The best life jackets in the UK 2023

Every year, more than 370,000 drowning deaths are recorded worldwide. However, it is possible to avoid the majority of accidents at sea by wearing a lifejacket. This accessory is compulsory when sailing on the high seas. To help you choose your safety equipment, discover our selection of life jackets for 2020.

Helly Hansen HH Sport II Life Jacket 1

Best value for money

Helly Hansen HH Sport II Life Jacket

Best life jacket

The Helly Hansen HH brand has designed comfortable life jackets that will offer you optimal safety. Suitable for children, its adjustable straps allow it to adapt to the wearer's body.

32 £ on Amazon

Certified EN ISO 12402-5, this lifejacket from Helly Hansen is perfect for your nautical activities. It has a buoyancy of 50 N, which offers you optimal safety. It is a very light vest, it weighs barely 1 g, so it is ideal for your children.

Its shoulder straps are adjustable as well as its belt and hems, so that it can be adjusted perfectly to your morphology or that of your child. It is navy blue, a unisex color that suits everyone: men, women, but also adults, teens or children.

Lalizas adult 100N lifejacket 2

Best value for money

Lalizas adult 100N lifejacket

Best entry-level life jacket

At Lalizas, your safety while boating is essential. The brand has created a vest with a comfortable design but above all safer, whether for an adult or a child.

£ on Cdiscount

This Lalizas brand lifejacket has a design and lightness that will offer you a better experience during your nautical activities. Ideal for children thanks to a strap that goes through the crotch and an adjustable belt so that the vest stays securely on your child.

Its collar will keep your head out of the water in case of sinking, while remaining very comfortable thanks to its uniform padding. It has a plastic zipper for extra insulation and a reflective strip for added visibility in the dark. The different models can support from 3 to 70 kg.

Crewfit Life Jacket 3

Best premium value for money

Crewfit Life Jacket

Best high-end life jacket

By its size and its design, this life jacket is innovative. It meets the European standards and will allow you to practice your nautical activities safely and with a maximum of comfort.

See price

The Crewfit brand promises a lot of innovation with their uniquely designed life jacket. Even though it looks small, it has a buoyancy of over 165N, enough to keep your airway out of the water if there is ever a case of sinking. Since it has a strap that goes under your thigh, it will stay on your body.

Since it is inflatable, it will not weigh more than 1g. Its frame on your bust will not encumber you. Thus, you will have an optimal mobility. The belt has a D-ring that will facilitate the attachment to a safety harness. It also comes with a whistle that will make it easier to find you if you fall in the water.

Lifejacket for children Lalizas 4

Best alternative

Lifejacket for children Lalizas

Best kids' life jacket

Designed especially for the comfort and safety of your children. It goes without saying that they love the little designs on the vest while being safe from worry.

See price

The Lalizas brand lifejacket fulfills its protective role for your child perfectly. First, with its yellow color and reflective stripes on the collar, the vest will make it easy to spot. Secondly, the whole vest has a foam padding for a quick reversal if ever your child is on his stomach.

This way, your child's head will stay out of the water in case of fainting. This vest can also be used for the pool. It is also very ergonomic because it is very easy to put on with a plastic zipper and an adjustable belt strap.

Buying guide • November 2023

Best lifejacket

Any specific needs?

Best life jacket

Best entry-level life jacket

Best high-end life jacket

Best kids' life jacket

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Comparison table of the best life jackets

Helly Hansen HH Sport II Life Jacket 5
Lalizas adult 100N lifejacket 6
Crewfit Life Jacket 7
Lifejacket for children Lalizas 8
Helly Hansen HH Sport II Life Jacket
Lalizas adult 100N lifejacket
Crewfit Life Jacket
Lifejacket for children Lalizas
The Helly Hansen HH brand has designed comfortable life jackets that will offer you optimal safety. Suitable for children, its adjustable straps allow it to adapt to the wearer's body.
At Lalizas, your safety while boating is essential. The brand has created a vest with a comfortable design but above all safer, whether for an adult or a child.
By its size and its design, this life jacket is innovative. It meets the European standards and will allow you to practice your nautical activities safely and with a maximum of comfort.
Designed especially for the comfort and safety of your children. It goes without saying that they love the little designs on the vest while being safe from worry.

Very lightweight, stretchy


Perfect for


Reflective bar

Ideal for children


Adjustable waistband

approved but buoyancy 165N and



Yellow and blue



for optimal comfort


with European standards




3 to 40 kg

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Buying guide - lifejacket

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How to choose your lifejacket

The choice of a lifejacket is based on specific standards and needs. Here are some criteria to consider:

#1 - Buoyancy force

Floatation equipment is strictly controlled and must comply with European standards. The EN ISO 12402 standard applies to the following buoyancy ratings:

  • 50 Newtons: If the boat is 2 nautical miles or less from a shelter, a buoyancy vest of at least 50 newtons is required (1 mile is 1852 m). Its action is to keep a conscious person's head above water.
  • 100 Newtons: this model is suitable for navigation in calm waters, for a navigation distance of up to 6 nautical miles from the nearest shelter. This is the minimum standard for children under 30 kg. This category ensures that the user can be turned around in 10 seconds.
  • 150 Newtons: recommended for a course beyond 6 nautical miles from a shelter. Can also be used in bad weather or strong currents. This category allows for the turning of an unconscious person within 5 seconds.
  • 275 Newtons: This is the maximum protection. It is used on the high seas and allows the rollover of an unconscious person in only 5 seconds.

#2 - Weight and height


lifejacket must be perfectly adapted to your size and weight, in order to be effective. In order to find the best model for your body type, a fitting session is essential. This will allow you to check the size of the vest and its comfort when you are in motion.

For a waist between 60 and 130 cm, choose a standard size. The largest models are offered in XXL, for waist sizes up to 170 cm.

#3 - The type of vest, foam or inflatable?


self-inflating vest

is less bulky and allows a great freedom of movement. Its CO2 cartridge allows for automatic inflation of the device in less than 10 seconds when the person falls into the water.

The foam or permanent buoyancyvest

provides good thermal protection and also protects the body against shocks. It is, however, more cumbersome.

#4 - Choose between manual or automatic inflation system


manual system

is activated by a handle. This device prevents untimely openings, when the vest is stored in a wet location for example.

The automatic inflation system is immediately activated in the event of a fall into water. The release system is done in two ways, by pad or by hydrostatic system :

  • The pellet system includes a cartridge or a water-soluble salt or cellulose pellet.
  • With the Hammar hydrostatic system, the vest inflates in a few seconds under the effect of water pressure, from an immersion of 10 cm.

#5 - The comfort


comfort is important! Freedom of movement is one of the characteristics to take into account. The vest must not hinder your movements in any way, and must be forgotten when you are in the water.

For a child, choose a lifejacket with an attractive design, which he will enjoy wearing. For younger children, choose a foam model to avoid accidental opening in case of liquid splashes. Check for an adjustable back strap, which will allow you to adjust the vest to your child's size. If the child must wear the safety equipment over a simple T-shirt, the collar of the vest must offer optimal comfort.

Safety instructions

The lifejacket must be accompanied by a whistle, a hanging harness and, if possible, light sources. It should be equipped with reflective strips to facilitate identification.

How to take care of a lifejacket?

A lifejacket should always be in excellent condition, because the slightest defect can cost a life. Correct washing and storage are as important as technical maintenance for this equipment.


The lifejacket is sensitive to prolonged exposure to sea salt. Machine washing and soaping should be avoided at all costs. Simply rinse the lifejacket with a damp sponge until all sea water has been removed.

In order not to trigger the automatic inflation system unnecessarily, do not get the pad wet. Open the lifejacket, remove the pad and the cartridge and put them aside. Rinse only the vest.

If you have fallen into the water and the vest has been hit, the inflatable compartment must be rinsed as well. The rinsing water must not get into the compartment.

If mildew is present, clean the vest immediately to avoid damage or odor. Use a cleaning product adapted to navigation accessories.

Drying: automatic drying is not a good option for the lifejacket. It needs to be dried naturally and protected from UV rays.

Storage: the lifejacket should not be stored on board a boat. It should be stored in a dry place, protected from sunlight. Do not pack the lifejackets, in order to avoid rubbing which could damage the outer coating.

Technical checks: check the validity date of the triggering system on the firing pin or the pad.

Check the tightness of the CO2 cylinder. It must be well secured on the firing pin. If it shows signs of oxidation, it must be replaced.

Inflate the vest via the inflation cannula, and leave it as is for 12 hours to check for any leaks. Then deflate the vest, and fold it following the original folds.

The different types of life jackets

There are different types of life jackets. It is important to know their characteristics before buying.

The foam life jacket

The foam lifejacket is the least expensive on the market. It is made of an external envelope covering a foam which guarantees its buoyancy. Its life span is from 10 to 15 years.


  • It is not subject to revision obligations
  • Protects from shocks
  • Easy to maintain and use
  • Less expensive
  • Provides good thermal protection

Disadvantages :

  • It is rather bulky

Who is it for?

The foam lifejacket is the most suitable for children. It is suitable for nautical activities practiced in the water. It is also recommended for sports that take place on the surface of the water.

The manual opening lifejacket


category of lifejacket inflates only on demand. The user must pull the pull cord, releasing the CO2 which will subsequently inflate the vest.


  • Avoids the untimely opening of the vest
  • Can be stored in a humid environment

Disadvantages :

  • Cannot be triggered if the person is unconscious.

Who is it for?

This lifejacket is suitable for people who practice an activity with a risk of immersion. The vest is activated in case of an incident.

The self-inflating lifejacket


self-inflating lifejacket has a device that activates as soon as it comes into contact with water


There are different devices, water soluble and hydrostatic. The water-soluble system includes a salt or cellulose pellet. This melts on contact with water, which immediately releases the firing pin from the cartridge. The gas fills the vest in a few seconds.

With the hydrostatic system, it is the pressure of the water on a membrane that activates the release of the firing pin. Under the effect of the gas, the vest inflates immediately.


  • Automatic inflation is a great help if the user loses consciousness
  • Opens in a few seconds
  • Facilitates the turning of the person
  • Does not hinder the movements
  • Its shape is compact when not inflated

Disadvantages :

  • With the tablet model, there is a risk of accidental opening, in contact with waves or humidity
  • The tablet model must be stored in a dry place to avoid accidental opening

Who is it for?

This type of vest is recommended for cruising, in order to protect the person in case of accidental fall in the water.

Lifejacket or buoyancy vest?

It is important not to confuse lifejackets and buoyancy vests. The main difference is in the buoyancy ratings.


The lifejacket is intended to save a person who has fallen into the water, thanks to its buoyancy, which must be at least 100 N. In the event of an accident, the vest automatically turns over onto its back. This movement keeps the person's head out of the water and clears his or her airways, a very important detail if the person is unconscious.

Among the various models offered by the manufacturers, we distinguish the inflatable vest with automatic or manual opening, and the foam vest.

Buoyancy vest

The buoyancy vest has a rating of 50 Newtons. It has been designed for people who already know how to swim. It helps the wearer to float on the surface of the water while waiting for help to arrive. It does not turn the user over.

The buoyancy aid vest is available in various forms: the breastplate vest is simply put on and leaves the arms free. Another variation is the model with plastic fasteners or closed by a zipper. Some versions have the appearance of a classic sleeveless jacket.


Generally speaking, a lifejacket should have a buoyancy of about 150 N as opposed to a simple buoyancy vest which only has 50 N. Therefore, for an outing in the open sea, life jackets are preferable for your safety. On the other hand, if it is only a simple swim in a shallow pool, a simple buoyancy vest can be sufficient.

What are the benefits of wearing a lifejacket?

Saves lives

The proof is in the numbers. Life jackets save lives. Essentially the equivalent of a seat belt in a car, life jackets help you float if you fall into the water. According to Coast Guard statistics in general, of the 78% of people who died in boating accidents, 84% of them were not wearing their lifejackets.

Keep warm

When you fall in the water or get stuck in the water for a long period of time, it's not just about being able to float, it's about staying warm in the cold water. The fact is that the right life jackets wrap perfectly around your body, keeping your body temperature where it needs to be until help arrives.

Points in the right direction

If you are ever thrown violently from a boat or jet ski, you may hit the water hard. The advantage of life jackets is that most are designed to tip you over, so you face the sky sooner than the ocean. This small change could save your life.

Suitable for all body types

No matter your age, you're never too old to wear one. While life jackets can do a lot of work to keep you safe, it's important that the one you choose is tailored to your body type. If a lifejacket is too big and slips right off, you're not doing yourself any favors. On the other side of the coin, if your jacket is too small, it may not keep you afloat properly. Basically, before you even get in the water, find a jacket that fits.

Example for the others

If you're in a group, it's best to encourage others to wear their lifejackets, so life is safer. Be that person who starts the safety trend in your environment.

The best brands of life jackets

In our opinion, the best brands of life jackets in 2022 are :

Forward Wip
Helly Hansen

Lalizas has been in the European marine market for over 35 years. We like the wide range of marine products they offer at competitive prices. These are the other brands that we recommend. We believe that they offer a slightly lower price/quality ratio for most people, but they may be better for specific price ranges (entry level, high end, ...) and needs.

For over 50 years, Plastimo has been working alongside boat builders and water sports professionals. We emphasize the reputation of the brand, found through a wide variety of quality marine products.

Crewsaver is ranked as one of the leading lifejacket brands in the world. It is part of Survitec Group Limited, which specialises in the supply of life-saving technology to various sectors. We appreciate the high technicality of its marine equipment, designed for a wide audience.

Forward Wip is a brand specializing in protective equipment for navigation. We appreciate the diversity of its products which guarantee optimal protection.

Helly Hansen is a Norwegian brand founded in 1877 by Helly Juell Hansen. If you are one of the brands we recommend, you can mention your presence in this ranking as long as you link to this page. If you are not in this ranking and you think you should have been, you can send us a test product that we will evaluate objectively.

What is the price for a lifejacket

The diagram below will help you to get an idea of the typical prices for each price range (entry-level, mid-range and high-end).

However, more expensive does not necessarily mean better.

We therefore advise you to always consult our ranking before deciding, rather than blindly relying on price ranges.

20 £ to 30 £
30 £ to 100 £
more than 100 £
Price range diagram


Use a safety harness

For sea crossings, choose an inflatable lifejacket equipped with a safety harness. This equipment will keep you attached to the boat in case of a fall at sea. It can also be purchased separately.

Check your equipment before each use

Make sure

your one life jacket is in good condition, with no holes or tears. Carry a re-priming kit, consisting of a salt pellet and a CO2 cartridge.

Choose a vest with reflective markings

Wearing a vest with reflective markings is recommended, to increase the chances of being spotted


Check lifejacket buoyancy in shallow water


do this, relax your body and tilt your head back to see if it holds your chin above the water and if you can breathe easily


Always clean after use


using your life jackets, always rinse them with fresh water. Let them dry completely before storing.


What is the best lifejacket?

The best lifejacket depends on your needs and budget. Read our buying guide to find out more.

How to use the lifejacket?

The vest should be worn over clothing. This precaution avoids the risk of suffocation when the vest inflates. The belt and straps must be well adjusted.

How to properly equip your lifejacket?

Don't forget to bring a re-booting kit to keep the vest in working order. The kit should contain a salt tablet and a CO2 cartridge.

How does a Cyalume light stick work?

This ready-to-use lighting device is used as a light source. When activated, it emits visible light for at least ten hours.

What precautions should I take before going to sea?

The crew must know how to use life jackets and lights. Install a lifeline for your safety. Usually sold in pairs, it will be associated with a harness and a lanyard to secure the movements.


Note: Below are some of the sources we have consulted in writing this article. Links to other sites are not continuously updated. It is therefore possible that a link may not be found. Please use a search engine to find the desired information.
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March 2022 : Translation of this buying guide from our partner

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Our selection
Helly Hansen HH Sport II Life Jacket 9
Helly Hansen HH Sport II Life Jacket
Lalizas adult 100N lifejacket 10
Lalizas adult 100N lifejacket
Crewfit Life Jacket 11
Crewfit Life Jacket
Lifejacket for children Lalizas 12
Lifejacket for children Lalizas


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