Click on a category to shop our life vests from HO, Hyperlite, O'Neill, Connelly, Radar 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 US Coast Guard. The different US Coast Guard Approved (USCGA) 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. Type II is required for every infant life vest. Children and adults require a Type III vest for a lake, river, or bay. It is not recommended for the ocean in rough waves or for whitewater rafting. Most watersport life vests are rated Type III.
Type III life jackets provide US Coast Guard compliant flotation to keep your head out of the water, but does not have the head pillow. Whitewater rafting requires Type II (life vest design with a head pillow).
Competition Life Vests are not US Coast Guard Approved and are for excellent swimmers engaged in active, competitive water sports. These life vests offer warmth and protection against hard landings without full flotation. They are considered a wetsuit garment by the US Coast Guard. An example of a PFD that is frequently used for waterskiing but is not US 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 upgrade to a closed cell PVC marine foam integrated life vest
|Nylon life vests can feel scratchy and less comfortable. (Recommended to wear a rash guard underneath.)
|Neoprene is soft. Rashguard is optional.
|Nylon does not stretch and is sometimes more 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 closed cell PVC foam upgrade allows for more comfort when wet
|Nylon does not use closed cell foam
|Some Neoprene vests integrate closed cell PVC foam
|Nylon is cold and does not offer warmth in the water, can be helped by a rashgaurd
|Neoprene provides some warmth in the water, even warmer with a rashguard.
|Nylon life vests for women are not as comfortable in the upper body
|Neoprene life vests for women designed for a ladies upper body shape providing maximum comfort
Fit and comfort are the most important features to look for in life jackets. When a 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 usually the better choice for a life vest. It is softer and more comfortable than nylon.
If you buy nylon life vests, we recommend wearing a t-shirt or rashguard underneath for better comfort. Doing this also provides protection from the sun.
Any US Coast Guard Approved neoprene life jacket site is a good type of life jacket for jet ski or boat. Look for features depending on the way you ride. All features are described on this guide page. If you plan to tow a rider with a jet ski, get a life jacket that is good to use with that waterski, wakeboard, or kneeboard. Look for low bulk, large armholes, hidden belts, V-Back for flex. The Hyperlite team and HO team are great low bulk life jackets. Many Connelly life jackets have Glideskin to prevent absorbing water when you get splashed. Lumbar support is a plus for very long rides.
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 lighter than other foam when wet because they do not soak up as much water. Some vendors such as Oneill and Hyperlite have tweaked the design even more to add Hydrozote foam or Biolite neoprene to further improve the wet weight of the vest. These life jacket designs even lighter than most when wet. This results in less weight on your body when in the water, which is an advantage in any water sport. These superior life vests are more costly, but we offer exclusive discounts on high end life vests to make them more affordable.
Most customers don't know about this feature. The Flex back will help men, women, or children with a more comfortable fit. The V-Back or Flex back feature is found on most of the newer neoprene life jackets. This feature gives the wearer more comfort with a flexible core and sides, allowing for better movement when making turns and attempting tricks. One of these such vests is the Oneill Mens Reactor Vest.
In the CHILD YOUTH and TEEN sizes, all Connelly Neoprene Life Vests have the flex back, some Hyperlite vests have it and some HO Sports vests have it. When you are shopping, click on the detailed images tab to see the picture of the back of the life vest to see if it has it or not.
Life Vests for Women have an upper body shape that is different than a man. For this reason, an adult woman should try to find a womens life jacket for better comfort. The one life vest that has the most chest area comfort for those who need it is the Hyperlite Womens Logic Life Jacket. Unfortunately the size range for womens vests is limited, so those who need a larger size it is recommened to buy a plus size mens life jacket. In this case, neoprene life jacket over nylon will be the best choice for comfort.
Oversized armholes give you for more mobility in water sports including wakeboarding, kneeboarding, waterskiing, and Kayaking. Only the best life vest companies offer that feature, and mostly neoprene.
Life Vests with Lumbar Support
Lumbar support offers reduced back fatigue. This upgrade is recommened for those who spend more time on the water or compete in more physically tasking watersports. This feature is only found in the Neoprene life Vests made by water sports specialists such as O'Neill.