Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest | Our Best Picks For 2021

When the ice in the lakes starts melting in summer, it's time to go on fishing and hunting ducks.  The fun of rowing kayaks or boats deep into the lake or river water and fishing the big mouth bass or salmon is definitely something you would love.

However, as you remain close to the water, it runs the risk of drowning, especially if you don't know swimming.  In such cases, the best kayak fishing life vests will be the real game-changer. These life vests are generally known as Personal Flotation Device (PFD).

It doesn't only save you from water mishaps but also lets you store some small accessories safely too. But how do you know which life jacket is best for your kayak fishing?

Don't worry.  We have practically tested over 30+ life vests and finally choose the top ten kayak fishing life vests to review. These life jackets are lightweight, easy to carry, and durable, which would help you float at ease even if you fall from the kayaks.

So, let's see the review in detail.

And don't forget to read our buying guide for the life vests for kayak fishing to select your best option from our review quickly.

10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest For 2021

In some states and lakes, wearing a life vest for kayaking and fishing has been made mandatory. So, if you are indeed a kayak fishing person, you must wear a good-quality life jacket for safety and comfort.

Here're our top picks for these PFDs.

Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Floatation Device

If you want a long-lasting and straightforward PFD for a reasonable price, the Stohlquist PFD will be a perfect pick for you. It is made of good-quality nylon and is lightweight too. It is made for all fishermen.

The main shell of this life vest is made using 500D Cordura fabric. The linings are made of 200D Oxford material. Both are held responsible for the durability of this life jacket.  Thus, the liners and shell have been stitched seamlessly for a unique look too.

The shoulders have added padding for comfort. The waistband at its lower back also supports your waist. It is crucial when you sit for a long time on the kayaks. Also, it has open sides to increase air ventilation for comfort.

The flotation device also has high-back construction. It rises above the kayak backrest. Thus, you enjoy a comfortable sitting.

The front of it has a zip closure to secure you.  Also, it has multiple pockets to help you in storing several accessories, including anchor-points too.  You can also mount the vest on the tippet, thanks to its innovative mounting locations.

It weighs only 1.21 pounds and so doesn't feel weighty on you. Finally, its Gaia foam-made interior construction feels ultra-soft and so is skin-friendly. You won't feel like wearing the PFD a burden.

Pros

  • Multiple hooks and pockets to store fishing accessories.
  • You can adjust the strap for a perfect fit and ventilation.
  • The shoulders are neoprene padded for relief during prolonged usage.
  • It accommodates small lure boxes at ease.

Cons

  • The pocket-size is a little on the smaller side.
  • The zipper quality isn't impressive.
NRS Chinook Fishing PFD Life Jacke

We picked the NRS Chinook life jacket for our review because of its ability to ensure maximum security on the water while making your fishing experience better.  It doesn't feel bulky on the body, and so is a perfect PFD for day-long usage.

The life jacket has been designed cleverly. Additionally, its front is roomy and so offers comfortable space at the front. The backside, on the other hand, fits snuggly without any tight feel. Thus, you enjoy a comfy fit while rowing on the kayak for fishing.

Furthermore, it has multiple adjusting points. So, in reality, it gives you a tailored fit. You will feel like this Chinook vest is made for your body shape exclusively. Besides, the PlushFit foam is soft and feels comfortable to wear.

The sides are open for ventilation. Thus, you won't feel sweaty inside. And for storage, you get two large accessory pockets. Furthermore, it also has a tool holder. Lastly, you get two zippered pockets at the front of this vest. All these pockets allow you to store all fishing accessories securely.

It saves space on the kayak and increases your fishing efficiency. It also brings peace of mind thanks to the US Coast Guard certification for safety and protection.  Thus, you will love wearing the PFD and go on fishing with enhanced confidence.

Pros

  • It comes with five pockets to hold all of your fishing accessories.
  • The backside is well-ventilated with a mesh design.
  • Multiple D-rings and loops for a tailored fit on your body.
  • Its front is purposefully made roomy for increased comfort.

Cons

  • The life vest is expensive.
  • Limits active using facility.
Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

Onyx is a respectable name when it comes to manufacturing versatile kayak fishing equipment. One of their most popular and best kayak fishing life vest is this life jacket. It is made for all types of anglers, from beginners to experienced ones.

The greatest advantage of this life jacket is that it doesn't limit your movement on a kayak, which is a common problem with most PFDs. So, it is ideal for active users and fishing in challenging conditions. It also offers a snug fit with 6 adjustable straps.  On top of it, it also has a cinch vest up.

All these straps and vest facility offers a tailored fit on every fishermen body. Thus, you won't feel the discomfort of wearing it with a misfit combination. Apart from the fitting, this life jacket also aims to be comfortable in all aspects.

For instance, its lower back has a mesh design. Thus, you enjoy great ventilation even during scorching sunny days with outstanding breathability. Also, the shoulders have neoprene pads. It ensures the protection of your shoulder.

For storage, it comes with five pockets, two of which are zippered. So, you can store your fishing and personal equipment at ease. Additionally, its front closure design ensures everything remains safe and protected.

Pros

  • Breathable mesh back for sweaty days.
  • It has US Coast Guard approval for safety.
  • Six straps for a tailored fit and adjustments.
  • You get two fits- oversized and universal, for all.

Cons

  • It lacks a secondary enclosure for added safety.
  • The unit is on the pricier side.
Kokatat Bahia Tour Personal Flotation Device

When you want to maximize your kayak fishing experience with a reasonable budget, you must get the Kokatat Bahia Tour PFD. It is made of 210D nylon.  The nylon has been used both in the outer and inner shell. So, it is lightweight and increases wearer comfort significantly.

The shoulder straps and sides have multiple strap adjustability. Thus, you get a snug fit without any issues. The shoulder also has neoprene padding. Therefore, your shoulder feels comfy with this durable life jacket. The interior has GAIA foam construction, which is PVC-free as well.

Henceforth, you get a good-quality and hygienic life vest for kayak fishing and duck hunting. The back of it also has a variable thickness with a breathable mesh design. So, you enjoy comfortable ventilation when you wear the vest for a long time.

For accessories storage, it has 2 bellow pockets. These pockets have side zippers for easy entry. Also, you get electronics pockets too. It thus permits you to keep your electronic gadgets and fishing accessories protected.

For anglers' convenience, the back features lumbar support. It is suitable for kayaks with a high-back design. Thus, you won't have to worry about your kayaks sits with this PFD on your body.  When you wear the life jacket, you will thank us for recommending it to you.

Pros

  • Sufficient and roomy space for storage.
  • It has reflective strips for easy recognition.
  • The lower back practical lumber support.
  • Enhanced ventilation for comfort.

Cons

  • The life jacket is expensive.
  • It feels a little bulky.
Stohlquist Men's Ebb Life Jacket

This life jacket from Stohlquist supports maximum protection in the water. Thankfully, it has 16 lbs. and 2 oz buoyancy on the seawater. Also, it features the type III PFD level. Thus, you can wear it for fishing in coastal lines and freshwater lakes at ease.

You won't have to worry about protection at all. It even has Coast Guard approval to bring peace of your mind. The back has a breathable and well-ventilated mesh design. Moreover, the mesh back also is designed for higher seats in kayaks. Thus, you won't need to search for different PFDs if the kayak has a high-back seat.

You also get sweeping fitting arrangements thanks to its eight adjustable fitting points, including the side and shoulder straps.

The shoulder has padding for comfort. Also, you get PE foam inside that feels ultra-soft to your skin. Thus, it is remarkable for baiting and mobility.  The entire unit is made lightweight for active users so that it doesn't feel bogged down with the bulkiness.

Stohlquist has also considered users convenience while they made this personal floating device. You can easily clean it with soap and hand wash when it gets dirty. Thus, it remains neat and clean always and ensures a hygienic kayak session.

Pros

  • Multiple zippered storages for accessories and gadgets.
  • You feel increased ventilation and breathability with its design.
  • It eradicates ride-ups for the life vest with its cinch-up front straps.
  • The buoyant capacity is quite dependable.

Cons

  • The pockets aren't spacious enough.
Onyx Curve MOVEVENT Paddle Sports PFD

This is our second pick for the best kayak fishing life vest from Onyx, and it is for no ordinary reason. This PFD is made of a 200D nylon ripstop. It also has nylon oxford fabric. These combos of two high-quality materials ensure maximum comfort on the water.

The entire life vest is lightweight and super-soft. So, you won't feel the weight while carrying the vest on kayaks. Also, it has a perfect tailored fit with your body shape. It is made possible with multiple straps and enclosure adjustments.

This life vest has Onyx's patented MoveVent Torsion facility. So, you enjoy maximum mobility and movement. It is crucial for fishing biggies. Also, it has been crafted cleverly. Its crafting assures a great venting facility. So, you remain cool even when the external weather is scorching and sweaty. Thus, you enjoy premium comfort while kayaking and fishing.

It has both bubble foam and flotation foam for increased protection in the water. The life jacket thus has US Coast Guard certification for sea level buoyancy. It features a Type III buoyancy rating in freshwater. So, you rest assured of safety during any mishaps.

Also, the neoprene shoulder pads are easily adjustable for a snug fit. Thus, you remain active on kayaks and focus on your fishing solely.

Pros

  • The life jacket is suitable for both men and women.
  • Ideal for sit-on-top kayaks and high back seats.
  • Offers maximum ventilation and mobility during fishing.
  • You get tailored to fit with multiple adjusting points.

Cons

  • It doesn't have any storage pocket.
  • The front is closed and has no zipper.
Stohlquist Women's Flo Life Jacket

This life jacket from Stohlquist is made especially for women. So, those women who hesitate to wear unisex PFDs can get this life jacket and enjoy maximum water buoyancy. Moreover, it is made for women, particularly, it will fit your body shape and curves better.

Thus, you enjoy greater flexibility in the water. The primary material is nylon. Its inner shell is made of a 400X200D ripstop shell. Also, the manufacturer has used a 200D Oxford liner along with a shell for better durability. Also, these fabrics ensure better buoyancy and mobility.

The inside features PE foam. It is lightweight. Furthermore, the inner side has a mesh design for breathability. Thus, you enjoy greater ventilation and remain cool in strenuous conditions. It not only brings comfort but also keeps you energetic while kayak fishing.

Both of its waistband and shoulder has neoprene padding. It feels soft and releases pressure while wearing it for a long time. The cinch harness features a cross-chest design. It prevents disturbing ride-up.

Furthermore, its interior has supportive cups. So, you enjoy enhanced fitting and comfort.  In short, this life jacket for women will increase your kayak fishing fun while ensuring maximum protection. So, you can go into deep water with your kayaks and get some really prized catches.

Pros

  • Its inner has supportive cups for women.
  • It is lightweight and has a soft-feel inside.
  • Maximum ventilation keeps you cool and comfy.
  • Avoids any ride-ups with a cross-chest design.

Cons

  • The life jacket has no accessory pockets.
  • It is pricey.
Lixada Fly Fishing Life Vest

The first reason that influenced us to include this Lixada fishing vest in our list is its extreme capacity for accessory storage. It comes with multiple pockets in front and sides. The most mentionable pockets are 4 chest pockets, 4 front pockets with zippers, one in the back and another two on the two sides. Thus, you can keep your pliers, electronic gadgets, and other fishing tools safely with the fishing vest.

Apart from the storage facility, this kayak fishing PFD also ensures excellent comfort for wearers. To begin with, you get the breathable mesh inner. It absorbs sweats and allows maximum ventilation. So, you remain cool and dry during humid days.

It also has EPE foam that ensures greater buoyancy in extreme conditions. The jacket comes in universal size and features tailored fit. Its waist and shoulder straps are easily adjustable. So, you will love the snug fit. Also, it fits up to 209 pounds of person.

Thus, the kayak fishing vest is suitable for all fishermen. Lastly, its multipurpose use keeps it ahead of most other life vests in the market. It can be used as a regular life jacket, for kayak fishing, or for any emergency purposes in water. It can also be a great gift item for those who like kayaking, fishing, or duck hunting during the summertime.

Pros

  • It comes with the highest number of pockets.
  • The mesh fabric is light and offers excellent ventilation.
  • It comes in a universal size and fits up to 209 pounds.
  • It has additional expandable storage for a rod holder.

Cons

  • Due to several pockets, this vest feels bulky.
Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

This stylish life jacket from Onyx not only ensures safety on water but also provides maximum comfort during kayaking and hunting ducks.  It comes with SOLAS grade material lining. It increases your visibility during the low-light conditions in case you need any help.

The main material for the life vest is heavy-duty nylon. So, it won't puncture or tear apart soon. Also, it has superior mesh ventilation on both sides. So, you remain cool and dry during the extreme humidity while on a kayak or boat.  The mesh panel is designed to accommodate the versatile designs of canoe and kayaks' types.

For convenience, you get six adjustable straps. So, it will fit perfectly on your body without any hassle. The shoulder has neoprene padding for extra comfort and a pressure relief feature.  The best kayak fishing life jacket is available for all people from XS to XXL.

Besides, you get multiple pockets to hold your fishing and electronics accessories securely. The pockets are expandable and have zippered enclosures. It even has mesh drainage that keeps you cool and dry from sweating.

Lastly, you enjoy Type III buoyancy on the water with it. It is US Coast Guard certified. Thus, it should be enough for kayaking on large lakes, rivers, and along the coastline. However, it not for rafting in extreme conditions, so be aware of it.

Pros

  • SOLAS material increases reflectivity from distance.
  • Pockets are expandable and have mesh drainage.
  • It gives a snug fit with six adjustable straps and a cinch-up design.
  • It is one of the most reasonably priced life vests.

Cons

  • The life jacket feels bulky on the body.
Stearns Child Watersport Classic Series Vest

When you plan for a family kayaking or fishing session, one thing must be your priority. It is the safety of your kids as they are the most vulnerable on water. Therefore, we introduce you to the Stearns Child life vest to ensure maximum protection of kids on the water.

It has been designed ultra-lightweight. So, kids can use it for watersports, such as on water rides in parks, kayaking, or learning their 1st swimming strokes. It has been made for kids weighing from 30lbs to 50lbs.  Thus, it is perfect for most kids who won't fit the adult life jacket.

The inner has PE foam to offer remarkable floating capacity. It has been covered with durable nylon material. So, it won't puncture during emergencies. The sides are closed for better safety and comfort. On top of this, there're straps on the legs too.

So, it won't get loose even in water. Thus, kids can move freely on their watersport rides without thinking about the vest getting loose. It brings peace of mind for them and their parents alike.

Your adrenaline junkie will also love its three adjustable straps for the perfect fit. You must bring one of these Sterns Child Watersport life vests with you during the kayaking time.

Pros

  • A perfect life vest for kids.
  • Easy to adjust chest straps for a snug fit.
  • PE foam with nylon construction lasts several seasons.
  • It is lightweight and so brings comfort for kids.

Cons

  • Nothing reported until now.

Buying Guide For The Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest

Kayak fishing is one of the most enjoyable family and group recreational activities one can enjoy. However, you have to be near or on the water while fishing and hunting ducks with a kayak. That's why it is vital to purchase the most dependable kayak life vest for safety purposes.

We have already reviewed the top ten kayak fishing life vest. So, it should be easy for you to choose one from them. If you are still in doubt, then please go through our buying instructions for an easy selection of the life jacket.

Type of Life Jackets

Life jackets or PFDs are of five kinds. The number associated with their classification means their buoyancy capacity on certain conditions.  These classifications are-

  • Type I: It is made for rough water such as offshore and oceans. Also, it is suitable for monstrous lakes and rivers where a quick rescue might not be possible.
  • Type II: It is made for near-shore water activities, including fishing and kayaking. It is suitable for places where, most likely, a rescue team response quickly.
  • Type III: It is known as floating aid. And for normal kayak activities, these Type III life jackets are a must-have item on every kayak.
  • Type IV: It is seen mostly in the swimming pool or small water bodies. It is throw-able and is used to assist people in case they find it difficult to swim.
  • Type V: It is designed especially for different activities. Thus, you would see it in kayaking, windsurfing, or waterskiing activities.

Size

You must check the life jacket size when you buy one. It is a contribution to both your chest size and weight. Moreover, some life vests have a universal size and are adjustable using multiple straps. Multiple adjusting points will ensure that you get a snug fit around the chest.

If you buy a life vest without universal fit, carefully check the chest size and make sure it fits your body shape correctly. A loosely or tightly held life jacket will be more problematic than one without a PFD on the kayak.

Construction Material

Life jackets are typically made of three to four materials. These fabrics include- PVC, nylon, Gaia, or kapok.  Ideally speaking, all the materials are of excellent quality, and it comes down to your preference right here.

For instance, ripstop nylons are the most common fabric for PFDs. If you choose nylon materials, you must check the denier capacity. The denier refers to the nylon thickness. A higher denier means the vest will be more durable.

If you want a lightweight and environment–friendly vest, opt for the one made with Gaia fabric. It resists UV-rays and the lightest of all the materials. However, you have to pay higher for the Gaia material made vests.

Kapok is also used in some fishing vests. Since it is flammable, we don't recommend it for kayaking.

Storage Facility

A life vest is not made only for protection on kayaks. It's another purpose to offer you additional storage facility on kayaks. Thus, make sure you have optimum storage for multiple accessories. Therefore, check the number of pockets you get with the vest.

Also, try to get zippered front pockets for better protection of your electronic gadgets. Lastly, some vests have expandable storage to hold the fishing rod. If you can get one, it will be nice.

Comfort

When you wear the kayak fishing life vest, it must offer you maximum comfort.  Thus, the shoulders and backrest with added padding will be an excellent option to get for the vests.  The neoprene padding relieves pressure.

Also, the mesh back panel with ventilation helps you remain cool and dry during extreme humidity. So, look for these features on the vests to maximize your comfort.


Benefits of Using Kayak Fishing Life Vest

When you go on a kayak trip, wearing a life vest is essential. It is crucial for several reasons, including personal protection and increasing accessories storage space.

  • When you kayak and fish, anything is possible. Especially if the weather rapidly turns into a harsh one. If there are high winds or rough weather, a life jacket will be the difference between life and death for kayakers.
  • At times you might want to float on lake water even if you don't know swimming. The vests can help you swim in recreational sports and enjoy the time.
  • The PFDs save you from drowning. If your kayak gets damaged somehow, it helps you float for several hours without wasting energy.
  • In cold conditions, life vests will also offer you comfortable warmth. So, you don't lose vitality. It is significant for kayaking on remote parts of the lake where the rescue team might not reach instantly.
  • Life jackets with multiple storages enable you to store your gadgets safely. Also, you can accommodate fishing accessories. It saves space on kayaks.

You see that there are numerous benefits of using life vests during kayak fishing. So, you must not ignore it and ensure everyone on the kayak has the right PFDs. It is critically important for kids as they are the most vulnerable on water.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. Is a life jacket necessary for kayak and fishing? 

Yes, a good-quality life vest is a must-have item for kayaks. In some states and lakes, you cannot use kayaks without wearing a proper life vest.  It will also save lives during harsh weather, especially where the rescue team might not reach instantly. So, you must have life jackets for kayaks.

2. What is the best PFD you recommend for kayak fishing?

A Personal Floating Device or PFD is essential for kayak fishing. It must have Type II or Type II capacity to assist you in floating on rough conditions. Also, these PFDs must be puncture-proof and lightweight, so you feel comfortable wearing them. We have checked multiple PFDs. We found that NRS Chinook is highly recommendable for mobility, utility, and comfort while fishing. If you are on to casual fishing for a few hours on small lakes, Astral Ronny's life vest can be a good option.

3. Is there any difference between a life jacket and a PFD?

PFDs, in general, are more comfortable than life jackets. It is because PFDs are made for long-time wearing, and their design has mesh ventilation. However, PFDs are mostly Type III floating devices and so lacks protection during the rescue. Life jackets are made particularly for rough weather and help people breathe in water.  Thus, ships plying on oceans come with life jackets because of their better buoyancy.

Final notes

Kayak fishing should be fun. So, you should equip with everything that ensures your fun. However, it would help if you also assured protection on water from the changing weather. Thus, having the best kayak fishing life vest will bring peace of mind knowing that you won't get drowned.

We have reviewed here the top ten choices for anglers, including men and women. One suggestion is for kids who love watersport. Thus, when you plan for a family or group kayaking, pick your preferred life jackets from our list. It will also help you carry your key rings, mobile phones, and GPS tracker in the accessory pockets. So, your kayak and fishing sessions will become more enjoyable. Cheers!