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Best Youth Life Jackets

Best Youth Life Jackets

What I remember most growing up near the water was that we were constantly doing something in or near it. When our family spent time at the cottage, we were either jumping off the dock or canoeing to explore nearby. Moreover, parents are always looking out for their child’s safety. When you hit that age where they can’t keep up with you, you better be wearing one of the best youth life jackets or you’ll get into trouble! In this article, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best youth life jackets available and their pro’s and con’s.

Choosing the best youth life jackets

best youth life jacketsFact: Kids grow super fast! So, who hasn’t been in a situation where in all the excitement of a new summer season, you overlook some of the basics like making sure you have the right sized kids life jacket for all the young ones? Moreover, when all the kids are ready to jump into the lake, or go for a boat ride, and they don’t have the right child life jacket, how terrible do we feel?

To start, we might be tempted to try and squeeze our kids into last years child flotation device to get one more year out of it, but that would generally be a bad idea. That’s why it’s important to choose the best youth life jackets well ahead of the need. Finally, remember that kids are growing fast and last years toddler or infant life vest might not fit. Worse, it may be completely unsafe to use!

Read more in our series of the best life jackets for kids:
best youth life jackets
best youth life jackets

Best Life Jackets for Youth Comparison

Here’s a quick rundown of the best youth life jackets in this review. We chose the key factors to consider in making your decision. Of course, kids will focus on the style or color or design, but as responsible adults, we’re keeping the specs to the safety factors. If you want to see the full detailed descriptions, just keep scrolling down.

Youth Life JacketsUSCG RatingPocketsGrab StrapWeight Restrictions
O’Neill Wetsuits Youth Superlite USCG Life VestType IIINoNo50 to 90 lbs.
Stearns Antimicrobial Nylon Youth VestType IIINoNo50 to 90 lbs.
Full Throttle Youth Life VestType IIINoNo50 to 90 lbs.
Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends 100 Flotation VestType IINoYes50 to 90 lbs.
TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG VestType IIINoNo50 to 90 lbs.
Full Throttle Youth Hinged Rapid-Dry Flex-Back Life JacketType IIINoNo50 to 90 lbs.
Stearns Youth Boating VestType IIINoNo50 to 90 lbs.
Hardcore Water Sports High Visibility Life JacketType IIINoNo50 to 90 lbs.
MTI Adventurewear Reflex PFD Life JacketType IIIYesNo50 to 90 lbs.
Stohlquist Youth Escape PFD Life JacketsType IIIYesNo50 to 90 lbs.

O’Neill Wetsuits Youth Superlite USCG Life Vest

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best youth life jacketsTo start, could you be looking for the perfect gift for your youth who enjoys swimming in deep waters? Or are you looking for the classic life jacket for your water adventures? This may be one of the best youth life jackets. So, it’s only right to consider the O’Neill Wetsuits Youth Superlite Life Vest. Furthermore, coming to you at an affordable price tag, you can be confident to purchase this buoyancy device without breaking the bank.

First off, the fact that this kids life jacket doesn’t cost a lot should not lead you to doubt its quality and performance. In fact, it serves just as good or better than most of the high-end models by other manufacturers. It features ultra-lightweight PE foam at its interior covered by a durable nylon and polyester shell.

Buckles Of Features

Again, this child flotation device fits snugly but comfortably on one’s body thanks to the featured quick-release Delrin buckles. You will love its soft, comfortable and ultra-lightweight feel that will let you swim for an extended period without experiencing fatigue.

Additionally, its mesh design allows it to drain and dry in minutes after getting out of the water.

Fianlly, ss of the best youth life jackets, it is suitable for youths weighing 50 and 90 lbs.

Also, it’s available in various color combination options including smoke/red/graphite/smoke and turquoise/lime/white/lime which will appeal to kids. The different colors are priced differently, but as long as your child wears this youth life jacket, it will be worth it.

Pros
  • Ultra-durable construction
  • Feels soft and comfortable
  • Perfect fit with quick-release Delrin buckles
  • Minimal bulk construction design
  • Natural drainage and drying thanks to its mesh design
Cons
  • General Boating Vest: NOT approved for towed activities
  • Reported to run “small”
  • Maximum weight 90lbs

Stearns Antimicrobial Nylon Youth Vest

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best youth life jacketsFirst off, you can be sure that you will never regret choosing to try the Stearns Antimicrobial Nylon Youth Vest. Moreover, it’s the best youth life jackets that’s professionally designed. Bearing in mind that youth are more playful and aggressive as compared to other age groups, the Stearns Company has invested largely to ensure this unit serves with no breakdowns or disappointments throughout its lifetime.

Secondly, it boasts US Coast Guard approval, a factor that has contributed to its excellent reviews.

Antimicrobial Protection

Interestingly, this kids life jacket comes with antimicrobial protection that prevents the growth of mildew, mold, and odor-causing bacteria regardless of it being wet for an extended period. Second, it’s constructed from nylon, a material that guarantees its durability. When your kids are spending full days in the water, then ready to go the next day at the break of dawn, the antimicrobial protection is a great feature. Moreover, depending on the climate, the child flotation device may not have sufficient time to dry between uses!

Enhanced Safety

For enhanced youth safety, this life jacket comes with closed sides which facilitate mobility in or out of the waters. Again, this child life jacket fits snugly but comfortably and securely thanks to its three adjustable chest belts.

Furthermore, the dry ring on its rear end allows for secure storage after use while facilitating drainage for quicker drying.

Finally, if you are looking for the best life jackets for youth weighing between 50 and 90lbs, then this unit is for you.

Pros
  • Durable PE foam and nylon construction
  • US Coast Guard approved
  • Antimicrobial protection for preventing bacteria, mildew and moss growth
  • Dry ring for thorough drainage and safe storage after use
Cons
  • This kids life jacket reported as a bit bulky

Full Throttle Youth Life Vest

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best youth life jacketsWith our first glance at the Full Throttle Youth Life Vest, we could tell that this is a child flotation device built for nothing but optimum performance. First of all, as confirmed by this youth life vest, consumer satisfaction is the top goal of its maker and the reviews prove it. Consider it as one of the best youth life jackets.

Furthermore, the Full Throttle Life Vest is available in two color options: Orange and pink. Also, each color also has some cool designs incorporated into that will appeal to kids. Moreover, the fit is for youth weighing between 50 and 90 pounds.

Lightweight

Also, construction of ultra-lightweight flotation foam and heavy-duty nylon makes this youth life jacket durable and allows it to provide optimum safety for kids throughout its lifetime. Also, the featured variable chest strap and belts maintain the vest in place without riding up and down with the increase of waves.

US Coast Guard Approved

Additionally, we were happy to find out that this child flotation device is US Coast Guard approved which means parents can breathe a sigh of relief. Of course, ee’re sticklers for always checking the tags of every youth life jacket (and adult too!) to see that USCG approval.

Ideally, this is a great life jacket for youth. Finally, it has all it takes to provide you with optimum safety in deep or shallow waters.

Pros
  • US Coast approve type III PFD
  • Feels soft and comfortable
  • Bright colors are readily visible in the waters even at night
  • Heavy-duty construction for ultra-durability
Cons
  • Limited colors

Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends 100 Flotation Vest

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best youth life jacketsFirst off, the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends 100 Flotation Vest brings you a whole load of benefits. Moreover, there are many positive reviews on the overall performance of this child flotation device. Additionally, right from its appearance, you can tell that this is a kids life jacket designed to provide the best-in-class safety performance.

To start, it features solid construction that includes professionally shaped mobility panels, segmented and well-padded head pillow, and a unique cooling-oriented back panel. Further, only the best youth life jackets have these kinds of features.

Comfortable

The comfort while wearing this life jacket is enhanced further by the addition of a well-ventilated mesh back. Additionally, there’s a heavy-duty grab strap on the rear end of this life jacket for emergency retrieval from the water. Furthermore, in the event of an accident or emergency, you can grab your child by the strap and pull them out of the water. Also, it makes it much easier than trying to lift them by their arms or sides, since that can cause more injuries.

Importance Of Mobility

Most importantly, youths will be able to move around easily while wearing this jacket thanks to its mobility-shaped panels.

Interestingly, another nice aspect is that there are several colors to choose from including fluorescent yellow-green/gray. Not only are the color combinations highly-visible, but kids will think them cool!

Also, while we review infant and toddler life jackets elsewhere, the youth version is meant for youth 50-90 pounds. Finally, it’s essential that you consider whether this life jacket will fit your child appropriately to avoid after-purchase disappointments.

Pros
  • USCG Type II Approved
  • Head supports to keep head out of water
  • Easy mobility when worn
  • Ultra-comfortable and soft feel
Cons
  • Mid-priced choice

TRC Recreation Kids Super Soft USCG Vest

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best youth life jacketsFirst, this life vest affirms the TRC company’s dedication to making high-grade water safety equipment. It’s constructed from durable vinyl and closed cell foam, a design that allows it to last long while serving with no disappointment whatsoever. Also, the vinyl is waterproof and features a soft feel for your child’s comfort.  It can withstand heavy duty use and abuse that youth tend to deliver.

Secondly, this unit is available in various sizes but for youth, choose the medium. Medium size is meant for children with 26-29 inch chest and between 50 – 90 pounds. Moreover, the adjustable back slot in this life jacket is there to facilitate easy fitting for your child while the leg and chest straps are there to ensure a secure fit for enhanced security.

Are The Kids Picky?

First off, choosing the best youth life jackets for the picky child can be a big task. Interestingly, with 4 available colors, that task is now much easier. Even the pickiest kids should be able to find a color they like.

Finally, but most importantly, this life jacket is US Coast Guard approved. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry about your little one’s safety while enjoying the water lifestyle provided it’s fitted correctly.

Pros
  • US Coast Guard approved
  • Waterproof Vinyl
  • Ultra-durable
  • Ultra-comfortable
  • Bright colors for easy tracking of children in the water
Cons
  • No leg strap for Youth size

Full Throttle Youth Hinged Rapid-Dry Flex-Back Life Jacket

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best youth life jacketsAnother Full Throttle youth life jacket, this one is sure to make a statement. 2 cool designs to choose from, it’s almost a fashion statement and not a child flotation device! Additionally, this kids life jacket is designed for the youth weighing between 50-90 pounds.

To start, we found the featured lightweight and soft flotation foam impressive.  Also, the interior section of this life jacket is ultra-smooth for optimal drainage and child comfort. Additionally, the featured five hinge points provide improved flexibility and the bright colors allow for easy tracking of your child while in the water. Furthermore, the flex back also provides extra flexibility and movement for your kids.

Capacity & Specs

Secondly, this youth life jacket is rated as US Coast Guard approved Type III PFD. Therefore, you know the performance will be there when you need it. Full Throttle is a company that we feel makes some of the best youth life jackets on the market.

Moreover, the drainage capability of this life jacket is on point as it dries swiftly to allow your child to get back to the water quickly. You will appreciate the extended period that this unit will provide safety to your little one in the water thanks to its stretchy, wear-resistant external fabric. Additionally, whether your child just needs to wear a life jacket in the water for extra safety or they’re participating in some water sports, the Full Throttle youth life jacket will deliver.

Pros
  • Ultra-durable construction
  • US Coast Guard approved
  • Brightly colored for easy identification
  • Fast drainage
Cons
  • Limited color options

Stearns Youth Boating Vest

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best youth life jacketsFirst off, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly life jacket for youth, then the Stearns Youth Boating Vest could be an ideal purchase.  To start, it’s meant to be worn by children weighing between 50 and 90 pounds.

Secondly, the superior construction from long-lasting nylon guarantees performance and durability. Interestingly, this child flotation device interior consists of heavy-duty cross-tech floatation foam.

Additionally, you can be certain that this unit will fit quite snugly but comfortably and securely on your little one’s body, thanks to its three buckle design. So, if you’re searching for the best youth life jackets, look for the number of buckles.

One Of The Top Picks

More importantly, this youth life jacket is US Coast Guard approved. Therefore, it’s sure to serve you with no disappointments throughout its lifetime. It’s ideal for waterskiing, watercraft, tubing and other towed uses. Also, for an active youth, this is a diverse kids life jacket suitable for various activities.

Finally, we highly recommend this youth life jacket as one of the top contenders for a best kids life jacket for performance! So, If searching for the best youth life jackets, this one is the tops.

Pros
  • Ultra-durable construction
  • Fits securely thanks to the three buckle design
  • Us Coast Guard approved
Cons
  • Limited to Blue or Red colors

Hardcore Water Sports High Visibility Life Jacket

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best youth life jacketsIf you would like to take your child for swimming where it may be crowded, then it’s wise to find a high visibility life jacket. Therefore, that’s what you get from the Hardcore Water Sports High Visibility life jacket. First, It’s professionally made to be ultra-visible even in low light conditions.  Additionally, the bright color combinations of this youth life jacket facilitate easy tracking of children even in crowded swimming pools.

Additionally, this unit is built to last long. It’s constructed from heavy-duty polyester, a material that guarantees its performance and longevity. What’s more, this life vest is US Coast Guard approved for worry-free use.

Great Design

To start, it fits securely on children thanks to its three buckle design. Interestingly, the fact that this kids life jacket is ultra-lightweight makes it comfortable and provides lots of mobility.  Also, it’s ready for action when your kids are as it dries easily. This life jacket for youth suits children weighing between 50 and 90 pounds.

Finally, we highly recommend this as one of the best youth life jackets.

Pros
  • Long-lasting polyester construction
  • US Coast Guard approved
  • Highly visibly top colors
  • Available in a vast range of color options
Cons
  • No leg strap for added security

MTI Adventurewear Reflex PFD Life Jacket

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best youth life jacketsThe unique look of this youth life jacket guarantees your little one is bound to want to wear it. Moreover, the MTI Adventurewear Reflex PFD Life Jacket boasts construction superiority as well as excellent aesthetic aspects.

They have also done their best to bring about a balance between the quality of its construction materials and its weight. Additionally, this life jacket is ultra-lightweight despite the construction of high-grade materials including the 300 denier polyester on the shell.

Design Is Everything

Also, we love its front zip design that comes with eight adjustment points for a secure and comfortable fit. Additionally, there are two zippered stretch pockets in this life jacket for storing items. Moreover, we know kids love to collect rocks, seashells and other things along the shoreline or when swimming. So, this is and ideal little place to store those treasures.

Adjustable Features

Also, the shoulders are adjustable while soft panels with high-grade foam allow this life jacket for youth to fit a wide range of body sizes and shapes. Even more, this unit is US Coast Guard approved and suits use even for heavy-duty water escapades.

Finally, the MTI kids life jacket is for youths weighing between 50 and 90 pounds. MTI makes excellent life jackets in the category of best youth life jackets.

Pros
  • USCG Type III Approved
  • Excellent fitting with PFD-deep V-neck support
  • Long lasting 300 denier polyester shell for durability
  • Bright colors for easy identification in the waters
  • Buoyancy: 16 lbs. 6 oz.
Cons
  • Will not keep unconscious person face-up
  • Pocket is not waterproof

Stohlquist Youth Escape PFD Life Jackets

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best youth life jacketsFirst off, this life jacket for youth is quite compact and lightweight. Thus, kids won’t complain of a bulky fit. Also, it features a low profile to give a contoured and sleek fit. Moreover, the Stohlquist kids life jacket is rated for children weighing between 50 and 90lbs.

Additionally, the soft, high buoyancy foam in the interior of this unit provides hugging comfort while still ensuring excellent flotation of your child. Moreover, you can adjust the shoulders and sides of this life jacket so the fit is perfect and comfortable.

Coast Guard Approved

This kids life jacket is also US Coast Guard Approved. Further, it is rated a Type III device and comes in two available colors: red and yellow.

Finally, this is a youth life jacket that will offer you excellent peace of mind for when your kids are enjoying their days on the water!

Pros
  • US Coast Guard approved
  • Super soft and highly buoyant
  • Ultra comfortable and fits securely
  • Entirely adjustable shoulders and sides for a perfect fit
Cons
  • Limited color options
  • Basic design may not appeal to picky kids!

Best Youth Life Jackets top pick?

There are a lot of choices when it comes to picking the best youth life jacket. Therefore, we hope the information we provided here sheds some light on the various best life jackets for youth. Importantly, to us, the top factor to consider when choosing the best youth life jackets is the type of activity your kids will engage in.

What To Look For

Additionally, if you’re just looking for more safety while your child is swimming, you might consider the O’Neill Wetsuits Youth Superlite USCG Life Vest. Further, if your family is very active on the water and enjoys boating, sailing or even some longer term cruising, you should consider the Mustang Survival Lil’ Legends life jacket for youth. Additionally, it is the only one here listed as a Type II device by USCG.

Nevertheless, whichever kids life jacket you choose, pick the one that your kid will like to wear in addition to the safety features! Also, we know that when kids don’t like something, no matter how safe or logical it is, they just won’t wear it. Even worse, they might toss it aside when you’re not looking (which you should never do, especially around water activities!). Finally, pick the best youth life jackets that suit your family best.