Want to know the best wakeboarding life jacket? Then you are in the right place.
Riding on a wakeboard is a fun activity that everyone wants to try. You get on board, hold the rope, and surf the endless water to get one of the best experiences of your life.
But in all this excitement, don’t forget about your safety. Even though it seems like a pleasant experience, it can be dangerous as you are in the water. Water is unpredictable, and anything can happen while you are in there, so your safety must be at the peak.
One wrong move can slip you off-board and put you in some danger, especially if you are not a good swimmer.
So to ensure your safety, you need a wakeboard life jacket that is specially designed to handle the pressure and keep you safe while surfing.
But the question is – Which one is the best for you?
While there are a lot of vests claiming to be the best, it can be overwhelming to find a legit one. And that’s why I made a list of 11 best wakeboard life vests that you can currently get.
It took me over 78 hours to do the research, ask the professionals, and rank them accordingly so that you can choose the best one in a few minutes.
Now, without further ado, let’s get started.
#11 O’Neill Women’s Reactor
This wakeboard life vest from O’Neill is the right choice for everyone. Don’t go by the name, it fits good to both men and women, but for sure, women get the upper hand here.
Made from polyester, it has a sturdy exterior, while the inner padding makes it very comfortable to wear. The padding on the chest is twice as thick as other parts, which makes it comfortable to wear, but at the same time, it makes it bulky.
The Anatomical flex points and segmented foam core allows mobility and makes it flex with your movements.
The heavy-duty zipper with two quick-release buckles at the front keeps you safe within. It has a concealed belt system that removes the hassle of adjusting the tangled straps, just clip the buckles, and it’s ready to go.
One thing I like about this jacket is the little details it offers. Like the velcro flap that covers the zipper, the velcro tab to hold down the zipper pull, and the hook and loop tab to resist unwanted zipping. These little things make it convenient to use the vest.
Available in three colors, this USCG Approved PFD offers five different size options.
The only issue you will face is that the size options are available in numbers(4,6,8,10,12) rather than standard form(s,m,l). But don’t worry as these numbers represent (XS, S, M, L, XL) size.
Also, they have stated the chest size for each size in their pictures, so give it a look before getting one; otherwise, you will end up getting the wrong size.
- Minimal Bulk design
- Sturdy and comfortable
- Front Zipper and safety belts
- Allows Mobility
- USCG Approved
- Concealed belt system
- Bulky because of extra padding on the chest
- Size in numbers
- The concealed belt system can be a problem if the strap tangle inside as it’s difficult to untangle it from outside.
#10 O’Neill Youth Reactor
Not only adults, but kids too enjoy wakeboarding. Keeping their safety in mind, O’Neill made a youth wakeboard life jacket for kids weighing 50-90lbs.
It’s made of polyester and a coated nylon shell that makes a durable exterior, and while you are safe from outside, the inner has a PVC marine foam to keep the kids comfortable from inside. The foam also keeps your kid afloat in the water, thus keeping them safe.
From my personal test, I found that this vest is a child version of O’Neill Men’s Reactor, as both share almost the same features.
Here too, the padding is quite thick, which makes it a little heavy and bulky when wet. But it’s quite low profile when dry.
Approved by USCG as Type III PFD it has a segmented foam core and anatomical flex points that allows full mobility and don’t interfere with the arm movements. But make sure that it fits properly.
The heavy-duty zipper and quick-release buckles at the front will keep your kid secure inside and will resist any slip off on a huge impact.
It’s available in three color options in where one suits a boy, other suits girl, and the last one suits both. But there is only one size option for kids weighing 50-90lbs.
Many people complain that the vest is way too small for their kid, and that is quite true if your kid is falling at the upper side of the range.
- Sturdy and Comfortable
- Minimal Bulk Design
- Fully Mobile
- USCG Approved
- Bulky, especially when wet
- Size can fit small
#9 Hyperlite Ladies Indy
This ladies’ wakeboard vest from Hyperlite is a great deal for women who wants a good design.
Made from neoprene material, it gives a snug fit when dry but expands to fit comfortably in the water once wet. For the unknown, neoprene expands in the water, so it’s crucial that it fits you snug when dry.
The segmented foam panels and large armholes give full mobility while the padding inside makes it comfortable to wear.
The zipper and two quick-release buckles at the front keeps you safe inside and don’t let you slip off. You may not have noticed, but the 1.5″ straps are concealed at the back, which removes the hassle of wholly untangling it.
This USCG Approved life vest is available in pink color and offers three size options. Some peoples said that the company sent them a different color(rare chance), i.e., Teal and Indy, which is liked by some, and not by others. So if you got a different color (by rare chance), then you can easily replace it.
- Good design
- Sturdy and quite comfortable
- Allows Mobility
- USCG Approved
- Only one color option
#8 O’Neill Men’s Reactor USCG
O’Neill is a familiar name when it comes to the best wakeboard life vest. It offers a minimal bulk design that makes it comparably lightweight than others when dry.
Made from neoprene shell and polyester, it has a sturdy exterior with a comfortable, stretchable interior. The PVC marine foam inside adds an additional level of comfort and keeps you afloat in the water. The padding is around two inches thick on the stomach.
But there is a downside to this foam. It absorbs water like a sponge and doesn’t let it go until you manually squeeze it, which makes it a little bulky when wet. And since the water is absorbed heavily, you have to wash and dry it after every use; otherwise, the foam will smell horrible.
The heavy-duty zipper, along with two quick-release buckles at the front, keeps you securely tighten within and doesn’t let you slip off on huge impacts.
From personal experience, I have noticed that the vest fits snug on the chest but is loose at the bottom, which might be good for somebody with extra pounds around the belly, but for fit people, it’s not something they will appreciate.
Large armholes, segmented foam core, and anatomical flex points allow full mobility and make the vest to flex with your movements.
This USCG Approved PFD is available in five different colors and six different size options ranging from Small to 3X-L. Remember, these colors are not highly visible and don’t increase your visibility in/outside the water.
- Neoprene shell and Polyester material
- Mesh Panels
- Segmented foam core and anatomical flex points
- Comfortable, and Lightweight(when wet)
- USCG Approved
- Not highly visible colors
- Becomes bulky in the water
- If not washed after use it will smell horrible
- Loose at the bottom
#7 Stearns Adult Watersport Classic
This adult wakeboard life vest from Stearns offers extra protection and a classic-style for all those classic lovers.
Like most other vests, it’s USCG approved and offers large armholes for full mobility, but unlike others, it has four adjustable straps equipped with quick-release buckles at the front.
Yes, there is no front zipper, but all the four 1″ straps do a fantastic job to keep you secure inside the jacket. Also, you can adjust the straps to get it to your perfect fit.
From my personal tests, I found that the bottom strap has the tendency to stretch when wet, which makes it less functional as it slips off the edge of the vest, but that can only happen if you stay long in the water. Overall, it’s not a severe problem since we got three more straps, but still, you must know this before getting one.
Apart from the straps, the vest is also durable thanks to the 200D nylon shell material that provides a strong exterior. The lightweight PE foam inside makes it very comfortable to wear for a considerable time. So you get a great combination of sturdy exterior and soft interior.
You may not have noticed, but all the straps have some area stitched from a highly reflective thread that increases visibility during low light situations, especially during dusk, dawn.
It’s available in three vibrant colors(Blue, Red, Yellow) that increase visibility. And for size, there is a universal size option suitable for 30″-50″ chest and weigh of 90 pounds or above.
- Four adjustable buckles
- 200D nylon shell and PE Foam
- Large armholes
- USCG Approved
- Only for adult size
- Universal fit does not fit perfectly to all
#6 Full Throttle Women’s Hinged Rapid-Dry
This is another life vest specifically designed for women/girls. It has a custom design that adjusts well with the curves and colors that look pretty.
Made from neoprene, it gives a snug fit and increases stretchability. For unknown, Neoprene has natural stretch to it and expands in the water, so it’s crucial that the vest fits you snug when dry.
While the neoprene gives a sturdy exterior, the poly-span inner provides a soft interior to keep you comfortable all day long. And when you fall off, the soft flotation foam inside ensures that you stay afloat in the water.
Multiple hinge points, large armholes, and stretchable flex-back provide greater flexibility and mobility that lets you freely move without feeling too constricted.
The front zipper and two safety belt keep you safe within while the beautiful color and subtle pattern makes you look good from outside.
This USCG approved PFD is available in two colors(Purple, Blue), and three different size options – Small, Medium, and Large.
- Sturdy and comfortable
- Full mobility
- Pleasant graphics and color
- USCG Approved
- Many people say that it fits tight, and you must get one size up, but this advice is wrong as the Neoprene material tends to fit snug and tight when dry, but it expands in the water.
#5 O’Brien Men’s Flex V-Back Neoprene
This life jacket from O’Brien has one of the best designs on this list. Unlike the old school vests, it’s lightweight and has graphics on-front, which is a plus point for those who don’t like simple colors.
It has a BioLite construction, which makes it much soft, breathable, lightweight, and eco-friendly than other jackets. For the unknown, BioLite is a Neoprene alternative that is eco-friendly.
The V-Back stretch panel allows the jacket to flex with your movements while the wide armholes give full mobility and allow the arms to move freely. Both of them combined give unparalleled freedom to move.
While you are surfing, the segmented panels with its multiple hinge points keep you comfortable, so you enjoy to the fullest. In our tests, we found that it’s convenient for stand-like watersports like wakeboarding, but it’s not so good for sit-like watersports like Kayak, etc.
The front zip closure with two adjustable belts keeps you secure within the vest so you won’t slip off on huge impacts. Also, the PWC lanyard attachment ring on this USCG approved PFD gives you an option to attach a SeaDoo throttle key.
Currently available in four highly visible colors, it’s available in seven different size options ranging from X-small to 3X-L.
- V-Back Stretch Panel
- BioLite construction
- Segmented panels with multiple hinge points
- Comfortable and Adjustable
- USCG Approved
- Not suitable for sit-like watersports
#4 O’Neill Men’s Assault USCG
This wakeboarding life jacket from O’Neill is the perfect example of quality, not quantity. Specially made for quality lovers who are ready to spend a little more to seal a good deal.
Made from polyester it has a lightweight neoprene shell that makes it durable from outside, but comfortable inside. The segmented foam core makes it flexible and allows the jacket to bend and flex with your movements.
Also, the minimum bulk design makes it very lightweight such that it becomes almost unnoticeable after wearing for some time. So, all in all, you don’t have to worry about comfort anymore.
The front zipper and dual belt give you a snug fit while keeping you safe within. Unlike others, it has a lash and loop tap that resists any unwanted zipping that may happen in a hurry.
It keeps you warm inside the water and dries quickly once you are outside, thanks to the NytroLite Foam inside. The extra padding on lumbar and cut short front design makes it comfortable to sit unlike others that only supports standing.
Approved by USCG as a Type III life jacket, it has a clean design that’s available in four colors. It has a size for everyone ranging from Small to 3X-L. So if you are going with your family then don’t worry as O’Neill got you covered.
- Holds less water, dries quickly
- Comfortable and Sturdy
- Support sitting and keep warm inside water
- Minimal Bulk Design, Low-Back Lumbar Pad
- Great Flex Point and Snug Fit
- USCG Approved
- A little pricey, but worth every penny
#3 O’Brien Women’s Impulse Neo
This beautiful wakeboard life jacket is designed explicitly for females by keeping the curves and other aspects in mind. It’s perfect for those females who want more of a custom design for their body that’s not usually available in other vests.
Like the other vests I reviewed earlier, it has a 1.5mm neoprene outer that makes it lighter, stretchable, and exceptionally comfortable. The perfect size will give you a snug fit, so refer to the size chart carefully.
You don’t have to measure everything but the circumference of the largest area in your torso to get your perfect size. Also, if your chest size falls in the upper end, then get a size up.
The zipper closure and two quick-release buckles at the front keep you secure within while the lovely color and subtle pattern makes you look good from outside. After wearing this one, you can expect some great compliments, so be ready for some.
Wide armholes and segmented panels give you full mobility so that your arm movements aren’t inhibited by the jacket while you are trying to surf all the way up.
This USCG Approved Type III PFD has a PWC lanyard attachment ring(D-ring) at the bottom where you attach a SeaDoo throttle key. Now, let’s talk about something important.
This life vest is excellent for active watersports where you are in some standing position like in waterboarding, SUP, etc., but for other sports where you need to sit down(like Kayaking), it’s not that great.
- Neoprene Outer
- Comfortable and Durable
- Zippered Front with two belts for security
- Multiple hinge point
- USCG Approved
- It’s not suitable for water sports where you need to sit down like Kayaking. I know we are talking about wakeboarding, but still, if you are thinking of buying it for multi-purpose, then it doesn’t serve that person.
#2 O’Brien Traditional Neo
For the people wanting a snug fit, here is a USCG Approved vest from O’Brien that fits like a dream. Made from neoprene outer, it has a natural stretch that gives you a perfect snug fit when dry.
And when the neoprene gets wet, it begins to stretch/expand and forms to your body. Due to the natural stretch, it is very comfortable to wear.
The large armholes make it roomy such that it doesn’t inhibit your movement, which makes the wakeboard experience much safer and fun. Unlike other vests that don’t have enough safety, it has a zippered closure along with two quick-release buckles at the front to keep you secure while wakeboarding.
So if you are someone who wants to spend a lot of time in the water and wants a fitted neoprene vest, then this is by far the best option for you.
Available in a modern-looking design, it’s available in four highly visible colors and size options available for your whole family ranging from X-Small to 3X-L.
According to our personal tests and other people’s opinion, the vest fits a little small, but that can be tackled if you follow a short guideline.
So let’s suppose you have a chest size of 44 inches, and according to the size chart, it says that 40″-44″ can fit in large size which tends you to buy the large size, but that’s wrong. You must get one size up if you fall in the upper end of the chart.
Now much of the pros, let’s talk some cons.
Some people are complaining that after a couple of use, the padding inside the jacket got all bunched up so bad that it’s unwearable and hence unusable now.
- Neoprene Outer gives Snug Fit
- Comfortable, Lightweight, Roomy
- Zippered closure with two safety belts
- USCG Approved
- Highly visible colors and a lot of size options
- Some people say that the padding inside gets bunched up after a couple of use.
#1 O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG
This life jacket from O’Neill is for somebody who wants to enjoy wakeboarding to the fullest. It’s minimal bulk design, and large armholes give full mobility and don’t interfere with your arm movements.
It is made of polyester, which gives a sturdy exterior while the lightweight polyethylene foam takes care of the comfort inside. After wearing, you don’t have to worry about the overall quality.
Approved by USCG as a Type III PFD it’s great for active water sports like wakeboarding and waterskiing. While you are surfing breakneck, the four front buckles will keep you safe within and resist any slip off.
Apart from good quality, it has a great modern-looking design that fits and looks fantastic. The high visibility colors increase the visibility and make it easy to spot you(wearer) from a far distance. Due to high visibility, you can expect a quick rescue in case of some emergency.
If you are planning to go with your family, then O’Neill has a size for everybody ranging from Small to 4X-L. It prevents you from the hassle of choosing a distinct vest for yourself and your kids(or somebody).
Apart from keeping you safe, it also solves a problem that most other vests don’t!
It dries quickly, thanks to the material. By quickly, I mean really quick, like its almost wholly dry while you are heading back to dock. It prevents stink that usually happens in other vests as they remain soaked for a good time.
- Minimal Bulk Design, Large Armholes
- Durable Coated Polyester
- Polyethylene Foam
- Lots of colors and size options
- USCG Approved
- There is nothing bad I could find, but some people say that the size fits small, which can be solved if you refer to the size chart carefully.
How to Choose a Wakeboard Life Jacket for Yourself?
Do you want to choose a wakeboard vest for yourself? Or just curious to know how to choose one? Then you are in the right place. Wakeboard is an active watersport where you are always in contact with the water, and therefore, the vest needed in here demands different than other watersports vest like boating.
There are a lot of things to check before choosing a vest, and not all of them are known by an average person, and that’s why I made a list of 11 jackets for all. But since you want to choose it for yourself, I will sum up all those things in five topics.
So without further ado, let’s talk about them.
The size of any wearable is a crucial thing to check before getting one, and that rule applies here as well. The size of a life jacket will determine whether you are safe in the water or not.
If you have a big size vest, then you have a chance to slip out on a massive impact, and if you wear a smaller size, then not only can you slip out, but also you will be uncomfortable all the way. In a smaller size, the chances of straps being broken are high, while in the bigger size, the straps don’t keep you secure inside.
And all these problems can be solved by getting a size that fits perfectly on your body. A right size will keep you safe and comfortable simultaneously.
Now, getting a right size is not rocket science, and everyone can get that by measuring their body and comparing that with the size chart.
Every company, whether it’s O’Neill, O’Brien, etc. gives a size chart for every jacket that recommends the perfect size based on your chest size. So all you need to do is measure the largest area in your torso and compare that with the size chart.
I will recommend you to take a size up if you fall in the upper end of the chart. For example, if it says 34″-38″ chest is for medium, and you have 38″ then it’s a really good idea to get one size up; otherwise, you may get a tight fit.
Comfort is an important thing to consider and plays a crucial role in determining a good vest. Earlier, I told you that the perfect size matters a lot, but what if that vest rub under your arms?
Not only will it chafe but also keep you uncomfortable all the time. And remember, you will be wearing a life jacket for a considerable time and being irritated for that long is not something we will appreciate.
So it’s a good idea to check the comfort before getting any vest, let alone for wakeboarding. But how to check comfort?
Well, the basic thing to look for is the foam inside, i.e., is there any padding inside or not?
If there is some kind of padding, then most probably you will have some level of comfort. The softer the foam, the higher the comfort like PE foam is very comfortable. But make sure that the foam layer is not too thick; otherwise, it can result in bulkiness.
So whenever buying a vest, always keep the comfort on top.
The material of the vest will tell whether it’s of good quality or not. You know a vest made of good material means you will get a good quality, whereas a bad material determines bad quality.
Now, you don’t have to be Einstein to understand why the material is important. So let’s jump right into how to determine whether the material is good or not.
While wakeboarding, you are always in the water, so we need some material that’s good with water, and Neoprene is by far the best. It gives a snug fit when dry and expands in the water to give you a comfortable feel.
It’s very sturdy and will resist the vest from ripping off even on huge impacts. Polyester is another material that will keep you safe inside. Like that, you have to check whether the material of the vest is good or not! You can see the material in the description of every vest.
The color of the jacket plays a crucial rule in your safety in the water. Many people choose a color that suits them best, but that’s not how it should be done with a vest.
The color can decide whether you will receive help in case of some emergency or not. But how?
When you get inside the water, it’s pretty difficult to spot you from outside due to less reflection, and that’s why in case of some emergency, you can’t expect a quick rescue. Of course, how will you get help when you can’t be spotted.
But this problem can be solved by the color of your jacket. Most of the vests nowadays are coming in high visibility neon colors that can be spotted outside the water.
So if you are a non-swimmer or bad swimmer, then buying a neon color vest will ensure that you get help on need.
FAQ on Wakeboard life vest
Q. What is a wakeboarding life jacket?
Wakeboard life jacket, as the name suggests, is a life vest specially made for the purpose of wakeboarding. Unlike other watersports, wakeboard is an active watersport where you constantly remain in contact with the water, and that’s why it demands a different kind of vest.
These life jackets are made of strong material like neoprene, polyester that keeps you secure inside, even on the huge impact. Also, they have large armholes, segmented foam core, and anatomical flex points to allow mobility.
Q. Can I wear a Jet Ski life jacket on Wakeboard?
You can wear a Jet Ski life jacket on a wakeboard, but that, however, is not recommended as while surfing, you are dealing with much more pressure. A jet ski vest may not be able to withstand that much pressure.
Also, you need big armholes for greater mobility that may not be available in a Jet Ski vest.
Q. Difference between a wakeboarding and jet skiing life jacket?
There are many differences in design, material, buoyancy, etc.
Like their names, they are designed for different watersport and, therefore, must have some differences. But let’s first talk about the similarities.
Both are active watersports, and in both, you move at high speed. You don’t need to move your arms as often as you do while paddling in boating.
Now let’s talk about the difference.
In wakeboard, you are in the water while in Jet Ski, you are not, which means you will be dealing with much more pressure while surfing, so you need a durable vest that can withstand it. A Jetski vest may or may not handle that much pressure.
Q. Why should I wear a life vest during wakeboard?
You must wear a life vest as it will keep you safe and afloat in the water. If you have prior wakeboard experience, then you will know that the boots are attached to the board, and you have to put your feet inside.
So while surfing, if you fell off, then it’s pretty difficult to swim and get on-board, especially if you are a non/bad swimmer. And that’s why we need a life vest. It will keep you afloat while you are surfing and when you fell off, which means you remain safe. So it ensures a happy journey.
Q. What will happen if I don’t wear a life vest for wakeboarding?
You are inside the water and haven’t worn a vest, so think of what can happen? Well, you can go inside the water, and if you are not an excellent swimmer, then you can even put a risk on your life.
Even if you are an excellent swimmer with no wakeboard experience, then I would strongly suggest you wear a vest as your feet will be inside the boots so you can’t swim efficiently. Don’t take it lightly as water is unpredictable.
And also remember, without a vest, it’s difficult to spot you from outside so you can’t expect a quick rescue in case of some emergency. That’s why a vest is important.
In today’s article, I talked about the Best life jackets for a wakeboard that you can currently get. If you like this article, then do share it with your friends and family. Remember, even after wearing a life jacket, you are not entirely safe, so have some supervision.