Onyx Inflatable Life Jacket Review

Absolute Outdoor Onyx Inflatable Life Jacket Review

Not every life jacket gives you the mobility you need to perform aquatic activities. The tight constriction of most modern day personal flotation devices is a great hindrance to one's ability to move around freely. This Onyx life vest might be just what you need.

If you are kayaking, fishing, white water rafting, or doing any other intense water activity, you will want all the freedom you can afford. It's important that you understand the five different types of life vests before you make a decision on which life vest is best for you.

Let’s look at them now:

  • Type I - These are the super serious life jackets that the coast guard will use for rescue victims. They feature an extra long collar that is designed to flip your head around and up towards the surface. These aren't commercially viable and give you no mobility.
  • Type II - These are the orange two-legged life jackets that you see on most large boats. They provide great buoyancy and more mobility than a type I. These are good for emergencies and needing to float, but they still don't conform to your body well or allow for great mobility.
  • Type III - These are your standard life vests that you would wear out on a trip to the lake. These are pretty good and provide good mobility as well as buoyancy. If you aren’t super serious about your watersports, this is the type of life jacket you should settle for. That being said, they are still slightly bulk and will cover your torso.
  • Type IV - Type IV life vests aren't jackets or vests. These are the tubes, squares, or planks that lifeguards carry. These are designed to be thrown into the water to help someone who is struggling. It's nice to have these with you, but these aren't wearable.
  • Type V - Type V is the specialized category. This is where you find specially designed life vests. This can include vests for sailing, fishing, or more adventurous sports. Here is where you will find maximum mobility. These won't help you as much if you are stranded in the middle of the sea for a long time, but they are the best for people who are serious about water sports.

The Absolute Outdoor Onyx Jacket is a Type V jacket, and one of the best for the price. Let’s look at it now.

Product Description

The Absolute Outdoor is a Coast Guard certified type V life jacket. It is navy blue and black, and only comes in the one color option.

It is a very thin vest that provides you the widest possible range of motion while still giving you buoyancy support. The product is automatic as well as manual.

Here's how it works. There is a T-cord that you can pull on. This ignites the C02 cartridge, filling up the twin air bags on each side.

If you foresee a possible accident or need to make the decision to fill up the air on your own, you have this as an option.

But don’t think that this life jacket is useless unless you pull the cord beforehand. It also comes with an automatic inflation.

Blue onyx life vest

There is a water pill inside the jacket. On contact with water, the pill dissolves which signals the C02 cartridge to fill up the air sacks. This means even if you get thrown overboard and don’t have time to act, the life jacket will act for you and fill itself up, propelling you to the surface in a manner of seconds.

But don’t think that a few splashes of water or even the rain will cause the automatic switch to go off. The life jacket must be completely submerged in water for the automatic function to trigger.

It is extremely lightweight, weighing only about a pound and a half. It's perfect for diving where you need an emergency option as well as most every other aquatic activity. It comes with a soft neoprene neckline that makes it easy to wear all day. You will almost forget that you are wearing a life jacket after an hour or so.

Product Review

With nearly 300 reviews, this Onyx life vest has a great rating on Amazon.

If you check the Onyx website, there is a PDF with a particular fascinating testimony. One kayaker was thrown off her boat, and she made contact with the rocks. She was discombobulated for a moment and submerged under water. The device activated automatically and shot her up to shore in just a few seconds.

This product can and has saved lives.

This product is great because it can handle up to a large 330-pound person. It is very nonintrusive and doesn't even affect your fishing stroke in the slightest. The jacket is so thin and nonintrusive that it makes it easy to wear even in warmer weather.

family wearing a life vest

But if you do decide you need to take a dip, it is very easy to remove and put back on.

You will be surprised at how fast the jacket inflates. I even heard that it inflates so quickly, your hearing aids won't even get wet!

Buying Guide

You will find this product anywhere in between the 100 and 200 dollar price range. Amazon is your best bet to get closer to the lower pole.

We suggest that you spend an extra 10 or 20 dollars picking up some extra C02 rearming kits. They are right there next to them on Amazon. That way if you do end up using the product and need to recharge the automatic system you will be prepared.


In conclusion, this is the best PFD for people who love water sports. Whether your waterskiing or just fishing, this Onyx life jacket is the PFD for you.

If what you are searching for is maximum mobility with a life vest, than the Absolute Outdoor life jacket from Onyx is for you. So what are you waiting for? Head to Amazon and pick one up today.


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