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September 30, 2021 12 min read

Men's Life Jacket Size and Fit Guide 2022

With Summer around the corner and (for many) easing of restrictions on the horizon, it is a great time to invest in a new life jacket. Maybe your existing life jacket has seen better days, you're looking for a more 'relaxed' fit after months of hibernation, or you're new to water sports; a correctly fitting life jacket is essential for a safe and fun day on the water. And with so many great styles and colourways, you're spoilt for choice. However, sometimes getting the correct fit can be difficult, so we have tried our best to provide a guide to the sizing and fit of a few of our most popular life jackets. But first, we take a quick look at some general fit and sizing advice.

Guide to finding a correctly fitting life jacket.

For wakeboarding, wake surfing, waterskiing and jet skiing, a life jacket is essential for your safety and is required by law. Getting a correctly fitted life jacket not only protects you in an accident, but it also means you'll have a comfortable day on the water. Conversely, if you get a poorly fitting life jacket, you may have an uncomfortable day on the water, and worse, the life jacket may not function correctly and become dangerous. However, with so many styles and colours available, it can all get a little confusing, so keep reading for some tips on finding the correct fit for you.
If you are confused about all the life jacket 'levels' and want some general advice about classification, usage and care, please read our 2022 Life Jacket Buying Guide.

Product size chart

Our products usually contain the manufacturers recommended size charts. As a minimum, this indicates the chest circumference and user weight range. Size charts are a great starting point but should only be used as a guide as different styles/brands will have different shapes and cut to suit various body types. However, it would be best to always stick to the recommended weight ranges, ensuring the vest will provide adequate buoyancy.

Zipping Up

When trying on a new life jacket, the first thing you're likely to do is zip up the vest, so this is a great place to start. In The video below, our model is zipping up a correctly fitting life jacket. As you can see, the jacket has a firm fit (but not too tight) around the waist and chest. If you are working hard to zip up the vest or the zipper is distorting significantly, it might be best to try a larger size or a different style vest altogether. Conversely, if the vest zips up with little to no resistance, you probably find the vest is a little too big for you, resulting in an uncomfortable ride, and worst case, the vest may not float you correctly. In addition, most of the vests we stock are manufactured from stretchy neoprene, and you can expect your vest to stretch a little when wet, so a firm fit when dry is recommended. Finally, we recommend you always fasten the webbing and buckle around the waist, preventing the vest from inverting after a significant fall.

Length

When discussing a life jacket's length, we usually refer to the torso's length. The ideal length is somewhat subjective, with some riders preferring a little extra length and some a shorter fit. As a general guide, aim for a length that sits on or around the waistline of your shorts. Most vests have a foam-free skirt around the waist, so you get unrestricted movement at the hips without a surprise appearance from your lockdown belly.

Waist

The waist of your vest should be a firm, but comfortable fit as the vest will stretch a little when wet. Too tight will restrict movement. Too loose, the vest will move around and possibly ride up, becoming a danger when in the water. All waistlines are different, and thankfully most brands make a range of styles to suit different body shapes. For the Men, if you like to indulge and you have the waistline to match, the Follow Happy Fit is a great place to start. If you're an athlete with the abs and lean waist to prove it, you might want to start with the Follow ProFit. And finally, for those in between, the Follow Happy Fit 2 or the Jetpilot C4 Men's vest is a good starting point.

Chest/Upper Back

Similar to the waist, the fit around the chest should be firm but comfortable, allowing for unrestricted movement on the water and keeping the vest in place when submerged in water. Different styles will have a different fit around the chest. For example, our model found that the Men's Jetpilot C4 was a good average fit around the chest, whereas the Jetpilot Quantum X has a more spacious chest (partially due to the armholes, which we will discuss next).

Armholes

The size and shape of the armholes in a lifejacket vary considerably. There is no right or wrong here. Just go for what feels comfortable to you. Smaller armholes are great for your average body shape and a secure/snug feel. However, if you're the type of rider with broader shoulders (guys, be honest, are your shoulders that wide?!), a larger, low cut armhole might give you better movement. As you can see in the figure below, the vest on the right has a lower/looser cut around the arms allowing for more freedom.

Neck

Finally, it is worth thinking about the neckline of the vest. Our models found most of the vests fit comfortably around the neck; however, the size and the shape of neck openings vary, so make sure you feel comfortable and unrestricted around the neck when selecting your vest.

Overall Fit

Often you will find the sum is greater than the parts, so whilst we have outlined a few areas you should be evaluating above, always step back, look in the mirror and make sure the overall fit looks appropriate and feels comfortable. Also, it would help if you moved around in the vest:

  • Can you bend over without the vest bursting open when doing up your bindings?
  • Do the shoulders ride up over your ears when you squat down?
  • Does the vest "dig in" to your ribs when you bend at the waist?

Think about how you will be using the vest and if it will be comfortable within the range of body movements you'll be performing.

For example, our model below is wearing the same vest in size men's Large (Black vest) and men's medium (Blue vest). At first glance, you might think the Large is fine. However, after trying the medium, it becomes evident that the medium is the better size. It is perhaps subtle, but the blue (size M) is a good length for our model if you look a little closer. The black (size L) has a little excess material folding around the lower back and too much volume around the chest and upper back. 

One final note, the size of the vest also determines the amount of buoyancy provided, with larger sizers providing more buoyancy. Therefore, always check your vest is the correct size for your weight. Life jackets will have the weight range printed on the inside. For more information on buoyancy and understand the lifejacket classification system used in Australia, refer to our 2022 Life Jacket Buying Guide.


Men's Follow Life Jackets


Follow Happy Fit

The Division Men's Life Jacket utilises Follow's Happy Fit, ideal if you usually feel like your vest is a little too tight. This is a more relaxed fit accommodating those looking for a little extra room around the mid-section without compromising on performance. Happy Fit vests are longer and wider than the Pro-Fit. However, the length is still mid-length. Also, more oversized armholes allow enhanced movement and comfort, perfect for larger shoulders and upper torsos.

  • Medium length.
  • Roomy and comfortable fit around the waist.
  • Roomy and comfortable fit around the chest.
  • Medium armholes allow for extra movement and comfort.
  • Low neckline for comfort and manoeuvrability.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.

Shop Follow Happy Fit Style


Follow Happy Fit 2

The Follow Unity, TBA, RA and B.P. Pro Men's Life Jackets utilise Follow's Happy Fit 2. New for this season, the Happy Fit 2 nicely fills the gap between Happy Fit and ProFit life jackets. Combining a relaxed fit around the chest and waist with more segmented foam panels offers an outstanding balance between comfort and flexibility. If your jacket usually feels on the tight side, but you're looking for a high-performance vest, this is the one. Happy Fit 2 comes in signature styles by riders including Sam Brown, Raph Derome and Alex Aulbach – so you know it's 'fit' to perform.

  • Med-length (on the longer side), Size M is a good length on the model.
  • Extra room and comfortably fit around the waist.
  • Extra room and comfortably fit around the chest.
  • Medium armholes allow for extra movement and comfort.
  • Low neckline for comfort and manoeuvrability.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.

Shop Follow Happy Fit 2 Styles


Follow ProFit

The Primary Men's Life Jacket utilises Follow's Profit. The ProFit has a tapered outline for a snug feel and is best suited to riders with an athletic build. Our model wears a size L (usually size M) and found it tight around the chest and waist. The smaller armholes offer a secure/snug fit. If you're not Mr Fitness, you'll need to go up a size compared to what you'd usually wear.

  • Medium length (on the longer side), Size L is a good length on the model.
  • Tight around the waist (model said the size L was too tight for his body shape).
  • Tight around the chest (model said the size L was too tight for his body shape).
  • Smaller armholes allow a secure fit but offer less flexibility for larger shoulders and lats etc.
  • The mid neckline is comfortable.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size L (model Usually wears size M).

Shop Follow ProFit Styles


Follow Profit 2

The B.P. Pro Men's Life Jacket utilises Follow's Profit 2. Designed with the way you move in mind, it is the most lightweight and flexible jacket in Follow's line and ideal for athletic builds. With a similar cut to a ProFit jacket, the Profit 2 includes two added side flex panels for fit adjustability and unrestricted movement. Unlike most jackets, torso flexibility is increased by moving the buckle to the waist. Also, the cinched waist keeps the vest in place and prevents it from inverting in big falls.

Shop Follow ProFit 2 Styles


Men's Jetpilot Life Jackets


Jetpilot C4 Neo Vest

The C4 Men's Life Jacket is probably the most popular vest in Australia - perfect for your average body shape. The middle of the road comfortable fitting chest and waist accommodate a wide range of body shapes, and the segmented foam offers plenty of flexibility. The smaller high-cut armholes are secure without being tight.

  • Mid-length.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the waist.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the chest.
  • Smaller high-cut armholes.
  • Roomy around the neck.
  • Model commented that "this was the perfect fit" for him.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.

Shop Jetpilot C4 Neo Vest Styles


Jetpilot X1 Alex Graydon Neo Vest / X1 Felix Neo Vest

The X1 Men's Life Jacket combines a comfortable/mid fit around the waist with a comfortable/mid fit around the chest. Our model commented that this life jacket was a "good fit" for him in size M. True to size, the X1 is an excellent all-round shape for your average rider.

  • Medium length.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the waist.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the chest.
  • Mid-sized armholes.
  • Roomy around the neck.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.

Shop X1 Neo Vest Styles


Jetpilot Freeride Men's Neo Vest

The Freeride Men's Life Jacket combines a comfortable/mid fit around the waist with a comfortable/mid fit around the chest. However, you might need to go up one size, as our model (usually a size M ) did not fit in size M but found the size L was a good fit for his body.

  • Medium length.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the waist.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the chest.
  • Mid-sized armholes.
  • Roomy around the neck.
  • Model commented that the "vest didn't feel as stretchy as premium vests".
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size L (model usually wears size M).
  • It runs smaller, so size up.

Shop Jetpilot Freeride Neo Vest Styles


Jetpilot Hyperflex Men's Neo Vest

The Quantum X Men's Life Jacket combines a comfortable slim waistline with plenty of room around the chest. Compared to Jetpilot Quantum X, the smaller armholes offer a secure fit but are less accommodating for broad shoulders. In addition, the hyper flex expansion panel free up the mid-section for the ultimate torso flex.

  • Med-length.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the waist.
  • Roomy/larger around the chest.
  • Smaller armholes offer a secure fit but less room for wide shoulders.
  • Model commented that the flex panels "make flexing at waist easy".
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size L (model usually wears size M).

Shop Jetpilot Hyperflex Neo Vest Styles


Jetpilot Quantum X Neo Vest / Quantum X Cory Neo Vest

The Freeride Men's Life Jacket combines a comfortable/mid fit around the waist with a comfortable/mid fit around the chest. However, you might need to go up one size, as our model (usually a size M ) did not fit in size M but found the size L was a good fit for his body.

  • Mid-length.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the waist.
  • Comfortable/mid fit around the chest.
  • Mid-sized armholes.
  • Roomy around the neck.
  • Model commented that the "vest didn't feel as stretchy as premium vests".
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size L (model usually wears size M).
  • It runs smaller, so size up.

Shop Jetpilot Quantum X Neo Vest Styles


Jetpilot RX Men's Vest

The RX Men's Life Jacket is an excellent option for dedicated PWC users. The vest includes handles that can be hidden, perfect for doubling. Our model usually wears a size M but found it was too tight, so you might need to size up. Sizing up, our model felt the lifejacket was a good fit around his chest and waist. Also, compared to the Jetpilot Cause, our model found that the RX allowed for more torso flex and that the Kidney belt supports the lower back.

  • Mid-length.
  • Mid fit around the waist.
  • Mid fit around the chest.
  • Smaller armholes.
  • Kidney belt provides support to the lower back.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.
  • It runs smaller, so you might need to size up.

Shop Jetpilot RX Men's Vest Styles


Jetpilot Cause Men's Neo Vest

The Cause Men's Life Jacket includes handles that can be hidden – ideal for doubles on your PWC. Our model usually wears a size M but found it was too tight, so you might need to size up. Also, compared to over styles in the Jetpilot range, the lack of panelling in the foam combined with the stiffer non-stretch neoprene makes this feel rigid. However, these will feel more supportive for long sessions on your PWC.

  • Shorter length.
  • Mid fit around the waist.
  • Mid fit around the chest.
  • Larger armholes.
  • Less room around the neck.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.
  • It runs smaller, so you might need to size up.

Shop Jetpilot Cause Men's Neo Vest Styles


Men's KGB Life Jackets


KGB Stash

The Stash Men's life jacket from KGB has a slim fit around bother the chest and waist. However, in comparison to the KGB shadow, the vest has a shorter fit. The stitch-through foam panelling and segmentation allows for thinner foam but less articulation for a supportive fit. Again, compared to the KGB Shadow, our model found this to be a tighter fit. Finally, the stash buckles and stretchy waist buckle webbing offer flexibility and the ability to tuck the buckles away when you don't need them.

  • Shorter length.
  • Slim fit around the waist.
  • Slim fit around the chest.
  • Medium armholes.
  • Stashable buckles with stretchy waist webbing.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.

Shop KGB Stash Styles


KGB Shadow

The Shadow Men's life jacket from KGB is a slimmer fitting around bother the chest and waist. Combined with the longer skirt, this could be an excellent choice for the learner riders out there. The stitch-through foam panelling and segmentation allows for thinner foam but less articulation for a supportive fit. Compared to the KGB Stash, our model found this to be a loser fit.

  • Mid-length with a longer skirt.
  • Slim fit around the waist.
  • Slim fit around the chest.
  • Medium armholes.
  • Model is 178cm (5'10") and 92kg.
  • Model's chest is 100cm
  • Model is wearing a size M.

Shop KGB Shadow Styles


Final Thoughts and More Information

Trojan WSS is a leading provider of life jackets in Australia, and we specialise in life jackets for towed water sports (including wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake surfing and tubing) and PWC's. We stock all the leading brands, including Follow, Jetpilot, KGB, Ronix, Radar, Ivy, Rip Curl and more. Our full range of Men's Life Jackets, Women's Life Jackets, Kids Life Jackets, and Life Jackets for Dogs can be found on our website and the links below.

With so many styles and colours available, it can be unclear where to start, so we hope the information above helps you narrow down your search for the perfect vest. If you'd like more help, the friendly team at Trojan WSS are always available to discuss your requirements in detail, so pick up the phone and get in touch. And hopefully (restrictions permitting), we will be able to see you in-store soon.

Shop Men's Life Jackets

Shop Women's Life Jackets

Shop Kids Life Jackets

Shop dog Life Jackets


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