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From seasoned swimmers to those who are less confident of their skills in the water, a lifejacket is not only a great idea to have on hand when spending the day on a lake or river, in the ocean or by a pool, but a necessity. Bulky, hot and uncomfortable, lifejackets are often tossed to the side, a move that can have tragic consequences. But with new, lightweight materials and designs for specific water activities, there’s no excuse to ever be without a lifejacket.
Several steps are involved with water safety, including never swimming alone, taking swimming lessons, keeping up to date on CPR certifications and more, but one of the most straightforward steps to follow is always wearing a lifejacket when boating or learning to swim.
Whether for yourself or your kids, it’s always important to pack a lifejacket. We rounded up a few different options below.
1. Stohlquist Fit Adult PFD Life Vest
This adult life vest from Stohlquist has a highly mobile and non-restrictive cut so you can stay safe without limiting your mobility out on the water. It’s got a thinner back panel to reduce interference with the seat back and the upper buckle is placed higher to reduce ride up. The foam corners are rounded and it’s made with box-stitched webbing that’s more durable than other PFD designs. This life vest is Coast Guard-approved for swimmers over 90 pounds and comes in a pack of 4, so there’s enough of them for the whole family in one purchase.
Pros: Made for mobility and safety, comfortable fit, durable stitching, comes in a pack of four.
Cons: May gather a bit of water between the outer and inner layers.
2. Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest
This adult life vest from Stearns comes in universal and oversized options, and has a durable nylon construction that’s designed to hold up against the elements. It’s got a 3-buckle design that’ll hold you in while swimming, skiing or doing other water sports. It’s US Coast Guard-approved for safety and comes with two adjustable straps so you can find a better fit. The nylon shell is layered over Crosstech Flotation Foam and it comes in red and royal blue.
Pros: Durable construction, universal sizing, adjustable fit and Coast Guard-approved.
Cons: Might ride high on some bodies when sitting down.
3. Kent Adult Universal Approved Life Jacket
This life jacket takes us back to the days of old school baywatch, and we’re not mad about it. The bright neon orange color will make you super easy to spot if you are in distress, and it’s designed for maximum buoyancy and turning an unconscious person face up in most calm water situations. It has a waist belt for holding you in and is less bulky than other, more-modern designs. It’s designed for adults over 90 pounds, and has a super adjustable fit.
Pros: Neon orange color makes you easy to spot, adjustable waist strap, less bulky.
Cons: Not as technologically-advanced as newer models.
4. Stearns Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket
Approved by the US Coast Guard, the Stearns Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket features a variety of fun designs and a functional and secure fit with an adjustable buckle.
Pros: The Stearns is designed for children weighing 30 to 50 pounds. Perfect for using while learning to swim, the jacket has a durable nylon shell and an adjustable belt buckle that provides for a custom fit and freedom of movement. Customers report that the jacket dries quickly.
Cons: Stearns isn’t designed for children to float on their back.
5. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest
The Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest comfortably fits close to wearers while providing vented channels and a sculpted foam design that makes swimming and paddling easy.
Pros: The life vest fits like a glove and can be easily adjusted at the belt and shoulders with neoprene comfort pads. The Mesh inScuplted design provides a close fit that means your vest won’t get in the way while paddling. The MoveVent has added features for convenience and safety, including reflective material for high visibility, an attached safety whistle, a drying loop on the back, and an expanded mesh pocket with a zippered closure. The mesh ventilation means users will stay cool while wearing the MoveVent without having to jump in the water.
Cons: Pockets are a bit small.
6. Onyx General Purpose Boating Vest
The Onyx General Purpose Boating Vest is the perfect lifejacket to use when looking for an item for a variety of activities and people.
Pros: The adjustable belt and strap keep the vest from riding up, and the large armholes make the jacket usable by people of various sizes. The jacket comes in four bright colors, including a very patriotic American flag design, and the jacket is designed to fit adults with a 30” – 52” chest who weigh more than 90 lbs.
Cons: Runs small.