Airhead Lifejacket Lineup: PDB TESTED No. 224

November 2017 Feature, PDB Tested Roy Sparks


As a magazine we embrace the fact that people look to us as not only boating experts, but as examples to follow too. No, we’re not calling ourselves role models or anything like that, since we aim to keep our egos in check at all times. However, we do love to promote boating safety and we always have. This includes basics like not drinking while captaining a boat, but also promoting the use of life jackets.

It’s of course the law to have enough life jackets onboard for everyone, but they’re not going to do a lot of good if they’re stuffed under seats and never see a glimpse of daylight.

This year our staff reached out to Airhead, a giant in the boating industry which is best known for its water toys and all things fun on the water. We got an insider tip that in 2017 Airhead would be releasing a new line of inflatable life jackets and somehow successfully convinced them to let us test them out during our Shootout Boat Test.

We asked for a variety and that’s what we got, as well as the peace of mind that comes with knowing the PDB staff was covered during test week.

Of course to truly test them we had to pull the cord for fun to inflate one of them after a long week and 30-plus boats tested. We designated a staff member to have his life jacket inflated for our test…we just failed to let him know he had been chosen. The result was someone on our PDB test crew was a little cranky because he didn’t see it coming. (See video)

We consider this new line of life jackets from Airhead a success because they’re lightweight and in return they got used—which is the most important part to any life jacket. The four new models range in price from $129.99 (SL Manual Basic 24G Inflatable PFD) to $159.99 (SL Manual Automatic Advanced 24G Inflatable PFD) and the two life jackets shown in the photos retail for $139.99. By the way, they’ve also added Inflatable Belt Pack PFDs that are equally as impressive and worth a closer look if you’re in the market for a life jacket upgrade.—Roy Sparks, PDB Magazine

Total Score: 92

Style: 19/20

Function: 47/50

Comfort: 9/10

Care: 9/10

Price: 8/10

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