7 Best Water Ski Flotation Belts of 2021 (Buyers Guide!)

Are you looking to get the best water ski flotation belt before you head out onto the water? There are plenty of options on the market, but some of them are distinctly better than others. Here are our top water ski flotation belt reviews, as well as additional information about these products to know before you buy (including the types, benefits, features, and care).

However, before we get into that, there’s one crucial thing to remember: water ski flotation belts have different purposes, so they’re not interchangeable. We’ll talk more about this in the section on the different types of belts, but it’s essential to get the right kind of belt for your needs. Otherwise, wearing it may become actively counterproductive.

The Best Water Ski Flotation Belt Reviews (Updated 2021) 

Here are our top choices for products currently on the market. Although we’re using a numbered list, the products are not in any particular order, and the numbers do not serve as a ranking.

1. Hydro-Fit Classic Wave Belt

This sturdy flotation belt is a two-section product made with EVA foam, one of the most common product choices for flotation aids. Calling this product a belt is a slight misnomer because it goes around the middle of the chest rather than around the waist.

It’s also more buoyant than many of its competitors, with the foam placed more-or-less evenly around it to help keep you upright. The dense foam here is useful for both therapy and physical exercise, and the exterior is durable enough to handle casual impacts.

While this is an excellent flotation belt overall, its design may interfere with some sporting equipment. It’s also not that much smaller than a life jacket, so there’s something to be said for switching to full protective gear if you’re going to wear something this bulky anyway.

Pros

  • Highly durable
  • It comes with a quick-release clasp
  • More buoyant than most of its competitors
  • Doesn’t ride up while in use
  • Distributes buoyancy evenly around the body

Cons

  • More expensive than most other options
  • It tends to run large, so you may need to switch to a smaller size
  • Stretches the definition of a flotation belt, which makes it a poor choice for some activities

2. AquaJogger Active Belt

AquaJogger’s flotation belt is a fitness-focused product with a 48” adjustable belt. The belt itself isn’t elastic, so there’s no worry about it stretching or changing while you’re in the water. This is an uneven-buoyancy belt (see below for more information on that) with the huge majority of its flotation power concentrated near the back.

That means this belt continually pushes you forward and helps with activities like snorkeling, cross-training, or some types of physical therapy. AquaJogger offers various similar products, including a higher-buoyancy Pro Belt and the more evenly-distributed Shape Pro Belt. Both of those are viable alternatives to this product.

This belt offers plenty of buoyancy, but it can be a little uncomfortable on some wearers. This belt provides contoured styling and may not fit as well on some wider bodies, so keep that in mind if you’re ordering it without trying it in person.

Pros

  • Available in several different styles at similar prices
  • Has varying buoyancy options throughout the product line
  • An excellent choice for exercise and physical therapy
  • Includes a large, adjustable belt
  • Fits waists up to 48” around

Cons

  • Contoured styling may not fit some buyers
  • It tends to slide up while in use
  • The plastic clip is a weak point

3. TYR Aquatic Flotation Belt

TYR’s aquatic flotation belt is an adjustable flotation belt that uses EVA foam arrayed into six movable sections. The belt is also adjustable, which makes it more flexible than most of the other options on this list. This flexibility can help make it more stable than most other flotation belts on the market, and that’s useful if you want to participate in a variety of events.

While it fits bodies from 27 to 52 inches, the foam pads aren’t particularly contoured and may squish a little oddly depending on their placement. That can make this flotation belt a little less comfortable than some of its competitors, though it has plenty of flotation power for typical users.

One other thing to consider is that it’s often worth flipping the bricks around so that the thicker parts are closer to your body. The thin parts may break easier, but flipping them around reduces the maximum effective size of the belt, so this isn’t viable if you’re already close to its limit.

Pros

  • More adjustable than most of its competitors
  • Excellent customer support, including replacements for damaged sections
  • Creates minimal drag while in the water
  • More comfortable than many other options

Cons

  • It doesn’t provide as much flotation as other options
  • Not particularly sturdy
  • Can shift around while in use

4. Nash Hydroslide Vinyl Dipped Ski Belt

This watersports flotation belt stands out from the crowd thanks to its use of vinyl-coated EVA foam. Most flotation belts just have foam with a strap threaded through them, but adding a vinyl coating on top helps protect the foam from both microorganisms and sunlight damage.

The belt itself is available in several different sizes, with the small one going about 32 inches around. Larger belts can lift even some of the heaviest users, while the vinyl provides enough protection that you can probably keep using this belt for a decade or more. The strap shouldn’t press into you no matter how hard you tighten it, which is an excellent feature.

While this belt still isn’t good enough to qualify as a personal flotation device, its generally high manufacturing standards mean that errors and mistakes are rare. That makes it noticeably more reliable than some competitors. The one thing to keep in mind is that this is an even-buoyancy belt, which means that it isn’t suitable for snorkeling or similar activities.

Pros

  • More durable than most other flotation belts
  • Provides outstanding buoyancy, even for heavier users
  • Available in several different sizes
  • It fits both around the waist and under the armpits

Cons

  • No adjustability
  • The strap may be too narrow for some users
  • Occasionally rides up a little

5. Water Gear Instructional Swim Belt

As the name implies, this belt is designed for instructional activities, including water aerobics and jogging. It also has an unusual design for flotation belts, with three large, square panels that you can move around on the nylon belt. The sections are designed for durability and resist breaking and chipping better than some other flotation options.

This belt also works well for users who need more range of motion because it’s easier to place the sections precisely where you want them. Just one section is enough for most children, while adults will often prefer having all three sections on the belt.

The belt itself is about 60” long, which is noticeably longer than many of its competitors. This belt is meant for more spacing between the sections, too, so that makes it easy to fit almost any body shape. It’s a little unusual, but this belt has enough unique points to make it worth considering.

Pros

  • Excellent flotation power
  • Supports more body shapes than most other flotation belts
  • It has an exceptionally long belt
  • It fits reasonably comfortably on most users
  • Adjustable flotation sections

Cons

  • The strap may be inconveniently long for some users
  • The strap can dig into your skin
  • It can be hard to place the flotation segments well

6. Toysharing Back Float

This child-focused flotation built may not be suitable for older users, but it’s an excellent option for children under 55 lbs. It comes with four thick foam layers that can go over the back, and you can add or remove the layers to change the buoyancy as your child grows more comfortable in the water.

The thick foam pads offer exceptional protection against rear impacts and dangers, too. Children can’t always handle problems around the pool the same way as adults can, so this flotation system is generally safer than many other products.

Since this is a children’s product, the snap buckle is more complex than usual and helps prevent accidental disconnecting. That said, keep in mind that this belt is only made for use in shallow, regular water. It’s not a good choice for rapids or wave pools. 

Pros

  • An outstanding choice for children
  • Multiple layers of thick foam provide excellent protection
  • The adjustable design fits children of many sizes
  • Includes a durable nylon belt

Cons

  • More of a backpack than a belt on smaller children
  • Provides flotation exclusively on the back
  • Not useful for children heavier than 55 pounds

7. Aqua Fitness Deluxe Flotation Belt

Aqua Fitness’ premium flotation belt is one of the most comfortable options on the market. Its uneven-buoyancy design focuses on low-impact support for aquatic exercises, while the durable materials help resist chlorine and other pool chemicals.

The big thing that sets this product apart from competitors is its use of soft cloth around the EVA foam. Cloth is a surprisingly rare choice for flotation belts and provides this product’s noticeably more comfortable feel. 

The manufacturer recommends this product for users of ages 14 and up. It’s suitable for use in both shallow and deep water, with a one-size-fits-all design that maximizes its effectiveness for most users. However, it does shift around a little because the cloth doesn’t provide the same resistance as foam, so keep that in mind when you’re in the water.

Pros

  • More comfortable than most other flotation belts
  • More durable than many other products
  • Comes with resistance dumbbells, webbed gloves, and an instructional guide
  • An excellent choice for exercising

Cons

  • It does not hold up as well in direct sunlight
  • More expensive than other choices if you want the full set of products
  • Shifts around more than some other products

(See our other recommendations of PFDs belts on Best Personal Floatation Belts)

Water Ski Flotation Belt Buyers Guide – Your Guide to Selecting the Best Product

There are plenty of water ski flotation belts on the market, but finding the best ones for your needs requires more information. Here are the things you should know before you go shopping.

Types of Water Ski Flotation Belts

All water ski flotation belts have fundamentally similar exterior designs, so the main differences are in how they work and what you can do with them. Most belts fall into one of three categories: even, uneven, and adjustable.

Even-Buoyancy Flotation Belts

Even-buoyancy belts get their name from the way they have even distribution of foam around the waist. Their main goal is keeping you floating vertically and upright, which makes them the best choice when you want to stay out of the water. Even-buoyancy belts are also useful for individuals with less core strength, including people undergoing rehabilitation.

Even-buoyancy belts usually leave plenty of room for you to move your arms and legs around while simultaneously reducing overall drag. This freedom of movement is essential to many activities, so even-buoyancy belts are popular choices for many activities.

Consider getting one of these belts if you want to maximize safety or if you’re participating in activities that don’t require going underwater. Even-buoyancy belts are a little rarer than uneven-buoyancy options, though, so you may not have as many options if you’re looking for something in this category.

(We also have our top pickups of Best Buoyancy Water Aerobics Belts for you)

Uneven-Buoyancy Belts

Uneven-buoyancy belts, as the name suggests, don’t have even amounts of foam around their sides. Most of them feature more foam on the back and little or none on the front and sides. The obvious result of this is that the belt pushes wearers forward into the water while keeping their waist at the surface, which is useful for swimming and snorkeling activities.

It is possible to remain upright while wearing these belts, but it requires using the abdominal muscles and exerting constant effort. This makes uneven-buoyancy belts an excellent option for users who want to get a workout in the water, but buyers who are just starting out and building their muscles should use an even-buoyancy belt instead.

Uneven-buoyancy belts are the most popular water ski flotation belts on the market, with the huge majority focusing on lifting the back instead of the front.

Adjustable-Buoyancy Belts

Adjustable-buoyancy belts are arguably the best option because they can act like either style. Most adjustable belts feature removable closed-cell foam sections, so you can decide how much buoyancy each section offers. You can configure the belt to act like a typical even-buoyancy, push your face down towards the water, or even pull you onto your back.

Adjustable belts are perfect for people who are learning how to swim and anyone who wants to participate in a variety of activities without having to change belts all the time. They may be a little more expensive than other options, but they’re a good choice for almost all buyers.

Benefits of Using Water Ski Flotation Belts 

Water ski flotation belts offer a variety of benefits for their wearers. Here are the primary benefits.

Safety

Flotation belts directly support safety by helping keep your body at the surface of the water. More importantly, they do this without requiring you to wear a bulky vest. Most other flotation devices are too bulky or limit movement somehow. Traditional life vests, for example, can reduce your range of motion.

Convenience

Water ski flotation belts are more convenient than other flotation devices because they’re so small. This makes it much easier to attach other sporting devices, like vests or harnesses, while still having something that can help you float.

Portability

Water ski belts are extremely small compared to other flotation products on the market, making it easier to transport and store them on even the smallest boats and vessels. They’re also light enough that you can wear or carry them all day without noticing any particular drag.

Drawbacks

While water ski flotation belts are useful, there are a few drawbacks to keep in mind.

Flotation Belts Are Not Full Safety Devices

While these belts may help with safety, they are not true safety devices because they don’t provide the same effectiveness as life jackets or other larger protective gear types. You cannot fully rely on them to provide life-saving support during an emergency.

In other words, flotation belts are not a good substitute for other safety products. You should always swim with a partner or in the presence of a lifeguard.

Some Designs Are Uncomfortable For Certain Body Shapes

Flotation belts typically have simplistic designs to help keep manufacturing costs down. This can be awkward if their overall design doesn’t fit in with your body type. Square foam pads can be particularly awkward if they’re too stiff. Furthermore, the components may slide around, which makes them hard to rely on for extended sessions.

Most Flotation Belts Have Limited Flexibility

Unlike life jackets, which usually have various straps to make them adjustable for users of different sizes, flotation belts usually only have a small amount of flexibility in their lengths. Some may have no flexibility at all. This generally means they either fit or they don’t, and it can be hard to tell which before you try it on.

This is why testing the belt in a physical store is a good choice, even if you plan to buy it online later. Otherwise, make sure you test the belt as soon as possible and return it to the store if it doesn’t fit you.

Using Your Water Ski Flotation Belt The Right Way

Fortunately, water ski flotation belts are easy to use. All you have to do is put it around your waist and attach the clasp. That said, some flotation belts are slightly more complicated. The most common alteration is on adjustable belts, where you can add or remove segments of foam. Some adjustable belts also allow you to slide the foam around.

This process is straightforward, but consider adding spacers between areas of foam to help keep them in place. This is particularly important if you want to keep the foam in specific areas. A few adjustable belts may come with spacers, but you may need to buy or add them separately.

Features

Flotation belts are fundamentally similar products regardless of design, so most of the features that separate them from each other come as part of their basic design. Here are the main features to look out for.

Flotation Power

Flotation power is a measure of how much weight a flotation belt can keep at the surface of the water. This value changes based on the size and shape of the belt, as well as the flotation material used. Most flotation belts are not strong enough to keep larger adults entirely above water. Instead, they usually only offer enough assistance to make staying at the surface easier.

Flotation belts may be strong enough to keep children above water, especially if the belts fit both children and adults.

Unfortunately, many companies do not advertise the flotation power of their products. They may offer different sizes or say that products are suitable for adults, but sometimes the only way to figure out which products are the best is to test them yourself. Checking user reviews can help you determine if something floats well enough.

Fitting Options

Fitting options cover how a belt attaches to your body. Most products on the market use a simple plastic buckle system, similar to what you’ll see in grocery store carts. Higher-end products have some adjustability with these fitting choices so you can ensure the belt stays snug against your body.

Adjustability

While straps often aren’t adjustable, the foam itself may be. Adjustable flotation devices usually have square, rectangular, or oval sections of foam that can slide around on a strap and let you decide how much flotation power you want.

5-6 sections is about right for most people. Any less and it’s too hard to get a smooth progression, while any more often means the sections are too small and will be prone to damage.

Durability

Some flotation devices are noticeably more durable than others. While most hold up quite well against blunt impacts, such as pressing against the side of a pool, they might not work as well against branches or other sharper, pointier objects.

High-quality flotation belts often have jackets around the foam to help protect them. Lower-quality foam is left exposed to the elements.

One other thing to keep in mind is that heat and sunlight can degrade the foam over time. This means that if you leave a belt with exposed foam hanging outdoors all summer, it could crumble the next time you try to put it on. Accordingly, you should always store flotation belts in a dark, dry, room temperature place while they’re not in use.

Wearing Water Ski Flotation Belts Correct

Wearing water ski flotation belts correctly is essential to getting the most value from them. The main issue here is that some flotation belts are better at staying put than others are. If it jostles or moves out of place, the belt could become uncomfortable or even stop functioning as intended. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do.

First, test the flotation belt before taking part in any activities. Make sure the fit is as snug as possible and that it doesn’t move or slide around even while you’re engaging in vigorous activities.

Second, if possible, adjust the belt strap to tighten it to a comfortable level. This isn’t possible with all flotation belts, but if you think you’ll want to adjust the fit, make sure to check for that when you’re buying.

Third, visually inspect the belt for damage before and after each use. Most flotation belts are reasonably durable during normal use, but damaged ones could quickly tear or fall apart. This isn’t usually severe enough to put you in immediate danger, but you should return to a safe location as soon as you notice any damage to the belt.

Maintenance

Water ski flotation belts don’t need much maintenance, but they do need a little to keep them in optimal condition. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions when you buy a flotation belt and follow that advice if it differs from the tips below.

Before each use, inspect the flotation belt for any signs of damage. That could include rips or tears, missing sections, broken straps, mold, or anything else that could stop the belt from functioning as intended.

After use, dry the belt thoroughly by allowing all water to drip off of it. Most flotation belts have a closed-cell structure that prevents water from penetrating too deeply into them, so this doesn’t usually take too long.

Once the belt is dry, clean it with an appropriate sanitizing cloth. Do not use petroleum-based cleaning products because those could damage the foam. Product guides usually indicate which types of cleaners you can use with the belt. If they don’t list that, contact the manufacturer directly to find out. After sanitizing it, wipe it dry.

The reason you should sanitize the belt is that chances are there are a lot of microorganisms on it after your time in the water. Proper cleaning ensures there won’t be any residue that could make someone sick later.

After cleaning the belt, store it in a dark and dry area until the next time you use it. Indoors is best, but most flotation belts also store well in cabinets or chests on boats.

Safety Tips

Here are some safety tips to keep in mind when you’re using a flotation belt.

#1: Flotation Belts Are Not Life Jackets

We discussed this earlier, but it’s worth repeating that even the best flotation belts are not the same thing as life jackets and do not provide the same amount of life-saving capabilities. Most flotation belts are not personal flotation devices (PFDs) and do not count as such for any purpose.

This is especially important because the U.S. Coast Guard may inspect your vessel to determine whether or not you’re complying with the rules. Every qualifying PFD includes a label indicating its approval by the Coast Guard, so it’s easy to tell whether something qualifies.

#2: Flotation Belts Are Not Good For Extreme Sports

While it’s tempting to wear just a flotation belt for activities like riding on or behind water skis, most flotation belts don’t offer enough support for these activities. Always wear a life jacket or a suitable alternative if you’re engaging in high-speed sports.

#3: You Can Wear Flotation Belts With Inflatable Jackets

If you don’t want to wear a life jacket because it’s too bulky, consider wearing an inflatable life jacket alongside a flotation belt. The belt provides most of the flotation you’ll need for casual activities in the water, while the inflatable jacket provides extra support in the event of an emergency.

This isn’t quite as safe as wearing a regular life jacket because there’s a chance you won’t be able to inflate the jacket when you need it. However, this is safe enough for most people in most circumstances.

(You might be interested in reading our article on Best Inflatable Life Jackets)

#4: Make Sure The Belt Fits Well

We discussed fitting earlier, too, but making sure the belt is snug and stays put is an essential part of using it correctly. Belts that slide around could twist you into dangerous positions while you’re in the water. If necessary, you can add spacers, clamps, or other devices to keep sliding areas of foam in-place.

Otherwise, don’t be afraid to try several styles of flotation belts to figure out which of them fit best. Body shapes vary, so what fits other people well won’t necessarily fit you well. There’s no substitute for personal experience when deciding which flotation belts work best for you.

Best Water Ski Flotation Belt Comparison Chart

ProductPriceMaterialAvailable SizesUnique Features
Hydro-Fit Classic Wave Belt$EVA FoamS/M/LHighly durable, it comes with a quick-release clasp
AquaJogger Active Belt$$$FoamM/LAn excellent choice for exercise and physical therapy
TYR Aquatic Flotation Belt$$$FoamMComfortable, creates minimal drag while in the water
Nash Hydroslide Vinyl Dipped Ski Belt$VinylSProvides outstanding buoyancy, durable
Water Gear Instructional Swim Belt$NylonM/LExcellent flotation power, long belt
Toysharing Back Float$NylonSIncludes a durable nylon belt, outstanding choice for children
Aqua Fitness Deluxe Flotation Belt$$$EVA FoamS/M/LAn excellent choice for exercising

Wrap Up

There are plenty of water ski flotation belts on the market, with wide variety in comfort, adjustability, flotation power, and durability. While all of the products on the list above are great options on their merits, make sure you consider how you plan to use the belt before you go shopping. That’s the best way to select between the products here.

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