*Last Updated: May 2024

The 5 Best CO2 Automatic Life Vests [Ranked]

CO2 Automatic Life Vests

CO2 automatic life vests will automatically inflate when immersed in water and many feature manual inflating options as well.

The CO2 automatic life vests we review below are less bulky alternatives to traditional flotation devices- they do not restrict your movement, are incredibly lightweight, pretty comfortable and actually fashionable!

In addition, they can keep you warm in cold weather and the neoprene necklines are design advancements that make them comfortable to wear for extended periods of time if you're out on your boat or fishing from your favorite pier.

The 1.2 lb, Onyx 3200BLU99 Automatic CO2 Adult Vest is our top pick- it is a US Coast Guard Approved Type V Lifejacket that is a lightweight and comfortable alternative to traditional life vests.

It features automatic and manual inflation modes so that you can choose the best option for you.

Say, if you are fishing by a wharf and getting splashed with waves, you wouldn't want the life preserver to inflate (and have all your friends laugh at you).

User consensus is that it is easy to use and wear, all at a reasonable price.

Many people use it for kayaking and fishing when they are by themselves- it's a great way to the assure your safety if no one is around to help you.

Let's take a look at five at the best-selling automatic and manual inflatable lifejackets on the market today to see how they compare.


Comparing Them

The Five Best CO2 Vests For 2024



Ease of Use

The 1.52 pounds, ripstop nylon-made Onyx 3200BLU99 Life Vest is a smart option that is US Coast Guard approved with Type 3 performance. Its users prefer that it is great at not restricting arm and torso movements, but also note that sometimes it runs too small.


The Onyx Adult CO2 Vest has a tear-resistant and puncture-proof fabric, reflective piping so one can be easily seen when wearing this vest, can be inflated manually by the T-cord movement or automatically when soaked in water and has soft neoprene neckline so it is comfortable to wear all day. This automatic-manual setting is a solid option if you are looking for a semi-automatic life jacket.


Most users attest that the product claims are exactly as described. It is easy to wear and use and even easier to store. It offers the widest range of motion. The Onyx 3200BLU99 fits well even on tall and big individuals.


Users say that it costs more than others but it is a bang for the buck because there are more expensive life vests on the market that equally performs this product. It is a life saver to many and some say it is a great value and they are pleased with the product. It can remain inflated for days and the jacket comes with a CO2 cartridge. However, some cons of ordering the Onyx Automatic Vest is that it sometimes doesn’t come with the canister and the fit is not true to size.

Video Overview



Ease of Use

The US Coast Guard approved, type five PFD ONYX A/M-24 Delux Inflatable Life Jacket is a good investment option that is made of 420 denier ripstop nylon. Its users like that it is great at not bothering the wearer because of its shape and size, but also note that it is a bit pricier than other life jackets.


The ONYX Deluxe Manual Inflatable Life Vest weighs less than 2 pounds, has jerk to inflate handles to suck in air when pulled, has stretchable flex-back inserts, and uses 1352 A/M rearming kit. This rearming kit is a cheap option if you are looking for a cost-effective Inflatable Life Jacket.


Users are comfy wearing this product because of the padded mesh fabric over the synthetic nylon. It is cost-effective because it has cheap refill cartridges.


Users also say that it is thin, lightweight and not bulky. The A/M-24 Delux Automatic Manual Life Jacket has outstanding quality, as buyers point out. It doesn’t try to ride up when worn although there are isolated cases when it does. It also needs a buckle at the top and a pouch for attaching gears and stuff. Overall, this is a non-constricting life vest choice but inflation is convertible from auto-manual to manual only.

Video Overview



Ease of Use

The 33-pound buoyancy, 33-gram CO2 cartridge Floattop Adult Automatic Inflatable PFD is a decent option that has automatic activation and uses three ways to inflate. Its users like that it is great at not hindering movement when worn, but also note that the cord is a little long for the users’ liking.


The Floattop Life Jacket comes with a Halkey Roberts salt tabled-based inflator, comes with a CO2 canister, is CE certified and SOLAS approved, and has a maximum belt length of 130 for chest size with 30-52 inches diameter. This thin, adjustable belt is a minimalist option if you are looking for a low profile Adult Automatic Inflatable Life Vest.


This is one of the most affordable life vests on the market as buyers point out. It is durable and lightweight, very comfortable to move freely, well worth the money, and great for use in water sports such as fishing, kayaking, canoeing and water gliding.


The Floattop Life Jacket looks good, it is slim and the fit is good. This is a cheap overall automatic life vest but it is not US Coast Guard approved, and the mesh around the neck is a little uncomfortable when worn for a long time.



Ease of Use

The 48-hour float time, 1.6-pound TMS Auto-Manual Inflatable PFD is an easy to use and pack option that can fit adults with weights over 80 pounds. Its users comment that it is great at bringing comfort and promotes a peace of mind when worn, but also note that it is made in China.


It is not recommended for people under 16 years, has a coolant property, has reflective stripes for easier visibility, and it has a whistle attached to it. This coolant property is a nice option if you are looking for a Life Jacket that can be worn in the warm weather.


Users say that is lightweight, looks simple, minimalistic and it works great. But some buyers point out that it feels heavy when worn. Users also say that it may cause problems when suddenly inflated because of its tight Velcro straps and uneven weight because of the canister attached only on one side.


Some also say it runs a little small. Other cons about this products are: it doesn’t sell CO2 replacement cylinders for the said model, and it cannot be used to set the CO2 cartridge air release to manual only. It is also not US Coast Guard approved.



Ease of Use

The US Coast Guard approved, type 3 vest Onyx A-24 Life Jacket (Red) is an effective option that has CO2 at 4 grams with ½-inch thread. Its users like that it is great at making one float in water as quickly as possible, but also note that it has a flimsy design.


The Onyx Inflatable Life Jacket has reflective piping for easier visibility, 400 denier ripstop nylon protective cover, yellow water-soluble bobbin and a green indicator clip. This protective is a good option if you are looking for a durable Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket.


Users comment that is has an excellent price, works well, comfortable, has a nice fit, easy to strap on and off and is easy to pack. The Red Onyx In-Sight Automatic Life Vest also has superb customer support and the product delivers on time and well. Users are also impressed with the quality of this product and the replacement cylinder is cheap.


However, a few complain that it has a flimsy design because the sensor ring broke off when tested. The A-24 In-Sight Life Vest is rain-proof and has an easy to follow manual. However, it is not recommended for non-swimmers and for high impact activities. It also does not quickly inflate in cold water.

Video Overview

Summing Up

If you are looking to purchase an automatic and manual inflatable life jacket, check out our comparison table above and the reviews on this page- you can also head over to the individual product pages and check out reviews from actual consumers to see what they're saying about the lifejackets they purchased.

Users report purchasing automatic lifejackets for use in inflatable kayaks- they say that because these types of CO2 lifejackets are lightweight with large armholes it makes it easier for them to paddle on lakes, streams and other water bodies (Source).

One user who purchased the Onyx Deluxe automatic inflatable lifejacket writes that he is well over 200 pounds and 6 feet tall But the life preserver easily and comfortably fit over his clothing.

Some users turn on the manual option because if they are fishing on a wharf or jetty and they get splashed by water there is a chance that the life preserver will suddenly inflate.

Another reason people use the manual option is if you get stranded inside of a downed airplane in the water- they wouldn't want the life preserver to inflate and potentially trap them inside of the submerged aircraft.

It's also smart to keep tabs on the CO2 cylinder- most of these units will come with a sensor that will let you know when your inflatable life preserver is not working anymore, and you can reinsert a new CO2 canister to get it back up and running. Indeed, there are a variety of different types of life preservers available on the market today- the most traditional is a standard foam life preserver that has an orange nylon color.

This is universally recognized as the most standard sort of life vest.

If you are particularly active in water sports, it makes sense to investigate a CO2 automatic life preserver because they feature advanced designs to help you retain mobility. And since it doesn't inflate until you actually need it, you aren't swamped down with bulky flotation foaming. That said, most of these automatic flotation preservers are not suitable for children- you will want to investigate the different options to purchase a non-adult model that's suitable for the child in your family.

Top 5 Staff

We are a team of product researchers that specializes in assembling comprehensive buying guides. Our team has a variety of backgrounds, with a mixture of soft and hard sciences represented. Check out our About page to read more about our reviews and editorial process.

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