We went crabbing yesterday and I was reminded how nice automatic inflatable life vests are. They are way less bulky that and don't smell like rentals. There are lots available and the big things to figure out is whether you want an automatic inflatable (that is when you hit the water, they just inflate, which I definitely recommend).
And then do you need a high flotation off-shore model or will something that is for inshore and less bulky. Mustang is kind of the leading brand here so for instance the Mustang HIT is heavy duty and can be inflated automatic, manually or by blowing into it. Onyx A-24 is another common at $140, it's got less buoyancy (at 22 pounds) but is lighter.
Right now, this weekend, West Marine has two in-shore jackets called Adventurer Automatic for $150, so that's not a bad deal if you just need something simple and aren't out crossing The Atlantic 🙂 And you can get 10% off if you click through Active Junky.