Best Life Jackets for Sailing: 2021’s Buying Guide

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If you are passionate about sailing, you know that there are a few vital pieces of equipment that you need to invest in. Luckily, with proper market research, you should be able to get everything that you need at an affordable price.

Apart from the boat itself, proper clothing is essential for enjoying sailing. Other than gloves, you will want to get a life jacket that is highlighted by a high-performance and lightweight design, as well as several other cool features.

The market features a plethora of different models, but not all of them are of great quality. For this reason, we have created a list of the best life jackets for sailing in the hope that we will be able to help you figure out the one that suits your needs and style. Let’s get right to it!

Comparison Chart

OnyxMoveVent Dynamic Vest
Best Choice
Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest
Best Price
41oHdX8 iNL
O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG Life Vest
Best Comfort

Best Life Jackets for Sailing Reviews

O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG Life Vest

41oHdX8 iNL

This product comes in a few color variations, including Pacific/Smoke, Patriot, Black/Black, and Black/Lime/Smoke. It is an attractive and durable life vest that you can get great use out of. Coming from the well-recognized O’Neill brand and being USCG-approved, there is not much to worry about in terms of build quality and essential features!


First and foremost, we want to discuss how multifunctional this life vest truly is. As it features a reliable flotation device, you will love the fact that it can be used for several watersport activities, including canoeing, paddling, skiing, and sailing. Not only does it offer spectacular safety features, but the minimalistic design will allow for adequate mobility.

A bulky structure is a con that is present in most sailing life vests, which is why we were quite surprised to find out that this O’Neill product is compact and convenient. Made out of durable polyester, it is among the sturdiest life jackets on the market thanks to its hard-shell exterior.

On the other hand, it is quite soft due to the foam polyethylene interior that will allow you to stay protected and comfortable throughout the whole wearing experience. A product such as this one can indeed go a long way, whether you are a professional or you simply enjoy sailing as a hobby.

The main issue that we have with it is that the fit doesn’t seem to be quite right, and you will want to be extra cautious with sizing.

Other than that, it is a well-made and durable life jacket that comes at an affordable price!



  • Great price
  • Sturdy exterior
  • Comfortable interior
  • USCG-approved flotation device
  • Attractive design


  • Sizing is not accurate


Stohlquist Edge Life Jacket


If you are on a more flexible budget, and you are looking to invest in a life jacket that is highlighted by a reliable flotation device and an innovative torso design, you are in the right place. Coming from a brand that has been market-relevant for more than 40 years, this jacket is made to offer a perfect fit, unparalleled mobility, and optimal comfort.


First and foremost, we were quite impressed that, unlike the aforementioned product, this one can provide adequate sizing. The PFD foam body is designed to match the paddler and thus goes a long way in terms of offering a custom fit. That, along with the featured graded sizing, is the main reason why the amount of foam matches the size that you decide to go for.

The beveled foam edges and pre-curved design go a long way in terms of providing a secure, cozy fit thanks to the highlighted Wrapture Foam. The mobility that this product offers is fantastic, as the risk of shoulder straps getting caught in the lines is eliminated. With this in mind, you can enjoy this jacket not only for sailing but also for other watersports activities.

Most importantly, this product is quite durable, highlighted by a rip-stop nylon shell and mesh sides that offer fantastic ventilation. Additionally, the Stohlquist life jacket is incredibly convenient given its highly reflective accent, as well as a spacious front pocket for storing essential accessories.

When it comes to safety features, it features a Type III PFD, with the sea level buoyancy varying depending on the size that you decide to go for. The main concern that we have related to this jacket is that it is quite pricey.

Still, looking at the design, as well as the innovative solutions for fit and comfort, it is safe to say that this Stohlquist jacket is worth the money!


  • Graded sizing
  • Fantastic mobility
  • Optimal comfort
  • Reflective design
  • Type III PFD


  • Quite pricey


Onyx A/M-24 Life Jacket


Moving on with our list of the best life jackets for sailing, we want to present you with a product that can be inflated both automatically and manually. With several intuitive design solutions, including the stretchable flex-back insert and durable foam fabric, it is a product worth taking a closer look at.


First and foremost, let’s discuss the requirements that are related to this life jacket. It is made for people above the age of 16 that weigh at least 80 pounds. Coming in two color variations – blue and red – the Onyx life vest is unisex. What we were quite happy to see is the neoprene neckline that plays an important role in terms of custom fit and comfort.

The most innovative feature of this Onyx model has to be the convertible automatic/manual inflation. Highlighted by a low-profile and lightweight design, you can either pull the cord or just enter the water and enjoy the automatic inflation. However, although it is made out of durable fabric and has a minimum buoyancy of 22.5 pounds, we wouldn’t recommend this product for non-swimmers, as the featured mobility is not at an optimal level.

You are looking at a personal flotation device that is Type III and has a stretchable-back insert, which goes a long way in terms of safety. Overall, it is a comfortable and durable life jacket that offers a fantastic custom fit!


  • Great fit
  • Comfortable
  • Auto/manual inflation
  • Type III PFD
  • Low-profile


  • Not for non-swimmers
  • Minimal mobility


Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest


Given the fact that Onyx is one of the most recognized brands, it doesn’t come as a surprise that we found another of their products to be well worth the money. Coming in a few variations, including Orange, Yellow, Purple, and Aqua, it is highlighted by a simple yet well-thought-out design.


Firstly, we were quite impressed with the custom fit that this product offers. It is highlighted by lower-back mesh, as well as upper-back seats that work together nicely to provide good flexibility and mobility. Additionally, the padded shoulders work as a safety feature while also contributing to overall comfort.

Among the most important design details is the SOLAS-certified reflection material that this jacket is made out of. The fact that you may end up spending a night in open waters is why a feature such as this one is essential. Additionally, when it comes to convenience, the expandable zippered pockets (with mesh bottom) will allow you to have all the essentials by your side at any given moment.

While highlighted by lightweight flotation foam, the material itself is heavy-duty and made to resist rips and wear. This personal flotation device is Type III. Thus, you won’t have to worry about much in terms of safety. Frankly, other than the fact that the back-mesh is a bit tacky, there isn’t anything else that hinders the quality of this model.

Overall, the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest is reasonably priced and offers innovative safety solutions, as well as fantastic comfort.

Read our full review of the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic life vest.


  • Reasonably priced
  • Offers flexibility/mobility
  • Adjustable shoulders
  • Type III PFD
  • Reflective material


  • Tacky back mesh


Stearns Classic Series Vest

Last on our list is a product that seems to be a good choice if you are on a limited budget and you enjoy recreational sailing, paddling, and touring.


Much like the aforementioned products, this one comes in a couple of color variations – blue and red – making it a unisex product. The fact that it is made 100% out of nylon is both a pro and a con. While it is quite durable, the comfort provided is nowhere near the standard.

This model is approved by the US Coast Guard, which is a great proof of reliability when it comes to safety and overall design. Highlighted by three buckles for an improved fit, as well as a low-profile composition, it is suitable both for kids and adults.

Still, this personal flotation device is quite cheap. However, although there is a lot of room for improvement, the affordable price makes this jacket a good temporary solution.


  • Quite affordable
  • Three-buckle design
  • US Coast Guard certified
  • Enhanced fit


  • Not comfortable
  • Cheap PFD



In the end, it all comes down to whether you are looking to invest in a simple life vest that will keep you afloat or a model with innovative safety features and fantastic comfort. Our personal favorite is the Onyx MoveVent, given the fact that it is highlighted by a Type III PFD. It also offers a great fit and foam composition.

On the other hand, for those of you on a tighter budget, we would recommend the O’Neill Life Vest. Although you should pay extra attention when it comes to size with this one, the comfort and durability provided by this affordable product are definitely up to par!

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