There are advantages and disadvantages to both, and which type is right for you is going to depend on how you anticipate using the vest.
Auto Inflatable Life Vest
Automatic life vests have gained a lot of popularity over the last few years. They’re small and thin, making them far less obtrusive and more comfortable for the wearer than traditional vests.
One of the main selling points is that auto inflatables vests provide you comfort without worrying about the vest functioning if you are unable to inflate it yourself. One example of this might be a situation where one is knocked unconscious, or even just has the wind knocked out of them for an instant. The auto-inflation could save your life, and are even able to turn an unconscious individual face up in the water.
The downside of the auto inflatable life jackets is that they do require some level of maintenance. While not excessive, the maintenance requirements vary from brand to brand are basically a check-up to ensure the vest still functions properly.
Additionally, automatic life jackets are not recommended for children under 16, non-swimmers, or any situation where falling in the water is probable. This may include but is not limited to standup paddle boarding, kayaking, waterskiing, jet skiing, or whitewater rafting.
Manual Inflatable Life Vest
The manual inflatable life vest is a popular alternative to the auto inflatable option. The vests come with an easily accessible cord that inflates the vest when pulled.
Like the auto inflatable vests, these life jackets are comfortable and unobtrusive for the wearer and can turn an unconscious individual face up in the water.
The downside of these vests is that they do require manual activation. While this is fine for the overwhelming majority of scenarios, it does not account for a situation in which an individual is unable to pull his own cord.
Manual Inflatable life vests are not recommended for children under 16 or for individuals who cannot swim.
Both Manual Inflatable Life Vests and Automatic Inflatable Life Vests can be excellent options for you or your loved ones. It is important to weight the pros and cons of each before you decide which type of vest is right for you.