If you are enthusiastic about fishing, you must understand the importance of owning and always wearing a PFD. But while you may downplay the need for protective gear while fishing along the shores or river banks, the life jackets for fishing are a must-have if you are a kayak angler. Still, every angler should not only make PFDs what to wear when kayaking but also what to wear when fishing.
Despite your kayaking skills and swimming process, you need to enhance your protection. Nature is rather unpredictable, and a slight hiccup can mess up a fishing outing that was bound to be enjoyable.
You see, kayaks and canoes are fun and provide you with an opportunity to explore less exploited fishing spots. But while at that, you also need to understand that fishing kayaks can be pretty unstable and are prone to tipping or toppling over. A life vest for fishing will provide you with the buoyancy as you set your kayak right back on track.
And beyond safety, the best kayak life vests also come in handy in organizing your fishing gear. Of course, life vests for fishing have multiple pockets to help you keep some of your fishing gear very accessible.
Although several kayak fishing jackets are on the market, choosing the right one is not a walk in the park. We make the work easier for you by providing you with impartial reviews of some of the most top-rated models you can find.
Top 8 Best Life Jackets for Fishing
Editor’s Pick for Overall Best Life Jacket for Fishing: NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Life Jacket
If you are an ardent kayak angler looking for the best life jacket for fishing, the NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Life Jacket. Firstly, this is an original USA-made product. And as you would expect with the USA-made products, this product stands out when it comes to performance and quality.
The RNS Chinook is arguably the best-selling PFD here in the US and around the world. It guarantees comfort and allows you to be more effective and safer on the water. And all said and done, investing in this protective device gives you the privilege to enjoy a myriad of benefits.
Key Features and Benefits
One of the things you need to look out for when shopping for a kayak life jacket is comfort. Interestingly, this is one of the most comfortable kayaking vests you can find, thanks to its fantastic design. The front is perfectly roomy and allows your hands and body to move freely. At the same time, the back fits snugly and makes you look good and professional.
Although size and fit are often a challenge when deciding to purchase a fishing life jacket, this should not be the case if you opt for this model. It features a PlushFIT foam lining to allow conformity with your body type. Thus, this product will work well for kayakers of all body types.
The fishing gear also comes in a variety of sizes, ranging from XS to XXL. Besides, the NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Life Jacket features several adjustment points. Such a feature gives you the convenience of tailoring this protective clothing to suit your needs. You will fit in this PFD irrespective+
of your body size, and that’s remarkable.
Finally, it is essential to note that a fishing life vest goes beyond protecting you on the water. Instead, it also enhances convenience and performance. As a result, this fishing jacket comes with two accessory pockets, two large pockets, and a tool holder. These storage compartments ensure the safety of your gear and ensure that you have all the essentials close by.
- You can use it for all vessels, including kayaks, float tubes, and rafts.
- It comes with sufficient storage space for your fishing gear.
- It comes with an inbuilt tool holder and a fishing rod holder.
- You can choose your most convenient size, ranging from XS to XXL.
- It is highly-priced. However, you will not regret owning it if your budget is within the price range.
The NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Life Jacket is a piece of equipment for a professional angler and anyone else who wants to take their game to the next level. It comes in various sizes, making it easier for anyone to find a corresponding size. Thus, despite the considerably high price tag, this is a kayaking gear you should go for if you can afford it.
Best Affordable Life Jacket for Fishing: Roeam Multi-Pockets Fly Fishing Jacket
The notion that all reasonably priced kayaking products do not measure up to the expectation does not apply to all products on the market. Of course, while some affordable products promise more than they can deliver, the Roeam Multi-Pockets Fly Fishing Jacket is an exception.
It is a suitable fishing life jacket for anyone looking for a high-quality PFD without spending too much money. Although this kayaking equipment costs less than $50, it delivers on everything that it does promise. Overall, this kayaking PFD is roomy, comfortable, functional, durable, and features a good fit. You can consider it if you are on a strict budget.
Key Features and Specifications
Despite the fair pricing, this is a product that will serve you on several fishing expeditions. The rip-stop oxford fabric construction, together with the removable foam fillers that the manufacturer uses, lengthens the fishing jacket’s lifespan. Ideally, these materials can handle the harshest outdoor conditions without signs of wear and tear.
As the name suggests, the Roeam Multi-Pockets Fly Fishing Jacket boasts several storage pockets. Since fishing is an activity that demands a lot of gear, you need fishing wear that helps you organize your gear and keeps them closer to you. This fly fishing jacket does that perfectly well since it comes with several storage pockets, including one that is designated for your water bottle.
It features a whistle attachment that you can use when calling for help. Even more, it comes with external attachment straps and buckles to secure your gear and tools. Thus, your fishing gear will stay safe when you walk or in case you fall on the water. Losing your tools or fishing gear could easily cut-shot your fishing expedition. And who wants to waste an entire day when you can avoid it?
Finally, this device delivers unbeatable comfort and fit. Although the primary function of the soft pad inserts is to provide buoyancy, a role they play pretty perfectly, they also provide you with unbeatable comfort. The multi-pocket PFD fits perfectly with the help of the adjustable waist and shoulder straps. However, the maximum bodyweight limit for the device is 242 pounds.
- It is pretty versatile and ideal for kayaking, fishing, sailing, and any water-related activity.
- It features reflective strips for low light visibility.
- The attached whistle comes in handy for calling for help when you encounter a problem.
- It is very durable despite the favorable price tag.
- You will not fit in if you weigh more than 242 pounds.
- Some users claim that the size chart is inaccurate.
Fishing life jackets were initially a preserve for anglers who could spend hordes of cash in acquiring one. The Roeam Multi-Pockets Fly Fishing Jacket breaks this norm. The fishing vest is very affordable without compromising any essential design, quality, and functionality features.
Most Comfortable Life Jacket for Fishing: Stohlquist Fisherman Fishing Kayak Life Jacket
Although buoyancy remains the most vital factor to look for when shopping for the best life vest for fishing, you cannot downplay the importance of comfort. In any case, kayak fishing could take multiple hours and is action-packed. Thus, a comfortable life jacket is a must-have for any angler.
And when it comes to that, the Stohlquist Fisherman Fishing Kayak Life Jacket stands out when it comes to comfort. It features a roomy built, which allows you a perfect fit. Also, the fishing jacket features open sides to allow full arm movement. And if your concerns lie on how to get the fishing vest to conform with your body shape, you can use the multiple adjustment straps included in the construction.
Key Features and Benefits
Indeed, nearly all fishing jackets will keep you afloat when you fall in the water. However, the effectiveness of these jackets differs from one model to the other. The Stohlquist Fisherman Fishing PFD has remarkable buoyancy levels, thanks to the generous chest and back panels. The positioning of these panels keeps them above the seat backrest and away from the cockpit.
Besides the numerous straps provided to improve fit and comfort, this floatation device takes pride in its exclusive Graded Sizing. You can never go wrong with this kayak PFD as long as you know the right jacket size for your body size. Even more, the mesh-back design not only reduces the overall weight of the device while improving fit.
The life jacket has many pockets to help you organize your gear and have them close to your body. However, that is pretty universal with all modern floatation devices. The selling point for the Stohlquist Fisherman Fishing Life Jacket is the availability of drainage in all the storage compartments. In case you fall, you will not have to struggle with the baggage of water-filled pockets.
Finally, you will like the fact that this floatation device is made from a durable 500D Cordura shell fabric and a 200D oxford liner. With such high-quality materials, this kayaking life vest will serve you for several years. Besides, it is perfectly suitable for adults of all body sizes and builds.
- Females will find this fishing life vest suitable and well-fitting.
- Storage compartments have drainage systems to enable water outflow if you fall.
- An included cross-chest cinch harness prevents ride-up.
- It has a high buoyancy level.
- It comes in two different shades; orange and olive green.
- The storage compartments are not large enough for non-kayaking anglers.
The is your kind of fishing gear if you value comfort, durability, and quality. It features heavy-duty construction that ensures the flotation device will serve you reliably for decades. And while many female anglers often find it challenging to find a fishing life jacket that conforms to their body shapes, this fishing kayak is a phenomenal discovery.
Best Breathable Life Jacket for Fishing: Astral V-Eight Life Jacket
Astral is a reputable American company that stands out when it comes to environmental sustainability. The company is famous for its versatile range of manufacturing high-quality marine and water sports products. And when it comes to the PFD category, the Astral’s Astral V-Eight Life Jacket takes credit for unmatched breathability.
The product is pretty lightweight and uses the company’s patented Airescape Technology. The unique design and technology reliably eliminates heat and helps you to maintain a comfortable body temperature to help you stay cool. It is the type of PFD that you need for your summer fishing excursions.
Key Features and Benefits
First off, the V-Eight is a reliable floatation device that will keep you above the water surface should an eventuality occur. It features a commendable buoyancy level of 16 pounds.
Experts credit this remarkable buoyancy to the PE and EVA foam incorporated into the device. United Coast Guard approves this kit for Type III safety.
But despite this buoyancy level, the Astral V-Eight Life Jacket remains one of the most breathable PDFs you can find on the market. Apart from the Airescape Technology, the floatation jacket also a mesh back for more breathability. The mesh back is perfectly high and will feel comfortable on both low and high back seats.
This product is lightweight and weighs a paltry 1.22 pounds. Moreover, the pre-shaped EVA foam material inserted in the front and back of the gear gives it a comfortable fit. The recreational fit of this fishing life jacket is further aided by the adjustable buckles at the side and the center front zip.
Astral is an incredibly environmentally conscious company, and they do not change that with the V-Eight Life Jacket. The manufacturer values nature and does not use toxic PVC in the manufacturing process. Instead, it uses lots of recycled products in a bid to make the world a better place. If you are an environmentalist, you will want to stay free from harmful materials.
- It is a durable floatation device that will serve you for years.
- The manufacturer uses PVC-free nontoxic materials.
- You will find it ideal for summer and warm conditions.
- It fits perfectly on both men and women.
- Some users claim that the padding is too stiff, thick, and uncomfortable.
Summer is approaching, and you do not want to venture into the waters in an outfit that holds heat. You can consider the Astral V-Eight Life Jacket since it is one of the most breathable models you can find. And besides breathability, it is also durable, environmentally friendly, and has an excellent fit.
Best Fishing Life Jacket for Women: Salus Marine Capri Women’s PFD
Fishing and water sports were traditionally meant for men, and many marine product manufacturers put more focus on products for men than those for women. So, finding the right PFD remains one of your most significant challenges as a lady kayaker or angler. But that should now be the least of your worries.
The introduction of the Salus Marine Capri Women’s PFD comes as a timely reprieve to women anglers across the world. The device takes pride in the female-centered inspiration that it accurately accommodates the curvatures of the feminine body. As a woman, you will enjoy unbeatable comfort and beauty.
Key Features and Specifications
Ladies are crazy about style, comfort, and beauty. Interestingly, Salus achieves all that and many more in this PFD. This product is stylish, practical and comes in three different shades, including purple, red, and green. While the red-colored floatation device is unisex and usable by both gender, the other two shades are primarily meant for women and come with flowers on the back.
The Salus Marine Capri Women’s PFD is roomy, lightweight, and comfortable. It hugs all your body parts in the right places. The soft foam construction gives it comfort, which is ideal for enthusiastic anglers. Even more, it features two fleece handwarmer pockets. The impressive comfort level makes this product a floatation gear you can use in warm and chilly conditions.
And as you probably all understand, you cannot go fishing without the right gear and tackle. So, you will marvel at the fact that this kayak comes with two mesh pockets to help you store your equipment in the right places. The pockets are zipper secured to ensure security in case you fall off your kayak. Also, the meshwork of the pockets ensures that they do not hold water when you topple over.
But beyond the style, comfort, and hype, this PFD also stands out on functionality. It features excellent buoyancy and will keep you afloat in any situation. But beyond that, this kayaking life jacket holds onto the body perfectly, thanks to the included adjustment straps.
- While the female gender inspires it, there is a unisex model for men.
- It comes in up to three different colors.
- The jacket features durable and robust makeup.
- You will find it pretty comfortable.
- It is highly-priced; however, this PFD is worth every coin.
Ladies have a solid and practical floatation vest in the Salus Marine Capri Women’s PFD. It is roomy and features a contoured top for guaranteed comfort. While this product will perfectly conform to the contours of your body, it also allows sufficient room for your hands to perform the necessary fishing tasks. You will not go wrong by choosing this product.
Best Compact Life Jacket for Fishing: Stohlquist Rocker PFD
Another Stohlquist floatation gear for fishing makes it to our PFD reviews, and it is none other than the Stohlquist Rocker PFD. It is a pretty compact personal floatation device that stands out if you intend to access fishing spots beyond strong waves and rapids.
The necessary technological know-how used in manufacturing this floatation device gives it an unbeatable balance between security and comfort. Unlike most life jackets for fishing, this product features diagonal adjustment straps. Besides, it features a self-tensioned shoulder harness. These two features enable easy fitting,
Key Features and Specifications
With a patented Wrapture shaped torso design, the life vest features an ergonomically articulated foam for comfort and security. It also features textured inner panels to provide sufficient comfort and prevent ride-up of the vest. These features not only enhance safety and comfort but also make critical considerations for a perfect fit.
Although the diagonal adjustment straps stand out when it comes to convenience and easy fit, they also help secure the gear on your body. Moreover, this floatation device also has up to six adjustment areas, making it one of the best life jackets for fishing. The other adjustment points include an anterior waist closure and side pulls.
The Stohlquist Rocker PFD gives you room and flexibility to handle all your fishing activities. The shoulder straps are free-floating and stretch appropriately with corresponding shoulder or arm actions. Even more, there is sufficient shoulder protection in the generous shoulder padding and a ballistic nylon texture. These features allow free and safe arm movements.
Finally, you should not worry about storing pieces of essential fishing gear as you go about your fishing expedition. Firstly, it features a large, properly streamlined storage pocket on the front end of the floatation device that acts as your principal storage compartment. It also features an additional hands-free expandable beverage pocked.
- It features a massive floatation rating of up to 16.8 pounds.
- The ergonomic design ensures a perfect and comfortable fit.
- A textured interior ensures that the vest holds onto your clothes to avoid ride-up.
- The floatation jacket is super comfortable.
- You cannot adjust the shoulder straps. However, they stretch pretty well for flexibility and convenience.
- Some kayakers do not like the low cut back.
The Stohlquist Rocker PFD is pretty compact and ideal for maneuvering turbulent waters as you head to your fishing spot. It is pretty comfortable and fits perfectly on the body. While a few anglers may prefer adjustable straps, this should not be a big deal since their ability to stretch allows for the needed flexibility and comfort.
Best Life Jackets for Fishing in Terms of Storage: Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket
The factor differentiating a fishing life jacket from a sports or recreational PFD lies in the storage capacity. Recreational, sports kayaking, and other water activities that do not involve much gear and accessories. On the contrary, your success as an angler kayaker lies in your ability to carry the right fishing gear and have them accessible.
You can conveniently achieve this with the Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket. It comes with an array of pockets to hold your fishing gear. Interestingly, each storage compartment features a unique design to perform a corresponding function. But apart from the incredible storage components, this product also offers exquisite buoyancy, comfort, fit, and overall function.
Key Features and Benefits
Notably, this life jacket for kayaking comes with four different storage components with different designs and functions. It features fleece-lined pockets, basic zippered pockets, and a chest pocket, both of which are ideal for keeping your radios, pliers, and other tools that you may need more often. The pocket allows tools to slip down conveniently and clamp on the pouch.
Still on storage, the Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket comes with a drop-down pocket controlled by a single button. This pocket will conveniently help you keep a small tackle box close to your hand for easy access. With your tackle box readily accessible, you can focus on your fishing and not constantly searching for your gear.
Again, the Onyx Kayak PFD features incredible adjustability features. With up to six adjustments straps, you can play around with this floatation device until you achieve the right and most comfortable fit. Of course, adjustability will depend on your body size and shape, your activity, and your vessel’s seat height.
The kayaking life vest takes pride in an exquisitely durable build. Yet, it is pretty lightweight and weighs a paltry 1.35 pounds. It also features a high back to accommodate all kayak seats, including those with high backrests. Besides, the lower section consists of a durable mess to enable breathability. You will find this device useable in all climate conditions.
- You have sufficient space to keep all your gear.
- It is lightweight and comfortable on the body.
- The high back accommodates uses of both low and high-backrest kayaks.
- You may need to be very careful about the sizing.
The Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket is a proper kayak angler type of PFD. You can conveniently lean on your kayak seat backrest and still enjoy impressive comfort, breathability, and productivity. However, onshore anglers will also find this floatation device useful due to its lightweight nature and the ability to store all your fishing gear as you scout for your fishing spot.
Best Life Jacket for Fishing Under $100: AIRHEAD Fishing Deluxe
You can still own a high-quality PFD without necessarily spending all your life savings in an exorbitant model. And you can get that with none other than the AIRHEAD Fishing Deluxe. The floatation equipment costs much under $100.
Yet, it packs impressive high-end features just like you would find in most premium models. The kayaking life jacket comes with everything you would want on a fishing life vest. It blends functionality, longevity, versatility, and breathability, just as you envisage from a high-end model.
Key Features and Specifications
This product is arguably the best fishing jacket for fishing when it comes to ventilation. It features a mesh back and shoulders for adequate breathability. It is the kind of kayaking gear you will need when fishing in warm or hot weather conditions. And if you are wondering how you would survive with this in cold weather, a long-sleeved fishing shirt will work fine.
Interestingly, this kayaking life jacket is highly durable and will serve you for several years. It is made from a strong and durable nylon fabric that can withstand wear and tear. And while you may think that the mesh section will wear out pretty fast, you are mistaken. The meshwork features a high-density material that will inevitably stand the test of time.
Again, like any other high-end personal floatation device, the AIRHEAD Fishing Deluxe life jacket comes with enough storage spaces for your fishing gear and tools. The vest has two large and another pair of small zippered pockets. With up to four pockets, the fishing vest allows you to have your fishing gear close and accessible.
- The nylon material is strong and durable.
- It features a mesh back and shoulders for maximum breathability and airflow.
- The four zippered pockets will keep your fishing gear safe and within an accessible distance.
- It is an affordable option for anglers shopping on a budget.
- The sizing is too small for heavily built anglers.
You do not have to risk your life fishing without a kayak because you cannot afford a premium model. At the same time, you should lower your standards to a cheap model that will not come with your desired feature. For under 100, the AIRHEAD Fishing Deluxe strikes a perfect balance between affordability and unique features.
How to Choose the Best Life Jackets for Fishing
Ideally, the market has several life jackets that you can choose from. However, not every life jacket is ideal for fishing. The following factors will determine whether you have the right pick or not;
a. Standard or Inflatable PFDs
Whether you are looking for the best life jacket for fishing or a general-purpose floatation device, the first consideration you will need to make is whether to go for standard, inflatable, or hybrid buoyancy equipment. Of course, both models have their merits and demerits.
Standard Life Jackets
Also known as non-inflatable PFDs, these models are by far the most viable options for fishing. As a result, all the PFDs we reviewed in this article are non-inflatable. They are perfectly versatile, and you will find them useable by fishing, recreational, and sports kayakers.
Their most significant advantage is low maintenance. All you need to do is to keep them clean and dry after use. They are also inherently buoyant and highly reliable. Besides, they can house more storage compartments. On the flip side, standard PFDs are considerably bulkier and can be very warm in summer conditions if there is deficient ventilation.
These models are relatively new and include vests and waist packs. You will find them ideal for kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and canoeing. They come in manual and automatic configurations. The manual options come with a cord that activates CO2 gas cartridges when pulled. On the other hand, the automatic model self-inflates when submerged in water.
The slime designs of these inflatables give them unbeatable comfort. They will unlikely limit your range of motion when you go about your kayaking activities. Besides, they remain cool even on the hottest of days. However, since their buoyancy is not inherent, you will need to inflate them just like you would do with inflatable fishing kayaks. They also require regular maintenance, including CO2 cartridge replacement. Finally, you cannot use them on high-impact water activities such as whitewater boating, waterskiing, and river rafting.
Interestingly, some life jackets are a blend of both standard and inflatable technology. They are specialized models that come with an incredible balance between compact construction and inherent buoyancy. Also, these models are pretty comfortable to wear and are ideal for a variety of functions. However, they will cost you significantly more than you would spend on an outright inflatable or standard floatation device.
b. Sizing and Fitting
A life jacket that is too tight will be uncomfortable. On the other hand, a kayaking vest that is too loose will affect your movements, flexibility, and overall success of your fishing expedition. So, it is appropriate that you buy a size that fits you properly.
But how do you get the right size?
While many novice anglers think that the bodyweight determines the vest size, you should purchase, that should not be the case except for children. Instead, your chest size remains the critical determinant of the vest size that you should buy. So, measure your chest circumference at the broadest point. Match the number with the corresponding number in the product’s size chart.
c. Design, Comfort, and Breathability
While sizing is a crucial consideration used in determining the breathability of a kayaking life jacket, design is equally an essential factor. A good life vest should be roomy and good enough to accommodate your body shape without exerting pressure anywhere. Also, ensure that the soft pads are in the right places. Wrongly placed pads will press against the seat backrest or cockpit.
You would also want to consider a floatation jacket that is sleek, trendy, and attractive. And if you are a lady, you should choose a dedicated woman PFD with the proper curvatures at the right places. Most women PFDs also have flowers to make them more feminine.
Again, the design determines the breathability of a life vest. You need a vest with high breathability levels if you will primarily use it in the summer or warm weather. Such a vest should have sufficient openings and mesh sections to allow for airflow.
d. Storage Compartments and Gear Loops
Of course, the most significant difference between the best kayaking life jacket and an ordinary life jacket lies in the amount of storage space included. Fishing requires a lot of gear, and it is only appropriate that you choose a PFD with sufficient storage space.
Zip pockets act as your mini tackle boxes and come in handy in storing your lures, baits, flies, and other tools. Larger pockets can also hold an entire tackle box. Confirm the number, location, and sizes of the pockets, and check whether they have zips or buttons.
Gear loops also come in handy in attaching other essential items such as whistles, a knife, strobes, and a spotlight. Also, look out for the number of these tabs and their locations. Usually, most of them are at the front, while you will find a few at the back.
e. Buoyancy Rating
Buoyancy is measured in pounds and refers to the forced used to keep your head and chin above the water surface. Any buoyancy rating of between 7 and 12 pounds should be good to keep most adults afloat, and anything beyond that is a plus.
The United States Coast Guard (USCG) classifies PFDs into five categories. For a kayak angler, it is advisable to settle for any model rated Type III or Type V since they come with unbeatable comfort. Let’s get into the details;
- Type I- These are bulky, highly buoyant PFDs suitable for remote or rough water bodies where rescue missions can take a while to arrive. Apart from remote environments, you will also find these floatation devices in commercial marine vessels. Interestingly, they are available in hybrid, inflatable, and standard designs.
- Type II- This category is ideal for calm islands where rescuers are always almost readily available. They are pretty basic and less bulky than their Type I counterparts. But as are less comfortable than Type III. Although they are more affordable than Type III PFDs, they tend to turn some unconscious users into face-up positions.
- Type III- These are arguably the most common types of kayaking PFDs. They are ideal for paddlers who can easily access rescue missions when something goes wrong. They are comfortable, flexible, and offer incredible freedom of movement. Their unique design necessities a face-up position.
- Type IV- These models are not meant to be worn. Instead, they are thrown to a conscious person who is in trouble and does not have a PFD or requires a backup PFD. They include rings and buoyant cushions.
- Type V- These are special PFDs, each labeled with the type of activity they are designed for. You can find various models meant for kayaking, windsurfing, and waterskiing.
Comrades, we end this article at that point. Although it must have been a lengthy read, we hope that you found it helpful. Nearly all the PFDs we reviewed fall under USCG Type III floatation devices. We arrived at them because they come with remarkable comfort, breathability, storage spaces, and great fit. If you are looking for the best life jackets for fishing, any of these will be a perfect fit.
Anthony has been an angler for the past 15 years. His experience makes him an invaluable asset to FISHING GEN and writes on fishing expeditions as well as fishing gear.