Top 10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest

10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021

One of the best feeling an avid fisherman can have is floating out on the water and spending some well needed time with nature. While casting your line and catching some fish can be one of the most relaxing times of your life, you need to be properly prepared and ready for when things go wrong. The best way to do this is by wearing a life vest. But not just any life vest, you’ll need to wear the best kayak fishing life vest to get the most out of your experience. 

Stay Safe on the Water with the Best Kayaking Life Jacket (PFD)

While there are hundreds and thousands of brands on the market, we have compiled a list of the top ten PFDs to make sure you get what you need.

Top 10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest

Why Do You Need Life Jackets or PFDs?

Even though no one plans for things to go wrong, it is important to be ready for when they do. Whether you fall out of the boat, can’t get back into it, or the boat sinks, you need to be ready for the worst. Life vests are crucial because they keep your head above water and prevent you from drowning, even when you are unconscious. So if you only have one piece of equipment on you, it needs to be a kayak life vest or personal floatation device (PFD).

Our List of the Best Life Vest for Kayak Fishing

10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 1Stohlquist Fisherman PFDCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 2NRS Chinook Mesh Back PFDCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 3Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports PFDCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 4Astral - V-Eight PFD for RecreationCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 5MTI Adventurewear Reflex Paddling PFDCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 6Hobie Kayak Life VestCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 7NRS Rapid Rescuer PFDCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 8MTI Adventurewear Solaris F-Spec Life JacketCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 9Harmony Gear Flex Fit Two ToneCheck Price
10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest Reviewed for 2021 10Hardcore Water Sports Life Jacket Vest Check Price


What You Should Look For When Buying PFDs

It is important to understand that there is more to a life vest than the cost. Some of the most important factors you need to include are:

The size and fit of the vest to prevent you from either being too constricted or from slipping out of it.

The weight of the person wearing it to guarantee that the buoyancy of the device is capable of keeping that much weight above water.

The gender of the person wearing it because the female form requires different considerations than the mans to get the right fit and comfort.

The material the life vest is made of and whether or not you want to go with a standard vest or an inflatable one.

The category of life vest you need. There are five categories of life vest than all have different purposes and limitations. To make sure your PFD will be able to handle the job at hand it is crucial you pick the right category. Choosing the wrong category and you may not get the best life vest available to you. The categories are:

Type I which is ideal for more dangerous journeys. The buoyancy is higher and the life vest is designed to be able to keep your head above water for long periods of time, even when you aren’t conscious. While they are the safest and most equipped life vest, the type I vest is extremely bulky and can restrict some of your natural movement.

Type II is designed to be worn closer to shore than the type I PFD and in less chaotic water conditions. While it shares similar features to type I life jackets, it is far less bulky, but also not as reliable as the type I. This is recommended for when the rescues can be an hour or under.

Type III is typically the preferred life vest of kayak fishers and kayakers in general. This is because it allows for a more natural range of motion without being too restrictive. While it is by far the most comfortable live vest type, it does not protect the unconscious person from drowning. If you choose this option you will need to be able to turn and tilt your head up to prevent drowning.

Type IV is not a vest, but cushioned flotation ring that is ideal to throw to someone who has fallen out of the boat. This should not be the go to safety measure for you, but an additional safety measure when on the water. This is because there is never a guarantee that you will be able to get to it in an emergency and if you are rendered unconscious there is little you will be able to do to get to it or hold onto it to stay safe.

Type V is a little more specific that the previous categories. Life vests in this category are designed for specific tasks like water-skiing or other water sports. These should always be looked into further before buying to make sure it will provide everything you need.

Without proper consideration of these factors, a PFD cannot protect you properly and do its job. Be sure to consider everything in order to get the best kayak fishing life vest for safety while fishing or operating a kayak.

When Fishing Always use a Life Jacket, Here are the best life vests

It is also important to remember that no life vest lasts forever and you should always check your vest before every trip to look for tears, holes or any other signs it is losing its structural integrity. If there are any signs of damage or any questions that your vest will not adequately protect you, you should get rid of it and buy a new one. There should never be a time when you are out on the water without a life vest and a life vest, or PFD (personal flotation device) will be required under law almost everywhere in the united states. You can also check out our article on what makes a life vest or PFD wear out for more details.

While a life jacket may not seem like the most comfortable thing to wear while kayak fishing, there are many companies that make life vests more convenient and accessible for avid fishers with a bunch of extra features which makes them better for fishing. Many of the PFDs we’ve included in this article for the best kayak fishing PFDs are specifically designed to be used while fishing. These are the best PFDs we have reviewed in this article. This includes pockets for easy storage and access to your belongings, so a life jacket can become more than just a safety device.

10 Best PFDs or Life Jackets For Kayak Fishing to Keep you Safe

Here is our list of the ten best fishing PFDs based on features, affordability, and how effective they are in keeping you safe. All the life vests on this list are type III because they are the most popular type among kayak fishers.

Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Floatation Device

  1. Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

With tons of pockets and various places to clip on your pliers and other items onto the vest for easy access, the Stohlquist Fisherman PFD is easily the best live vest on the market. The life vest is designed to not only provide you safety from drowning, but also be comfortable and functional enough for you to not mind wearing it while on the water.


  • Made of environmentally friendly material
  • Plenty of storage and mounting options
  • Front zip entry
  • Padded shoulders
  • Easy to clean and maintain
  • Ventilation points on the sides
  • Doesn’t ride up
  • Easy to pack away and transport


There really aren’t any downsides to this life vest and we highly recommend you try it out on your next fishing trip.

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NRS Chinook Mesh Back Fishing PFD

  1. NRS Chinook Mesh Back (PFD)

The Chinook life vest is a great option for kayak fishers because it is designed specifically for kayak fishing. It moves with you and doesn’t bind or bunch while moving your arms to paddle. There are seven pockets on the front on the life vest and eight straps you can adjust to help get the most comfortable fit. The Chinook also has several hooks and D rings to attach your tools to make it simple and easy to get to them.


  • Designed for kayak fishing
  • Adjustable straps to create the best fits
  • Ventilation that doesn’t compromise on safety
  • Many ways to store your tools


  • It is recommended that you are over 90 lbs to use it

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Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

  1. ONYX Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

With a design that accommodates and forms to all body types, the Onyx Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest is truly universals for users. The life vest also includes a mesh back to allow for greater ventilation while working up a sweat paddling to your favorite fishing spot. It is made of a bubble foam unique to Onyx products that provides greater comfort than standard life vest foam.


  • Works for all genders and body types
  • Mesh material helps ventilation
  • Reflective material keeps you visible
  • Knife holders and pockets available for your tools
  • Unique bubble foam that increases comfort
  • V-neck for added comfort
  • Non-binding


  • Can feel too bulky for some
  • Unique bubble foam that increases comfort
  • V-neck for added comfort
  • Non-binding

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Astral - V-Eight Life Jacket PFD for Recreation

  1. Astral Buoyancy V-Eight

The Astral Buoyancy V-Eight life jacket is designed for long periods out on the water. The material is designed to regulate your body temperature and there are cut outs on the chest of the life vest for to accommodate the female form to make sure you are still comfortable without sacrificing safety. There is one large pocket on the outside with internal storage as well.


  • Regulates temperature and reduces perspiration
  • Large front pocket and internal storage
  • Oversized arm holes to allow optimal movement and prevent chaffing
  • Secured knife notch
  • Cuts outs in the chest to accommodate the female form


  • Only three adjustable straps

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MTI Adventurewear Reflex Paddling PFD Life Jacket

  1. MTI Adventurewear Reflex PFD

Designed specifically for kayakers and canoers, the Reflex life vest offers 16 pounds of flotation with eight ways to adjust it and get your perfect fit. This means that in addition to the deep V-neck style, soft panels and reflective trim, this life vest is perfect for long days on the water fishing.


  • Works for everyone regardless of body type or gender
  • Designed to be comfortable for all day use
  • Hat hanger loop
  • Quick drying material
  • Durable


  • No reviews on amazon yet from verified buyers

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Hobie Kayak Life Vest

  1. Hobie Kayak Life Vest

With side entry that requires you to pull the vest over your head before zipping it up and padded shoulders, the Hobie life vest is designed to remain securely on while still being comfortable. Side panels provide extra storage and the whole life vest is light weight and designed t sit higher on the chest, rather than the whole torso.


  • Seven adjustable straps
  • Lightweight
  • Fits securely
  • Mesh side panels with storage
  • Greater range of motion than typical life vests


  • Only suitable for slow and clam bodies of water
  • Not suitable for emergency situations

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NRS Rapid Rescuer PFD

  1. NRS Vista Personal Flotation Device

With seven different adjustment points to get the best fit and shoulder straps to adjust for those with longer torsos, the NRS Vista PFD is designed to provide optimal comfort. The nylon exterior makes it both incredibly durable and easy to clean and maintain. With two pockets, a lash tab for a knife and 16.5 pounds of flotation, this is a great inexpensive life vest.


  • Seven adjustment points and shoulder straps
  • Deep V-neck design and large armholes
  • Designed for comfort while still being durable and affordable
  • 5 pounds of flotation
  • Side pockets and knife tab


  • Can be too heavy for some

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MTI Adventurewear Solaris F-Spec Kayak Fishing PFD Life Jacket

  1. Solaris F-Spec PFD

The Solaris F-Spec Fishing PFD is unique among life vests because it utilizes EPE foam providing greater buoyancy in any and every water condition. This makes it easy for the  F-Spec life vest to work in a variety of different sports and situations.


  • V-neck to make it more comfortable
  • EPE foam
  • Higher buoyancy
  • Versatile for all water activities
  • Dries quickly to help prevent mold and mildew growth


  • Only three adjustable straps
  • Shoulders not adjustable

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Harmony Gear Flex Fit Two Tone

  1. Harmony Gear Fit

The Harmony life vest is designed to work for both men and women, while only weighing a single pound. This life vest works perfectly for kayakers because it allows you to move freely while not sacrificing safety. This is great because it will work for fishing as well as casual paddling and white water trips. But the Harmony Gear Fit life vest is not made to be worn by children or anyone under 90 pounds.


  • Works for men and women
  • Lightweight
  • Open armholes
  • Brightly colored


  • Not made for kids or anyone under 90 lbs
  • Only three straps to help you get the right fit

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Hardcore Water Sports Life Jacket Vests For The Entire Family USCG Approved

  1. Hardcore Waterproof PFD

Designed to suit all needs, the Hardcore waterproof life jacket has low arm holes to keep full range of motion and adjustable straps that adjust to make it more comfortable and is one of the best life vests available today. The quick drying polyester helps prevent mildew and the added foam in the shoulders increases the overall buoyancy of the vest.


  • Suits everyone
  • Quick dry water proof material
  • Low cut arm holes
  • Added buoyancy in the shoulders
  • Bright colors help keep you visible


  • Only three adjustable straps
  • Only works on calm water

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Our Final Thoughts on Fishing and Kayaking Life Vests

Companies have taken great steps to making sure life vests and PFDs are not only comfortable, but functional for avid fishers. Making the life vest as useful and efficient as possible is key to making them top picks and we have found the top ten. But beyond a doubt the best kayak fishing life vest for kayak fishing is the Chinook Back Fishing Life Vest (PFD). It combines the safety of a life vest and a plethora of both practical and cool features that makes it great for not only fishing but kayaking in general.



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