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Life Vests

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Dog Pet Life VestsShop our Infant Life VestsShop our Child Life VestsShop our Youth Life VestsShop our Teen Life VestsShop our Womens Life VestsShop our Mens Life VestsShop our Competition VestsShop our Nylon Life VestsShop our Oversized Life Vestslifevest-category-box-oversized-neoprene.jpgShop or Marine Life Jackets and Flotation PadsShop our Specials and Closeouts on Life Jackets

Guide for how to Buy the Right Type and Right Size Life Vest

Life Vest Size Charts
Life Vest Size Charts
 Guide for Infant Life Jackets
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US Coast Guard Life Jacket Types

US Coast Guard Official Vest Types

Personal Flotation Devices, or a PFD, has many types defined by the Coast Guard. For any type of boating or travel on lakes, ocean, or rivers. Infants require a type II life vest. This type is the safest and forces flotation on the back with the head out of the water. This design uses a head pillow for added heads-up flotation. Children and Adults require Type III for recreational water sports, boating, kayaking, river rafting, or boating in ocean bays. This type does not force heads up flotation but provides US Coast Guard compliant flotation to keep your head out of the water. Whitewater rafting requires Type II (life vest design with head pillow)

Competition Life Vests are not USCGA approved and are only for excellent swimmers doing active competitive water sports. These life vests offer warmth and protection against hard landings and 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.

Life Vest Comfort Guide, Nylon or Neoprene? Compare Neoprene Life Vests to Nylon Life Vests

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 vets 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 comparisons show that Neoprene is by far, the best choice for a life vest. It is softer and more comfortable than nylon.

Hybrid Neo with Closed Cell Foam Core Panels

Closed cell foam core panels take Neoprene Life Jackets to the next level. Sometimes referred to as Hybrid Life vests, these closed cell Foam Panel Vests are the top of the line in life jacket design. Low stretch compared to vests that are pure neoprene, the Hybrid Neoprene integrated with close cell foam panels are the lighter when wet, dont stretch out as much when wet, and do not become as soggy as the vests that are pure neoprene. Less weight on your body means better wakeboarding or waterskiing. A lighter wet weight is an advantage in other water sports such as kayaking. We offer discounts on the high end life vests to make the best lifevests affordable. Hyperlite is using a new material in 2015 called Biolite Neoprene which repels more water than traditional neoprene.

Form Fitted Life Jackets for Women

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 and will not fit properly. Oneill wins when it comes to the most comfortable life vest for a woman. Oneill paid immaculate attention to the ladies upper body shape to design the most comfortable form fit for women.

Armhole size and mobility

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 is a good feature to reduce 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 kayaking.

Straps and Buckles on Life Vests

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.

Connelly and Hyperlite HingeFlex Life Vests with Rear vertical stretch back

The Hinge Flex feature can be found on Connelly Life Vests and the new 2015 Hyperlite life vests. Hinge Flex in Connelly is a stretchable back to allow for variations in tummy sizes. This allows you to stretch it without uncomfortablly compressing your lungs and chest. This feature forgives you if you buy a life vest that is too small, or your share the same vest with other boaters whe are bigger than you.

Below are examples some of our featured top rated Life Vests:
Oneill Reactor 3 Mens     O Neill Reactor 3 Womens