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Which women’s life jacket is best?

As the summer wears on and temperatures continue to hit record levels around the globe, a popular way to cool off and have fun is to leap into the water. But the water holds many dangers, and it’s frighteningly easy to suddenly find yourself in danger. Don’t take risks. Always wear a life jacket.

The best women’s life jacket is the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest. It’s highly breathable so you can feel comfortable while you’re on the water for long periods.

What to know before you buy a women’s life jacket

Women’s life jacket types

There are four types of life jackets and one additional type of personal floatation device.

  • Type I jackets are meant for use on the open ocean and especially in rough or stormy water. They have very high buoyancy, typically 20 to 35 pounds worth, to keep you floating for extended periods. This type isn’t often available to the general public and is most commonly found on commercial vessels.
  • Type II jackets are the most basic, usually meant for short-term or emergency use. They have at least 15 pounds of buoyancy.
  • Type III jackets are more advanced and are typically used for water sports in lakes or on an ocean’s shoreline. They are more comfortable and feature-rich than type II jackets but won’t help you float any better, as they share the same buoyancy.
  • Type IV aren’t jackets at all, but throwable floatation devices such as cushions, tubes and rings.
  • Type V jackets are a special class mostly used by Coast Guard rescue teams, so you can’t buy one. They have the same high buoyancy as type I jackets.


Most life jackets are unisex, though a handful cater to women by having more chest space. Finding the right fit is usually as simple as measuring your chest and picking the appropriate size on the jacket’s sizing chart.

Keep in mind that a life jacket is supposed to fit tightly and shouldn’t be able to shift. If you tighten a jacket all the way and it’s shifting, you need a smaller size.

What to look for in a quality women’s life jacket

Coast Guard approval

The best life jackets are officially approved, and recognized as effective personal floatation devices, by the Coast Guard. If a jacket is Coast Guard approved it’s clearly and explicitly stated in the product description. If you don’t see the approval, do not buy the jacket.

Reflective zones

If an accident happens late and sunlight is fading or gone, having reflective zones on a life jacket can be as important to your rescue as the jacket’s buoyancy. If there is even the slightest chance you’ll be on the water at night, make sure you have some.

How much you can expect to spend on a women’s life jacket

They can cost as little as $10 or as much as $150. Type II jackets cost the least, usually no more than $50. Type  III jackets typically start around $30-$40 and get more expensive the more comfortable and feature-rich they are.

Women’s life jacket FAQ

Do I need a life jacket with more buoyancy the heavier I weigh?

A. Not necessarily. No matter if your body weight comes from fat or muscle, even a life jacket with 15 pounds of buoyancy should be enough. If you’re still worried, you can always use a life jacket with 20-25 pounds of buoyancy.

How long does a life jacket last?

A. Life jackets are built to be tough and last for years, but you still need to maintain them. This is as simple as giving them a thorough rinse after every trip and storing them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Do this and the average life jacket should last for at least five years.

What’s the best women’s life jacket to buy?

Top women’s life jacket

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports CGA Life Vest

What you need to know: If you’re on the water more than you’re on land, it’s hard to do better than this jacket.

What you’ll love: The lower back is all mesh to increase breathability, and there are multiple points of adjustment so you can be sure it will fit perfectly. It has several reflective straps and a safety whistle is attached for emergencies. It comes in four colors.

What you should consider: A few consumers found the whistle to be lacking. Those with especially large chests may find the vest uncomfortable.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Dick’s Sporting Goods

Top women’s life jacket for the money

Airhead Type II Keyhole Life Jacket

Airhead Type II Keyhole Life Jacket

What you need to know: This basic life jacket is a great choice for the occasional trip.

What you’ll love: Having buoyancy only in the front ensures that an unconscious person will float face up. The adult size fits chests of 30 to 52 inches and the oversized size fits chests of 50-60 inches. It comes in classic orange or American flag colors.

What you should consider: This isn’t meant for extended use but rather for emergencies or short durations. Some customers found it rubbed uncomfortably at their necks.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

OBrien Womens Impulse Neo Life Vest

O’Brien Women’s Impulse Neo Life Vest

What you need to know: This is another great jacket for those who love being on the water.

What you’ll love: It comes in several sizes and has two straps for adjusting the fit across the abdomen. It has a small loop for attaching safety items such as knives and whistles.

What you should consider: A few purchasers struggled to keep it from riding up in the back. Others suggested that women order a size up for more chest space.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Jordan Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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