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Life Vests

Wearing a life vest is essential for engaging in watersports. You have the option to select an impact vest, which offers enhanced maneuverability and comfort, or a Coast Guard Approved (CGA) vest for superior safety. Wakesports provides a wide range of vests suitable for the entire family.

Life Vest FAQs

How Should a Life Vest Fit?

Just like a compression shirt, all life jackets CGA and impact NCGA vests should fit very snugly. If you think it’s too sung, remember this all-important phrase for life vest fittings, “IF IT ZIPS, IT FITS.” With time, these vests will begin to stretch after several uses and become more comfortable. Wearing a life vest that easily zips up without any effort is likely too big and will ride up off your shoulders over time, defeating the purpose of wearing one in the first place.  

Life jackets should fit snugly around the torso but still allow for a full range of motion from the arms. Another way to determine if a life jacket fits correctly is if it can move up to your mouth after being strapped to the waist (it shouldn't). If the jacket can move up at all, it can be unsafe to wear in the water.

When determining if a life vest is a good fit, it’s worth having someone else tug on it when your arms are raised. This way, you know whether the jacket will stay on if you get bounced around in the water. If someone can pull it off of you easily, it's way too large.

Another point to consider is the length and width of the jacket. Your arms may fit through the holes, but if the jacket is too short or too small, it may not provide sufficient buoyancy.

What is the Difference Between CGA Life Vests and Impact Life Vests?

Coast Guard Approved (CGA) life vests are designed to keep you buoyant and prevent your head from going underwater, especially if you're unconscious. According to regulations, all watercrafts are required to have CGA life vests on board for each person over 16. Most states require individuals 15 years old and under to wear a CGA vest at all times while on a boat or in the water. However, if you're going out into the water from a dock or the shore, those regulations may not apply. It’s important that you check local boating laws and regulations since they vary by state.

Impact life jackets, however, are designed to minimize the effect of an impact against the water at high speeds. Typically, those involved in wakeboarding, wakesurfing, and waterskiing will wear an impact vest to mitigate any damage to the torso (i.e., bruised or cracked ribs). People also wear impact vests for comfort and maneuverability while partaking in these watersport activities. While impact life jackets can protect your torso, they do not have the ability to keep your head above water if you are knocked unconscious, nor can they save your life in an emergency. Also, it's possible to wear an impact vest and have a reserve CGA vest available, just in case.

The primary difference between these two types of life jackets is that impact vests are unregulated. So, each brand and manufacturer has its own specifications and designs. Some vests are better at keeping you out of the water than others, but it's hard to tell until you wear the vest.

What Type of Life Vest is Best for Water Sports?

CGA vests are the gold standard for water safety. They are best for water sports, including canoeing, wakesurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and more. Since they are designed to save lives by keeping you afloat, even if you're unconscious. 

However, if you're participating in high-impact water sports, an impact vest would be better. Although the buoyancy varies from brand to brand, you can protect your torso better if you hit the water at high speeds.

What Popular Life Vest Brands Do You Offer?

At Wakesports, we're proud to offer all the top brands for both CGA life vests and impact vests. Some of our top-selling brands include:

Our sales team can help you find exactly what you need so you stay safe but at the same time have fun on the water. Plus, we have a wide selection of colors and designs for men, women, and children, so you can find something that suits your sense of style as well. If you're unsure what size you need, you can discuss options with us, and we'll help you get the best fit.

What Life Vests Do You Recommend?

All of the CGA and impact life vests we offer at Wakesports are guaranteed to be some of the best on the market. With that said, some options are more popular than others. Below are a few of our recommendations:

CGA Life Vests:

Impact Life Vests: