Sailing is one of the most exciting watersports you have to try at least once in your life. If you have the chance to try sailing, you should consider yourself lucky! But before you embark on your first sailing experience, you need to make sure that safety is the number one priority. This is why you need the best life jackets for sailing to keep you safe.
In some states, wearing a life jacket is an obligation. It’s best to obey the law when your own safety is at stake. The best jackets for boating can save your life, help you avoid getting fined, and make you look way cooler with all the cool designs.
Whether you’re a professional or just a beginner, a life jacket should be your best friend. It gives you peace of mind when you’re out sailing, knowing that you will stay afloat if something unexpected happens. On the list below, we’ll show you the best life jackets for sailing to ensure your maximum safety. In case you’re going to jump on a kayak afterward, consider getting the best life jacket for kayaking as well. Is it going to be a fishing trip? We also have a list of the best life jackets for fishing!
How to Choose the Best Life Jackets for Sailing
There are plenty of options when it comes to choosing the best life jackets for sailing. There are many excellent products and you’ll never run out of options. If it’s your first time buying a life jacket for sailing, here are a few things to consider.
Before buying your first life jacket, make sure it’s already US Coast Guard approved. The best life jackets for boating will always have this certification, it’s crucial. The quality is questionable if it’s not USCG certified. There are five categories of personal flotation devices that offer different buoyancy. The higher the buoyancy level, the better because it will keep your head above water.
The second-most important thing when looking for the best life jackets for sailing is size and fitting. Some jackets only offer an all-size option and some come in various sizes. You have to make sure you pick the right size that offers a snug fit. It’s even better if the life jacket you choose has adjustable straps. This way, it’s always easy to adjust the fitting that feels the most comfortable for you.
There are three most popular materials when it comes to the best life jackets for boating: cotton, polyester, and neoprene. There’s no right or wrong. It’s all about preferences. Cotton is most affordable, but it takes a long time to dry because it absorbs water a lot. Polyester is the perfect middle ground because it’s lightweight and easy to dry. While neoprene offers the highest durability, it’s also the most expensive material. Also, don’t forget about maintenance. Different fabric requires different treatment.
While it seems like you don’t need too many features, some will make your life much easier. You never knew how helpful it is until you have it. The best life jackets for sailing offer the most advanced features to increase the safety level. Some of the most useful features you may need on a life jacket are quick-drying, reflective stripes, ventilation, multiple pockets, and UV protection.
Is it law to wear a life jacket on a boat?
It depends on the state. In some states, you’re obliged to wear a life jacket when you’re on a boat and some other states don’t apply that rule. Make sure you stay informed about the law so that you won’t get into trouble with the authorities. However, it is a legal requirement to carry a life jacket when you go boating. Every recreational vessel must carry the appropriate life jackets for each person on board.
Can you still drown wearing a life jacket?
As long as your life jacket is already US Coast Guard certified, you shouldn’t worry about that. If the jacket has USCG approval, it means it features the right buoyancy to keep you afloat when you’re in the water.
How much is the fine for not having a life jacket?
The fine for not wearing a life jacket can be as high as $500.
Astral YTV Life Jacket
Sometimes it can be quite challenging to find the best life jackets for dinghy sailing. The jacket must be lightweight and has a secure fit as well as high-quality material. Astral YTV Life Jacket seems to be the perfect answer for dinghy sailing enthusiasts. It’s specifically made for high safety levels with PVC-free Gaia and PE foam inserts. It has a buoyancy rating of 16.5lbs and USCG type-V approval.
With the torso fit platform, it’s easy to adjust for a snug fit. It will keep the jacket in place as you move. Astral YTV Life Jacket is specially designed for long adventures. It’s made to last for many adventures and you don’t need to buy a new one every once in a while. This life jacket is made of a 200-denier high tenacity nylon liner and ripstop nylon shell. It also features PolyPro webbing and heavy-duty zippers with Self-Locking Vislon Teeth.
What We Love
A flagship life jacket with advanced safety features.
- Free of toxic PVC
- Featherlight construction
- Torso lock fit platform
- Premium price
Bluestorm Gear Atmos 40
Looking for an inflatable life jacket? Bluestorm Gear Atmos 40 is the right choice because it’s the best inflatable life vest for sailing. This US Coast Guard-approved life vest features automatic inflation upon water immersion via a replaceable CO2 cylinder. Other than the automatic inflation system, it can also be inflated manually using a backup oral inflation tube or by pulling the cord.
This cool, comfortable, and lightweight life jacket is one of the best life jackets for boating because it’s constructed of an ergonomic neoprene collar. It can prevent chafing, reduce moisture around the neck area as well as quick-drying. And with the 3D mesh throughout the shoulder, back and waist, it provides better air circulation.
What We Love
A cool life jacket with an auto inflation system.
- 3D mesh for better airflow
- Easy-access zippered front pocket
- Ergonomic neoprene collar
- A backup oral inflation tube
- The material is quite stiff
XGEAR Life Vest
Constructed of durable nylon oxford fabric outer shell and soft PVC foam, as well as lightweight EPE foam, the XGEAR Life Vest offers maximum comfort when you’re going out boating. It’s one of the best life jackets for sailing because it’s made to be very simple and straightforward. There are four heavy-duty belts with extremely solid quick-release buckles for easy clip and unclip. This way, you can put it on quickly.
XGEAR Life Vest comes with a free survival whistle which is very helpful when you need help during an emergency. And with the uniquely designed interior pocket, this jacket offers great protection for your valuables. While it’s one of the best life jackets for dinghy sailing as it offers optimum safety features, it’s also suitable for surfing, water skiing, tubing, and kayaking. By the way, if you also love kayaking, you may need one of these drysuits to keep you warm.
What We Love
A simple and well-made life jacket.
- Available in 4 different colors
- Durable nylon oxford fabric outer shell
- Comes with free survival whistle
- Unique interior pocket
- Shorter than the standard life jackets
Body Glove Method Life Vest
Body Glove has been creating excellent products and bringing innovations since 1953. This is why it’s one of the most trustworthy brands. This brand has been manufacturing the best life jackets for sailing for years and it’s the quality you can trust. Body Glove Method Life Vest is the latest and one of the greatest releases from this brand. It’s a US Coast Guard-approved life jacket with 100% PE foam flotation that offers the best comfort.
Comes with oversized armholes, just move freely and feel like nothing is holding you back. There are also strategically placed drain holes so that it will dry quickly and you don’t have to deal with a wet vest after you go out of water. Body Glove Method Life Vest comes with four heavy-duty belts with quick-release buckles to make it easy for you to take it on and off anytime.
What We Love
A high-quality life jacket from the legendary brand.
- 100% PE foam
- Oversized armholes
- Super duty nylon outer shell
- Low buoyancy
Mustang Survival – M.I.T. 100
Sometimes it’s okay to spend more money on high-quality products because it can be a good investment. Mustang Survival – M.I.T. 100 may be quite expensive compared to other brands, but the quality is unbeatable. With this life jacket, you don’t need to buy a new one every once in a while since it will last for years. That’s why it’s currently the best inflatable life vest for sailing.
Mustang Survival – M.I.T. 100 is constructed of exclusive membrane inflate technology to create a lightweight and flexible fit. This is the first brand to ever introduce this kind of technology. This life jacket is already field-tested and approved with a rating of 9.5/10, which means there’s no reason to doubt the quality since it’s already one of the best life jackets for boating.
What We Love
A top-quality life jacket that features advanced technology.
- Flexible fit
- 1.5x regular foam PDFs
- Manual breathe inflation valve
- Very expensive compared to other brands in the same category
Airhead Kwik-Dry NeoLite Flex
While it’s quite easy to find excellent life jackets, not many manufacturers offer the best life jackets for sailing with unique designs. Thankfully, Airhead comes to make the options more interesting. The Airhead Kwik-Dry NeoLite Flex is a US Coast Guard-approved type-III life jacket that comes with a funky design to make you look stand out from the crowd.
This excellent life jacket is constructed with Kwik-Dry NeoLite, which means you don’t have to wait for hours for it to dry. We’re glad that Airhead actually offers an exceptional quick-drying technology that’s better than other brands. We’d say it’s one of the best life jackets for dinghy sailing because it’s UV and stain-resistant. Made of 200 denier polyester, it’ll survive even the roughest conditions.
What We Love
An ultra-durable life jacket with a funky design.
- UV & stain resistant
- Zipper closure with two adjustable belts
- Advanced quick-drying technology
- Closed sides for better security
- The vest may ride up when in the water
Stohlquist Fit Life Jacket
Do you need a high mobility multi-purpose personal flotation device for your boating adventure? The Stohlquist Fit Life Jacket is your perfect answer since it’s one of the best life jackets for boating. We highly recommend this life jacket from Stohlquist because it has some really decent features that will enhance your experience. The high-profile cut-away arms allow for full movement. This way, you won’t feel like something is limiting your movement. Just move as freely as you want!
Stohlquist Fit Life Jacket is designed to be thin and fit well. When you wear it, it feels like wearing nothing because it’s very lightweight and not bulky, unlike any other life jackets. The thin profile provides minimal seat back for interference.
What We Love
A thin profile life jacket that allows full movement.
- Wrap Around Sides for Comfort
- Contoured high-mobility back
- Sculpted foam paneling
- Equipped with a hanging loop
- Doesn’t really secure well to the waist
Eyson Inflatable Life Jacket Classic Manual
Oddly enough, most inflatable life vests are usually much more expensive than regular life vests. Even though it’s much smaller, the technology which made it possible really drives up the price. This is why we think Eyson Inflatable Life Jacket Classic Manual is the best inflatable life vest for sailing because it offers the bang for your bucks. This way, you can have a proper inflatable life vest without breaking the bank.
Despite the affordable price, the Eyson Inflatable Life Jacket Classic Manual is still packed with advanced safety features like other expensive inflatable life vests from other brands. Just pull the handle and it will inflate in about two or three seconds. It’s also equipped with a backup oral inflation tube on the left of the jacket just in case you need it. This affordable inflatable life vest provides comfort, safety, and peace of mind for a sailing enthusiast like you!
What We Love
A secure inflatable life jacket at an entry-level price.
- Adjustable strap webbing & buckle
- Neoprene neckline
- Two reflective stripes
- Extra D-ring
- No automatic inflation system
Stearns Life Vest Classic Series
If you’ve been in the watersports world for a long time, you must have heard about this brand somewhere. Its most popular life vest is the Stearns Life Vest Classic Series. When you go sailing, sometimes all you need is just a simple life vest that gets the job done. You don’t really need all the fancy features or the most advanced technology. Especially if you’re on a budget but still want to have a good-quality life jacket, this is your perfect option.
The Stearns Life Vest Classic Series is designed to provide you with the most comfort. With webbed straps and a durable 200D nylon shell as well as PE foam inside, this life jacket ensures you’ll always be safe during the boating season.
What We Love
A classic life jacket that feels comfortable to wear.
- Open sides for a better fit
- Durable nylon shell
- Great breathability
- Low restraint of motion
Airhead Trend Life Vest
Previously, we’ve talked about the Airhead Kwik-Dry NeoLite Flex. Now, it’s time to show you another great product from Airhead. Unlike the Airhead Kwik-Dry NeoLite Flex, this is a less expensive option and that’s exactly why it’s one of the best life jackets for sailing. Available at such a decent price, making it affordable for those who want to try sailing for the first time. Many people want to try sailing but they can’t afford the expensive sailing gears. Now everyone will have the chance to try one of the most exciting watersports.
Airhead Trend Life Vest is a classic life vest with a modern touch. The brand upgraded the classic design to stay relevant to the modern era. Not only is this jacket great for sailing, but it’s also suitable for other watersports. It’s great since you don’t have to buy a new life vest for other water activities that you like. This excellent life vest is a hip way to stay safe during the summer.
What We Love
A decent life vest at an affordable price point.
- 4 adjustable belts with quick-release buckles
- Soft woven 200-denier polyester shell
- Dual-sized for better fitting flexibility
- Quite bulky
You’ll never regret buying a high-quality life jacket like Onyx A/M-24. It’s the best inflatable life vest for sailing because it’s designed to be ultra-durable with comfort as the number one focus. This convertible, lightweight, and low-profile life vest makes it feel like you wear nothing on your body. You will hardly remember that you’re actually wearing a life jacket. With the automatic inflation system, this life jacket will inflate automatically upon water immersion. This way, you’ll always be safe even if you don’t have to time inflate it manually.
Even though the highlight is the automatic inflation technology, doesn’t mean it’s the only way. Onyx A/M-24 also comes with a backup oral inflation tube and a “jerk to inflate” handle just in case you need to inflate it manually. It’s easily one of the best life jackets for dinghy sailing because it offers full movement.
What We Love
A tear-resistant life jacket with a low profile design.
- Convertible form
- Automatic inflation system
- Durable fabric
- Not suitable for novice swimmers
O’Neill Superlite Life Vest
O’Neill Superlite Life Vest is the definition of a perfect life vest. This US Coast Guard-approved life vest is designed to fit snug for your safety. Bulky life vest is so 1990, it’s time to leave it. This is the new era of minimal bulk design that allows full mobility. This way you can move freely as you want and it’s also easy to put the vest on and off whenever you want to.
Comes with anatomically cut lightweight polyethylene foam flotation and durable coated polyester outer shell, this life jacket is designed to be strong, yet comfortable and soft. That’s why it’s one of the best life jackets for boating because you literally get the best of both worlds. Feel like an athlete by wearing the O’Neill Superlite Life Vest!
What We Love
A superior life that allows free movement.
- Wide webbing belts
- The durable coated polyester outer shell
- Snug fit
- The size runs small so you need to pick one size up
Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest
Finally, we reach the top of the list. It should come as no surprise that the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest gets the crown among all the best life jackets for sailing. It’s packed with the most advanced safety features and made to last. This life vest features a sculpted flexible foam design that conforms to your body. This way, the vest will stay in place even if you move a lot during the action.
This heavy-duty life vest is constructed of nylon fabrics to resist punctures and tears. That’s why it’s currently one of the most durable life jackets available on the market. To keep you cool, the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest has mesh ventilation panels on the front and the lower back. There are also expandable pockets to store your valuables. And with the SOLAS grade reflective materials, it has great visibility even when it’s dark outside.
What We Love
An exceptional life jacket that’s packed with sophisticated technology.
- Great breathability
- 6 adjustment straps
- Expandable pocket
- SOLAS grade reflective material
- Thick design, can’t be folded