The Waveline 165N Auto lifejacket. It's the ubiquitous red lifejacket that we all instantly recognise from our "lifejackets stowed here" stickers. We gave this budget friendly lifejacket a thorough testing and show that you don't need to spend a lot of money to be safe on the water.

Product Overview

Overall rating:



  • This is the lightest on test and weighs just 800g fully armed. The flat profile is comfortable to wear. The velcro closure makes this life jacket really easy to check the arming mechanism and really easy to re-pack
  • It's very good value for money.


  • It has about as much style as a flat red thing can have. Nowhere to stow excess webbing after adjustment.


Waveline 165N auto lifejacket – tested

Price as reviewed:


Waveline 165N Auto lifejacket

At 800grams the Waveline 165N auto lifejacket is the lightest on test. Keeping it simple helps to keep it light. There’s a trend towards fancier and more “fashionable” lifejackets, but a simple red lifejacket such as this Waveline weighs so little, you’ll hardly notice you’re wearing it. It might get a bit sweaty round the back of the neck if you’re grinding winches all day, as it’s not designed to be breathable or technical, but if you’re day sailing a smaller sailing boat or riding a rib, a tender or motorboating around then this is seriously worth considering.

Waveline 165N auto lifejacket worn by Toby

Dry Testing

The Waveline 165N Auto lifejacket isn’t the most stylish of lifejackets on test, but as safety gear goes, this performs as well as any other in this category for the core safety functions.

With our team of testers onshore we each donned the lifejacket, adjusted it and passed it on to the next tester. It is a familiar style to all so it took no time to work out how adjustments were made.

The seatbelt buckle style closure won points for being easy to fasten with gloves on. We found that the buckle as it is positioned so close to the right hand casing it can be a bit fiddly to grip though.

The area not catered for so well was stowage of surplus waist band after it had been adjusted. None of our testers were XXL so all had a fair amount of webbing left dangling about to get snagged on something.

The flat velcro closure of the casing makes it easy to check the arming mechanism and to repack the lifejacket after inflation. If you want function over form, then this is a great choice of lifejacket. There’s also space in the casing to add a light and spray hood if you would like to.

waveline 165N auto lifejacket pool test with Mike testing it

Pool Testing

Mike who tested the Waveline 165N lifejacket in the pool comments: “It inflated quickly when manually activated and has good bladder positioning. It turned me quickly from face down and has good positioning of oral inflation tube. It’s relatively comfortable. I found the lifting strop on base but it’s not marked. A bit fiddly but it’s simple and it works.”

The pool testing reveals that the Waveline performs admirably. It does everything that it should do. Though as a lower budget lifejacket what you don’t get is any fancy features.

The oral inflation tube was well positioned but the whistle and lifting strop were harder to find when the lifejacket was inflated. The bladder is a fluoro yellow colour so has good day visibility, but the reflectors were as per safety standard so they’re visible but not abundant.

The bladder on the Waveline has a large extra flap on the wearers left hand side. This might be for optional attachment of a light, as well as a loop which might be used as a fixing point for a spray hood.


Waveline 165 Auto Lifejacket

Price from £54.99

Buy Waveline 165N lifejacket from Ebay

How our lifejacket scored on average out of 10 for each of our criteria

8 – Adjust speed ease difficulty
9 – Fastening buckle ease with gloves
5 – Comfort
4 – Practicality. bulk snagging
5 – Positioning of essential items
NA – Accessory attachment / kill cord loop
5 – Night view / reflectors / light (if fitted)
8 – Ease of checking bottle / trigger status
6 – Unpacking / repacking
3 – Style
8 – In water score

61% Total as a percentage


The Waveline 165N auto lifejacket is an excellent budget option that works well in the water when inflated and is a no frills option for getting out on the water boating safely. A lightweight and simple lifejacket that is tried and tested the world over.

With thanks to

western maritime training logo

Note: all of our lifejackets tested conform to either  ISO 12402-3 (coastal/non harness) or iSO 12401 (harness versions), and this means that they all meet the basic safety standards you would expect from a lifejacket.
In order to conduct unbiased testing, our test team were given full freedom to test and evaluate the lifejackets presented to them on the tests days. Their opinions are made in a professional capacity and skippers and end users of the products and are a result of direct hands on experience. This does not override any official safety rating or certification.
legal disclaimer is available here

To read about more lifejackets go to our Best Lifejackets for Boaters and Sailors – Tested Buyers guide where you can find individual reviews for 15 current lifejackets