For Comparison's Sake: Float Coats

Stay warm on the water with these flotation jackets.

Mustang Survival Catalyst
The Warm-Up: Mustang claims the garment is the only waterproof, breathable flotation jacket on the market today. Independently, the North American Fishing Club tested the Catalyst and gave it a 9.3 score out of 10. The outer shell is waterproof to 10,000 mm (32 feet) yet it is still breathable, with a high vapor transmission rate. It has a 15.5-pound minimum buoyancy. The Big Chill: The reflective "accents" aren't as prominent as on some other float coats, which could make it harder to see during a rescue attempt. $399; mustangsurvival.com
Stearns Powerboat
The Warm-Up: The original bomber-style flotation jacket, this product has an internal flotation foam that provides 15.5 pounds of minimum buoyancy. The outer nylon shell is water-resistant, and the jacket has SOLAS-grade 3M Scotchlite reflective material to make the wearer more visible to searchlights. It can be adjusted to fit via an internal belt. The Big Chill: It's cut at the waist for ease of movement, which makes it a little shorter than other products. It doesn't have a hood. $419.99 and up; stearnsflotation.com
Kent Float Coat
The Warm-Up: If you don't need commercial-grade equipment, the Kent Float Coat is reasonably priced and provides better hypothermia protection than a typical life jacket. The flexible foam provides 15.5 pounds of minimum buoyancy, and the neoprene inner cuff and elastic outer cuff keep out the elements. The Big Chill: It doesn't have the water resistance or repellence of the more expensive products, and it doesn't have a hood. It's more intended to keep you warm in cold conditions. $159.99; kentsafetyproducts.com

The safest way to stay warm on the water is to wear a flotation jacket. Also known as a “float coat,” this accessory can be a valuable asset whether you are trying to start your season early or extend your time on the water when the weather gets cold.