing, wakeboarding, or even kayaking. You need a good range of motion with your arms that often the bulky jackets don't allow for. Slippery life vests are perfect for ladies and come in sizes to fit all. For the men we suggest Body Glove, O'Neill, or Hyperlite. The materials will keep you warmer once in the water and give you that flexibility when moving your upper body in the water. .

Kids Life Vest:

Kids the ones we all need to protect when in or around water. I live in Oregon where each year we hear about a child drowning in a river or lake, usually needlessly. ALWAYS have your child wear a personal flotation device for their own safety and your piece of mind. Most life jackets for kids run about $20 and the money is well spent. They give you kid the freedom to play in the water and still stay safe. See all the top rated children's life vests online here. We suggest looking at the Child's Stearns Watersports Vest or the Child's Stearns Boating Vest. For those between 50 and 90 lbs the Youth Boating Vest is another option.