Inflatable life jackets are used during sailing, boating, kayaking, snorkelling, exploring the waters, fishing and other water sports. Investing in a high-quality inflatable jacket is crucial as it is protective wear that saves people from drowning. A life jacket is a must to enjoy sailing and other water activities.
It is legally required to have a life vest in certain turbulent rivers and oceans. Also, the type of water you are in would dictate the kind of life jacket you need. Warm and cool waters may need one type of life vest, while turbulent and furious waters may require a more sturdy and reliable life jacket.
While those who enjoy watersports know swimming, a life jacket can keep you afloat and save you from the sudden panic of an unexpected fall. It makes it easy to get back to your vessel safely and quickly.
Standard life vests are also available, but inflatable ones are more in demand due to their numerous advantages. They can be easily inflated and deflated after use. They take up less space and can be stored conveniently. They are small compared to normal life vests.
Inflatable life vests can be worn only when required, are less noticeable and easier to wear for longer durations. They come with a carbon dioxide cartridge to inflate them quickly and easily. Some inflatable life jackets inflate automatically under certain conditions, such as when someone accidentally falls in the water. Other types have to be inflated manually.
Most professional sailors or boaters are mandated to wear a life jacket at all times, so inflatable ones are their first preference. People working on fuel wharves and piers must wear life vests. Nowadays, inflatable jackets come with many additional features that have made them ideal for paddle boarding and kayaking.
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Choosing the correct life jacket
The kind of life vest you should buy depends on the waters you will be in. Inflatable vests are not to be worn tubing or white-water rafting. Instead, a solid foam vest should be used for these activities. However, some inflatable models are pretty streamlined and do not obstruct hand and leg movements. These kinds of vests are ideal for kayaking, sailing and fishing. Also, some kinds of inflatable designs are made for good swimmers. Thus, before buying a life vest, all these factors should be taken into consideration.
Features of the best inflatable life jackets
Inflatable life jackets can be filled in manually or automatically, and some types offer both features. In manual inflation, a person can be in the water while wearing a deflated life vest and then pull the cords, which would get inflated in no time. In the case of automatically inflated life jackets, there is no need to pull any strings, as they get inflated on their own. These are great if you are treading on rough waters to provide extra safety.
Should be comfortable
An inflatable life jacket should be comfortable as you might need to wear it for long hours. Your clothing might be wet or dry, so choosing a vest that does not cause much friction and does not rub against your clothes or skin is essential. An uncomfortable one can cause itching and rashes and would be highly inconvenient.
An inflatable life jacket should fit perfectly, and size does matter a lot. Most life vests come with adjustment straps, buckles and hooks, but if you are getting life jackets for many people, you could also go for the universal size option, as it fits most body types. Instead of struggling with the size, the universal size is better.
After buying an inflatable life vest, it is important to store it properly to keep it in good shape. It should be deflated, adequately dried, folded, and kept away from sunlight. Also, if it is dirty, then it is advisable to hand wash it with warm water and mild soap.
Now that we have listed the features an inflatable life jacket must possess, let us look at some of the best inflatable life jackets.
1. ABSOLUTE OUTDOOR Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket
The Absolute Outdoor Onyx Inflatable life vest is made of durable plastic. It has a protective cover that is made of 200 denier nylon ripstop. It comes with a rearming kit. It can be worn by those aged above 16 and weighing over 80 lbs.
This stylish blue life vest is ideal for boating and fishing. It is a US Coast guard approved type V life jacket with high-end performance. It inflates automatically when immersed in water or can be manually inflated by pulling the ‘jerk to inflate’ handle. It is convertible and can go from automatic/manual to manual-only inflation.
It is ultralightweight, weighing only 1 pound and quite comfortable. It has a sleek design keeps the wearer cool in warm and humid conditions. It is flexible and has a stretchable flex-back insert making it easier to wear.
- Sleek design
- Stretchable flex-back insert
- Ease of movement
- It keeps the body cool
- Small fit
- Extremely sensitive to water, moisture
- Self-inflates if touched by water or even dew
- U. S. Coast guard approved type V life jacket/personal flotation device (PFD) with type III performance
- Automatically inflates upon immersion in water or when the wearer pulls the "jerk to inflate" handle
- Lightweight, comfortable, slender design keeps you cool in warm weather
- Age 16+, over 80 lbs.
- Mfg Part 132000-500-004-15
2. MOCOTONO Inflatable Life Jacket, Automatic/Manual Inflatable PFD Life Vest for Adults
The Mocotono Inflatable Life jacket is ideal for fishing, kayaking, sailing and surfing. It comes in three attractive colours- blue, yellow and red. It is made of Nylon and Thermoplastic Polyurethane, and the outer material is NBkon and TPU. It weighs only 33 grams, inflates in 5 seconds and is suitable for adults under 150 kg.
This imported life jacket inflates automatically through the carbon dioxide cylinder that comes with it. It comes with 2 CO2 cartridges, one attached to the vest and one extra, to be used when immersed in water. It can also be manually inflated, or the backup oral inflation tube can be used.
This life jacket is a comfortable fit and allows ease of movement. It comes with a quick-release buckle that helps to wear and remove it easily. The adjustable straps make it a universal size and can be adjusted around 29 to 50 inches.
It has many additional features too. The 210D Nylon is resistant to tears and leaks. Its webbing provides additional strength and is 4 cm wide to provide extra comfort. Another rearming kit is free with this life jacket. It is CE certificated and has been through high-pressure tests.
There is also an oral inflate tube that can inflate the life jacket if there is no gas. A high-frequency whistle is attached to the life vest, and two reflective tape bands glow in the dark, another great safety feature. It is reusable, washable and also dries quickly.
- Made with Durable ripstop fabric
- Adjustable buckles
- High-strength strap webbing
- It comes with an additional free rearming kit
- Oral inflation tube
- Reflective bands that glow
- It comes with an attached whistle
- Slides up after inflation
- Few straps
- Small fit
- Oral inflating is difficult
3. Rrtizan Snorkel Vest, Adults Portable Inflatable Swim Vest Jackets for Snorkeling Swimming Diving
The Rrtizan Inflatable life jacket is ideal for swimming and snorkelling. It is imported and made of 90% Canvas and 10% PVC. It provides great buoyancy and is available in neon pink, yellow and green, which makes it visible in the water.
The outer material is nylon, and the inside is made of a waterproof PVC membrane that is air-tight and durable. It is one-size, weighs 0.44 pounds and can be worn by those weighing around 220 lbs.
It is easy to inflate and deflate. The blow air valve must be pressed and held when inflating or deflating, and the valve automatically closes when it is fully inflated. It can be inflated in 15 seconds, and with an inflation tube, it can be inflated even while wearing it.
It has adjustable waist and crotch straps that keep you secure, provisioning a great fit. It has pinch buckles which makes it easier to remove the vest.
This life jacket comes with a mesh bag that can be used for storing it. It is easy to pack, quite comfortable and does not irritate the skin.
- Easy to pack
- Good quality
- Adjustable, well-secured straps
- Easy to inflate/deflate
- Attractive, eye-catching colours
- It comes with a mesh storage bag
- No automatic inflation
- The belt needs to be longer
- Uncomfortable straps
4. Top Safety Adult Life Jacket with Whistle – Manual Version Inflatable Lifejacket for Boating Fishing Sailing Kayaking Surfing Paddling Swimming – Adjustable Life Saving Vest
Safe max inflatable jacket is perfect for water sports such as boating, fishing, sailing etc. It is made of Nylon, TPU, Neoprene and Polyester.
It inflates in 3 to 5 seconds by manually pulling the inflation handle. It is CE-certified and SOLAS-approved. It has reflectors that make it glow in the dark.
It is lightweight, weighing around 2 pounds. It is durable and should be hand-washed. It is easy to dry, comes with an adjustable waist belt, and can be worn by adults and youth weighing less than 150 kg.
It’s comfortable and can be worn easily. The life jacket has zippered pockets for storing keys and other stuff. Quadrate airbag wraps around the body when inflated. It has a buoyancy of 150N.
- Reflective bands
- Has zippered pockets
- Slim and light
- No automatic inflation
- The straps are a bit tight
5. Mustang Survival – HIT Inflatable PFD with Sailing Harness for Adults (Red & Black – One Size Fits All) Designed for Sailors, Auto Hydrostatic and Fluorescent Inflation Cell.
The Mustang Survival HIT inflatable life vest is a USCG-approved recreational type V vest that gives Type II performance. It is made to endure water pressure and tough conditions. It has two heavy-duty stainless steel D-rings to be used with tethers.
It weighs 2.05 pounds and can be worn by anyone weighing 150 kg. The bright yellow-green inflation cell has a safety whistle, strobe light, and SOLAS reflective tape, making it easily visible in the dark.
It has an incorporated sailing harness and is specially designed for sailors keeping safety features at the forefront.
The Hammar Hydrostatic Inflator Technology ensures it is inflated only when submerged in 4” or more water pressure. It does not inflate due to rain, spray or humidity. It is convertible and can be inflated manually too.
Its outer fabric is extremely lightweight yet sturdy and provides mobility and safety. It also has zippered pockets for keeping your valuables. It offers 38 lbs of buoyancy when it is inflated.
- Automatic and manual inflation
- Sailing harness
- It comes with a safety whistle
- Strobe light
- SOLAS reflective tape
- Zippered pockets
- Great quality
- Offers mobility
- Auto-inflation is not easy
- Requires recharge kit
- SAILING LIFE VEST - The HIT with Sailing Harness is the perfect companion for your next voyage. This PFD comes equipped with two heavy-duty stainless steel D-rings for use with tethers. A safety whistle and water-resistant pocket are included.
- AUTO INFLATE LIFE VEST - Mustang Survival’s Hydrostatic Inflator Technology (HIT) is industry-leading, and automatically inflates under water pressure. Do not worry about the vest deploying if you get wet or rained on, the HIT technology only deploys once you are in the water.
- TOP NOTCH SAILING GEAR - The HIT with Sailing Harness is trusted by professional sailors in competition due to it offering a full range of mobility, lightweight build, and stylish design. Equipped with two heavy-duty D-rings, this PFD allows you to remain tethered to your vessel with ease.
- US COAST GUARD APPROVED - At Mustang Survival, we save lives for a living. The HIT with Sailing Harness has a recreational Type 5 with Type II performance USCG rating.
- BUILT FOR SAFETY AND COMFORT - The revolutionary construction of the HIT with Sailing Harness is lightweight and mobility-enhancing. The lightweight 500D Cordura outer shell is durable, and the neoprene collar provides all-day comfort.
6. Summer Mae Inflatable Life Jacket Automatic/Manual Inflatable PFD Life Vest for Adults
The Summer Mae Inflatable life jacket is made of durable nylon and TPU and comes in bright orange. It inflates automatically in 5 seconds once the wearer falls into the water. It can also be inflated by pulling the inflatable rope or blowing into it, depending on the usage. It comes with an oral inflation tube, a replaceable CO2 Cylinder and an extra rearming kit to inflate it again. It is made of high-density fabric that provides great buoyancy for snorkelling.
It has adjustable waist belts and crotch straps. Pinch buckles allow easy vest removal, and adjustable strap webbing offers a universal size that can be altered around 29 to 73 inches. It comes with a whistle for safety and embedded reflective strips that glow in the dark.
Its buoyancy is 150N, and it requires a 33-gram CO2 cartridge. It is suitable for people weighing less than 150 kg. It’s perfect for fishing, kayaking, or sailing. It is CE certificated.
- Automatic and manual inflation
- It comes with an inflation tube
- Reflective strips on the jacket
- Free extra rearming kit
- Safety whistle
- Adjustable straps
- Universal size
- CE Certificated
- Traps heat
- Uncomfortable crotch strap
7. Stearns Sospenders Manual Inflatable Life Jacket
Stearns Sospenders Manual Inflatable Life jacket is nylon and comes in navy blue and green. It can be used for sailing, fishing, paddling, boating etc.
It is lightweight and comfortable and allows unrestricted body movements. It inflates within 5 to 10 seconds using a 24-gram CO2 cylinder or pulling the lanyard. It can be manually inflated by using the oral inflation tube as well.
The inflated vest has 22.5 lbs of buoyancy, a universal size that fits most body types and adults with chest size 30″-52″. It has adjustable straps and D-rings for hanging gear. It is also Coast Guard-approved, and a rearming kit 0948 would be required for using it repeatedly.
- Attached D-rings
- Adjustable straps
- Universal size
- Coast guard approved
- Manual inflation only
- Ideal for professionals
- Manually inflates in seconds by pulling lanyard for CO2 inflation, or by oral inflation tube
- 22.5 lbs. of buoyancy.24 Gram
- Universal size fits chests 30-52"
- Convenient D-ring for hanging or attaching gear
- This item is not for sale in Catalina Island
8. NAXER Inflatable Buoyancy Jackets, Vests for Adults Kayak Kayaking Suit 90-220 lbs Easy Swimming Snorkeling Boating Paddleboarding Water Sports
Naxer Inflatable life jackets are perfect for snorkelling, kayaking, boating, surfing and swimming. They can be used by professionals and novice swimmers and are reliable protective gear.
They come in many colours, such as black, blue, green, pink and orange, making them stand out in the water. These jackets provide great buoyancy, are more comfortable, and allow greater mobility than traditional life jackets.
The Naxer life jacket weighs only 15.8 ounces and is made of highly durable Nylon and PVC. It has a one-year guarantee and is only suitable for adults weighing 90 to 220 lbs. It is not approved by the Coast guard but is approved by the international CE lab and has been tested by US swimmers and kayakers.
Inflating and deflating the life jacket is easy and takes only 15 seconds. It has to be manually inflated by blowing into it. It has adjustable waist straps to keep it fixed on the chest and two leg straps to prevent it from sliding up. Both straps keep it in the perfect position and allow a more comfortable fit.
It has a breathable mesh back and won’t suffocate you like many other life vests. It decreases wind drag while surfing. It can be folded and kept in a bag and does not take up much space.
- It comes with a waterproof cellphone case
- Double waist and adjustable leg straps
- Manual inflation
- It does not come with a carry bag
- LARGE BUOYANCY - Naxer inflatable life jackets for adults will produce big buoyancy to assist your water sports. Moreover, the ingenious and lightweight design allows much more movement than most traditional life jackets.
- FAST INFLATION & EASY TO USE - Take just 15 seconds to fully inflate the Naxer snorkeling vest adult PFD with less effort of your mouth. You can fully inflate it for swimming, or partially inflate it for easy snorkeling.
- DOUBLE FIXING - Adjustable waist strap will help fix the adult life jacket in your upper body. Two leg straps will prevent the jacket from riding up. They work together to keep the jacket fit you well and stay in place.
- MESH BACK - As an important feature of Naxer inflatable life vests for adults, the flexible mesh back will efficiently resolve your upset at wet body, and greatly reduce wind drag while surfing or water skiing.
- SUPER PORTABLE - Naxer kayak life vest is foldable and packable easily to be a small pack. Super lightweight and handy to stow away in your suitcase without taking up much space. A good companion for your summer and winter travel!
9. SOLY Inflatable Snorkel Diving Swimming Jacket for Adult Youth Kids Two Sizes
The Soly inflatable life jacket can be used for swimming, snorkelling, diving and kayaking. It comprises 70% polyester and 30% PVC. The outer layer is made of nylon, while the inner one is made of a waterproof PVC membrane that keeps you dry.
It comes in many bright colours, such as blue, green, yellow, orange, pink and black. It is lightweight, 0.27 kg and can be worn by anybody weighing not more than 220 lbs.
It has adjustable waist and crotch straps that provide a vertically and horizontally secure fit. It has easy pinch quick-release buckles that make it easier to remove the vest.
It is easily inflated and deflated. Just press and hold the blow air valve while inflating or deflating, and the valve automatically closes after the jacket is fully inflated. You just need to loosen it a bit, to remove excess air.
This life jacket is foldable and can be easily packed. It comes with a mesh bag and is convenient to wear. It’s comfortable and doesn’t cause skin abrasions. It provides good buoyancy.
- Available in many colours
- Adjustable waist and crotch straps
- It comes with a mesh bag
- Only manual inflation
- Lightweight and Comfortable: Our snorkel vests are designed to be lightweight and comfortable, providing buoyancy and safety during diving.
- Durable Material: The outer layer of the vest is made of durable nylon, while the inner layer is composed of 70% polyester and 30% PVC, offering a streamlined design and increased buoyancy.
- Adjustable Straps: The vest is equipped with adjustable straps both vertically and horizontally, ensuring a secure and comfortable fit. The waist and crotch straps can be adjusted for a worry-free experience.
- Foldable and Portable: The snorkel vest is compact in size, folding down to a book-like shape. It comes with a zippered plastic bag for easy transport and storage, along with a mesh carrying bag.
- Fast Inflation and Deflation: Inflation is quick and easy - simply blow into the air valve, and it will inflate in about 10 seconds without the need for additional air pumps. To deflate, press and hold the air valve open, and it will automatically close when released.
10. Seachoice 85830 Inflatable Personal Flotation Device (PFD) – Low-Profile Life Vest – USCG Approved Type V – Adult Size – Red/Black
Seachoice makes good-quality and reliable marine accessories. The Seachoice Inflatable Personal Flotation Device or life jacket is lightweight, weighing only 1 pound. It has a low-profile design for maximum comfort. It is perfect for boating, fishing, paddle boarding and sailing. It is a USCG-approved type V life jacket.
Its outer layer is made of 100 % durable polyester. It also comprises a 1.5-inch nylon belt with buckle closure that perfectly fits. It can be worn by anybody weighing above 107 pounds, with a chest size of 30 to 52 inches. It comes with a 24 g CO2 cylinder to inflate it. It is activated by pulling the handle.
- It comes with a 24 g CO2 cylinder
- Universal size
- Adjustable straps
- USCG approved
- It does not come with a carry bag
- The straps feel a little uncomfortable and tight
- 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
These are some of the best inflatable life jackets that can be chosen for water trips to ensure safety and comfort.
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Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.
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