Click on a category to shop our life vests from HO, Hyperlite O'Neill, Connelly, Winning Edge and more:
The link below will gives you a life vest size chart by chest size for all life vest brands that we sell:
Personal Flotation Devices, or a PFD, has many types defined by the Coast Guard. The different US Coast Guard Approved types are shown below. All watersports vests are either type II or Type III. Type II life jackets have heads up flotation even in rough water because of the head pillow on the vest. This type is required for an infant life vest. Children and adults require a Type III vest for lake, river, or bay. It is not recommended for the ocean in rough waves or for whitewater rafting. All watersports life vests are rated Type III.
Type III life jackes provide US Coast Guard compliant flotation to keep your head out of the water, but do not have the head pillow. Whitewater rafting requires Type II (life vest design with head pillow).
Competition Life Vests are not USCGA approved and are for excellent swimmers doing active competitive water sports. These life vests offer warmth and protection against hard landings without full flotation. These are not considered life vests because they are not safe when a person is knocked unconscious in the water. They are considered a wetsuit garment by the coast guard. If you wear a Comp vest over a wetsuit, you get more flotation, but this is still not USCGA approved. An example of a PFD that is frequently used for waterskiing but not Coast Guard compliant is the Water Ski Belt.
|Nylon Life Vests||Neoprene Life Vests|
|Nylon is lower priced and very cost effective||Neoprene is more expensive|
|Nylon is light when wet and lighter when dry||Neoprene heavier when wet unless you spend the money for a closed cell PVC marine foam integrated life vest|
|Nylon life vests are mostly scratchy and uncomfortable. (Must wear a rash guard underneath.)||Neoprene is soft. Rashguard not needed.|
|Nylon does not stretch and is generally uncomfortable||Neoprene stretches to fit your body, thus much more comfortable. Must be very snug when dry. May be uncomfortable when dry but stretches to the correct fit when wet. The very snug when dry problem is solved with the more expensive neo vests that integrate closed cell PVC foam with neoprene.|
|Nylon never uses closed cell foam||Higher end Neoprene vests integrate closed cell PVC foam|
|Nylon is cold and offers no warmth in the water||Neoprene provides some warmth in the water, and even warmer with a rashguard.|
|Nylon Life Vests for Women are not as comfortable in the upper body||Neoprene life vests for women are form fitted to a ladies upper body shape for maximum comfort, especially when you get into the more expensive neo vests|
Fit and comfort are the most important features to look for in life jackets. When a cheap nylon life vest feels scratchy, or not form fitted for your age and gender, you are tempted to take it off in the middle of your boating trip, thus risking your safety or the safety of your kids. The above comparison chart shows that Neoprene is by far, the best choice for a life vest. It is softer and more comfortable than nylon.
Stay away from the very cheap nylon life vests selling for less than $20 have an exposed upper strap that goes completely around the vest, and around the your exposed side near armholes of the vest. This upper strap will rub against your ribs and will be horribly uncomfortable.
If you buy nylon life vests to save money, we recommend wearing a t-shirt or rashguard underneath for better comfort. Doing this also provides protection from the sun.
Closed cell foam core panels take Neoprene Life Jackets to the next level. These closed cell Foam Panel Vests are considered the top of the line in life jacket design. Neoprene integrated with close cell foam panels are the lighter when wet because they do not soak up as much water or become soggy. Some vendors such as Oneill and Hyperlite have tweaked the design even more to add Hydrozote foam or Biolite neoprene to improve the resulting wet weight of the vest even more. These Life Jacket Designs are much lighter when wet, which results in less weight on your body when wakeboarding or waterskiing. A lighter wet weight is an advantage in any water sport including kayaking. These superior life vests are pricy, but we offer discounts on high end life vests to make them more affordable.
Lets face it. Most people are not trim and athletic like the male and female models in those pictures of the wakeboarding life jackets. If you have a big tummy, the Flex Back will help with the fit and comfort of your life jacket. The feature is found on a few of the best Neoprene Life Jackets and most customers are uninformed about this feature. Too many buy what they think is the proper size of a Hyperlite Indy, or buy one of the Oneill vests without a flex back, and later end up doing a return or exchange for a bigger size. Below is a list of our life vests that have the flex back:
Oneill Reactor Neoprene Life Vests have it both mens and womens, but it is not as stretchy as the Connely Hyperlite or HO Flex Back
Life Vests for Women have an upper body shape that is different than a man. For this reason, an adult woman should never wear a mans life vest because it will be uncomfortable. The one life vest that has the most room up top for a woman is the Hyperlite Profile Life Vest.
Oversized armholes allow for more mobility in all water sports including wakeboarding, kneeboarding, waterskiing, and Kayaking. If you take flotation away from the armholes, you must design the vest to put that flotation somewhere else to make the life vest CGA compliant. Only the best life vests companies offer this feature, and mostly neoprene. Life Vests with Lumbar Support Lumbar support offer reduced back fatigue. This feature is only found in the Neoprene life Vests made by waters ports specialists such as O'Neill. Lumbar support is essential in water sports that put stress on the back, especially kneeboarding, waterskiing, and kayaking.
Many boaters forget about this problem. Long straps can get tangled up, and loose buckles can get caught on things. It is essential to wear the right size life vest. Wearing a vest that is larger than your size can create a safety issue and cause the straps and buckles to be too loose. Companies like Oneill have designed a feature to solve this problem, and it is called concealed buckles. Look for it. It keeps the buckles tucked in and keeps the straps short.
The worst life vest you can buy is the cheap nylon life vest that is so cheap, the company making them cannot afford to get US Coast Guard Approval. You can buy these in the $18 to $25 range. These cheap nylon life vests are very uncomfortable. They are imported in mass quantities from China and sold online everywhere. They have hard foam. They have a scratchy upper strap that rubs against your armpit and upper chest. They have sharp corners at all the seams which poke you. Some are even advertised as Oversized. When you see one, RUN AWAY. Below is a sample picture from an ad, one of many out there. WaterSkiWorld absolutely does NOT sell these HORRIBLE life vests: