Back when life jackets were invented, it would have been impossible to think of the number of uses they have for them today. They used to be big and bulky and only stored on ships for emergencies, but now they are used for a wide variety of activities such as tubing, kayaking and waterskiing.
The technology has clearly come a long way and now they are comfortable enough and light enough to be used all day while you’re out on the water. If your child is doing any form water sports, then you want to make sure they are safe and finding the best life jacket for kids is vital.
We’ve looked at the life jacket for kids review to come up with the 10 best life vest for kids. So before you head out to the water, read on to see which life jacket is the perfect one for your child.
How To Choose A Life Jacket For Kids – Buying Guide
Match the Best Jacket to Your kids Activity
Different jackets are used for different reasons, and a lot of that can come down to your child’s age and their ability in the water. If you have a child who is confident in the sea and enjoys doing various different types of activities, then you will be happy for them to have a jacket with very little safety features.
On the opposite side of that, if you have a young child who has never been in the water before, then it’s likely that you’ll want all the additional safety features that you can possibly have to keep them safe at all times. Some jackets focus on safety features, while others focus on mobility and there can be some which try to be a mixture of both.
As a parent, it can come down to making a judgment call. While you may think that you need the additional safety features, if your child is always going to be close by then they won’t really be required and might only hinder their movement.
Most jackets come in the same kind of style of having support over the front of the chest which will give you the buoyancy you need in the water. Some have more support than others though, including behind the head which is more useful for those who struggle to swim.
Most come in a range of different colors which can be important for visibility when you’re out in the water. Others have a fun design on them which is more likely to get them to engage in the life jacket and leave it on all day.
Due to how important it is that they don’t ever fail, life jackets are a very heavily regulated industry and one where certain standards have to be met before they are proved. Life jackets also have to fall into one of five categories which differ depending on your different uses for them. There we go through those five different types and explain each one.
Type I – These types are generally seen more for emergencies as they are designed to be used in rough seas where you’d have difficulties getting your head out of the water. Therefore they are more likely to be seen on huge ships which cross the ocean and not by a peaceful seashore. They are big and bulky and aren’t designed for any sporting use, and just for emergencies.
Type II – The type II is generally seen as a smaller version of the Type I life jacket as they have the same design aspects, except that they aren’t as bulky and are designed for use in calmer waters. They assist people who can’t swim so are good for emergencies, and also kids who aren’t the greatest swimmers.
Type III – Most water sport life jackets that you’d see for adults will be Type III jackets, and if your child is comfortable in the water then this is probably what they’ll be using as well. They are comfortable and have wide armholes so that you can do a range of different activities. If you want to have fun out on the water, then you’ll be most likely using a Type III jacket.
Type IV – A Type IV jacket isn’t actually a jacket at all, and instead is an emergency floatation device that would be thrown out to someone if they were in distress. This is most commonly associated with the life ring that you see at the side of boats and swimming pools. Naturally, you won’t be looking to buy one of these as they are only for emergency situations.
Type V – These are life jackets that are designed for a specific use and don’t have much support in the way of floatation devices as they are often worn by very strong swimmers. These types of jackets can often be seen on more extreme water sports such as waterskiing.
Certification (US Coast Guard Logo)
When it comes to certifications in various industries, you can never be too sure exactly how important they are and how highly they are valued. For life jackets though, you want to make sure that they have been approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) otherwise there is no way of being sure that you’ve bought a quality product.
All the best companies know that their life jackets simply wouldn’t sell without this accreditation, so they all make sure that they’ve been approved. If you’re looking to buy a life jacket and you can’t see this anywhere, then it’s best to walk away as clearly it isn’t a quality product.
The USCG logo should be on the packaging and clearly visible. All the products that we’ve reviewed here today have this standard, so there’s no need to worry. If you can’t see this mark then you have to wonder why, as the USCG gives the life jackets a standard series f tests to make sure they’ll keep you safe when you need them the most.
While life jackets in the past used to be worn only in times of emergencies, the life jackets featured here are meant to be worn for the whole duration that you’re out on the water, which for some activities might mean the full day. Due to this, you want to make sure that the jackets are comfortable, so it’s best to try it on your child before it is used properly.
We all know children can be fussy, so it’s much better to get them used to it at home or around a pool than when you’re out where on the open water. After a short period of time, most people don’t even notice that they have the life jacket on which makes it easy to be used for the whole day.
Like with any product that you wear, you want to make sure that it fits. With life jackets, however, it becomes vitally important as you don’t want to be struggling with it while you’re in the water. Thankfully with life jackets though, they are very adjustable meaning that you shouldn’t have any problems.
You want to make sure that the straps fit snuggly around the waist and make you feel secure, but without being too tight. When you get into the water, the life jacket shouldn’t ride up at all as this would compromise the buoyancy and you may struggle to get your head fully out of the water.
This riding up effect can be more common with infants and children as they tend to have much slender bodies than adults and therefore the jacket will be less secure. For this season, these smaller life jackets come with a crotch strap that will sit between the legs. This acts in much the way that the straps do in a car seat do, as they ensure that there is no way that the jacket can come off.
Like with any product that you take out to the water, you want it to be quick drying. Plenty of people have made the mistake of taking shoes or clothing to their beach trip out, only to find that you have to spend days drying them out before you can wear them again.
With life jackets though, it’s naturally a critical design feature that they don’t take on any water, but some are quicker to dry than others. If a material dries slowly then it’s much more likely to take on mold or mildew which can be harmful and can easily cause allergic reactions.
A quick drying material will negate the chance of any bacteria growing on your water equipment and clothing. Even if you have a quick drying material, then it’s still important every now and again to wash your items in a mild detergent to prevent any build-up from happening.
When it comes to children and picking colors, a lot of the time they’ll choose much brighter and fun colors than the ones that are chosen by adults. When it comes to buying a life jacket, this could actually turn out to be an important feature as you might want to make sure that your life jacket as bright as possible.
Depending on the type of activity you’re doing, the importance of having a bright color can grow. At all times you want your child to be as visible as possible, and should the worst happen then you want to make sure that your child can be rescued as easily as possible as well.
Trying to find a black life jacket in dark waters would be a lot more difficult than the bright reds, yellows and greens that you often find. Thankfully, most life jackets come in a range of bright colors so not only do you get that protection, but you can also use your personal taste as well.
Different type of life jackets offer different type of head protection. It’s at this point where you look at the balance between being able to have fun on the water and being as safe as possible. If you were looking for the ultimate in safety then you’d want a Type I life jacket, but this wouldn’t be very fun as they only provide very little movement.
Type II life jackets offer more protection, but again restrict movement which is why these types of jackets are generally reserved for emergencies and those who can’t swim. They also provide head support and are designed to lay the user on their back.
Type III jackets don’t provide a lot of head support, but no need to fear as they are designed that way. These jackets are designed so that they are comfortable and easy to wear all day. Should your child find themselves in the water, then it will keep them buoyant and their head out of the water.
Life jackets aren’t an object that can fail and you just take it back to where it came from, they have to work perfectly every time. Different life jackets have different buoyancy levels, so it’s important to check their rating before you purchase one, they can also fit differently too depending on your body shape.
One thing that’s important after you have bought your life jacket is to test it. There could be a number of different reasons why it may be uncomfortable, or maybe too big or too small. You obviously don’t want to find these reasons out when you’re in the open water, so try and test it in the calm waters of a shallow pool.
With Type II life jackets for emergencies or your small kids who can’t swim, the best test is to go neck-deep in water and then just let your body. You should find that the jacket doesn’t ride up and that it naturally lays your child on their back and keeps their head out of the water, even without making any effort at all.
For Type III jackets, they won’t lay you completely on your back with head support, but instead will keep you buoyant and your head out of the water. You want to make sure that it provides enough support so that the airways are always clear.
A grab handle is a loop of material that sits behind the life jacket and looks the same as what you’d have on the top of a rucksack. This handle is an additional safety feature on the jacket so that you can easily grab onto your child if something goes wrong and you need to take them out of the water quickly.
It isn’t just for emergencies though either, as it can be useful in aiding a child who is just going swimming for the first time, or holding them upright. The grab handle can be a useful feature and is generally made out of very strong material so that it won’t break.
Adult life jackets don’t come with a grab handle, and a lot of children’s don’t either as when they grow older, it’s not seen as such an essential item as they’ll be more used to the water and should be able to win. If you’re worried about your life one though, then make sure to look out for this feature.
Q: What is the crotch strap used for?
A: The crotch strap is a piece of material that goes between the legs and clips into a buckle. As adults tend to have bodies that are more defined with the hips and the ribcage, a crotch strap isn’t required as the life jacket with be more secure. On the smaller body of a child, however, it is more important.
This is because a child’s body is less likely to be able to hold a life jacket on with just a few straps around the chest. Having an additional strap between the legs will not only make sure that the jacket stays on, but it will stop is riding up the neck as well which is also important.
It’s a vital safety feature for any young child, and it gives you the peace of mind of knowing that whatever happens to your child in the water, the life jacket won’t be doing anywhere as it’s impossible for it to be removed without unbuckling it.
Q: Why Does My Child Need a Life Jacket?
A: The first thing to note about this question is the law. In most states it is the law that if a child under the age of 13 is in a boat, then they have to be wearing a life jacket at all times unless they are in a secure cabin or tethered. For that reason, if you’re heading out on a boat trip then you don’t have any other choice but to get a jacket.
If you’re heading out for a day at the beach, then it can often depend on what activity you are planning on doing. If you’re simply just going for a splash in the shallow part of the beach, then there is little need to be wearing a life jacket if your child is able to swim. If they have trouble swimming, however, then it may be a good idea.
If you plan on kayaking, paddling or doing any kind of water sports though, then you need to make sure that you need a life jacket. Even if you’re a good swimmer, the water can always take you by surprise such as the power of it. A life jacket will mean you can have fun without worrying about the consequences of going into the water. If you’re out there in the open water, everyone should be thinking about wearing a life jacket, not just the children.
Q: How Does a Life Jacket Protect My Child?
A: Life jackets are there to provide buoyancy when you’re in the water. All though all humans have a natural level of buoyancy, it’s not enough to keep your head out of the water, so additional support is required. A life jackets primary purpose is to keep your mouth and nose out of the water so that you’re able to breathe.
Different types of life jacket can give different levels of protection in different conditions, but that is the primary focus of it. Even if someone is unconscious or had difficulty swimming, this will keep them out of danger long enough to be rescued.
Some also have additional features which can help protect them too. Another aspect is color, as most life jackets come in a range a bright colors meaning they’ll always be easily spotted while you’re out there on the water. A life jacket allows your child to have fun, while also staying safe in the process.
Q: What Types of Life Jackets are Available?
A: Life jackets come in five different types which are used depending on what type of situation you are in. For your child you’ll be looking at either Type II or Type III jackets, with Type II being more for emergency support and those who can’t swim and Type II being there for stronger swimmers who want to partake in activities on the water.
It depends on the activity that you’re doing, but for most children who want to play, a Type III jacket will be more than good enough as this will provide a lot of safety, but will still keep their arms free and able to do any water sport that they wish.
Some have different styles than others, but all come in the same basic design as most of the floats will be on the front of the body so that you’re leaning back in the water, and not forward. Some have different features than others such as grab handles, and a lot of this comes down to personal preference and individual choice.
Globo Surf Overview
When it comes to a youth life jacket, there are a lot of different aspects to consider as there are a lot of different variables when it comes to the size of your child, how fussy they are and their ability to swim. It’s hard to give a definitive answer on the top-rated life vest for kids as it depends on what type you might be looking for.
Some things are clearer, however, if you’re looking for a jacket as your child is unable to swim then it’s more likely that you would be looking into a Type II jacket as this will give you more head support and ensure that their head is well clear of the water. If your child is getting into water sports and needs freedom of movement, then a Type III might be a better option as this will me more comfortable and provide a greater range of movement.
All the life jackets we have covered are USCG approved and it’s always important to look for that certification wherever you’re buying your life jackets from. Whether you’re learning how to kayak or planning to have a relaxing day at the beach, it’s always important that your children stay safe and a life jacket can be crucial in a number of different occasions.
Before you head out to the water though, you want to make sure that you’ve tested out your life jacket to make sure that it fits properly and also passes your own float test. Once you have read the buying guide and looked through all your options, it’s then time to find the perfect one for you.
Once you have, you’ll be able to spend time on the water happy and safe in the knowledge that your child will be protected, even if the worst was to happen. Life jackets are a vital part of water safety, and thankfully they’ve never been better and more comfortable to wear, so pick up yours today and make some great memories on the water.
More Life Jacket Reviews:
- Life Jackets For Boating
- Sailing Life Jacket
- Jet Ski Life Jackets
- Womens Life Vest
- Life Jacket For Non Swimmer
- Big And Tall Life Jacket
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- Life Jacket Laws By State
Globo Surf Life Jackets For Kids Review