According to the U.S. Coast Guard, wearing a life jacket is the most important thing you can do to stay safe while enjoying the water. There are many different types and styles of life jackets on the market, but not all of them are Coast Guard approved. In order to be Coast Guard approved, a life jacket must meet certain standards for flotation, visibility and construction.
Coast Guard approved life jackets are available in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit both children and adults, so it’s important to choose one that fits properly. Life jackets should also be comfortable to wear so that you’ll actually want to wear it when you’re out on the water. Some life jackets also come with additional features like whistle attachments and reflective strips that can help make you even more visible in an emergency situation. Remember, wearing a life jacket is always better than not wearing one at all – so make sure you choose a Coast Guard approved life jacket next time you hit the water!
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 1) Stohlquist Fit Adult PFD Life Vest | Pack of 4 | Coast Guard Approved, Adjustable Size, Unisex, Lightweight, High Mobility, PVC Free Life Jacket – Value Pack
Product Summary: The Stohlquist Fit is a lightweight, high mobility life jacket that is perfect for any water activity. The PVC free design is comfortable and adjustable, making it a great fit for any adult. The Coast Guard approved life vest is perfect for any water enthusiast.
A 5-Star Review: To be perfectly honest. I just needed life jackets, for me, and my friends. I wasn’t actually expecting them to be pretty nice. They are easy to adjust. And I feel like they will fit a good majority of body sizes. Me and my friends come in a variety of different sizes, so a comfortable fit is important. The life vests were highly adjustable. And comfortable. The safety of my friends and family is very important to me. These life vests offer great value for the money. And it provides much-needed safety, so you can enjoy the water.
A Critical Review: These are not life jackets, they are boyancy aids. I didn’t know this until I received them and read through the booklet that came with them. The carrying bag says “life jackets” but they are not. I just wanted to leave this review for others who may be looking for actual life jackets. These will be fine for us to use on the lake, but I’m going to have to buy a whole new set for my family to use on the river. These aren’t safe enough for river use.
They’re lightweight and comfortable though. So if you’re an adult who knows how to swim and you just want someone that’s comfortable for kayaking on the lake these are great. But for rougher water or for young adults jet skiiing on their own, these are not safe.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 2) Aqua US Coast Guard-Approved Life Jacket, PFD with Comfortable Flex-Form-Fit Design, Infants/Kids/Youth
Product Summary: This Aqua US Coast Guard-Approved Life Jacket is designed with a comfortable flex-form-fit design that is perfect for infants, kids and youth. This life jacket is made from durable materials and is designed to keep your little one safe and comfortable while enjoying the water.
A 5-Star Review: When we started going to the pool we used the life vest they had. They were probably all donated at some point, the problem we ran in to is they didn’t fit that well. The back would push her forward and it was a bit hard for her to keep her face out of the water. With the one we odered now it fits very well, has the perfect amount of float material and doesn’t push her forward in the water as she is learning to swim. It does not have the strap that goes between the legs.It fits snug enough and is adjustable so that strap is not needed.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 3) Oceans7 US Coast Guard-Approved Kids Life Jacket 30-50 lbs -Type III PFD Flexible-Fit Open-Sided Design Personal Flotation Device – Pink/Berry
Product Summary: Is your little one ready to start exploring the open waters? Then they’ll need the Oceans7 US Coast Guard-Approved Kids Life Jacket. This life jacket is designed for kids aged 2-4 years old, and weighing between 30 and 50 pounds. It features a flexible-fit open-sided design for comfort and ease of movement, as well as a personal flotation device to keep them safe in the water. Plus, the pink and berry color scheme is sure to please your little one.
A 5-Star Review: I bought the pink one for my son because the color is very visible in and out of the water. It works well and came with an informational brochure.
A Critical Review: Gave my child rub marks on neck and armpits. Hard abrasive material not worth the price. She’s 40lbs so it wasn’t to small vest states 20-50lbs
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 4) Airhead Type II Keyhole Life Jacket | Multiple Colors Available
Product Summary: The U.S. Coast Guard approved Type II Life Vest is designed for inland water near shore, where chances of immediate rescue is likely. It is constructed of heavy-duty nylon, and brightly colored orange fabric for better visibility on the water. The vest is lightweight and easy to store, and has minimal bulk for improved comfort. The product is designed specifically to provide minimum buoyancy and will turn most unconscious persons face up in calm water situations. The adult universal keyhole fits adults 90 lbs. and over (30″-52″ chest).
A 5-Star Review: Works well and price was right
A Critical Review: Boat safety . USCG product
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 5) Airhead Infant’s General Purpose Life Jacket, Coast Guard Approved, Blue
Product Summary: The Airhead Infant’s General Purpose Life Jacket is a Coast Guard-approved life jacket that is perfect for infants and toddlers. It is made of durable, comfortable materials that are safe for your child. The life jacket has a bright yellow color that is easy to see, and it comes with a safety strap that goes around the back of the neck to keep your child secure. The Airhead Infant’s General Purpose Life Jacket is a great choice for any family that wants to keep their child safe while enjoying the water.
A 5-Star Review: We went on vacation to Kalahari Resorts and life jackets are required for the little ones. We bought this for our son who is 13 months old and recently started walking consistently. He doesn’t like to float on his back yet, but this jacket was great for what we needed. It specifies that this is best for an infant/child who has been comfortable with or taught to float on their back due to the risk of their head going under forward, but we were always close enough this wouldn’t have been an issue. I have no complaints!
A Critical Review: We got this for our 6 month old son to go to a water park where he had to have a coast guard approved life vest. The size was good but the top wanted to squeeze his head the whole time.. He wasn’t comfortable.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 6) Stohlquist Kids Life Jacket Coast Guard Approved Life Vest for Children
Product Summary: This jacket was designed to keep your 30 lb infant safe and comfortable. Fully adjustable straps and easy entry front zipper with security buckle ensure best fit. As your young one begins to paddle and kick in the water, this PFDs design allows for freedom of movement so they can start a lifelong love for “play in the water”!
A 5-Star Review: We love Stohlquist for our babies first life vests! From 2 weeks old to about 3 yrs old. Great for the boat, easy to use, comfortable fit, easy to clean. This is our 3rd one in this style and size for our 3 little ones. They have never complained or minded them and fall asleep easily in them with the comfortable neck support while we are under way.
If used for swimming or in the water you definitely need to still supervise them closely and be within reach so they don’t turn the wrong way, but that’s with any life vest. We mainly use them for boating and when the kids are playing on deck.
A Critical Review: If you are looking for a type 2 PDF for children who cannot swim this is NOT the PDF for you!!! This is a type 3 PDF for children who need assistance swimming. These photos are taken from the actual product. If you are looking for a type 2 PDF… Do not buy! If you are looking for a type 3 PDF this looks like a decent option (was not able to try it out). The colors are fun!!
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 7) Stohlquist Infant PFD Life Jacket – 8-30 lbs – Coast Guard Approved Life Vest for Toddlers, Support Collar, Grab Handle, Fully Adjustable with Quick Release Buckle
Product Summary: The Bouncy Jumper is perfect for bouncing and kicking while keeping your little one warm and comfortable. The wrap-around flotation turns a child face up. Dual support collars cradle the head. Front zipper entry and adjustable crotch strap secures the jacket in place.
A 5-Star Review: have used on 14 month and 18 month old grandkids and was tolerated well and seemed to fit better than ones they had brought with them.
A Critical Review: I did a bunch of research before purchasing this life jacket. I started using it last year when my daughter was 8 months old & again this summer at 20 months. She is quite small at 20 pounds. I recently got brave enough to see if it would float her and consistently 5 times now she gets flipped onto her stomach! Oh yikes so not good!!! So as far as safety goes while boating, it’s a pretty epic fail. That being said I gave it 2 stars because otherwise – although really if it doesn’t save her life in an accident what’s the point!?! 🙁 – it is a good quality, it goes on easily, stays on well, and seems quite comfortable for her – she walked around in it for 3 hours today with no issues. It works to keep a hold of her while in the water & give her some extra buoyancy, us a bit more confidence than just holding a slippery toddler. Butttt it flips her on her face if I let go (after placing her on her back). Ugh. So scary. It seems to work for a lot of people but somehow not us.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 8) O’Neill Women’s SuperLite USCG Life Vest
Product Summary: The O’Neill R&D process provides the best quality, fit and functionality in the industry. Our USCG Life Vests continue to set new standards of excellence in design for all wake and waterski athletes.
A 5-Star Review: I am 5’2″ and 100 lbs. This is pretty tight on me. Its manageable Because I have a small chest but anyone that is my size with a C cup couldn’t fit it.
In the picture the top 2 buckle straps have way less slack than The bottom ones so the chest is pretty tight.
A Critical Review: You! Yes, you reading this! See all those negative reviews regarding the sizing being wayyyyyyyy off? Well, take it from me who took the chance after seeing those reviews and bought this anyways: Oh my lanta listen to them. This thing is sized horribly. You will EASILY have to jump up two sizes from what you normally wear to fit into this thing, and even then, it still might not fit!
I’m normally a small in women’s shirts and tops. Seeing the reviews regarding the small sizing, I ordered a size up, a medium. I couldn’t even get the buckles to close on the medium! The sizing they have on these is an absolute joke. Do they really think that these fit women?? They’d probably only fit a young kid!
I ordered a large as well, and I honestly don’t even know if that will fit just based off of how small the medium life jacket was!
O’Neill has some serious explaining/remeasuring/reality check to do. I don’t know how the heck they came up with the sizing on these things. It is bewildering.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 9) Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest
Product Summary: This vest is designed with variable thicknesses of foam, large armholes, custom fit, and soft comfortable outer shell and lining. The vest offers mesh ventilation in front and back to keep you cool, and mesh in the lower back.
A 5-Star Review: Love the fit and style of this life jacket! I am a 120 lb 5’4” woman and the XS/S fits perfectly. As the jacket states, it’s a type 3 floatation device which is best helpful if you are conscious or floating on your back. If you are unconscious and face down in water with this you will drown. I do not white water raft so this jacket is perfect for my level of activity. I mainly got this to follow local laws where kayaking even in calm water requires the wear of protective equipment. It’s very comfortable and easy to move in while kayaking and makes swimming out in lakes and rivers even more fun. I can just lay back and float with no effort. I also love the built in whistle and the mesh lower back patch for air flow. There are a few different adjustable straps to get the fit just right. It doesn’t take long at all for it to dry out after completely soaked, although it does get saturated it only takes a few minutes for the water to drip out. I have worn this thing for hours at a time, it’s so comfortable! I’ve transported it to camping trips strapped to the top of my car, it’s gotten muddy, been sprayed with bug spray, used on many outings and still looks brand new!
A Critical Review: This item came up when I searched for women’s paddling PFDs. I ordered a M-L, as the sizing guide indicated. (For reference, I wear a women’s size 12 and am 5’6″.) My measurements are 4-5 inches than the smaller size indicated. I would strongly suggest that women (especially busty ones) not go by this guide. I had to tightened the lower straps completely and the vest could still be pulled up quite a lot, although perhaps not off completely without force. By having the straps tightened that far, it pulls the padding too far around to the sides, making it uncomfortable and interfering with paddling motion. I have safety concerns about wearing this, as I would need to loosen the straps to paddle comfortably and that means the vest could come off in an emergency situation. Also, note that there are no straps that prevent it from falling off should the zipper fail. (Most vests have a waist strap.)
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 10) XGEAR Adult USCG Life Jacket Water Sports Life Vest
Product Summary: Multi-Sport Vest The XGEAR Adult USCG Life Jacket is the perfect choice for water sports and other activities. It is made of high-quality materials and provides excellent flotation and comfort. The life jacket is also USCG approved and has a bright orange color for added safety.
A 5-Star Review: Purchased 4x fit and felt comfortable. Use for boating ,water skiing, and jet skiing. Legal here for jet skiing. Kept me afloat very well and I am not small. I would and have recommended it to others.
A Critical Review: It is not as represented in the picture it is short rather than long as the picture appears. But it seems like good quality adding the length for all sizes in the purchasing information would help
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 11) Body Glove Paddle Pals Life Jacket – The Safest Patented U.S. Coast Guard Approved Kids Swim Vest 33 – 55 LBS
Product Summary: – Learn to Swim Aid for Ages 2-4 – Best for Beach, Pool, Boat, Camping, Outdoors The Body Glove Paddle Pals Life Jacket is the safest and most patented U.S. Coast Guard approved kids swim vest on the market. With a learn to swim aid for ages 2-4, this life jacket is perfect for the beach, pool, boat, camping, and outdoors. Made with the highest quality materials, this life jacket is sure to keep your little one safe and comfortable while enjoying the water.
A 5-Star Review: I got these for my 1 and 3 yr old daughters. They are amazing. Not to sound so cliched, but I’ve never written a review before and I felt compelled to do so now because these floaties have changed our lives this summer. Both the 1 and 3 yr old can float next to us in the water. They are safe. They girls can keep their heads up independently. And if one gets out of the pool to toddle around on the deck, I’m not chasing right behind them, paranoid that at any moment I’ll have to dive in the pool and scoop someone up. I love these. The product says it’s for a child with a minimum weight of 30 lbs. Neither of my daughters have hit 30 lbs yet but these are adjustable and fit snugly, even around my 21 lb one year old. There is extra fabric at the shoulders, but that does not prevent the float from doing its job. My girls love these and I do too!
A Critical Review: I saw the reviews and thought this would be the best option for our 21 month old boy. He weighs around 28 pounds so maybe it’s because he’s not quiet big enough but this tends to tilt him forward. It does help him float but tilting him face down defeats these purpose. We will keep it to try when he’s heavier. Perhaps that is the problem? We bought the crab one and it is very cute! It’s very sturdy. Just doesn’t work for us.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 12) Full Throttle Infant Nylon Life Jacket
Product Summary: This life jacket is perfect for your little one! It is made of durable nylon and has a comfortable fit. The life jacket also has a full throttle design that is perfect for those who love the water.
A 5-Star Review: Baby loves it. He can be layed down flat without rubbing on neck. It’s great
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 13) Body Glove Phantom Infant’s Evoprene Vest – Water Life Jacket Safety Vest for Infants with Headguard US Coast Guard Approved – FITS Infant’s Under 30 LBS.
Product Summary: The Body Glove Phantom infant’s Evoprene vest is a water life jacket safety vest for infants with headguard US Coast Guard approved. It fits infants under 30 lbs. The Phantom vest is made with a durable and comfortable neoprene material. It has a zip up front closure and an adjustable waist strap for a secure and comfortable fit. The vest also has a headguard for added safety. The Phantom vest is a great choice for keeping your little one safe while enjoying the water.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 14) Body Glove- Phantom Women’s Evoprene PFD-Adult Life Jacket – Coast Guard Approved, High Mobility PFD, Lightweight Buoyancy Foam, Universal and Oversize
Product Summary: Fit The Phantom PFD from Body Glove is a high-mobility and lightweight life jacket that is perfect for any water activity. It is made with Evoprene material that is comfortable and will keep you cool in the water. The PFD is also Coast Guard approved and features a universal and oversized fit.
A 5-Star Review: I fell in the lake, bobbed around in the water until I wasn’t dying of heat stroke, and didn’t sink not even one time. Will wear again. Great times.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 15) Airhead Men’s CAMO Cool Kwik-Dry Neolite Flex Life Jacket
Product Summary: The Camo Cool Life Jacket is U.S. Coast Guard approved, meaning it meets the requirements to keep you safe whether you’re boating, floating, tubing, or riding. This adult life jacket is smooth and luxurious to the touch, making it great for all types of water adventures. Made from Kwik-Dry Neolite material, this lightweight jacket wicks away moisture. The durable zippered closure in the front offers a traditional vest design. Quick-release buckles make this life jacket easy to remove and the tag-less design provides ultimate comfort. The Camo Cool Neolite Life Jacket, in blue and pink, features a modern camo-inspired design with multi-dimensional shades of blue, pink, gray, and white. This pattern is contrasted with black sections that keep it looking fresh and sleek, no matter where you are. What size should I wear? Disclaimer: Please use the size chart: Neolite life jackets may feel snug or run a little small. If you are unsure or in between sizes, we would recommend choosing the larger size
A 5-Star Review: Seriously, I would not be here filling out this review right now if I hadn’t purchased this life jacket! OK, it’s never directly saved my life or anything, but if I hadn’t bought it I’d have no reason to make this review. In all seriousness, though, it’s comfortable and I’m able to wear it while kayaking without it getting in the way or annoying rubbing.
A Critical Review: Definitely runs small. My 16 year old son is a large in shirts and when he tried on the vest it was way too small. Returned it and ordered an XXL. Definitely size up 2 sizes.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 16) Full Throttle Youth Rapid Dry Flex Back Life Jacket, Pink
Product Summary: The Rapid Dry Flex-Back youth vest is designed with comfort and safety in mind. The “Flex-Back” fabric in the back provides maximum maneuverability and comfort, while the front and back segmented foam provides optimal comfort and a secure fit. The vest also features a zipper closure and adjustable belts and snap closure for a secure fit.
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 17) O’Brien Recon Men’s Neoprene CGA Life Jacket
Product Summary: The O’Brien Recon Men’s Neoprene CGA Life Jacket is a great choice for those who want a reliable and comfortable life jacket. It is made of neoprene and has a comfortable fit with adjustable straps. The jacket also has a CGA approved life jacket rating.
A 5-Star Review: We have been boaters for 30+ years! Longer style life jackets are so darn hard to find! This fits my son absolutely perfect … but he is 190 lbs solid muscle and the large was huge we sold it and bought a medium!
Coast Guard Approved Life Jackets # 18) Stohlquist Escape Youth Lifejacket-Lime-Youth
Product Summary: The escape Youth PFD combines the essentials of comfort and safety. The escape has 8 points of adjustability ensuring an excellent fit. The buckle around the waist is protected by a nylon inner flap so as to not rub uncomfortably against the stomach. The escape Youth PFD includes a zippered and pleated chest pocket where your child can keep small treasures, Sunscreen, glasses or treats.
A 5-Star Review: Love the ease of a zipper, and has higher floatation than most to keep our kids safe. Highly recommended! 👍🏼👍🏼
A Critical Review: I’m really sorry to give this jacket two stars, but it should probably get one star. I’ve recommended the infant and smaller youth Stohlquist life jackets to many individuals – they are wonderful! This one, however, does not compare. It came unzipped while my son was wearing it and kayaking around the lake, it also came unzipped while he was swimming and jumping in the water. Luckily, my sever-year-old is a strong swimmer and he was never in danger. Additionally, maybe my child is just bad at using zippers, but he also has trouble zipping it up on his own. I don’t feel comfortable having my son use this as an actual life-saving device and I don’t want to let other children use it when they are on our boat. I hope I can have this jacket returned and refunded even though it has been used several times.
The U.S. Coast Guard has approved several different types of life jackets for use by boaters. The most common type is the inflatable life jacket, which can be worn by adults and children. Other types of life jackets include the foam-filled life jacket and the hybrid life jacket. Each type of life jacket has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to choose the type that is best suited for the type of boating you will be doing.
If you need help finding the best life jackets to enjoy your favorite water activities, we have a few suggestions of our own. You can read all about them here>>