Make sure your boat is equipped with a variety of life jacket sizes for your crew and guests – including youth and adult life jackets by size or weight

Update your boat life jacket inventory to include sizes for
youth life jackets and adult life jackets so guests do not
have to wear uncomfortable and bulky orange vests.

The beginning of each new boating season is a perfect time to re-assess your boat’s current life jacket inventory to make sure you have an adequate supply of life jackets for all size needs.

Sure everyone has a stash of those cheap, bulky and uncomfortable orange life jackets for emergencies – but do your boat guests really want to wear them for everyday use?

It is really easy to create an inventory of life jackets that cover all the different weight groups for kids and adults. And with so many inexpensive options to choose from, you can have a bunch of extra life jackets on board that will fit a variety of guests without breaking the bank.

Are you Prepared with Life Jackets for all Youth and Adult Sizes?

Last season we purchased a bigger boat and started to entertain more friends for short cruises and afternoon anchorages on the boat. We realized pretty quickly that although we had enough life jackets for our small family, we were not as prepared for all our guests. We only had a few nice adult life jackets and we didn’t have enough youth life jackets for kids bigger than our daughter.


Of course we had a bunch of those orange over the neck bulky life jackets to make do… but they were not very well received by our visiting guests… especially the kids. We wanted to be safe so we insisted the older kids wear one while cruising, but it was far from comfortable for them. Those basic orange life vests are great for some keeping some extra adult life jackets on board a boat for emergency use, but really not ideal for kids.

So over the winter we decided it was time to stock up on some more inexpensive life jackets to grow our boat life jacket inventory and accommodate this year’s guests. We made sure that we had at least one youth life jacket for every weight group (taking into account the ages and sizes of our friend’s kids that are likely to visit us on the boat) and then a variety of adult life jackets too.

Recommended Youth and Adult Life Jacket Size Inventory for a Boat

Here are some ideas for putting together a youth and adult life jacket inventory, along with links to recommended life vest products and sizes that you can easily pick up at Amazon.com. We usually buy from Amazon because they have good prices and ship fast.


Infant Life Jackets – 0-30 lbs Size
An infant life jacket is a must-have if you have a baby on board your boat, are expecting a baby or a guest with a baby on your boat. Make sure that you buy a vest sized for babies 0-30 lbs with proper head support and straps under the legs. Available in Pink or Blue. Recommended Quantity: 1

Toddler Life Jackets – up to 30 lbs Size
Young kids that are walking but still do not know how to swim should be wearing a toddler life vest up to 30 lbs with head support and a strap between the legs. Recommended Quantity: 1-2 (depending on # of kids)


Toddlers or young kids learning how to swim can also wear a Puddle Jumper Life Jacket when swimming at a boat. They are much more comfortable to wear swimming than a full life jacket and are Coast Guard approved.


Youth Life Jackets – 30-50 lbs Size
As kids get a little bit bigger they can move into a larger youth life jacket 30-50 lbs in size that no longer requires head support. A strap between the legs is still used. The classic child’s life jacket shown here is available in red or blue. Recommended Quantity: 1-2 (depending on # of kids)


Youth Life Jackets – 50-90 lbs Size
The next size up for kids is a youth life vest 50-90 lbs. in size. The leg strap is typically no longer used in this larger youth size life jacket. The classic child’s life jacket shown here is available in red or blue. Recommended Quantity: 1-2 or more (depending on # of kids)

Adult Life Jackets – Universal or Oversize
Having a variety of universal size (one size fits all) adult general purpose life vests on board is always a good idea. They are available in many colors as well as oversize (or plus size). If you are into watersports, you may also want to invest in some good watersports life jackets that can double as your adult life jackets on board. Recommended Quantity: 2-4 (depending on # of adults)

Emergency Life Vests – Adult Size
These basic orange life vests are perfect for having some extra emergency life jackets on board to satisfy Coast Guard requirements of having a life jacket for every adult on board a boat. They are cheap and can you can fold them up to stow away in various storage places throughout your boat. Recommended Quantity: 2-4
If you want to buy 4 at a time, you can get a good deal by buying a adult life jacket 4 pack with storage bag. Just make sure you have a good place to store a 4-pack on your boat. Or if you have a dock box, these can stored in a dock box and then put onto the boat when you you have extra guests on board.
More Recommended Life Jackets for your Boat Inventory
For more life jacket product recommendations for your crew and guests, check out the Boater Life Online Boat Shop powered by Amazon.com.
Disclosure Policy: This site may contain links that are afilliated with companies where we receive compensation. Full disclosure policy.



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Diane Seltzer

Founder & Editor at My Boat Life
Diane is the founder of MyBoatLife.com as well as the boating lifestyle site for kids BoaterKids.com. She is also active in the boating industry, serving as the marketing director for a marine sunshade product, SureShade, and founder of Marine Marketing Tools, a collaborative site for sharing marine marketing best practices. Diane is also the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.

2 Comments

  1. I agree – you have to have the v-neck on life jackets… especially if you want kids to be happy wearing a life jacket. If the jacket isn’t comfortable then they will not want to wear it… which is not really an option for young kids on a boat!

  2. I love the v-neck design of the first three jackets. I had an unpleasant experience with the round neck ones where my neck was pretty sore at the end of the day from constant contact with it.

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