Lightweight life vests have become increasingly popular in recent years, due primarily to advancements in buoyancy technology that allows a safe lightweight life vest to be constructed from better materials and fabrics.
In this post I’ll talk about some of the pros and cons of buying a lightweight life vest.
Disadvantages of a Lightweight Life Vest
First, let’s look at the negatives.
Not for Ocean Navigation
Most lightweight life vests are USCG type 3 approved, which is for calm inland waters. While you can find a lightweight life vest that is type 2 approved, they’re in the minority, and they aren’t any (to my knowledge) that are USCG type I. This means that if you like the ocean, a lightweight life vest probably won’t cut it, meaning you may have to splurge for a second vest.
Change Drastically When Wet
Another disadvantage of lightweight life jackets is that many of them drastically change their weight and maneuverability when wet. This depends on the brand however, and there are some good options (like Mustang Survival HIT or Hyperlite Indy) that don’t weigh you down, regardless of how drenched you are.
Advantages of a Lightweight Life Vest
Lightweight vests are famous for being extremely comfortable and easy to wear even for a long day on the boat.
This comfort is appealing for comfort’s sake, but it also means that you’re far more likely to wear your vest consistently, which is better for your overall safety out on the water.
Lightweight vests often employ an open-arm design, which increases rotator cuff action and makes it easier to maneuver around the boat. This freedom of motion is another aspect that makes these vests an extremely attractive option for anyone who goes out on the water.
While some lightweight vests are at the premium end of the spectrum (and with a price tag to prove it!), there are a lot of good options available for under $100. For an excellent mid-range vest, consider the O’Neill Assault vest or the Hyperlite Indy. You can also find a good budget lightweight vest with O’Neill Superlite option.
If you are interested in a lightweight life vest, you can browse more adult life jackets here, or Click here to read about what to look for when purchasing lightweight life jackets.