The 10 Best Boating Life Vests

Updated April 12, 2018 by Chase Brush

10 Best Boating Life Vests
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 26 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Whenever and wherever you decide to go boating, remember that a life jacket is a safety essential. But which specific model you decide to choose depends a lot on how you're spending your time out on the water. This list brings together a wide variety of styles, from more fitted vests ideal for extreme sports, like tubing and wake boarding, to ones with lots of pockets designed for fishing. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best boating life vest on Amazon.

10. Imax Auto-Vox Inflatable

You don't have to be on a snorkeling excursion to appreciate the utility of the Imax Auto-Vox Inflatable, which blows up with just a few strong breaths and folds away neatly when not in use. For those reasons, it makes a smart addition to any boating hobbyist's gear bag.
  • horse collar style
  • adjustable waist and crotch straps
  • not for long periods in the water
Brand Imax
Model pending
Weight 7 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

9. Stohlquist Women's Flo

Whether you're canoeing, rafting, or even small craft sailing, the Stohlquist Women's Flo will ensure you stay comfortable and stylish the whole day through. With a slim width and built-in supportive foam cups, this model is tailored specifically for the female figure.
  • has beverage and bellow pockets
  • high back clears most kayak seats
  • a little expensive
Brand Stohlquist
Model Flo
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

8. Onyx General Purpose

Designed to fit most adults, the Onyx General Purpose is value-priced and ideal for public use aboard big vessels. Large armholes allow for freedom of movement, while adjustable straps accommodate chest sizes up to 60 inches, making this a true one-size-fits-most option.
  • doesn't impede swimming
  • soft foam contours to the body
  • rather bland appearance
Brand Kent
Model 3580
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.3 / 5.0

7. Body Glove Women's Phantom

The Body Glove Women's Phantom features a flexible neoprene lining and a heavy-duty nylon exterior shell that, together, make it a solid choice for anything involving strenuous physical activity. Interior glide-lock printing ensures it won't ride up on you, either.
  • high-quality air foam
  • drain panels keep water out
  • some users may find it too long
Brand Body Glove
Model 12224W-LEM/Black-Xlarge
Weight 1.5 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

6. Mustang Survival Lil' Legends

Made specifically for young children, the Mustang Survival Lil' Legends has an innovative shape that keeps the wearer's head above water even if he or she is not yet a competent swimmer. Loud, but attractive, colors make it impossible to lose track of your precious cargo.
  • also comes in infant size
  • heavy-duty grab strap
  • no crotch strap
Brand Mustang Survival
Model MV3255-258
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

5. Onyx MoveVent

If you're an avid kayaker, you'd be hard-pressed to find a model better suited to your particular needs than the Onyx MoveVent. It boasts a shorter length and wider armholes than typical PFDs, giving you unrestricted movement while paddling and pivoting in the cockpit.
  • reflective bands provide visibility
  • lots of mesh venting
  • not for general applications
Brand Onyx
Model 122200-200-060-14-P
Weight 1.3 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

4. Flowt AK-1

The USCG-approved Flowt AK-1 would be a sound purchase for the responsible boat owner. Even if you and your family might not use them that frequently, these classic orange options are great to have on hand for guests or as backups, and affordable enough to buy in bulk.
  • universal adult size
  • also come in camo
  • clear storage bag included
Brand Flowt
Model OLJT
Weight 16 ounces
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

3. NRS Chinook PFD

If fishing is your aquatic activity of choice, then strap on the NRS Chinook PFD and stay safe while also enjoying handy access to your gear. This comfortable, and even fashionable, jacket has tons of pockets and attachment options for tackle, including rod holder loops.
  • d-ring on back for attaching net
  • knife lash tab on front
  • soft and flexible material
Brand NRS
Model NRS
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. O'Neill Wetsuits Superlite

With a relaxed fit and a lightweight foam construction, the O'Neill Wetsuits Superlite is a popular option among recreational water sports enthusiasts. It's sturdy, but also comfortably flexible, allowing for the kind of mobility needed during tubing or wake boarding.
  • fits wide variety of body types
  • coated polyester shell
  • great value for price
Brand O'Neill Wetsuits
Model 4723-CK4-3XL-P
Weight 2.7 pounds
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Stearns Adult Classic Series

The humble Stearns Adult Classic Series won't bowl you over with its appearance, but this well-made device is rugged and very budget-friendly. With a shell comprised of the same resilient nylon as more expensive models, it will stand up to the elements season after season.
  • three buckles make for easy fitting
  • durable webbed straps
  • open-sided design
Brand Stearns
Model 2001
Weight 1.2 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

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Last updated on April 12, 2018 by Chase Brush

Chase is a freelance journalist with experience working in the areas of politics and public policy. Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, he is also a hopeless itinerant continually awaiting his next Great Escape.


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