A wakeboard life jacket is the essential safety gear that acts as a wall against the sport’s dangers. It doesn’t just protect you from drowning, but also from the impact against the water at high speed. In short, wakeboard life jackets are your primary defense against anything related to the activity and water.
Therefore, it becomes paramount to select the best life jacket for the wakeboard. Something that can fit your requirements without interrupting your fun activity. After all, the life jacket also needs to be flexible enough to give you freedom of movement. It sounds almost impossible, but thanks to the manufacturers, there are countless options.
Hence, we are bringing you this guide to shuffle through all of those options and find you the best choice available. From material and quality to design and features, you will learn about every crucial aspect. By the end of this article, you will emerge as a pro at selecting the best wakeboard life jackets. With that in mind, let’s begin!
There are three primary considerations to make when you are choosing the right wakeboard life jackets or vests. First, you need to determine the correct type of vest and then find a suitable material that meets your requirement. Finally, finish it with the right size selection. Those are the general rule of thumb when selecting a wakeboard life jacket.
However, in this guide, you will reach more in-depth and learn about various qualities and aspects. It will include padding for protection, buoyancy level, value for money, and other additional features. Thus, you will have the ultimate buyer’s guide always to help you get the best.
You’re already going to narrow down your categories by looking at the ‘wakeboard life jackets’ department. Wakeboard vest types are distinguishable from their sleek look and lack of bulk. That’s right! These vests appear to be like a protective layer or coating instead of those suffocating and puffed-up jackets.
It is to ensure that you have the utmost comfort and freedom of movement. Aerodynamics also matters. After all, you’re wakeboarding, and it has everything to do with speed, air pressure, and other similar factors. Either way, there are primarily two different classes of wakeboard life jackets. Here’s a quick overview:
CGA (Coast Guard Approval) is a certification that jackets receive from the authorities. If you’re in the US, you’re looking for USCG approved vests. Similarly, for each country, the approval stamp might change, but not necessarily. By the law, you need to wear life jackets that have CGA approval for water sports, boating, or other activities,
The problem with these vests is the lack of design and color options. There isn’t too much the manufacturers can work with. So, they try to bring you the best option with limited modifications they can make. Some might even call these jackets something with buoyancy above "50N" because that is one of CGA vests' determining factors.
These are the jackets that mostly licensed professionals or those with permission can wear. However, you can experiment with these, as well. The buoyancy rate for these jackets may vary. Some could be below 50N, while others might pass way above 50N. Think of these as customized wakeboard life jackets.
You will get various fitting options, designs, colors, and much more. Competitive jackets don’t have CGA because they don’t follow the regulations. These are the jackets with manufacturers that like to do things their way. Their plan isn’t to bring you the worst jacket, but they use research and development to the best.
In other words, the quality and performance of these jackets may vary drastically. Therefore, you would have to be careful while selecting non-CGA jackets. As a general rule, it’s always a good idea to test these jackets out. Some manufacturers may even provide you a guarantee.
Once you’ve decided the type of wakeboard life jacket you want, the next step is to select the right quality. Now, if you’ve gone with USCGA or CGA approval in general, you will most likely find the standard quality. Some of them may just follow regulations and bring you the ‘minimum quality standards’ required to get approval.
Therefore, you can’t just choose any CGA approved jacket either. Correlatively, the consideration becomes equally crucial in competitive jackets. So, what do you do? How do you determine the perfect quality? Well, the first factor would be money. You will get according to how much you’re willing to invest.
The next factor would be to get the right return and value for money. For that, follow these factors:
You can probably guess that the material you will find the most are all artificial. Nylon, polyester, and neoprene are three primary options available for life jackets. The same applies to wakeboard life jackets.
Nylon is suitable for entry-level jackets, but they will wear out faster. It’s because the material is not durable. You can’t expect it to withstand too many blows. Therefore, nylon is suitable for those who might indulge in wakeboarding once in a while. It’s not good against UV-rays either, and that is the primary cause of its withering.
Polyester, depending on the quality, is the best and well-versed option available in the market. It can be buoyant, waterproof, and much more. It is durable and capable of holding itself against various elements. Many polyesters come with an extra coating or even qualities like anti-microbial and anti-odor, making them even more desirable.
If you want something more heavy-duty, then neoprene is a great choice. It's waterproof, almost like rubber and long-lasting. You can't go wrong with neoprene, except for the fact that it isn’t breathable. As it isn’t breathable, it can get uncomfortable for you. Therefore, people usually stick to neoprene life jackets during the colder climates and if they need insulation.
By standards, polyester and the quality of polyester should be the best option in this regard. You will find much other material. Some are even blends. There are leather jackets and whatnot, but polyester simply excels in every way possible.
As you select the material the jacket is available in, the immediate consideration should be durability. To check for durability, look at the seams. Are they reinforced? The sewing style will also tell you a lot. This factor might require a little closer inspection because you wouldn’t want to ignore anything that gives away material integrity.
Check whether the material is thick enough to withstand tearing if you try to pull it apart. Some vests might be bulky due to heavy-duty material, but it can be an acceptable trade-off if you can get the right jacket. Check the closure options, how the buckles are built, and whatnot.
You are essentially looking at the quality of construction, the sewing or production method, and the components used. For CGA approved jackets, you may avoid this step, but for competitive jackets, it’s indispensable.
It’s time to test your jacket out. That’s right! Never buy a wakeboard life jacket just by inspecting or analyzing it. It’s paramount that you test it. Now, the breathability factor will take over because you don’t want to end up with excessive sweat building under the vest. That would spoil the fun for the entire activity.
You need something breathable with proper moisture-wicking to ensure that you don’t get too slippery or wet. Of course, as wakeboarding is an active water sport, you can’t avoid getting drenched at all. But you need to make sure it doesn’t bite, pinch or feel suffocating for you to wear.
When you talk about comfort, breathability is an essential aspect. More than that is fitting. After all, you’re going to have to look for a complete snug-fit jacket available for your size. That’s right! You can’t avoid this aspect.
For anyone, wakeboard life jackets need to feel like a second skin. There shouldn’t be any space for air to pass at all. That’s why you prioritize breathability for comfort. You will learn more about how to select the right size below.
Wakeboarding is an active water sport. It will require you to be responsible, quick, and flexible. You need freedom of movement, and that’s where the jacket’s flexibility will come into play. As you move around in the jacket, make sure that you have proper flexibility.
Despite the snug fit, it shouldn’t restrict your movements in any manner. If you feel like it is a little restrictive, change the jacket, the size, or the material. However, don’t overlook the fitting instructions. You can work with better elasticity in the jacket for more flexibility. Added durability to withstand bending would be admirable, as well.
Now, you have the right type of jacket with the proper size and fitting, and the suitable material. That’s great! You’ve crossed the first level of selecting the best wakeboard life jackets! It’s time for you to get into some of the qualities and factors that matter almost as much as the big three you’ve chosen. Here’s a quick overview:
Wakeboard life jackets come with a protective layer of padding. It’s to ensure that the impact against the water won’t hurt you if you fall off the board. Believe it! The high-speed impact against the water is not very pleasant. It can lead to injuries and whatnot. Therefore, padding is the primary protection (other than the jacket’s thickness) against the water’s impact.
Foam padding is the most common option available. Some jackets reduce their material’s buoyancy if they have foam padding as it can provide extra floatation. A minimum of foam padding in the front is essential to ensure that you have proper protection. Don’t buy wakeboard life jackets without padding.
Of course, these are life jackets, and you need them to be buoyant. This is another essential aspect many people might overlook after considering the first three factors. When you look at buoyancy, there’s usually under or over N50. You need to ensure that you get over N50 if you want proper floatation support.
Anything below N50 requires you to swim around and use your body, as well. While above N50 will make it easier for you to stay on the water surface and float about. You wouldn’t have to invest excessive energy into keeping yourself on the body of the water.
If you get a highly buoyant jacket with excessive padding, the jacket might become bulky. You need to ensure that it isn’t too bulky for you to move your body. Remember the point about flexibility. The freedom of movement is an integral aspect of wakeboarding, and you can’t overlook it. Therefore, as you select a wakeboard life jacket, make sure that it isn’t too bulky for you to swim or use.
This is more of a perk that might be optional, but you might find it in polyester life jackets. Getting anti-element jackets like anti-UV, anti-corrosion, and anti-microbial properties positively impact the longevity of the jacket. It eases the wash, care, and maintenance. You can make it last longer. These factors are essential if you’re going wakeboarding in saltwater.
You would need anti-corrosion properties, even antimicrobial, as you don’t know what kind of water it might be. Consistent exposure to the sun isn’t going to suit your skin or the vest jacket. Thus, you will need anti-UV. Waterproofing is a given due to the jacket’s material, and it is not something you need to focus on heavily because the jackets are not electronics.
However, if your jacket has pockets and you are storing your electronic device like a phone in it, then the pocket needs to be highly waterproof, even a sealant type, if possible.
This is more of an optional consideration but conditionally important if you’re wakeboarding in a colder climate. A layer of insulation might add comfort and warmth, especially if you find yourself splashing in the water. Neoprene is the right choice for jacket material, as it will eliminate the requirement for added insulation. Many jackets come with rubber for insulation and other conditions.
Some people eliminate insulation for the life jacket and rely on garments like the water suit they wear under the jacket for insulation and other requirements. You can do the same.
By now, you will have a handy jacket that is of high value for money and meets all of your requirements. Now, in this segment, you will find some features and aspects that are beneficial. Almost all of these are optional. You don’t necessarily need them, but they add to the convenience and value of the jacket. Let’s take a look:
Most of the jackets come with a front zipper and buckles. You can wear them like conventional jackets, while there are also ‘pull-over’ types that you can use. The method of wearing the jacket will also determine how it will come off. A pull-on type jacket is more prone to getting off with pressure.
Either way, a good jacket with proper fitting will come with closure and adjustable straps. Apart from the front buckle and zipper, the kidney belt could be a valuable addition. It will reinforce the jacket’s grip on your body and provide support for the lower back.
Similarly, adjustable closure would enable you to snug it into people of different sizes. However, that’s not advisable. You should look at the adjustable straps as a perk for you to have a loose or tight-fitting. Single or dual buckles for easy on and off would also be a wise choice in wakeboard life jackets.
Wakeboard life jackets come with a proper drainage or wicking system to ensure water doesn’t collect in the jacket. If water accumulates, it will become heavier and may even make it challenging for you to stay afloat. Therefore, the proper drainage system prevents you from facing these difficulties. More importantly, it helps keep you and the vest dry for it to be lighter and more effective.
Often, wakeboarders get underarm scratches, itching, and discomfort. It happens due to an underarm chafe caused by the lifejacket. If you’re wearing the wakeboard life jacket for extended hours, it’s better to look for comfortable underarms with seams.
It will provide proper protection and prevent any underarm-related problems. You might find the same addition around other seam parts, as well, to avoid any pinching or pricking like feeling as you wear the jacket.
Many jackets come with extra hoops and a hooking option. It allows you to connect an additional cable or cord to your jacket and provide yourself additional balance. Some people find it highly useful. Others might find it intrusive. For example, it’s an excellent choice to use as long as you’re not falling.
Once you fall off the board, the consistent ‘drag’ from the boat might be more injurious than beneficial. However, for this reason, the second cable attached to the hook of your jacket is usually much looser, connected to an extension channel even.
Of course, you can’t overlook the importance of pockets. Whatever you might want to store, like a wallet, gadgets, or glasses, pockets in a jacket with proper waterproofing can be a beneficial addition.
A: There’s a famous saying that a proper fitting will feel suffocating in an enclosed environment like a shop or store. It will fit like a second skin without any space for air to pass, as well. There are two primary methods of choosing the right size for jackets.
For beginners, choosing according to your weight range might be a good option. It will help you narrow down the size chart, especially if you don’t know your measurement. The second option is to use the chest sizing. You need to know the size of your chest.
A jacket will primarily fit your chest and hug around it. You need tight-fitting for it. If you have additional fitting options like straps, buckles, and whatnot, then feel free to use them. The aim of getting the right size of wakeboard life jacket is to have as secure fitting as possible.
A: Yes. Women’s bodies are different and have a unique requirement. Their jackets might be sleek or even have options for a snug fit in different areas. The belts and other additions would vary in places. For example, chest fitting can be too uncomfortable. The buckles might be above or below the chest for ease of strap.
A: No. You should always buy individual wakeboard life jackets for people. It’s a risky business to give the same size for all. There isn’t’ any universal size or fitting you will find. Even the adjustable buckles or straps are to provide you and your size ease.
After all, even if you get the right chest size and weight, the bodily proportions might differ. As a general rule, every participant should have an individual jacket according to their size.
A: Yes. Most of the time, wakeboard life jackets will suffice your need for protection and floatation in other life jackets. It has apt flexibility and the best performance out of all different types of jackets. You can use it for other water activities like water skiing, surfing and much more.
That’s everything you need to know as you buy wakeboard life jackets. Hopefully, the article was informative, and you can now choose the right jacket. Remember, the consideration for design, color, and budget is all up to you.
There’s no need for you to settle as there are countless options. With this guide, now you can buy the best wakeboard life jackets anywhere you go!
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