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Best Inflatable Life Vests Reviewed
Adding one of the best inflatable life vests to your adventure gear could make the difference in a life or death situation when you and your loved ones are out on the water.
Water sports, fishing, boating, and otherwise being around bodies of water has been proven to help mental health and fitness, so it’s no wonder more and more of us are taking to these hobbies.
When you’re out on the water, the last thing you want to have to worry about is your safety gear.
Bad weather, undertows, accidents, cold water shock, and drowning are all dangers associated with being out on the water, and are more common than people like to admit.
Aside from training and sensible behavior, the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from these dangers is by staying away from cheap, faulty gear.
You should always make sure each person on a boat is wearing a well made, properly functioning inflatable life vest before you set out on your water centered adventures.
They work by inflating with air as soon as you hit the water, whether through a manual mechanism or an automatic trigger. By doing this, a person wearing a life vest has their buoyancy hugely increased, meaning they will float at the water’s surface rather than sinking beneath it.
When you are buying your inflatable life vest, it’s worth checking out which models come recommended.
Life vests can come in manual or automatic versions, but the best on the market all offer reliable mechanisms, strong materials, and guarantees that you can trust them in almost any scenario.
Don’t let cheap safety gear worry you; get a quality life vest and enjoy your boating or fishing adventures with peace of mind.
Don’t know where to start? We’ve got you covered! Our team here at rowingone.com has assembled a list of our top rated and reviewed inflatable life vests, so you can spend less time researching and more time enjoying the water.
See our Favorite Inflatable Life Vest
There are a plethora of auto inflatable PFD and manual inflatable PFDs out on the market. Here is a selection of some of the best, to suit a range of needs, so you can be assured your safety is taken care of.
Top Inflatable Life Vest Comparison Chart
Best Inflatable Life Vest
The MIT 100 Automatic Inflatable PFD is sold by Mustang Survival, a highly rated and respected supplier of survival gear and equipment.
This life vest does not let them down. It has an approval rating from the USCG – Recreational Type III, and Commercial Type V.
This means that it meets a minimum buoyancy rating of 22.5lbs, and in fact the life vest provides even more than this, with up to 28lbs when fully inflated. The figure is particularly impressive when compared to regular foam PFDs, as it improves on average figures by 50%.
The MIT 100 Automatic Inflatable PFD is, as the name suggests, operated by an automatic mechanism that inflates as soon as it becomes immersed in water.
Automatic life vests are brilliant to give you the peace of mind that even if you are unconscious for some reason, your PFD will still do its job.
However, the MIT 100 also has a manual inflation cord for added security, meaning that if the automatic inflation fails, you can still inflate your vest. Alongside a feature ensuring that wearers are self-righted in the water, keeping faces above the water level, this vest is one of the safest options out there.
Finally, the MIT 100 Automatic Inflatable PFD comes in a streamlined design with an adjustable belt, full mobility, a unique lightweight material (Membrane Inflatable Technology), all of which make it supremely easy and comfortable to wear.
This is a life vest that won’t get in the way of your activities, but still packs enough of a punch to keep you safe.
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Full Throttle have offered this Absolute Outdoor Life Vest to all those who enjoy water recreation, from fishing to extreme sports such as waterskiing and wakeboarding.
As such, it is a sturdy yet lightweight piece of gear, made from a particularly durable fabric, ripstop nylon, to resist the wear and tear of high-energy activities.
The PFD is approved by the US Coast Guard, and accredited with Type III Performance, so its buoyancy rating matches up to scratch, and you can rely on it to provide enough inflation to keep you safe and afloat whenever you need it.
For added safety, the Absolute Outdoor Onyx A/M-24 vest comes designed with reflective piping along the vest, giving you added visibility in the water, and aiding any rescue operations in finding and retrieving you.
Aside from this, it is sleekly designed to provide a wide range of movement with minimal bulk – also helping the wearer to stay cool in warm weather and during active exercise.
Like the MIT 100, this inflatable PFD is both automatically and manually inflatable, through a simple T-cord attachment. The vest is designed to inflate upon immersion in water, but you can also trigger the process yourself, giving you complete control over your safety and security whilst out on the water.
- Durable fabric resists tears and punctures
- Inflates with manual movement of T-cord or automatically upon immersion in water
- Lightweight, comfortable, slender design keeps you cool in warm weather
- Soft neoprene neckline for all day wearing comfort
- This item is not for sale in Catalina Island
The Eyson inflatable life vest is a highly-rated option, suitable for anyone heading out on a boating or fishing trip.
It has a buoyancy rating of 150N and it utilizes a 60-gram CO2 cartridge. This means that the vest will work effectively for any adult up to 330lbs (or 150kg) in weight, giving you peace of mind in any situation and whatever your body type.
The Eyson has an inflation time of fewer than 5 seconds, and it will lose less than 5% of its buoyancy over a 24 hour period, so you’ll be kept safe quicker and longer than with low-quality life vests.
Aside from its buoyancy, the Eyson Automatic/Manual Inflatable vest has several features that stand it apart from the rest. The manual back-up inflation is through an oral tube, meaning you will always be able to inflate it with your own breath if necessary.
It also sports a high-frequency whistle attachment that you can use to call for help, alongside two reflective bands that are SOLAS approved, increasing your visibility in low light conditions.
This life vest comes in nine different color options, and all options are comfortably designed using a neoprene neckline and durable, tough Oxford fabric that is both easy to dry, and looks practical and unobtrusive.
The waistline strap can be adjusted from 29 to 75 inches, giving you great flexibility, and letting you fit the life vest perfectly for you.
Reviewers have highly praised its durability, comfort, and adjustability, alongside the speed and size of inflation, saying that it is the perfect life jacket for rowing or fishing.
- CE Certificated & SOLAS Approved 3M Reflectors
- Lightweight & durable fabric
- Adjustable belt fit for adult and youth
- Reusable, washable and easy to air dry
- This Life Jacket Buoyancy is 150N, Fits for Universal Adults under 330 lbs (150kg)
Made by the Lifesaving Pro brand, this Premium 33G Manual Inflatable PFD is the best manual life vest on the market.
It will inflate in fewer than 5 seconds once the simple inflation handle is pulled, and it has a buoyancy rating of 150N, perfect for any adult who is under 330lbs (or 150kg).
The life vest also comes with an emergency whistle, and an oral tube as an alternative inflation method. It has an adjustable strap, making it the perfect PFD for young people as well as adults, and its 3M reflectors are SOLAS approved, giving you visibility even in the dark.
In another practical addition, this vest includes a zippered pocket so you can store personal items such as keys, licenses, or even waterproof cameras, without fear of losing them.
The Lifesaving Pro Premium 33F Manual Inflatable PFD is made from the highest quality materials. A combination of Nylon+TPU, Neoprene, and Polyester makes the vest both highly durable and very lightweight.
As a compact and flexible manual PFD, it is therefore perfect to use whilst sailing, paddle-boarding, boating, or conducting other activities. The Premium 33G is simple to use, effective, and highly trusted by its wearers.
- Inflates less than 3-5 seconds when the wearer manually pulls the inflation handle.
- CE Certificated & SOLAS approved USA 3M reflectors. Highly visible in dark.
- Light weight, durable, and comfortable to wear. Adjustable belt fit for adult and youth.
- Reusable, washable, convenient, easy to air dry and repack.
- Made from best quality materials: Nylon+TPU, Neoprene, Polyester.
Finally, we come to the Seachoice Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket.
It has a survival buoyancy rating of 150N, and it will inflate automatically upon immersion in water, or in less than 5 seconds after the wearer pulls the manual cord.
The vest is made from quality materials including quick-dry nylon, making it a great option for those who need to consistently dry and reuse their life jackets.
The nylon is also tear-resistant, alongside being incredibly lightweight and allowing wearers a great range of movement whilst wearing the life jacket. This makes it perfect for activities such as kayaking, sailing, or other offshore watercraft operation.
With adjustable strap webbing, quick-release buckles, and a streamlined design, the Night Cat Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket is a one-size-fits-all option that has been praised for its ease of use, comfort, and value.
- Lightweight, low-profile design for comfort
- Ideal for recreational boating, fishing, stand-up paddle boarding, sailing, and hunting
- 24g CO2 cylinder is activated with manual pull handle
- Durable 100% polyester outer shell
- 1.5 Inch nylon belt with buckle closure
Top Inflatable Life Vest Features To Consider
When you’re looking to invest in an inflatable life vest, you can feel surrounded by so many options that it’s difficult to make a decision.
However, there are some important features to look for that will help you narrow down your search and pick the life vest that is right for you.
They include what activity you will be performing, what inflation method you prefer, and other features such as comfort, and the approval rating of the vest itself.
Life vests are not all created equal, and the type of activity you’re undertaking will affect the type of life vest you want.
If you need mobility in your arms and shoulders for activities such as sailing or kayaking, make sure to go for a streamlined vest that will allow movement.
Make sure not to wear a bulky vest that could get in the way and prove potentially dangerous for some activities, and always make sure the vest you’re choosing is suitable for your swimming ability.
If you’ll be wearing your life vest for an extended amount of time on the water, it’s important that you find it comfortable.
Ideally, you want to be able to forget you’re wearing it and get on with your activity unless it becomes necessary.
Keep a lookout for different sizes, and adjustable waist straps, to help you pick an inflatable life vest that will fit well, be comfortable, and protect you as much as possible.
PFDs, or Personal Flotation Devices, come in two main varieties. Some are inflated manually, usually by a simple pull cord, and others will inflate automatically upon immersion in water.
Of course, many automatic models also have manual back-up cords. In addition, even manual life vests may have back-up oral tubes so you can blow up your jacket if the pull cord fails.
It’s important to make sure your life vest has a backup option, to give yourself peace of mind. In terms of whether to go manual or automatic, that will depend on your activity.
An automatic PFD is useful as it will inflate even if you fall unconscious.
However, a manual PFD allows you to swim in the water without it inflating, giving you more control over how and when you choose to use it.
This can be particularly useful for water skiing, sailing, or any activity where you may want to be immersed in water without your life jacket automatically inflating.
Always remember to look out for inflatable vests that are approved by the US coast guard, as this is a mark of efficacy and quality.
Buoyancy ratings are also particularly important as they will tell you the limits of the life vest, and if it will work effectively for your specific body type.
Finally, match what you plan to use the vest for with its Recreational or Commercial Type ratings, and check it is able to do what you need.