Wakeboard Vest, Life Jacket & PFD Buyer's Guide

Wakeboard Vest & Life Jacket Buyer's Guide

Choosing Your Next Wakeboard Vest

The importance of choosing the right life jacket or wakeboard vest cannot be overstated. Wearing a wakeboard vest that is suited for you can drastically improve your performance while riding as well as your overall comfort level. You will be spending lots of time in your vest during those summer lake days so you want something that looks good, feels comfortable, and keeps you safe.

If you are looking to learn more before choosing your next life jacket or vest, you've came to the right place. The WakeMAKERS Vest & PFD Buyer's Guide covers everything you need to know in order to confidently choose your next vest.

What is the difference between a Life Jacket and a Wakeboard Vest?

The first step in choosing your next vest is deciding which type of life jacket or vest you are looking for. There are two different main types: CGA (Coast Guard Approved) life jackets and competition style vests (or wakeboard vests). Each type has their own unique pros and cons. The right life jacket or vest for you all depends on your individual needs/wants and specific use case.

Buoyancy and Life Jackets vs Vests

A Personal Flotation Device (PFD), provides the necessary buoyancy to keep an individual afloat in water. As mentioned above, UCG Life Jackets provide more buoyancy than Comp Vests. But how much do you need?

Most adults require an additional 7 to 12 pounds of buoyancy to stay afloat, and a properly fitting life jacket or vest can provide that extra support. However, it is important to select the right PFD based on factors such as body weight and fat, lung size, clothing, and water conditions (rough/choppy vs. smooth). It is generally recommended that the more physically fit an individual is (muscle weighs more than fat), the more "extra lift" they need in water

men's wakeboard vest

CGA Life Jackets

CGA (Coast Guard Approved) life jackets are the most common type of PFD you'll see out on the water. This is due to the fact that most states require you to wear a Coast Guard Approved life jacket while participating in watersports activties such as wakeboarding, wakesurfing, tubing, etc. These life jackets are typically constructed with more foam than a comp style vest, offering superior flotation while having a slightly bulkier appearance. A CGA approved life jacket is designed to float you well enough that it will keep your head above water in the case of an accident or injury.

It is important to note that federal regulations require that there is a CGA life jacket on board for every person on the boat. For example, if there are eight people on the boat, you will need at least eight CGA life jackets at all times.

Comp Vests

Competition style wakeboard vests, more commonly known as comp vests, are not USCG approved. It is important to check your state regulations to see if wearing a comp vest while riding is legal. Many people prefer the comp vest while riding as they are much lighter and less restrictive, providing more freedom of movement. However, a comp vest doesn't offer the same flotation or level of safety that a CGA life jacket offers.

The comp vest is a popular option for more advanced riders. The added comfort and range of motion can help improve your overall riding while trying more advanced tricks. A comp vest is not recommended for beginners as the limited flotation makes it more difficult to get your body in proper position before getting up out of the water.

Note: You cannot operate a PWC (personal water craft) such as a jet ski while wearing a comp vest.


women's life jacket

Women's Life Jackets and Vests

We strongly recommend that any ladies get a female-specific life jacket. It is no secret that there is a big difference between the body shape of a man and a woman. You wouldn't wear a men's shoe so why would you wear a men's vest? Far too often we see ladies on the water having to settle for wearing a men's vest because that is the only option on the boat. Choosing a women's life jacket or vest will provide proper fit, improved comfort, and better range of motion.

Kids' Life Jackets

Your children deserve a nice vest! Especially since they are the ones that are required to wear them at all times, both on the boat and in the water. Trust us when we say that putting your child in a vest they enjoy will drastically decrease complaints about wearing a vest and make your day on the water far more enjoyable for everyone onboard. All kids' life jackets are USCG Approved, ensuring your kid is safe at all times when in or around the water.

Kids' vests are available in three different sizes: infant (0-30 lbs.) child (30-50 lbs.) and youth (50-90 lbs.)

Boys' Wakeboard Vests

Shop Boys' Vests»

Girls' Wakeboard Vests

Shop Girls' Vests»

What Size Do I Need?

Now that you've decided on which type of vest you need, it is time to determine the correct size. After all, a proper fitting vest is key to not only your overall comfort, but also your safety while in the water. A vest that fits correctly will provide the most comfort, allow for freedom of movement, and properly float your head above the water.

Wakeboard Vest Sizing Instructions

Using a cloth tape measure or piece of string, measure around the fullest part of your torso. This number will be used to determine the correct size for you. Each vest's product page includes a size chart that will help you determine the best fitting size for you. Choosing the proper size is imperative for overall flotation and comfort.

Here's a quick video that will walk you through the process.

Still Undecided on Your Next Vest? We Are Here to Help!
WakeMAKERS Customer Support Team

Our goal is to "help you have more fun on the water". The team of product experts here at WakeMAKERS are more than happy to help you in finding your next vest. Whether you still have questions that need answered or just seeking advice when torn between two different vests, Jenny and our Customer Support Team are here for you.

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