Most young people today don’t think twice about heading out on the water without a life jacket. Whether they’re paddling a canoe, kayaking, or even just swimming, life jackets aren’t seen as necessary. But the truth is, life jackets could save your life in an emergency. Here are four reasons why you should always wear a youth life jacket when you’re on the water:
1. They keep you afloat.
If you find yourself in deep water and can’t swim to safety, a life jacket will keep you afloat until help arrives. I’s important to remember that even strong swimmers can get tired quickly if they’re struggling against a current. Wearing a life jacket means you won’t have to worry about staying afloat – it will do the work for you.
2. They help you stay warm.
If you end up in cold water, a life jacket will help keep your body temperature regulated and prevent hypothermia. In fact, wearing a life jacket can increase your chances of survival by 50% in cold water conditions. So if there’s any chance you could end up in cold water (like if you’re kayaking or canoeing), it’s always best to err on the side of caution and wear a life jacket.
3. They protect your head and spine.
In addition to keeping your head above water, a properly fitted life jacket will also protect your spine in the event of an impact (like hitting rocks while whitewater rafting). This is especially important for young people because their bones are still developing and they heal slower than adults do – meaning spinal injuries could have lifelong consequences. Wearing a youth life jacket ensures that your spine stays protected no matter what adventure you’re embarking on!
Youth Life Jackets # 1) Stohlquist Fit Youth Life Jacket – Coast Guard Approved, High Mobility PFD, Lightweight Buoyancy Foam, Fully Adjustable for Children
Product Summary: The Fit Youth PFD is a high mobility vest for paddling, general boating, and personal watercraft use. The sculpted front and back foam panels create a more appropriate fit for paddle sports, while still providing the ability to be used in other boating activities.
A 5-Star Review: I bought this life vest for an 8 year old boy who is 75lbs. It fits as expected and can be easily adjusted. The life vest is made of a better quality material than I was expecting since it was not that expensive. It actually looks, feels, and fits better than ones we tried on in stores such as Dicks and Academy. When buying a life vest, especially for a child, it is important to know what type to buy. I took a picture of some of the pages of the pamphlet that was attached to this life vest to help explain the different types and sizes of life vests. I hope it helps! I chose a Type III vest because we will be in calm, mainly shallow waters, and my child knows how to swim.
A Critical Review: Busy mom of three kids here and I needed a life vest for my 7 year old autistic son. My son is a big boy for his age and wears 10/12 in clothes…I was hopeful about this life vest but it didn’t mean minimal expectations. The top buckle only has just a bit of slack to use to tighten the strap (for a more snug fit). Then the jacket would slide up, near his ears, when he was swimming. It happened every time he swam wearing it, to the point I was afraid he may slip out under neath it. Wasn’t going to take a chance on that so we opted to buy another jacket elsewhere.
Youth Life Jackets # 2) SportsStuff Stars and Stripes Life Jacket | Child, Youth and Adult
Product Summary: Looking for a life jacket that will keep you safe AND stylish? Look no further than the SportsStuff Stars and Stripes Life Jacket! This life jacket is perfect for both children and adults, and features a cool stars and stripes design that is sure to turn heads. The best part? The SportsStuff Stars and Stripes Life Jacket is USCG approved, so you can rest assured knowing that you’re always safe on the water.
A 5-Star Review: Great vest for the money. Fits him well, not too thick and he’s comfortable in it. No crotch strap but he doesn’t need it. He has used it at the lake twice now and color hasn’t bled. He is 7 years old, 4′ 1″ tall and about 52 lbs.
A Critical Review: 😡MAD. I purchased two vests for my (12 yro/112 lbs) son—Adult Large and I (5’9/180 lbs)— ADULT XXL, to go to the beach on Memorial Day weekend.
I literally received the vests like 10 minutes ago. I opened the box and one is adult size small and one is adult size XXL. THEY ARE LITERALLY THE SAME SIZE! I tried both on although obviously they by appearance look the exact same size. What the heck? I’m keeping both because I don’t feel like sending it back — BUT BUYER BEWARE! 🤔 (PS. Yes, I referred to the sizing reference chart.)
Youth Life Jackets # 4) Stearns Kids Life Vest | Youth Hydroprene Life Jacket | 50 to 90 Pounds
Product Summary: Your young swimmer will have a blast finding new ways to have fun on the water with the Stearns Youth Hydroprene Vest. The US Coast Guard-approved design is specially-fitted for children 50-90 lbs. Two adjustable chest straps and a zipper ensure a tight fit at the pool, beach or lake. With soft, comfortable Hydroprene construction and lightweight Crosstech PE flotation foam, along with 1.5-in. webbed straps, you’ll use it season after season.
A 5-Star Review: This fits my tall 5 year old pretty well – 53 pounds, size US 7 clothes. The arm holes are a little larger than I’m comfortable with for a smaller kid but it has been suitable for 3 weeks of all day wear boating and at camp on the seashore.
A Critical Review: Pretty nice vest but don’t recommend for the 50 pounders. May be ok for higher weights. Also although we never actually used it in the water it looks like it would ride up around the face since it doesn’t have the strap that goes between the legs.
Youth Life Jackets # 4) Airhead Wicked Kwik-Dry NeoLite Flex Life Jacket Youth and Women’s Sizes Available
Product Summary: The Airhead Wicked Kwik–Dry NeoLite Flex Life Jacket is a lightweight, comfortable life jacket that is perfect for boating, fishing, or any other water activity. The Kwik–Dry material ensures that you stay dry and comfortable, while the NeoLite construction makes this life jacket extremely durable. The Flex Life Jacket also features a number of pockets and loops, so you can easily store all of your essential gear.
A 5-Star Review: Very good quality material and I think it’s quite comfortable for our little one to wear. It runs small though. Our family is long and lean and this just fits the length of her torso. The jacket has tummy room to expand but as I said just fits her torso. I’m a bit bummed honestly with what we paid for this given it barely fits but if it were a good fit I’d recommend. It’s very good quality, I can’t stress that enough. I think their next size up is a women’s and I was a bit leery of going up to that size as our child is only a petite 8 yr old. I’d definitely buy the brand again though, it’s a nice jacket.
Please like if my review was helpful.
A Critical Review: I bought two of these for my 5 and 8 year old daughters. My daughters are big for their age, my 5yo is tall and 54lbs and wears a kids 6x/7 the vest fits her great. My 8 yo daughter however the vest was too small. She is 53″ 80lbs and wears a size 10 we could zip the vest but barely and she said it was too tight. We ended up getting an adult xsmall vest which looks like the next biggest size and it fits her well.
Youth Life Jackets # 5) Airhead Trend Life Vest | Youth, Men’s and Women’s in Pink or Blue
Product Summary: The Airhead Trend Life Vest is perfect for those who love spending time on the water. It is comfortable and stylish, and comes in either pink or blue. This vest is US Coast Guard approved and is great for both men and women. It is made with durable materials and is sure to last you for many seasons.
A 5-Star Review: My daughter loves it. We threw her off the boat yesterday 3 miles from shore and went back to the marina. She just got home late last night, so we know it works.
Very well made.
(Okay I’m kidding, it was only 2 miles from shore)
A Critical Review: I’m 5’4″ and the bottom of the vest falls two inches below my waist. Impossible to sit it in without the vest coming up around my ears. Also found it very bulky. On the positive side, it fits and secures closed around a woman’s bust. But returning as it can only be used standing up.
Youth Life Jackets # 6) Youth Large Flex V-Back Life Jacket
Product Summary: The Split V-Back stretch panel for a more accommodating fit and greater maneuverability is made of soft, lightweight, breathable and eco-friendly material and features a zip closure and 2 concealed, adjustable belts for security. It also features multiple front and side hinges for a more comfortable fit and U.S. Coast Guard/Transport Canada Approved.
A 5-Star Review: I have peace of mind knowing that my child is protected in this life jacket. The quality and fit are great. My child loves that it’s comfortable and that she feels safe wearing it while on the boat and in the water.
A Critical Review: This was way to small for my size 8 daughter.
Youth Life Jackets # 7) ONYX All Adventure Youth Paddle & Water Sports Life Jacket, Blue
Product Summary: The ONYX All Adventure Youth Paddle & Water Sports Life Jacket is a versatile and durable life jacket that is perfect for a variety of water activities. It is made from a durable and comfortable material that will keep your child safe and comfortable in the water. The life jacket features a variety of safety features, including a foam back panel for added support, a front zip closure for easy on and off, and adjustable straps for a secure and snug fit. The life jacket also has a variety of pockets for storing essential items, making it perfect for a day on the water.
A 5-Star Review: Daughter uses this for both normal swimming to give her more confidence and also used it while tubing. The zip up plus adjustable straps allows her to get the right fit.
Youth Life Jackets # 8) Connelly Youth Nylon Life Jacket
Product Summary: Our youth and child nylon vests are all new this year constructed with vertically hinged segmentation for increased mobility and comfort. Our kid’s vests have been guaranteed to protect and properly float your young water sports enthusiasts by including such features as built in crotch straps (child and infant), belt closures, and head pillow (infant).
A 5-Star Review: My 8 year old son is right at 50 pounds and this works great. It’s a LITTLE big on him, but the smaller size would have been too small, so this is great for him to be able to use now and still grown in. This is a great jacket that has vibrant colors.
A Critical Review: It’s not for young people. I need for young people of 13 and 16 years old. Please
Youth Life Jackets # 9) ONYX All Adventure Youth Paddle & Water Sports Life Jacket, Green
Product Summary: The ONYX All Adventure Youth Paddle & Water Sports Life Jacket is a great choice for young paddlers and water sports enthusiasts. It is made of durable materials and features a comfortable, adjustable fit. The jacket is also equipped with a quick–release buckle and a D–ring for attaching a leash.
A 5-Star Review: This jacket fits my son!! Many life jackets are not big enough but this one is perfect for a 52 inch 70lb boy. There is space to grow and it doesn’t come up over his head when in the water. The green part is nice and bright for visability.
Youth Life Jackets # 10) 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: Kids like it, it works well in the water. The snaps are hard for kids to unsnap.
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.
Youth Life Jackets # 11) Stohlquist Canyon Youth Lifejacket (PFD)
Product Summary: Stohlquist Canyon Youth Lifejacket (PFD) – High float PFD designed for commercial whitewater boating and rafting.
The Stohlquist Canyon Youth Lifejacket (PFD) is an extremly low-profile, high mobility vest that offers big buoyancy for big water.
-Low profile design for big water mobility
-High floatation for big water safety
-Two-way adjustable straps for a snug fit
-Padded shoulder straps for extra comfort
-Reflective trim for low-light visibility
-One size fits all
Stohlquist Canyon Youth Lifejacket (PFD) – High float PFD designed for commercial whitewater boating and rafting.
The Stohlquist Canyon Youth Lifejacket (PFD) is an extremly low-profile, high mobility vest that offers big buoyancy for big water.
A 5-Star Review: Bought for my son who weighs 78# and is 4’8″. He said it was the most uncomfortable life jacket he has ever put on. Returned
Youth Life Jackets # 12) STEARNS Youth Watersport Classic Life Jacket
Product Summary: The Stearns Youth Watersport Classic Life Jacket is perfect for youth weighing 50-90 pounds. It’s constructed of durable nylon over PE foam, with 1″ webbing and closed sides. Coast-Guard approved as a Type 3 personal flotation device.
A 5-Star Review: Ordered for my grandson. He’s had this brand before. He outgrew the first one. I love the yellow. Helps me spot the kid quickly. We like that he can float on his own in our pool. It’s light but very well made. We just rinse it out after use. Hang to dry. And ready for the next pool days with grandpa. I recommend the seller and product.
A Critical Review: Bought this for my 9yo 80lb son. Wouldn’t even latch. I have other brand jackets with the same youth weight recommendations that fit just fine. The jacket is good quality and was able to let a little 4yo use it with no problem. Just beware and buy this jacket with the smallest weight in mind.
Youth Life Jackets # 13) Full Throttle Youth Nylon CGA Approved Life Jacket
Product Summary: This life jacket is perfect for young thrill seekers who love spending time on the water. The Full Throttle Youth Nylon CGA Approved Life Jacket is designed to keep your child safe while they enjoy themselves. It is made from durable nylon and is approved by the Canadian Coast Guard. This life jacket also has a comfortable fit and is adjustable to ensure a perfect fit for your child.
Youth Life Jackets # 14) NRS Vista Youth Lifejacket (PFD)
Product Summary: – Lightweight and flexible design wraps around the core for all-day comfort
– Comfortable life jacket is a priority for kids and parents
– Safety and price are added bonuses of the NRS Vista Youth PFD.
A 5-Star Review: Need for an 18 ur old special needs child worked really good for him
Youth Life Jackets # 15) STEARNS Puddle Jumper Youth Hydroprene Life Jacket, Blue
Product Summary: Help keep young swimmers safe while they have a blast in the water with the Stearns Puddle Jumper Youth Hydroprene Life Jacket. This youth life jacket is made with super-soft Hydroprene material and has hidden webbing for comfortable all-day wear. It features soft, flexible Aquafoam flotation foam on the front and durable Crosstech foam on the back. Two buckles and a zippered opening make it easy for your child to get in and out of the vest and help ensure a secure fit during fun at the beach, in the pool, or by the lake. This child life vest is US Coast Guard approved and specially fitted for youths weighing between 50 and 90 pounds.
A 5-Star Review: Great quality, but size runs small. Barely fits my son who is 53lbs.
A Critical Review: This item is supposed to be for a child 50 to 90 lbs I bought it for my grandson who weighs 65 lbs and is very slim and it does not even zip up. Disappointed and returning. It is a very nice color and smart-looking but useless for us.
In conclusion, it is imperative that all young people have a life jacket when participating in water-based activities. While many drownings occur due to lack of swimming ability, the majority of drownings could be prevented if youth life jackets were worn. Wearing a life jacket is not only the law in many states, but it could save your life.
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>>