Hidden Cost of Cheap Life Jackets: What To Know Before You Buy

hidden cost of cheap life jacktsIf you’re getting ready to buy a new life jacket, price can be an extremely important factor.

Before you buy cheap life jackets for your boat, however, you should make sure you understand the hidden costs involved. In this post I’ll outline what to consider before you make the final decision.

You can click here to see my top recommendation for a budget life jacket.

You might also wish to read this related post on Budget Life Jackets vs. Premium Life Jackets.

3 Points To Consider Before You Buy Cheap Life Jackets


The first and one of the most important considerations you can make is to estimate how long the life jacket is going to last.

Think about it this way: a $20 vest is ultimately more expensive than a $50 vest, if the $50 vest is expected to last for 10 years and the $20 vest will only last for 3 years.

While longevity numbers vary drastically from vest to vest, you can check manufacturer specifications for a warranty or other guarantee, or browse user reviews before you make your purchase.


Along with longevity, durability should also be an important factor. Many of the less expensive, foam vests are prone to easy tears, fading, and other minor defects.

While these issues don’t usually affect the performance of the life jacket, over time they can make the vest appear ratty and worn, even after relatively minor periods of use.


Finally, I’m a firm believer that a life jacket’s comfort is one of the most important factors you can consider.

The reason is simple: if a vest is comfortable, you’re more likely to wear it frequently. A life vest that’s stowed below deck does you no good in the moment you need it!

There’s no denying that the mid-range and premium life vests see a huge bump in comfort levels. For me, that’s an investment I’m willing to make, even if I’m on a tight budget.

Making The Decision

Ultimately, only you can decide the right line between meeting your budget needs and finding the vest that’s right for you for the long term.

Your life jacket purchase is an investment in your safety over the long term, and is personally one place I’m willing to spend a little more.

If budget is the top consideration, you can see my top-ranked inexpensive life jacket here.

Otherwise, click here to browse a full list of adult life jackets.

Posted in Life Jackets and PFDs.

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