Top Rated Youth Life Jackets (50-90 lbs) – Safe And Stylish

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Growing children love adventurous sports, but they’re experts at getting themselves into situations that terrify parents. Whether you’re scrambling around rock pools or boating as a family, you’ll feel a lot more relaxed if your kids are properly kitted out with effective flotation vests.

The best life jackets for youth in the 50-90 pound range won’t interfere with their fun but can be relied on to keep them afloat when needed.

They also need to be adjustable to cope with their growth. Luckily there are some excellent models available, and they don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Once your child outgrows their kids life vest (up to 50 lbs) and can’t quite fit into adult size models, you’ll want to move them to Youth size life jackets.

Our 5 Favorite Life Vests for Youths

ProductMaterialZipper?SizeColors
Stohlquist Youth EscapeNylonYes50-90 lbs2
Full Throttle YouthNeopreneYes50-90 lbs2
Body Glove Youth PhantomNeopreneYes50-90 lbs2
O'Neill Youth SuperLiteNylonNo50-90 lbs5
Stearns Youth Boating VestNylonNo50-90 lbs2

Youth Life Jacket Reviews

#1 – Stohlquist Youth Escape PFD

best-50-90-lb-life-jacketStohlquist has a great reputation for safety gear and their Nemo vest is among the leading options as a toddler life jacket and then the 30-50 pound kids range. When your kids get a bit bigger, the Child Escape is the perfect next step. As a USCG approved Type III PFD, it has a sea level buoyancy of almost 13 lbs.

It’s a high performance but affordable life vest that’s ideal for children from 50-90 lbs, and it’s been carefully designed (and recently updated) to let them enjoy themselves freely without compromising protection.

The Child Escape is a low profile vest covered in durable 200 denier oxford nylon, with soft buoyancy foam on both front and back flotation panels. Because it’s meant for older kids, it’s less bulky and lower profile than other Stohlquist kids vests.

stohlquist-youth-life-jacket-review

red version

It does share the Nemo’s comfortable design, with plenty of space for the arms to move. That makes it ideal for kayaking and sailing, where you need to be able to move freely. There’s also a deep V at the neck. The vest secures with a heavy duty zip and there’s a waist belt for security, complete with quick release buckle.

It’s always nice to see attention to detail, and this vest shows plenty. There’s a flat pocket on the lower right, which is perfect for holding a safety whistle, snack, or other small items. The padded shoulders allow additional comfort and reflective accents add safety.

The Child Escape comes in two colors, both of which are quite visible. There is also a hi-vis reflective strip on the chest, and the logo on the upper back is reflective too. Overall this is a great vest.

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#2 – Full Throttle Youth Life Jacket

top-neoprene-youth-life-vestAs one of the most comfortable life vests for your child, the Full Throttle “hinged rapid-dry” jacket has five segmented hinge points for extra flexibility which allows easier movement than many other brands. Also, the back of the vest has a stretchable insert for even more maneuverability.

This US Coast Guard approved Type III PFD is also fast drying so your kiddo can get back in the water after a quick break. Great for the beach, boating, or water sports, it’s sleek enough where they won’t complain when wearing it extended periods. Available in high visibility blue or purple.

Fitment is excellent by most accounts although a few users have noted the vest rides up a bit on their child but they most likely purchased an incorrect size. Also, a few users have recommended using a rash guard under the vest. This may be due to sensitivity to neoprene of the user.

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#3 – Body Glove Youth Phantom Life Jacket

The Phantom is an extremely neat neoprene-covered life vest that’s ideal for kids weighing between 50 and 90 lbs. It’s also US Coast Guard approved and very affordable.

If your kids are too slim for the Child Escape this could be a great solution. A front zip and two quick-release belts hold it secure and allow easy adjustment at the same time.

This vest gives plenty of buoyancy and because it’s so thin it’s ideal for wear in a small boat – it doesn’t get in the way at all. It does have one drawback compared to the Stohlquist – it’s a little bit more restrictive, and might rub under the arms. Apart from that it’s excellent. Available in 3 colors.

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#4 – O’Neill Youth SuperLite Life Vest

O’Neill is known for its quality vests, and the Youth SuperLite is an excellent addition to their line of Coast Guard-approved PFDs. This model has a relaxed fit to accommodate a wide range of body types without compromising security.

Larger arm holes and a design based around minimal bulk allow for full mobility, making the vest suitable for numerous watersports including boat tubing, or wakeboarding.

A highly durable coated polyester shell ensures the Youth SuperLite will last for many outings, while the lightweight polyethylene foam allows the vest to be both soft and comfortable.

Finding the right fit seems to be an issue with this vest, and many have discovered their child was too big for the vest they bought. Getting precise measurements before ordering will help with this issue, but if you are purchasing online, it is best to order one size larger if you aren’t sure of the fit.

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#5 – Stearns Youth Boating Vest

best cheap boating vestThis budget vest from Stearns is USCG-approved and will support any child from 50 to 90 pounds. It’s a simple, classic design with foam panels inside a tough nylon shell. If you’re having trouble finding a vest to fit your child the Stearns is probably just what you’re looking for.

With its three straps, two of them running right round the body, make it both easily adjustable and incredibly secure. It is slightly bulkier than some of the others but it’s effective, sturdy, and a good cheap youth vest that will keep them safe.

The Stears youth boating vest is good enough for all-around use whether jetskiing or fishing with Dad. We recommend the highly visible red color over the blue.

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19 Responses to “Top Rated Youth Life Jackets (50-90 lbs) – Safe And Stylish”

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  1. danielle donahue says:

    Hi yall i need a youth 50lbs-90lbs..with a crotch strap..Its for a special needa 6yr old thank you

  2. Alison says:

    My son’s going jetskiing for the first time in a couple weeks. Which of these would you recommend?

    • Alex says:

      I personally like the Full Throttle for any active water sports since it’s just so comfortable to wear. The Stohlquist, Body Glove, and O’Neill on this page will also work fine but the Stohlquist’s best quality is how well it works for paddling activities.

  3. A says:

    Hi there. I have a 4.5 year old that is overweight (working on it). She has a belly that makes vests hard to fit. 44” tall, but more like an 8/10 in tummy. Best option for most roomy in the tummy?

  4. Eugene Sinta says:

    Why are there no crotch straps on these jackets are grandson is 60 lb and the jacket Rises up on him when he wears it there’s nothing to hold it down

    • Alex says:

      Crotch straps are generally only found on vests up to 50 lbs. If the life jacket is riding up, the straps on it might not be adjusted tight enough or the jacket simply has a poor design for his body type. Some are better than others. The Stohlquist for instance has a strap that sits just below the waist. If you’ve tightened the straps enough and the riding up is too severe, I would recommend trying another brand.

  5. Kimberly D Godbout says:

    I understand there are now life vests that are self righting to floating on the back. Who makes them & where are they?

    • Alex says:

      As far as we know, there are no life jackets currently on the market that will guarantee to turn the wearer face up (floating on back) every single time. Even the bulky type 1 PFDs will turn an unconscious wearer face up “almost” all of the time. There’s simply too many variables involved for a life jacket to do that 100% of the time. But if you find a link to something otherwise, please share.

  6. Kimberly S Estopinal says:

    I am looking for a jacket for my special needs 6 year old, 50 pounds. I am concerned because a friend has a younger child who had on a flotation device that flipped him head down, feet up several times in the water. Clearly, this is not ideal. How do I find a vest or jacket that will keep my child head up in the pool, and preferably not too bulky? This is a sensitive topic because her disability is purely physical and not mental or developmental and she would like something that she wont be embarrassed to wear around her friends who may think floats are for babies…

    • Alex says:

      Any USCG approved PFD should NEVER do that. Usually the issue is that the life jacket won’t turn the wearer face-up, but even when face down, they’re body is still right side up in the water (feet down). I have a feeling your friend’s child was wearing some type of floatation ring (not life jacket) that goes all the way around their body. These are horribly designed and many have been taken off the market for the very reason you described.

      All of the life jackets on this page are good but they’re also all type 3 PFDs which are not made to turn a wearer automatically face up in the water (although they’ll of course be right side up). A simple type 2 (such as this one) would do a better job of turning a wearer face up if falling in the water but of course won’t be as stylish.

  7. Maria Olvera says:

    Hello!
    My family is going snorkeling in Maui we need life jackets for 6 year old boy and 9 year old girl. What do you recommend?
    Appreciate it!

  8. Tazz says:

    Most of these jackets are unavailable on Amazon. Might need to update your article or links.

    • Alex says:

      Thanks Tazz. We’re actually working on a refresh of our recommendations so we’ll be sure to fix any obsolete products. Also sometimes (especially in the summer), some models simply go out of stock for a few days at a time due to demand. But we’ll get things straightened out no matter what.

  9. Amber Johnson says:

    I understand that crotch straps are for 50lbs and under life vest but are there any that are 50 to 90lbs with it? My almost 5yr old is 47in 47lbs (that was in April) and I want to get her a bigger vest but so far all the styles I’ve tried rise up on her no matter how tight I pull the straps.

    • Alex says:

      I don’t know of any life jackets in the 50-90 lbs range that have the crotch strap but you should be able to add a crotch strap (like this one) if the life jacket has some type of attachment point (like the bottom horizontal strap).

  10. Sofia says:

    I have an almost 6 year old who is high functioning on the autism spectrum. He is over 50 lbs. We are working on getting him swim lessons, but want a life vest for him in the pool in the meantime. I’d appreciate your recommendation.

  11. Michelle Peterson says:

    Hello, I have a 7 year old who in height is on the smaller side but weights 62 pounds. I am needing a recommendation for a life jacket for primarily just for the swimming pool. She does not know how to swim and we wont be participating in any water sports. Can you make an recommendation please?

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