Life jackets are an essential part of every boating adventure – they will keep you afloat if you accidentally end up in the water. Wearing one is not just about meeting the law requirements, it’s more about keeping yourself (and other people on board) safe in an emergency situation.

When choosing a boating life vest for your safety checklist, it’s important to consider its type, size, comfort, and whether it’s U.S Coast Guard approved. To help you decide, we reviewed the best boating life vests in terms of both comfort and reliability. And, if you’re curious about what makes a good life jacket, our buying guide will give you all the answers.

How To Choose A Life Jacket For Boating – Buying Guide


Using a life vest doesn’t correlate to your competency as a swimmer – everyone needs a boating life vest. If there’s an accident and you end up injured or unconscious in the water, the best boat life vest will save you from drowning. To make this possible, you should keep a few things in mind when listing through the top rated boat life vests.

Sizing the Life Jacket

Getting the right size of your boating life vest is very important for its overall performance. As you’ve had the chance to see, most models come in adult universal size, fitting people that weigh over 90 pounds and have a chest diameter from 30 to 52 inches.

In addition to the standard size, many manufacturers also make models for infants (0 to 45 pounds), kids (45 to 90 pounds), and oversized vests for larger people. Make sure to get the size right – boating life vests that are too small can’t be buckled, while a model too large will be bulky and can slip off when you fall into the water.

Related Post: Life Jacket Buoyancy

Fit Around the Chest and Waist

When you’ve found the proper size, it’s time for adjusting the fit. A life jacket should be snug on your body without making you uncomfortable or limiting your range of motion. Most PFD boating vests have three adjustable straps with buckles so you can tighten or loosen the jacket as much as you want.

Since you’ll wear one for long periods, comfort is an important consideration too. All life vests will restrict you a little, but the best life jacket for boating often has large armholes or fully open sides for freedom of movement. 

Materials and Construction Quality

The choice of materials determines not only the durability of your boating life vest but also its overall comfort. Nylon and polyester are the most common materials used for this purpose – they are both lightweight, strong, and perform well in a wet environment.

In addition to this, it’s important to consider the buoyancy. Inflatable life jackets with CO2 cylinders are highly buoyant but tend to cost more. So, if you’re going for a cheaper option, make sure it’s filled with high-quality foam. Lastly, pay attention to the quality of other elements like adjustable straps and buckles – they shouldn’t break easily if someone is pulling you out.

Related Post: Life Jacket Buying Guide



Q: Are Life Jackets Required On Boats?


Yes, it’s required by law that every person on board wears a life jacket. These jackets need to be U.S. Coast Guard-approved, and types I, II, III, and V can be used for this purpose. All the top rated boat life vests on our list meet these requirements, giving you great protection and making sure you pass the safety inspection.

Related Reviews: Big And Tall Life Jacket & Womens Life Vest

Q: How Many Emergency Life Jackets Do I Need On Board?


You need to have one boating life vest for every person on board. This stands regardless of age, meaning that every infant, child, teen, and adult should wear one. If you often have guests on board, getting a 4 or 6-pack we featured might be a good idea.

Q: How Do I Clean And Maintain A Life Jacket?


A life jacket is usually cleaned the old-fashioned way – with water, soap, and some scrubbing. Removing the stains from sunscreen, food, or mildew will keep the jacket looking great and maintain its performance. Here’s what you should do:

  • Mix some soap or a mild detergent with warm water
  • Use the solution to scrub the life west with a soft cloth or brush
  • When done scrubbing, rinse it thoroughly with clean water
  • Leave in the air to dry before storing (to avoid mold and mildew)\
Related Post: How To Clean Life Jackets

Q: What Type Of Life Jacket Do I Need For Boating?


The boating life jacket needs to be one of the four types – I, II, III, or type V. Type IV is a throwable that doesn’t count when you get a safety inspection. In addition, you need a USCG approved life vest. Keep in mind that if you also want to take part in other water activities (like watersports), the requirements become more specific.

Globo Surf Overview

Boating is a great activity that people of all ages can enjoy and experience. Still, it’s very important to think about safety when you set out on the water.

A boating life vest can save your life, so you should pay attention when choosing. With the help of our life jacket for boating reviews, you’ll be able to find the best boat life vest that will keep you safe and allow you to fully enjoy your time on the boat.

More Life Jacket Reviews:

More Jacket Reviews:

Do you own one of the life jackets that made it onto our list? Let us know how it has worked for your boating needs in the comments sections below.

Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!