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9 Best Life Jackets for Paddle Boarding in 2020

Älter Mann mit SUP Board testet SUP Schwimmwesten in der Praxis.

With SUP boards you can go far out on the water. Even Lake Constance has been circumnavigated by some ambitious Stand Up Paddlers nice. If you are far away from the shore, you are in great danger according to the Swiss navigation authorities and must therefore carry a life jacket with you. In Germany and Austria there is currently no such law and we are not aware of any plans in this direction.

Carrying a SUP lifejacket or a SUP lifejacket is nevertheless a good idea. And this is especially true for children, untrained swimmers, in envious water temperatures and on whitewater tours. In all these cases the life jacket should not only be carried – as prescribed by the Swiss authorities – but also put on.

The best SUP life jackets have wide cut out areas in the shoulder area, so that the arms are not restricted in their movement and a normal paddle stroke is possible without additional effort. In our list of the best we have presented some of the best models. These vests have earned their place on our list because they have already convinced in practice or in a SUP lifejacket test.

Stand Up Paddling is becoming more and more popular. One of the reasons why water sports has risen so quickly from a niche existence to one of the most popular water sports is that almost everyone can participate. Young and old people alike can paddle on the boards.

Paddlers are hardly restricted in terms of the possible areas of application. From calm lakes and canals, slow flowing rivers and coastal waters to white water tours, everything is possible with the boards. Especially when the water is no longer as smooth as glass, the issue of your own safety comes into play.

Those who romp around in whitewater or rivers with high flow speed must absolutely wear a vest. Even children who do SUP, and even more insecure swimmers, should never do without an SUP lifejacket, which can quickly become a life saver in an emergency situation.

In the meantime, more and more paddlers are daring to go into the water at low temperatures. The lifejacket should not be missing here either. If you fall into the water, the big drop in temperature can cause a shock. The lifejacket helps you to stay on the water surface in this moment.

In the next section we will go into more detail about the models from our list of best. In the following guide we also explain what is important for a good life jacket for SUP.

The best life jackets for Paddle Boarding

Onyx 121900-100-004-17 Universal Paddle Vest - Red Onyx 121900-100-004-17 Universal
  • Low profile, lightweight, compact design
  • High foam back accommodates high back seats; Breathable mesh lower back
  • Six adjustment straps to cinch vest up to fit snug; Comfortable neoprene shoulder pads
Onyx m 16 Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket (PFD) Onyx m 16 Belt Pack Manual
  • Extremely low profile
  • 1" buckle and body belt
  • D-ring attachment for small accessories
Onyx 122200-300-060-18 MoveVent Dynamic Vest Adult Yellow XL/2XL Onyx 122200-300-060-18 MoveVent
  • Soft, lightweight floatation foam, Soles grade
  • Reflective material for visibility
  • Expandable zippered pocket with Mesh drainage
Onyx Unisex Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket (PFD) Onyx Unisex Belt Pack Manual
  • U.S. Coast Guard Approved Inflatable Belt Pack - Manual Inflation
  • 16 gram CO2 charge provides 17 lbs. of buoyancy
  • The oral inflation tube can be used by wearer to provide additional buoyancy up to 26.5 lbs.
Stohlquist Edge Life Jacket, Red, Large/X-Large Stohlquist Edge Life Jacket, Red,
  • Ergonomic WRAPTURETM shaped torso
  • Adjustable shoulders, 4 side pulls and front waist buckle closure
  • Low cut, offset front-zip entry
ONYX MoveVent Torision Paddle Sports Life Vest, Red, X-Large/XX-Large ONYX MoveVent Torision Paddle
  • Bubble foam on inner back for added comfort; mesh in lower back fits high back seats.
  • Expandable zippered pockets with mesh drainage
  • SOLAS grade reflective material for visibility
Stohlquist Women's Flo Life Jacket/Personal Floatation Device (Purple/Gray, Medium/Large) Stohlquist Women's Flo Life
  • 400 x 200 denier ripstonp shell and 210 denier oxford liner
  • Lightweight PE Foam with inner mesh lining for coolness and wearability.
  • Neoprene Padded waistband
O'Neill   Women's SuperLite USCG Life Vest,Black/Smoke/Black/UV,Large O'Neill Women's SuperLite USCG
  • USCG Approved Personal Flotation Device; Perfect For Wake Sports, Waterskiing, Tubing, And Swimming
  • Minimal Bulk Design Allows Full Mobility
  • Durable Coated Polyester Shell Creates A Strong Exterior
Astral Women's Layla Life Jacket PFD for Whitewater, Sea, Touring Kayaking, Stand Up Paddle Boarding, and Fishing, Glacier Blue, M/L Astral Women's Layla Life Jacket
  • MADE FOR SAFETY: Stay afloat with organic Kapok, PVC-free Gaia and PE foam inserts; Buoyancy rating of 16.3 lbs; USCG Type III Approval
  • FEMALE FIT: Women-specific architecture with multi panel princess hinge and internally sculpted bust cup in comfortable Kapok foam; Zipper at quarter and adjustable buckles at side; Weighs only 1.76 lbs
  • DURABLE: Made to last for many adventures; 200 x 400 Denier Ripstop Nylon and Stretch Polyester Lycra shell and 200 Denier High Tenacity Nylon liner; PolyPro webbing and heavy duty hardware

Advice: Buy a SUP life jacket

If you want to choose a SUP lifejacket, you have to pay attention to a whole range of features. First and foremost, buoyancy is important. As a rule, thinner, unobtrusive vests offer less buoyancy than large life jackets. However, it is essential to ensure that the preferred lifejacket is suitable for your body weight.

In addition to buoyancy, several other features play a role. For paddlers, for example, a recess around the shoulders is essential. Only models where the arms can be moved freely do not hinder you in your paddling movements. Furthermore you should make sure that the SUP lifejacket does not weigh too much. Other practical things are, for example, a bright colour that ensures that the lifejacket can be recognised from a distance, and other extras such as an integrated whistle.


The lifejacket for SUP must fit perfectly. Experience shows that wearing comfort is the most important feature. If the vest does not fit comfortably, it will quickly end up in the corner and will not help your own safety.

When it comes to comfort, one area is mainly the area around the neck. When choosing a vest, make sure that there are either generous cut-outs or that the edges are made of soft materials. Otherwise the vest can chafe, which is very uncomfortable, especially on long tours.


The distinction between SUP lifejackets and SUP lifejackets is very important. While the former are a buoyancy aid, life jackets have a high buoyancy so that they can keep a motionless body above water.

Usually more buoyancy is also associated with a higher weight and a thicker vest. In addition, models that offer more Newton buoyancy cost a little more. When paddling, therefore, usually only the thinner life jackets are worn. For white water trips and for inexperienced swimmers, however, life jackets can also be considered.

If you are looking for a SUP buoyancy aid, you do not need a model that can carry your entire body weight. A buoyancy aid does not have to provide the buoyancy to keep your body weight completely on the water surface. For people who are not novice swimmers, it is also sufficient if the life jacket only supports.

further aspects

Several other features can also be practical. These include:

    • Additional whistle: Especially good life jackets have an additional whistle. In emergency situations, this can be used to alert other paddlers, people on the shore or rescue teams to you.


  • Light color: The additional buoyancy is the main function of the vests, but also a certain color can be an advantage in emergency situations. SUP lifejackets in bright colours are much easier to spot from a distance. The water has a green, blue or greyish hue. A lifejacket in orange, yellow or light blue stands out clearly.


FAQ: Frequently asked questions about SUP life jackets

A life jacket or life jacket for SUP is standard equipment for stand up paddling. The buoyancy aids are simply put on like a normal vest. However, they are made of materials that provide additional buoyancy and are therefore an effective buoyancy aid that constantly pushes you upwards while swimming in the water.

If you fall into the water, the buoyancy aid helps you to stay on the surface. A number of vests are equipped with practical extras that can be real life savers in emergency situations. These include a whistle that is tied in one of the vest pockets.

For stand up paddlers it is especially important that the vests do not restrict their movement. There must be enough space in the arm and shoulder area so that the paddling movement is not disturbed. Another aspect is that the vests also keep you warm. Especially on SUP tours in cold water, wearing the lifejackets is therefore quite comfortable.

What is the difference between a life jacket and a life jacket?

In general parlance, the terms life jacket, life jacket and buoyancy aid are often used synonymously. However, the meaning of the words is different.

A lifejacket provides additional buoyancy and restricts the swimming movement only slightly. The vests help when swimming in water. In contrast, life jackets are vests with a buoyancy of at least 150 Newton, which are designed to keep people on the surface of the water for a longer period of time. With life jackets, swimming movements are restricted.

Stand up paddlers usually only use life jackets. Life jackets are only considered for people who cannot swim and for whitewater trips. In the latter case, care should be taken to ensure that the vest is considered “faint proof”. This means that the vest can turn a motionless body on its own, so that the face is always above the water surface.

Why should you wear a SUP lifejacket?

The reason is simple. The vest can save lives. No matter how good you are at swimming, there is always the danger of a sudden change in the weather, which can quickly become really dangerous on a SUP board. Wearing a life jacket makes it easy to stay on the surface even in rough waters. And you can therefore climb back onto the board more easily.

We recommend every stand up paddler to wear a lifejacket, but for many people it is practically a must. So every child should wear such a vest. Meanwhile there are a number of SUP life jackets for children, which we have also included in our list of best. Furthermore every Whitewater Paddler should wear a lifejacket. Even for stand up paddlers, who are not sure about their swimming abilities, there is no alternative to wearing a life jacket.

Models especially designed for stand up paddlers have generously cut out arm and shoulder areas that do not hinder the paddling movement. Other extras include a whistle tied into the vest or a striking colour scheme that contrasts well with the bluish tones of the water.


Wearing a SUP lifejacket can in extreme cases mean the difference between life and death. And even though Stand Up Paddling is a relatively harmless sport, it is true that caution is better than indulgence.

With this saying in mind, it should be clear that while special groups such as children, inexperienced swimmers or whitewater paddlers should wear a lifejacket, all paddlers would be better advised to wear one.

On our list of best models you will find a number of light models that are almost not restricting in their freedom of movement, do not cost much money and have already proven themselves in practice. And there are many reasons for wearing a life jacket…

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