Whether you call it yachting, sailing, or boating, they all have one thing in common: you need to have a life jacket to do it. The US Coast Guard’s rules and regulations regarding yachting life jackets vary depending on the type of vessel, and because yachting is such a broad term, it is impossible to say precisely which type of life jacket will be required by law for you.
However, some life jackets are legal for mostly all types of vessels, which are worth noting for yachting purposes.
What are the best life jackets for yachting? Below are the best life jackets for yachting based on consumer reviews and safety ratings – all of the links below are via the popular Amazon website:
- Astral V-Eight
- Onyx MoveVent Dynamic
- Stohlquist Edge
- O’Neill Reactor USCG
- O’Brien Flex V-Back
- O’Neill Assault USCG
- Onyx A/M 24 Inflatable
- Onyx A/M 24-Deluxe Inflatable
- Mustang Survival Corp HIT
A life jacket that is well-suited to yachting will be versatile and strong, but also unrestrictive. It is important to not compromise your range of motion, and all of the above-listed life jackets can keep you afloat while also allowing you to move freely. Let’s take a look at all of them in a bit more detail.
The Astral V-Eight comes first on our list because it is one of the most versatile and well-rounded life jackets that we will be discussing. It uses a mesh base and has the aesthetic of a traditional yachting life jacket, something that other life jackets we will discuss are straying from.
The Astral V-Eight has relatively low-profile shoulder straps that are unlikely to have any significant motion restriction for most people. Additionally, the armholes are quite large, another important aspect for an unrestrictive life jacket to have.
This life jacket also has foam panels in front that are designed specifically to rest low on the stomach, so if you do go into the water, they will not move up the torso and cover your face or chest. The back panels, conversely, are placed high so that they will not interfere with most seatbacks.
Finally, this life jacket for yachting comes with a heavy-duty zipper as well as a rear belt to help make sure that it is secure on your body. Additionally, this life jacket includes two pockets that are good for fitting smaller items that you may need, like a light or whistle.
Overall, this is a high-quality yachting life jacket that is best for those that want something comfortable that will not break the bank. There are lower-profile life jackets that exist, and we will discuss some of them later, but they may not meet your stylistic or functional needs as well as the Astral V-Eight.
The Onyx MoveVent is similar to the Astral V-Eight in that it is a more traditional-styled life vest that offers excellent all-around comfort as well as mobility. It is designed primarily for paddle-sports, which ensures that it was designed with freedom of motion, especially for the arms, at the forefront of discussion.
The MoveVent was designed with comfort and fit very much in mind, and it has the design features to show for it. The front of the vest is flexible and fits tight to the body without being uncomfortable. The back of the jacket is, like the Astral, mesh on the bottom and foam up top, making it perfectly comfortable to sit down in most seats.
The shoulder straps on this life jacket are adjustable and padded, ensuring both comfort as well as a snug fit. Additionally, the armholes are about as large as could be, with the only thing connecting the front and back below the arms being a small strap.
Some other attractive features are reflective strips on the front, as well as pockets to hold any items that you might want to carry with you.
Overall, the MoveVent is the best option for those that want a traditional style life vest with a maximum range of motion. The MoveVent is the least restrictive and one of the most comfortable full-faced life vests that we will discuss, making it an excellent pick for those folks that want this style with the minimalism of other “barely there” life jackets.
The Stohlquist Edge is the last of the more basically styled and designed best yachting life jackets that we will be discussing. It is similar in design and features as the above-mentioned two life jackets, though it does have a few distinct characteristics that set it apart from the others.
To start, the Stohlquist Edge has an ergonomically shaped torso. This means that the torso section of the life jacket is better-suited to hug your body a bit more, providing a more snug and natural feeling fit compared to other life jackets lacking this feature.
Combined with the contoured shoulders, these features make the Edge one of the most comfortable traditional-style life jackets available, great for the people that like a snug fit but traditional design.
As far as mobility, this is another area where the Stohlquist does quite well. As mentioned above, the contoured shoulder straps will make you forget that they are even there, and the armholes are large enough to guarantee zero interference with motion.
Some additional features of the Stohlquist Edge are a very large front pocket, which allows you to store almost anything that would ever be practical to carry in a life jacket. Additionally, this life jacket for yachting has highly reflective strips on the shoulder straps, making it very easy for you to be spotted by rescue teams, should that be necessary.
Overall, this life jacket is an excellent choice for people that want a form-fitting and close to the body fit without being outright tight, which can be uncomfortable for some people. Additionally, it will not restrict your range of motion, making it similar to the MoveVent in its ability to offer freedom of movement with a more traditional life vest style.
The next three life jackets that we will discuss moves away from the traditional foam sectioned front and back life jackets, and into a more tank-style, surf life jacket. The first of this style of life jacket is the O’Neill Reactor USCG.
This is a life jacket with a larger surface area than everything else we have discussed so far, covering almost all of the front and back of the torso. This may sound restrictive and uncomfortable, but it is designed with an extremely low profile and wears almost like a heavy shirt.
This is a great life jacket to be worn all day, as over time, you are likely to forget that it is even there. The foam is thin, meaning that its increased surface area will not add bulkiness. Additionally, the low-profile design of this lifejacket implies that freedom of movement is great: it has wide armholes and unrestrictive, low-profile shoulder sections.
Overall, choosing a life jacket of this style is mostly an aesthetic decision, as they all function in mostly the same way, with the most significant difference being in how they look. So, if you are interested in one of these tank-style life jackets, and you think the O’Neill Reactor looks good, then that means that it is an excellent pick for you!
The O’Brien Flex V-Back is another “tank-style” life jacket, offering thin foam sections with a larger surface area. It will provide a snug fit with a zipper down the middle as well as two buckles that secure across the chest.
Besides the difference in how they look, the O’Brien Flex is unique in the design of its front section. The other tank-style life jackets do have segmented front foam pieces, but the O’Brien Flex has the most segmented front foam sections. This means that it will be more comfortable to bend over while wearing this life jacket as opposed to other life jackets that are on this list.
Overall, this is a great low-profile life jacket that will offer the same vast range of motion that all of the other life jackets we have discussed do. If you like the way that this life jacket looks, and are enticed by a slightly more flexible front section, this will be an excellent option for you.
The O’Neill Assault USCG is similar to the above-two mentioned life jackets, though is slightly different in that it is the sleekest and most minimalist looking life jacket of the bunch. It does also have segmented front foam sections, though not to the extent that the O’Brien Flex has. While this may hamper mobility slightly, the extremely low-profile design is likely to make up for that in its extremely minimalist feel when worn.
If what you are looking for in a life jacket is something that feels as close to wearing a shirt as possible, then the O’Neill Assault USCG is for you. It has a very minimalist design and is very low-profile, making it an excellent choice for those that want something to wear all day and not even feel like it is there.
The Onyx A/M 24 marks the first life jacket in the final category that we will be discussing. These last few life jackets are characterized by having no torso coverage, instead opting for extended shoulder straps that go all the way down to the waist. These types of life jackets are great for people that are concerned with ventilation and other types of life jackets being too warm, or for people that just want something with as little bulk as they can get.
The Onyx A/M 24 offers a fantastic range of motion as a result of its extremely minimalist design. It also features flexible back straps and a full waist belt to ensure a snug and comfortable fit. The shoulder sections make use of a high quality and durable nylon lining, too, ensuring both longevity and comfort.
Another feature that makes the Onyx A/M 24 unique from everything else that we have discussed so far is the fact that this life jacket is inflatable. In contrast, everything else we have mentioned derives its buoyancy from foam inserts.
The Onyx A/M 24 is both automatic and manually inflatable. The automatic inflation will activate whenever the life jacket is submerged in water, or if the inflation handle is used.
Overall, the Onyx A/M 24 is a fantastic option for people that oppose the use of life jackets because of their bulk. This life jacket is effective, comfortable, and extremely minimalist, making it perfectly suitable for those that are interested in having a true barely-there life jacket.
The Onyx A/M 24 Deluxe is just a different, slightly more upscale version of the above-mentioned Onyx A/M 24. It has all of the same features as far as design and flotation, including the same auto/manual inflation, except it throws in a few extra goodies to make it a bit more practical.
For one, the deluxe version of the A/M 24 uses neoprene lining in the shoulder straps, a material that is of higher quality than the nylon used in the non-deluxe version. Additionally, the shoulder straps themselves are slightly wider, making the fit more comfortable than the comparatively narrow non-deluxe shoulder straps.
The other differentiating features between the deluxe and non-deluxe versions of the A/M 24 are its storage pockets. The non-deluxe version has no storage options, whereas the deluxe has a few pockets, as well as one fleece-lined pocket designed specifically for sunglasses.
Overall, if you were interested in the regular Onyx A/M 24, then you are probably interested in the deluxe version as well. They are both great for all the same reasons, though the deluxe adds in some features that make it almost as practical as a traditional life jacket, with a much more minimalist design. If you can afford to do so, it is worth it to go for the deluxe over the regular as a result of its added features.
The final life jacket on our list is being mentioned at the end for a reason, and that is because it fills a very specific niche that the other life jackets on our list do not. The Mustang Survival Corp HIT is a life jacket that is designed and tailored for absolute maximum safety. To describe this niche with an analogy: the other life jackets on our list are small hatchbacks, whereas the Mustang Survival Corp HIT is a full-size pickup truck. It is utilitarian, and the one that you would most want to be in in the event of an emergency.
To start, the Mustang Survival Corp HIT is, like the two Onyx yachting life jackets mentioned above, an inflatable life jacket. Additionally, it is an automatically inflating life jacket, so it will inflate without user intervention as soon as the life jacket detects that it is being submerged in water. It does this using advanced Hydrostatic Inflator Technology (HIT), which guarantees that the vest will not mistakenly inflate as a result of splashes or rain.
The HIT is an excellent feature for this life jacket to have because after it does inflate, the user will have to purchase a new inflation kit every time that this life jacket airs up. This could get expensive if the life jacket were constantly inflating when it did not need to.
Other features that add to the utilitarian, maximum safety purpose of this life jacket for yachting is its inclusion of reflective safety tape as well as a strobe light and whistle being built into the design. The Mustang is rated for 35 pounds of buoyancy when it is inflated, too. This is a figure that nearly doubles the buoyancy of standard foam life jackets.
Despite all of these safety features, though, the Mustang was also manufactured considering the comfort and wear-ability of its model. Owners of this life jacket report a comfortable fit as a result of the adjustability of the straps. It is also very lightweight, with some users forgetting that they are even wearing it.
Overall, if you are looking to get the most safety and security out of your life jacket, there is no other way to go than with the Mustang Survival Corp HIT. It is the safest option on this list, and if that is what you are after, look no further.
The last word…
Choosing a life jacket for yachting means choosing a life jacket that does not restrict motion, but also does not sacrifice buoyancy and safety in the process. Everything on this list more than meets those requirements, meaning that picking from the options mentioned above is mostly an exercise in selecting which one you like the look and style of best.
Whichever one you do pick, though, know that you have chosen an excellent life jacket that will more than meet all of your needs the next time that you go yachting.