Top 8 Best PFD for Sailing in 2023 | Be Safe and Comfortable

Are you new to sailing or a beginner just starting out? There’s one absolute essential for all beginners and that is a Personal Flotation Device, or PFD for short. But not just any PFD will do – you need the best PFD for sailing to ensure safety, comfort, and peace of mind out on the water.

When it comes to sailing, safety is so crucial (especially in open water). Not all sailing PFDs are created equal and choosing the right one for your needs when you’re a beginner can be a task.

The right PFD for sailing can make all the difference in your personal comfort and overall enjoyment of sailing (especially if you’re a beginner). Even if you’re an experienced sailor….in an emergency you want a life jacket you can depend on.

Best PFD for Sailing

If you haven’t noticed already a sailing personal flotation device differs quite a bit from a run of the mill life vest you might find on a pleasure boat. Both serve the primary purpose of providing buoyancy to keep the wearer afloat in the water. However, there are some significant differences between the two.

Sailing PFDs are typically designed to provide more freedom of movement, allowing sailors to perform tasks like adjusting sails and maneuvering around the boat. They may have a lower profile or slimmer design than some traditional life vests, which can be heavy and bulky.

There is quite a bit of variation in just the sailing PFD world! To cut down on bulk/weight and increase freedom of movement there are some are some clever designs. Let’s go over them quickly.

What are all the Different Types of Sailing PDFs?

Automatic inflatable PFD

These PFDs inflate automatically upon contact with the water. Typically this happens using a water-soluble bobbin or a hydrostatic pressure mechanism that triggers a CO2 cartridge. Automatic inflatable PFDs are ideal for situations where the wearer may become incapacitated or unconscious, as they do not require manual activation. These type of PFDs are ideal for aggressive sailing on the open water (ocean). The CO2 cartridge can be activated only once and then needs to be replaced. These PFDs often have a manual tube you can blow into for additional inflation or as a backup should something fail. These PFDs are typically the most expensive.

Manual inflatable PFDs

Manual inflatable PFDs require the wearer to pull a cord or toggle to activate a CO2 cartridge, which inflates the PFD. These devices are suitable for sailors who are confident in their ability to activate the PFD in an emergency and want to avoid accidental inflation. These vests are best for non aggressive sailing. The come in about the middle of the cost spectrum.

Hybrid inflatable PFDs

Hybrid inflatable PFDs combine the features of both automatic and manual inflatable devices. They offer a certain level of inherent buoyancy through foam padding while also providing the option for manual OR automatic inflation to increase buoyancy if needed. This design provides a lot of versatility and additional safety. Typically these types of PFDs fall around the middle of the cost spectrum.

Foam PFDs

Foam only PFDs generally do no feature any automatic or manual inflation. It works like traditional life vests you’re probably familiar with. They still have a streamline design to maximize freedom of movement but hey are not ideal for aggressive sailing in open water. They’re best for calmer sailing in calmer waters. Typically these types of PFDs fall around the low end of the cost spectrum because they don’t feature some of the automatic features that really drive cost up.

Sailing PFDs often include features tailored to the needs of sailors such as pockets, a built-in harness for tethering to the boat in rough conditions, or attachment points for safety equipment like a whistle or strobe light.

Life vests and PFDs are classified into different types (Type I, II, III, IV, and V) by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) based on their buoyancy, intended use, and performance. Sailing PFDs typically fall under Type III or Type V, while normal life vests can belong to any of the classifications, depending on their specific design and intended use.

When choosing a flotation device, consider the type of sailing activity you’ll be engaging in, the water environment you’ll be sailing in, the features you’ll need, and the level of buoyancy required. Always ensure that the life vest or PFD is USCG-approved and fits properly.

We’re experienced sailors and we can share our expertise with you and help you find the best PFD for your specific sailing needs. We’ll go in depth and talk about fit, function, comfort level and of course budget. All of our recommendations are USCG approved personal flotation devices.

Our Top 3 Picks for the Best PFD for Sailing

We hope you’ll stick around to read our detailed reviews of all our favorite PFDs but if you’re in a hurry here’s a summery of our top 3 picks. In any case, you can’t go wrong with any of these trusted, highly reviewed brands.

Quick Click List: Best PFD for Sailing at a Glance

If you’re still with us, we’re going to go over ALL the best PFDs for sailing, the best PFDs for beginners, best PFDs for a dinghy, and the best life jacket for coastal & shoreline sailing to name a few. Using the list below you can zip to any of the top ten best PFD life jackets for sailing with a click. It’s crucial to find a comfortable life jacket so you’ll always have a great day on the water….so let’s get started!

The Top 8 Best PFD for Sailing

Onyx A/M-24 Inflatable Life Jacket

The Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket is reliable and a trusted brand so you can be assured that this personal flotation device will keep you safe in the water. This hybrid life jacket features automatic and manual inflation which is peace of mind in any emergency situation. I really like that you can toggle this into manual only mode in low risk environments. The padding around the upper back/neck area makes this a really comfortable life vest.

The A/M-24 is made with durable materials and the minimalist design ensures a breathable, comfortable and unobtrusive fit while your working the lines or the sails. This vest is ideal for aggressive, open water conditions or shoreline sailing. The Onyx is priced well making it a great option for pleasure boating and fishing too.

Features and Specifications

Size  ‎Over 80 lbs
ColorBlue & Black
Age RangeAdult
Life Vest TypeType III
MaterialRipstop Nylon
Best Fit forOpen Water Sailing, Offshore Sailing, Fishing


  • Streamline design keeps you cool, comfortable and allows for full range of motion.
  • Toggles into manual only mode for low risk environments.
  • Lightweight and compact, making it easy to pack or stow.
  • Budget friendly.


  • No pockets & only one attach point.

Read Also: Are life jackets required on paddle boards in California?

Mustang Survival Corp Elite Inflatable PFD

Introducing the Mustang Survival Corp Elite Inflatable PFD – the ultimate personal flotation device for those who demand top-quality performance and comfort. This PFD boasts a sleek, aerodynamic 3D chassis that reduces drag at high speeds.

This PFD is also shaped for optimum mobility and all-day comfort. The wide shoulder system eliminates neck fatigue, allowing you to wear this PFD for extended periods without feeling weighed down or restricted.

The real standout feature of the Mustang Survival Corp Elite Inflatable PFD is its buoyancy, which ensures complete peace of mind knowing you’re wearing a PFD that will keep you afloat and safe in even the most challenging water conditions. 

If you are worried about the possibility of unintended inflation in wet conditions, it is important to note that the Atmos40 inflator mechanism has been designed with the specific purpose of preventing premature deployment caused by high levels of humidity, rain or heavy spray. This mechanism is highly dependable, so you can rest assured that it will function properly even in damp environments.

Features and specifications

Size  ‎One Size
Age RangeAdult
Life Vest TypeType V
Best Fit forOpen Water Sailing, Offshore Sailing, Fishing


  • Comfortable and adjustable fit.
  • Provides excellent buoyancy to keep wearers safe in the water.
  • Inflatable design provides comfort and ease of movement.
  • Lightweight and compact, making it easy to pack and transport.


  • Not suitable for children under 90 lbs.

Read Also: Expert Answer About How Long Can a Life Jacket Keep You Afloat?

Kokatat Outfit Tour PFD

This Kokatat USCG-approved type III PFD is designed to provide optimal buoyancy for various water activities. The Kokatat Outfit Tour PFD comes in a range of sizes, from small to 2x-large, ensuring a snug and comfortable fit for everyone. 

In terms of closure, this PFD has both a zipper and buckle to keep it secure and in place. The zipper provides a quick and easy way to put on and remove the PFD, while the buckle ensures a snug fit that won’t come loose during intense water activities.

The Kokatat Outfit Tour PFD also features pockets perfect for storing essential items like phones, wallets, and keys. With two front zippered stretch mesh pockets, one front hidden sleeve, and one front electronic pocket, you’ll have plenty of space to keep your belongings safe and secure while on the water.

But remember, this life jacket is only suitable to wear outside the deck or if your boat doesn’t have an enclosure.

Features and specifications

Size  ‎Small to X-Large
ColorRed, Navy, Mantis
Age RangeAdult
Life Vest TypeType III
Best Fit forPaddling, Touring


  • High-quality and durable construction
  • It has Lash Tab
  • Multiple pockets for storage
  • Comfortable fit with adjustable straps
  • Suitable for a variety of water activities
  • High visibility for safety


  • Limited color options

Read Also: When Is The Best Time To Wear A PFD

Gill Front Zip PFD

Gill Front Zip PFD

  • US Coast Guard Approved
  • END USE: Power Boating and Sailing; Canoeing; Kayaking; Yachting; Fishing
  • FEATURES: Adjustable shoulder length with neoprene padding; Two front zippered pockets; Easy front zip access
  • FABRIC COMPOSITION: 100% Nylon, PE Foam
  • FIT: Ladder lock adjustment for a secure fit

This PFD offers maximum protection without compromising mobility or comfort as a US Coast Guard Approved and UL1123 Type III-approved design.

One of the most noticeable features of this PFD is its front zip entry, which makes it easy to put on and take off. This is a significant advantage, especially for sailors, and boat racers who need to move quickly in and out of their PFDs. Further, the ladder lock adjustment ensures a secure fit, preventing the PFD from slipping off even in rough waters.

The adjustable shoulder length with neoprene padding adds to the comfort factor. This PFD is available in a wide range of sizes, and the adjustment points make it easy to customize the fit to your body type.

In terms of materials, the Gill Front Zip PFD is made from 100% Nylon/PE foam, which ensures durability and longevity. The two front zippered pockets offer convenient storage for small items such as keys, phones, or fishing tackle. 

However, remember that you should only use this life jacket if your boat doesn’t have an enclosure or if you are wearing it outside the deck.

Features and specifications

Size  ‎Small to XX-Large
ColorOrange, STE07
Age RangeAdult
Life Vest TypeType III
Material100% Nylon, PE Foam
Best Fit forSailing and other water sports activity


  • Easy to put on and take off with the front zip design.
  • Provides secure flotation and helps keep the wearer afloat.
  • Adjustable straps allow for a customizable fit.
  • Multiple pockets provide storage for small items.


  • Expensive than other life jackets like this.

Read Also: Storage Box for Life Jacket: All You Need to Know

Bluestorm Gear Atmos 40 PFD

You can’t put a price on safety, but you can invest in the Bluestorm Gear Atmos 40 Automatic/Manual Inflatable PFD. This personal flotation device is US Coast Guard-approved. 

It can be manually inflated or will inflate automatically when submerged in water.  It automatically inflates upon water immersion, giving you peace of mind in emergencies. Additionally, you will feel extra comfortable with its lightweight and comfortable design. The easy-access front pocket is a bonus for storing necessary items on the water.

With its automatic inflation feature and adjustable fit for chest sizes between 30″ and 56″, you’ll feel secure no matter what. The neoprene collar and 3D mesh design keep you cool and comfortable all day. The large front pocket is also great for storing all my essentials, so you never have to worry about losing anything while out on the water.

Remember, the only times you should wear this inflatable life jacket are when you’re on deck, inside the boat, or if your boat has an enclosure.

Features and specifications

Size  One Size
ColorRealtree Max5 Camo
Age RangeAdult
Life Vest TypeType III
Best Fit forAny Water Activity


  • 40 lbs of buoyancy which is 2.5x higher than minimum buoyancy rating
  • The inflatable design is lightweight and comfortable.
  • Automatically inflates when submerged in water.


  • Little bit expensive

Read Also: 10 Best youth life jackets 90 120 lbs: Find your perfect one

Astral YTV Life Jacket PFD

The Astral YTV life jacket is a must-have for anyone who values safety while enjoying the water. With a buoyancy rating of 16.5 lbs and USCG Type V Approval, you can trust that this jacket will keep you afloat. The Torso Lock fit platform ensures a secure fit and is a favorite among freestyle kayakers. Plus, the adjustable side buckles make it easy to customize the fit.

The heavy-duty hardware and zippers with Self Locking Vislon Teeth ensure this jacket can handle many adventures.

Not only is this jacket lightweight and durable, but it’s also environmentally conscious. Every product in the line is completely free of toxic PVC, scraps are reused, everything is recycled, and even coffee beans are composted.

However, remember that this life jacket is only appropriate for use if your boat isn’t enclosed or you’re wearing it outside the deck.

Features and specifications

Size  ‎Over 80 lbs
ColorCherry Creek Red, State Black, Hot Coral, Eggplant
Age RangeAdult Men
Life Vest TypeType V
MaterialPVC, Shell, Foam
Best Fit forWhitewater, Touring Kayaking, Sailing and SUP


  • Comfortable and adjustable fit.
  • Suitable for various water activities.
  • Durable and high-quality design.
  • Several on trend colors to choose from.


  • Little more expensive than some other options.

Read Also: Can You Attach a Seat to an Inflatable Paddle Board?

NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket (PFD)

The NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket (PFD) is a life-saving device that guarantees the safety and comfort of sailors and enthusiastic fishermen who enjoy spending their time on the water. This state-of-the-art lifejacket boasts a capacious front-entry design that is further equipped with a full-length zipper, making it effortless to put on and remove. Its mesh lower back section is ideal for high-back seats and delivers a refreshing ventilation effect, which cools you down during hot days.

Moreover, the NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket (PFD) comes with a wide array of pockets and features that cater to the needs of serious anglers. With its two zippered tackle pockets, three accessory pockets, and one VHF radio-compatible pocket, you’ll have ample storage space to organize and secure your gear. If you’re looking for a life jacket that is top-of-the-line, versatile, and practical, then the NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket (PFD) is the perfect fit for you.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that this particular life jacket is only suitable for open deck usage or unenclosed boats.

Features and specifications

Size  ‎It accommodates chest size 30”-42”
ColorOrange, Red
Age RangeAdult
Life Vest TypeType III
Best Fit forFishing, Sailing


  • Provides high safety while fishing with its Type III PFD rating.
  • Has a variety of pockets and attachment points for fishing gear and tools.
  • Designed with breathable mesh and a padded back for comfort during extended wear.


  • It is a little more expensive than other basic lifejackets due to its specialized design.

Zeraty Adult Life Jacket Swim Vest

The acquisition of the Zeraty swim jacket is a compulsory endeavor for any individual who partakes in aquatic activities! Its ability to conform to one’s frame is attributed to the adjustability of the belt, which comes equipped with a buckle that is seamlessly integrated into it. The nylon material utilized in its construction is of the highest quality and boasts an unmitigated level of comfort. The substantial apertures in the arm area facilitate a broad range of motion.

Abstain from being inhibited by trepidation when indulging in aquatic activities! The Zeraty life jacket serves as a safeguard, and the ABS buckle with triple protection assures the vest remains affixed, with no unintended detachments. Moreover, the jacket is available in three distinct sizes, ensuring a seamless fit for everyone from adolescents to adults.

Secure greater confidence in the water with the Zeraty swim jacket. Be it sailing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, snorkeling, or simply having a pleasurable experience at the water park, this vest offers both protection and aesthetic appeal.

It is imperative to bear in mind that this life jacket is solely appropriate for employment when there is no enclosure present in the boat or when worn outside the deck.

Features and specifications

Size  ‎S to X-Large
Age RangeAdult
Life Vest TypeType III
MaterialNylon, Cotton
Best Fit forSnorkeling, Kayaking, Paddle Boating for Water Sports


  • Lightweight and comfortable.
  • Adjustable fit provides good buoyancy.
  • Suitable for various water activities.


  • Limited color and design options.

Read Also: Can You Put a Motor on a Canoe? | Enhance Your Canoeing Experience in 2023

What is a Sailing PFD or life jacket?

What exactly is a Sailing PFD or life jacket? Well, when one is out on the water, ensuring one’s safety should always take precedence. It is for this reason that a sailing PFD (personal flotation device), also known as a life jacket, is of utmost importance to any sailor.

A sailing PFD, in essence, is designed to serve two main purposes: to keep you afloat in the water and to shield you in an emergency. This buoyancy aid can be worn either as a vest or a jacket, and it is specifically designed to provide maximum durability, lightweight, and comfort. Its makeup is of water-resistant and quick-drying materials such as nylon, polyester, or neoprene. Some PFDs even possess adjustable straps and pockets where you can store crucial items such as a whistle or a flare.

When looking to acquire a PFD, it is advisable to look out for one approved by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and which meets the necessary safety standards. There are various types of PFDs available, including Type I, Type II, Type III, and Type V, each with specific buoyancy and performance characteristics.

For instance, Type I PFDs provide the highest level of buoyancy and are ideal for use in rough, open waters, while Type II PFDs offer less buoyancy than Type I but are more comfortable and less bulky. Type III PFDs, on the other hand, are lightweight and specially designed for active water sports such as sailing or kayaking. Lastly, Type V PFDs are specialized PFDs designed for specific activities like windsurfing or paddling.

It is important to note that sailing PFDs are not a one-size-fits-all solution. They come in different sizes and styles, so picking one that fits you well is crucial to ensuring your safety on the water. Therefore, we will provide you with recommendations of the best products that will suit you perfectly.

Why do you need the Best PFD for Sailing?

The best PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is essential safety equipment for any sailor. It is designed to keep you in the water in an emergency, whether you are capsized or fall overboard. Without a properly fitting and functional PFD, you may not be able to stay afloat long enough to be rescued. 

In addition to providing flotation, the best PFD also typically includes features such as reflective tape, a whistle, and pockets for storing small items. Investing in the best PFD for sailing is a wise decision for your safety and a requirement for many sailing organizations and races.

Buyer’s Guide to select the best life Jacket for Sailing

What to know before buying the best PFD for sailing?

If you’re an avid sailor, you know the importance of personal flotation devices (PFDs) for safety on the water. But with so many options on the market, choosing the best PFD for your needs can be overwhelming. Here are a few key factors to consider before purchasing:

Type of PFD: There are several types of PFDs available, including inflatable, foam, and hybrid. Consider your Inflatable PFDs are compact and lightweight.

Fit: Proper fit is crucial for a PFD to work effectively. Make sure to try on different sizes and styles to find the one that fits you best. The PFD should sit comfortably around your chest and waist without any gaps or excess material.

Features: Look for PFD to make your time on the water more enjoyable. Some options include adjustable straps, pockets for storing gear, and reflective material for visibility in low-light conditions.

Certification: All PFDs should be certified by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to ensure they meet safety standards. Look for the USCG approval label on the PFD to ensure you get a quality product.

Important Note: We recommend that you consider using an inflatable life jacket only when you’re on deck, inside the boat, or if your boat has an enclosure. Otherwise, you may consider any PFD according to your personal needs and preferences. 

You can confidently choose the best PFD for your sailing needs and ensure you have the appropriate safety equipment on the boat if you consider these considerations before purchasing.

FAQ on the best life Vest PFD for sailing

What is a PFD, and why do I need one while sailing?

A PFD, or personal flotation device, is a type of safety equipment designed to keep you afloat if you fall overboard or otherwise find yourself in the water. It is essential safety equipment for any sailor, as it can help prevent drowning in the event of an unexpected fall into the water.

What factors to consider when choosing the best PFD for sailing?

There are several factors to consider when choosing the best PFD for sailing, including the type of sailing you will be doing, your body size and shape, and any additional features you may want.

Final Thoughts

As a water enthusiast, I personally believe every sailor needs the best PFD for sailing. Therefore, I have tried to bring authentic words and trusted products that match your needs. we hope this guide has provided useful information and tips to help you choose the best PFD for sailing. By following these guidelines, you can ensure your safety while enjoying the beauty and excitement of sailing. Happy sailing!


Lisa lives on Clear Lake in Northern CA where she enjoys stand up paddle boarding, canoeing, kayaking and zipping around with her husband Brian on his alumaweld fishing boat. Clear Lake is the largest fresh water lake in CA and hosts world class bass fishing tournaments throughout the season. It's a water lovers paradise, which inspires everyday!

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