Best Sailing Life Jackets in 2021

Sailing is a fun activity, very relaxing and refreshing in an exhilarating manner. However, with this giddy fun comes a measure of danger, as things can easily go south at any time. Safety is the password to sailing. It's better to err on the side of caution.

Hence the need to be fully prepared and ready to brace any emergency situation that could arise while sailing.  

One of the things you cannot afford to do without when going on a sailing expedition is a life jacket. Do I really need a life jacket when sailing?

Oh yes! You do, absolutely. If things go awry and should the need ever arise, you need a quality life jacket that will provide you with great support and keep you afloat for long, whether you're a good swimmer or not.

Consider it as the seat belt in the turbulent and unpredictable world of sailing; a legal requirement and an ultimate life saver.

Actually, the question should be what type of life jacket is good for you and how to choose the right life jacket, as there are several brands available.

To help you choose the right life jacket that will suit your needs, we have carried out a thorough market research and compiled a review of the best life jackets for sailing. Our picks were made with safety, comfort, and durability as the major criteria.

How to Choose a Life Jacket

A life jacket is a form of personal flotation device (PFD) which serves as a buoy and keeps you floating on top of water. It comes in different forms tailored to suit different activities, such as dinghy sailing, offshore sailing, etc.

Therefore, your particular sailing activity will greatly determine the right type of sailing life jacket you need. This brings us to the next point.

What to consider when choosing a lifejacket for sailing

1. Size and fitting

Life jackets are grouped based on their level of buoyancy. This is measured in Newtons (N). Choose your life jacket in a level of buoyancy that fits your weight. There are different sizes that are customized for men, women and even babies. Go for a life jacket with a buoyancy level that corresponds with your weight and size.

More importantly, your ideal life jacket should fit snugly to your body and shouldn't be wobbly on you. Make sure the belts and straps hug your torso and shoulders tightly. Otherwise the effectiveness of the life jacket will be greatly reduced.

2. Automatic or manual?

Life jackets are inflated either manually or automatically from a gas bottle installed within the jacket. Generally, lifejackets that have no cylinders and can only be inflated orally are not commended for everyday use.

Manual life jackets are usually inflated by pulling a cord on the jacket, which in turn causes the jacket to be filled withCO2. The advantage of manually inflated lifejackets is that the inflation is not automatically triggered by wave hits, thereby reducing the incidence of false activations. However, this on the other side is also a limitation if the wearer is unconscious or in shock, and unable to activate the inflation.

Automatic life jackets are the best choice of lifejackets for most people. It gets automatically inflated when you enter water, and doesn't require any effort on the part of the wearer. It's very convenient for emergency situations when the wearer is incapacitated or unable to pull the inflation cord as is the case with a manual lifejacket.

Some models can be activated both manually and automatically.

3. Type of activity

Your type of sailing activity, no doubt, will dictate the type of life jacket you may need. The level of buoyancy of your ideal life jacket should be determined by your activity; whether dinghy sailing, inshore sailing on sheltered waters, offshore/coastal sailing that requires you venturing far from land, kayaking or canoeing, etc.

Having discussed the major factors to consider when choosing a sailing life jacket, let's take a look at the best kinds of life jackets that are available in the market.

Best Sailing Life Jackets for Men

Helly Hansen's Sail safe Inflatable Race Life Jacket

best sailing life jacket for adults
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The Sail safe Inflatable Race life jacket is ergonomically designed with a lightweight and flexible material that ensures freedom of movement, a chest harness for maximum comfort and snug fitting, and a contoured shape made to spread out your weight evenly. The jacket is also fitted with a spray hood, anti-ride up leg loops and an emergency light. It is built with an efficient hydrostatic release mechanism that stops the lifejacket from inflating accidentally during wet conditions.  

The Helly Hansen's jacket is one of the best inflatable life jackets in terms of performance, durability and comfort. It's specially developed to meet the demands of the harsh weather conditions on sea, and is the number one choice life jacket for offshore sailors.

Helly Hansen Features:

  • Lightweight
  • Ergonomic construction
  • ENISO 12402-3 certified lifejacket
  • EN12401 certified Deck Harness
  • Excellent hydrostatic pressure automatic inflation sensor
  • Chest harness design for safer towing position

Onyx's revolutionary MoveVent Torsion Life Vest

life jackets for men
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With great reviews and above 4.5-starrating from thousands of customers on Amazon, the Onyx's revolutionary MoveVentTorsion Life Vest stands tall among other brands of life jackets. It is ergonomically sculpted to give you freedom, ease of movement and comfort as you paddle.

This U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket is fitted with a great venting system that keeps you cool and comfortable even during strenuous exertions, a flotation foam on its inner back, meshed lower back, neoprene-padded shoulder adjustments and adjustable side belts. In addition, it comes in various body sizes and measurements.

Onyx Features:

  • Lightweight flotation foam
  • Adequate ventilation in front and back
  • Lower back mesh fits high-backseats and sit-on-top kayaks
  • Neoprene comfort pads

Stearns Adult Watersport Classic Series Vest

Stearns life jacket for men
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Proudly outstanding as amazon's choice for men's life jackets, the Stearns Adult Watersport Classic Series Vest deserves a place in the list of top quality sailing life jackets in the market. This lifejacket is constructed with 200D nylon shell and quality PE foam, fitted with four 1-in. webbed adjustable straps and open sides. It's great for waterskiing, wakeboarding and tubing.

From feedbacks dropped by verified customers, this is the best sailing life jacket for youths and men with slim built.

Stearns Features: 

  • Adjustable buckles for breathability
  • Open-sided design
  • Durable 200D nylon shell
  • Lightweight PE flotation foam
  •  US Coast Guard-approved

Best Sailing Life Jackets for Women

Helly Hansen's Rider Vest

sailing jackets for women
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With a 4.9-star rating and great reviews from customers, the Rider Vest stands out as the best sailing life jacket for women.

It is specially designed for women and is full of features that ladies will find surprisingly convenient; a low-bulk, comfortable buoyancy aid, zippered front for quick and easy entry, softfoam-padded front for comfort, velcro closure front pocket, soft foam padded front, comfortable buoyancy aid and PE foam at the back for added support and protection.

The vest is certified to ISO standards and is suitable for dinghy sailing and other water sports.

Helly Hansen's Rider Vest Features:

  • Low bulk
  • ENISO 12402-5 certified
  • 50N buoyancy
  • Soft foam at front for comfort
  • PE foam at back for stability
  • Front flare pocket
  • Zipped front entry 

 

Stohlquist Cruiser Personal Flotation Device

women life jackets
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The Stohlquist Cruiser PFD is another bestselling life jacket for women, and is specifically sculpted for women's comfort. It features an exclusively graded sizing, high mesh-back design, shortened and wrap-shaped torso, smaller cut, supportive inner cups, ventilated shoulder and back pads, cross-chest cinch harness to prevent ride-up, reflective logo for added security, large zippered pockets and adjustable webbed shoulder straps. This life jacket is designed for water sports such as kayaking.

Stohlquist Features:

  • Constructed with 400D shell& 200D nylon liner
  • Higher mesh back design
  • Smaller cut and shortened torso
  • Supportive inner cups
  • Cross-chest cinch harness for zero ride-up
  • Webbing shoulder pulls and opensides for ventilation
  • Wrapture shaped torso
  • 4-way accessory back lash tab
  • Large zippered pockets
  • 10 YKK zipper with non-corroding slider
  • 3M reflective on front and back for added safety

 

O'Neill Women's SuperLite Life Vest

sailing life jacket for women
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The O'Neill Women's SuperLite Life Vest is a USCG-approved personal flotation device that is specifically designed for women and perfectly constructed for wake sports, waterskiing, tubing, and swimming. It provides great quality, fit and functionality.

O' Neill Life Vest Features:

  • Minimal Bulk Design
  • Coated Polyester shell that creates a durable exterior
  • Comfortable and lightweight polyethylene foam
  • Wide variety of sizes and measurements    

 

Best Sailing Life Jackets for Kids

Hellyhansen's Kid Safe Life Jacket

sailing life jacket for kids
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Specially constructed to protect and keep your child in a safe floating position when in water, this innovative kids' life jacket features a unique asymmetrical design which helps to turn your child into a safe floating position that keeps the mouth and nose out of the water.

Helly Hansen's Kid Safe Life Jacket Features:

  • Asymmetrical design
  • Soft foam for long-lasting comfort
  •  Excellent turn-ability in water
  • ENISO 12402-4 certified

Helly Hansen's Baby Safe Life Jacket

life jacket for child
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This life jacket is particularly designed for your baby's safety. Its unique asymmetrical built helps to effectively turn the baby into a safe floating position in the water that will keep their mouth and nose out of water.

In addition, it comes with a zipper that is designed to make it easy for parents to put the lifejacket on the child.

Helly Hansen's Baby Safe Life Jacket Features:

  • Foam-padded
  • Durable high visibility fabric
  • Asymmetrical design
  • Soft foam for long-lasting comfort
  • Excellent turn-ability in water
  • ENISO 12402-4 certified

 

Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket Vest

baby life jacket
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Made in fun, playful and colorful designs that your kids will love, the Stearns Original Puddle Jumper Kids Life Jacket Vest meets all the U.S. Coast Guard-approved safety features that an authentic life jacket should have. It comes with a safety buckle that snaps in the back to keep your kid from taking the vest off on their own, an adjustable strap for a secure fit and a snugly fitting cut.

Stearns Puddle Life Jacket Vest Features:

  • Colorful designs
  • Meets all  U.S. Coast Guard-approved standards
  • Safety buckle that snaps at the back
  • Adjustable strap for a secure fit
  • Nylon shell for durability
  • Designed to fit snugly

In Summary

So there you have it, a list of the best sailing life jackets for men, women and children. You can pick these up for great prices and all life jackets listed are certified and meet the highest safety standards. Choose your favorite and stay safe out on the water now.

Since you're smart to be concerned about your safety on the water, you can also check out our top sailing helmets for extra protection while out sailing on the water.