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Reviewed by our Gear Geeks:

Top 11 Women’s Life Vests in 2021

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Our experts at work

We gave our Gear lovers one job:

Test 25 different Women’s Life Vests and write reviews of the best.

The result is 11 of the best Life Vests for Woman on the market today.

Christos Nicolaou

Divemaster and Paddler

Christos is a passionate diver, enthusiastic paddler & amateur SUP racer.

torben lonne

Torben Lonne

Editor at DIVEIN.com

Torben is a dive nut, with a passion for traveling and gear.

A women’s life vest is a life jacket that considers the comfort, support and necessities of the female body. Most life jackets are unisex, which means they won’t always be comfortable for a  woman, therefore women’s life vests focus primarily on this aspect of a life jacket.

How well a life vest fits determines how safe and comfortable you will be when enjoying your favorite water sport activities. Made with womens bodies in mind, the torso and support provided by various women’s life jackets varies greatly and finding the right one can ensure your safety as well as your overall experience doing a water sport.

Finding the right life jacket can be difficult as there are hundreds of models available on the market. That’s why we’ve done the work for you and picked the best women’s life vest.

Check out our list of the top 10 best women’s life vests:

See our quick top 10, or go further down and read our in-depth reviews.

  1. Astral V Eight – Best for Comfort
  2. Stohlquist Women’s Flo – Best for Kayaking
  3. O’Brien Impulse Neo Life Women’s Life Jacket – Best for Pregnant Women
  4. O’Brien Women’s V-Back – Best for Style
  5. Body Glove Women’s Phantom – Best for Water Sports
  6. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports – Best for Breathability
  7. NRS Zoya – Best for Fit
  8. Stohlquist Betsea – Best for Fishing
  9. Stohlquist Cruiser Women’s Life Jacket – Best for Fishing
  10. Airhead Trend Life Vest – Best for Budget
  11. O’Neill Superlite Womens Life Vest – Best for Budget

The women’s version of the classic Astral V Eight, this life jacket is comfortable, warm and safe. With pre-shaped foam this womens life vest is comfortable and provides good support.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front center zipper
  • Breathable mesh lining on back
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Adjustable side straps
  • Adjustable waist strap
  • 2 pockets on front
What we like:
  • Good price
  • Breathable materials keeping you cool
  • Pockets for personal belongings
What we don’t like:
  • Can be stubborn when zipping up

This life jacket is excellent at keeping you warm and cool, just at the right balance whilst paddling and kayaking. With a high mesh back and made using a light construction this women’s life vest is an excellent combination of ergonomic design paired with airflow technology.

Along with the high mesh back the Astral V Eight also has mesh sides and a comfortable polyester mesh lining which keeps you cool and allows sweat to travel away from your body.

The pre-shaped foam makes the bust area particularly comfortable and the front entry makes it easy to put on and take off. Continuously ranking high for comfort this women’s life vest is a great choice, ensuring comfort and keeping you cool.

This advanced paddling women’s life vest is durable, lightweight and comfortable. It’s good for larger chested paddlers. The mesh back and sides provide good airflow keeping you cool on the water.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Supportive inner cups
  • Cross-chest cinch straps
  • 2 Pockets on the front
What we like:
  • Large zipper pockets
  • Adjustment straps work well for different body types
  • Great for kayaking with high back flotation panel
  • Accommodates larger chests
  • Lightweight and breathable material
What we don’t like:
  • Zipping isn’t always easy

Stohlquist are leaders in the PFD (Personal Flotation Device) market with over 40 years experience, making life jackets for all water sports. Their Women’s Flo life jacket has been manufactured to ensure comfort and breathability and is ideal for recreational paddling activities.

The Flo women’s life vest also has comfortable built-in cups which ensure good support. The adjustable cross cinch strap also helps ensure a good fit and prevents the life jacket from riding up.

With a large zip pocket you can carry small personal items easily and the materials used to construct this women’s life vest ensures comfort and breathability. The life jacket also has a neoprene waist band which keeps the life jacket in place. Made with comfort in mind you will hardly notice you are wearing this life jacket!

This womens life vest works well for under 5’11’’ bodies. There’s ample space for arms, giving good freedom of movement to paddle. It’s also pretty good for water skiing and wakeboarding. It’s pretty true to size too.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable waist straps
  • Coast guard approved
What we like:
  • Form-fitting
  • Light weight
  • D-ring to connect lanyard/kill switch for jet skis
  • Stretchy material great for manoeuvrability
  • Adjustable belly straps good for pregnant women
What we don’t like:
  • No pockets

The neoprene is a snug fit which along with a strong zipper and two adjustable quick-release belts fits tightly and stays in place.

Coast guard approved as well as one of the most stylish life jackets for women on the market, there is no need to compromise on safety or style with the O’Brien Impulse Neo. The O’Brien Impulse Neo womens life vest design has large arm holes which keep you cool whilst wearing it.

They also provide good maneuverability and prevent any underarm chafing. The life jacket also has many hinge points and D-rings on both the front and back.

Made from high quality materials and comfortable, this womens life vest is affordable with an excellent price to quality ratio. This womens life vest from O’brien is also popular for pregnant women thanks to the stretch of the neoprene, just ensure you take a few sizes up for a snug fit.

Another women’s life vest from O’Brien, the O’Brien Women’s V-back also has large arm holes, excellent for maneuverability.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable body straps
  • BioLite construction
What we like:
  • Shape is great for maneuverability
  • Really breathable materials
  • D-ring for jet ski lanyard/kill switch
  • Lightweight
  • Form-fitting
What we don’t like:
  • Runs small

The BioLite construction used for this life jacket makes it especially lightweight and comfortable. The BioLite increases the breathability of this women’s life vest making it fast-drying and keeps you cool. With good stretch this life jacket is comfortable. The added two adjustable quick-release belts fit tightly and keep the life jacket in place.

Designed for a tight fit, this life jacket has good support maintaining comfort through the extra stretch in the materials used to construct the life jacket. The segmented parts of the life jacket provide excellent movement and maneuverability. Snug and comfortable, this life jacket is perfect for watersports enthusiasts who want to stay safe on the water without having a big bulky life jacket.

The Men’s Phantom from Body Glove is one of the leading wakeboarding and watersports life jackets. Coast Guard approved, comfortable and lightweight, the women’s version of this popular life jacket, the Women’s Phantom, has all the same amazing characteristics.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable body straps
  • Yamamoto neoprene
What we like:
  • Form fitting
  • Comfortable and soft materials
  • Streamlined
What we don’t like:
  • No pockets
  • Sizing is a bit off, especially with smaller sizes

Low bulk this life jacket is made from top grade Yamamoto neoprene with an interior of PVC flotation blocks. The use of these high grade materials ensures excellent floatability without bulk. The flotation blocks are specifically fitted for women guaranteeing good comfort and fit.

Secured by two quick release belts and zipper, this women’s life vest is comfortable and allows for good maneuverability whilst remaining firmly in place. Large arm holes also improve maneuverability and prevent underarm discomfort. The life jacket also has drain panels allowing it to dry quickly.

The Onyx MoveVent Dynamic women’s life vest is a surprisingly comfortable life jacket at an economical price. The design and shape of the life jacket make it comfortable to move in and allow for lots of maneuverability. The life jacket is shaped for a better fit and the large arm holes mean it is easy to move in.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Breathable mesh
What we like:
  • Breathable, lightweight materials
  • Large arm holes
  • Lots of mesh to keep cool
What we don’t like:
  • No adjustable waist strap

The bubble foam on the inner back adds extra comfort, especially for kayaking. The lower back mesh and large shoulder holes provide great breathability and keep paddler cool whilst maintaining a snug fit.

Shoulder straps are adjustable on this life jacket ensuring a good fit no matter the size and ensuring it stays in place when paddling. The Onyx MoveVent Dynamic women’s life vest also has an expandable waterproof pocket on the front, excellent for storing small items such as car keys.

The NRS Zoya women’s life vest is specifically designed for touring and sea kayaking. Good value and comfortable.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Adjustable side straps
  • Adjustable waist strap
What we like:
  • Fully adjustable for all body types
  • Good price
  • Lightweight with mesh back
What we don’t like:
  • Pockets are quite small

This life jacket is tight fitting and easy to move in. The high back flotation as well as the pliable foam on the chest make this life jacket comfortable to wear and form fitting, ideal for women.

The six adjustable points on this life jacket allow you to alter the life vest and ensure it fits well at all points of your body. These adjustable points also ensure the life jacket is tight fitting and does not ride up as you are wearing it. Front zipper is easy to get in and out of the life jacket.

The NRS Zoya also has two small zippered pockets at the front of the life jacket, great for storing small personal belongings. This life jacket is form-fitting and affordable and great for recreational use.

With lots of pockets and the Stohlquist Betsea has plenty of storage for small personal belongings, great when out on the water exploring.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Cross-chest cinch straps
  • Adjustable waist strap
  • Coast Guard approved
What we like:
  • Offers specific bust sizes
  • Lots of pockets/space for storage
  • Adaptable to many different water sports
What we don’t like:
  • Not as breathable as other models on the market

This ergonomically shaped life vest for women from Stohlquist is comfortable and form-fitting. Supportive inner cups and adjustable shoulder straps provide extra comfort and fit many different bust sizes.

The ventilation panels, with the wide arm holes provide good breathability and give plenty of room for movement. It has two large pockets at the front and 4-slot accessory tabs. All this storage makes it a great choice for women looking at a fishing life jacket.

As well as comfort and added features the Betsea is very buoyant with large flotation pads and is Coast Guard approved. The Betsea is functional, durable and comfortable, great for all your paddling adventures.

Specifically designed for stand-up paddle boarders and kayakers the Stohlquist Cruiser is an excellent womens life vest. The Cruiser has a specific shorter torso and supportive inner cups which make it comfortable and form-fitting.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Cross-chest cinch straps
  • Adjustable waist strap
  • Supportive inner cups
What we like:
  • Good for moving in it
  • Short torso particularly good for shorter paddlers
  • Form-fitting
  • Good pockets/storage space
What we don’t like:
  • Expensive

Half flotation foam on the bottom and half cool mesh above the seat of the back of the life vest and on the side panels help you to stay cool. The shoulders are also lined with neoprene for added comfort and to prevent any chafing. It also has adjustable shoulder and side straps to ensure the best fit with all body types. The wide arm holes also make it comfortable to move in and add to the manoeuvrability.

Form-fitting and comfortable, the Stohlquist Cruiser Women’s life jacket is great for stand up paddling and kayaking, and great for day-long adventures.

The AirHead Trend is an affordable womens life vest and is an excellent all-round life jacket for taller women. This life jacket is most suitable for boating and other watersports activities.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • Adjustable waist straps
  • US Coast Guard Approved
What we like:
  • Affordable
  • Secure fit
  • Great for general watersports
What we don’t like:
  • Not the best for paddle sports
  • Limited maneuverability

The US Coast Guard approved this all-round womens life vest that is comfortable and supportive. The 4 straps around the torso and waist make this a very secure fit and limit life jacket movement when wearing it. It has large arm holes as well as a deep V front which makes it easy to move in.

It is lined with neoprene which adds to the comfort of the life jacket. This neoprene layer also makes it quick at drying and lightweight, keeping you cool whilst enjoying water sports activities. It’s quick drying also makes it ideal for snorkelling and weaker swimmers.

Although it is not specifically designed for women body shapes this life jacket has amazing reviews and is an excellent, budget-friendly choice for women.

For jet skiing and wakeboarding, this life vest for women offers a minimalist form functionality. It’s a good vest for women with smaller bust sizes and thinner frames.

Where to buy:
Specs & Features:
  • Front centre zipper
  • 4 adjustable straps
  • US Coast Guard Approved
What we like:
  • Affordable
  • Secure fit
  • D-ring for kill switch connector
  • Great for boating watersports
  • Quick release buckles easy to get off but stay put
What we don’t like:
  • Sizes run small

This womens life vest, while it’s described as being suitable for a variety of body types, is a good option for women with sportier frames. It’s in fact a life jacket that is more performance oriented, with minimalist properties and maximum mobility.

It’s the large armholes that allow for a wide range of motion needed for, especially, doing tricks behind a boat on a wakeboard. As far as Coast Guard approved life jackets go for water sports, this one is pretty good as long as you order a size larger than normal.

BUYING GUIDE

Womens life vests are, unfortunately, not available as widely as unisex models that fit men’s bodies more.

It’s not uncommon for a supposedly unisex life jacket to be a little too snug around the upper torso of a woman. If that results in someone electing to leave the life vest on shore or under the boat seat, then it can lead to mishap.

According to the Red Cross, wearing a life jacket or a PFD (personal flotation device) can prevent 90% of boating-related drownings. The US National Parks Service has identified that drowning is the top cause of deaths in National Parks around the country.

It is evident that wearing a life jacket can be a life saver. However, with hundreds of types and models on the market choosing the correct one can be challenging.

There are a couple of crucial things to consider before investing in a life jacket. To come with a vest that fits your personal style and preference perfectly, you’ll have to be aware of essential factors such as size, design, weight capacity, color, and others that add supremely to the overall performance of the PFD.

SIZE

Everything comes down to the size of the life jacket. If the vest is too small, there will be a movement restriction. If it happens to be too large, you’ll have trouble staying afloat. The perfect size is determined when you have the jacket put on, and someone tugs the PFD up. If the jacket doesn’t go up to your neck and nose and stays in its place, congratulations, you’ve found your perfect size.

DESIGN

As a woman, you want to make sure that the life jacket you purchase is supportive. Many models include inner cups that can make the life jacket more comfortable, especially for bigger chested women.

It’s also crucial to have mesh drain panels added to the life jacket. They allow the PFD to dry quicker than average (hours faster), and provide proper ventilation. Thus you will be able to deliver excellent care to your back, avoiding sweating and perspiration.

Weight Capacity

It’s important to be aware of the floating capacity when you are choosing a life vest. Besides the size, the weight also takes a critical place in our guiding list. That’s because if you are overweight and buy a jacket that is meant for lighter people, you might find it quite useless.

Color

Brighter colors, especially orange and yellow, provide better visibility meaning that people will be able to see you if you are far away, making it more likely that you will be rescued in case of an emergency.

Materials

Nylon and neoprene are what you are looking for. They provide better durability than other materials. For example – a polyester life vest will last up to 5 years, while a neoprene one will do it for 6 and a half years.

FAQ – Frequently asked questions about women’s life vests

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What are the best womens life vests?

    The best women’s life vests are women’s life vests that are supportive, comfortable and safe. They are made using durable material such as nylon or neoprene and help keep you buoyant in the water.

    Check out our list of the top 10 best women’s life vests:

     

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    What do womens life vests do?

    Womens life vests are supposed to keep you afloat in the water, should you fall overboard while also providing a comfortable and safe experience. When choosing a womens life vest, go for the model that is designed for the water sport you are doing i.e. kayaking, boating.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    How are womens life vests different from mens life vests ?

    Women’s life vests are not so different from men’s life vests, however they do offer more support in the chest area to accommodate women’s busts. In many cases, women’s life vests tend to be more comfortable than men’s life vests.

  • image/svg+xmlimage/svg+xml
    Do I have to wear a womens life vest?

    Depending on what country or U.S. state you live in, there are different requirements for wearing a life vest. If in the case that wearing a life vest is not required by the law in your area, we would still strongly recommend that you wear a life vest as it will ensure you are safe in most situations.

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