While it may not be “cool” to wear a life vest, it’s a must if you’re going to be kayak fishing! Capsizing happens pretty often while kayaking, and making sure that you keep yourself safe is a matter of the utmost importance. With this list of the best kayak fishing life vest you’ll stay safe on the water.
You may be thinking, “Hey, what does it matter which life vest I pick? Aren’t they all the same?” Well, they are all pretty similar by design, but they are far from the same. Picking the right life vest for a kayak is actually pretty important for your overall comfort and mobility while out on the water.
Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest : Full Review and Buying Guide for 2018
Picking the wrong kayaking life vest can mean hours of discomfort, difficulty casting, and less space in your kayak. The right vest, however, not only avoids these issues, but can solve them with creative solutions.
In this article, we’ll cover some of the best life vests around for all of your kayaking needs.
Stohlquist Personal Life Vest
The Stohlquist Personal Life Vest is a high-priced, high-quality personal flotation device. It comes in a cactus green color that will fit in with any outdoor scenario and is made from a durable yet lightweight nylon fabric.
The first thing you’ll notice when looking at this life vest is the sheer amount of storage it has to offer. It’s covered in pockets, loops, clips, slots, bands, ropes, zippers, cabinets, shelves, closets….well, maybe not all those things. But it does have a lot of storage!
Storage is super important when you’re on a kayak because, well, there’s not a lot of storage on a kayak. A big part of the appeal of kayaks is how small and lightweight they are, but the drawback of this is that space management is a little tricky. Hard to manage space that isn’t there. This vest helps to solve that problem by giving fishermen a handy place to keep their most trusted pliers, knives, flashlights, and other small tools.
This vest comes in three sizes that should fit most, with a starting price of around $100. It has padded shoulders and a lower back waistband for comfort, as well as open sides for ventilation. It’ll keep you safe without restricting your movement too much.
The only real downside of this vest is the fact that it has to be hand washed. Since you’re mostly going to be wearing this outdoors, washing will need to be done at some point. So long as you’re comfortable with that though, and the price isn’t a deterrent, this is a cozy, lightweight, and handy vest to have around.
The ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket is a more affordable, yet almost equally versatile, vest by a trusted name in the world of kayak fishing accessories.
It has a low profile, padded design that stays out of your way while giving you all the comfort and safety you need. It comes in a tan, black, and neon orange color scheme that looks so good, you might end up wearing it indoors. It has a high back design that stays out of the way of your kayak seat, adding to the all-day comfort of this vest.
It has about the same amount of storage as the Stohlquist jacket, with big pockets that allow you to carry larger equipment. These pockets are located in slightly awkward positions, which can make accessing your tools a bit of a feat at times. The pockets are pretty big, however, which comes in handy if you’re needing to carry something a little bigger than your typical fishing pliers.
The lower back is made of a breathable mesh to keep your back dry, and it has six adjustment straps to allow for a snug, tight fit. It has a lash tab on the front for holding smaller gear like knives, whistles, and the like, which is pretty convenient.
It comes in two sizes, universal and oversize. While these should cover most people, it’s still pretty limited options. Be sure to check the size chart before buying to ensure a proper fit. It costs around $50, which is a pretty good price for a life vest. Despite the slightly awkward pockets, it’s a great buy at a great price.
The NRS Chinook Fishing PFD is a mid-range life jacket that almost looks like a combat vest. It comes in four colors: black, orange, green, and gray. The design is minimal and utilitarian, albeit a little bulky.
It comes with 16.5lbs of flotation, so you’ll be well above the water in the event of a capsize. It has eight adjustment points, which allow for a comfortable yet secure fit. This jacket won’t slip off of you in a worst-case scenario. Not to mention that the adjustable straps allow room for extra clothing underneath, so if you’re fishing in colder weather you’ll still be able to bundle up while wearing this vest.
The big selling point of this jacket is how much storage it has to offer. It has seven large front pockets, a lash tab, several D-rings, a pliers holder, one removable coil tool retractor, and best of all, a rod holder.
The back is ventilated to prevent moisture build-up as well as keep you cool in hot weather. It has comfortable PlushFIT padding that conforms to the wearer’s body. Chinook is known for making some of the most comfortable vests out there, and it’s not hard to see why. This is one of the best kayak fishing life vest available today and it’s easy to see why.
This vest comes in five sizes, so no matter what your fit is, you’ll be able to make this jacket work for you. It’s priced at roughly $85, though it can vary depending on which color and size you end up settling on. It’s a good choice for those willing to sacrifice a little mobility for extra storage.
The Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest is a storage monster with a well thought out design. It is packed to the brim with features and storage and comes in at a modest $60.
The vest is a combination of dull grays and browns, which isn’t the most pleasing to the eye, but certainly gets the job done. Besides, you’re not wearing it for looks, you’re wearing it to fish. And this thing is built to fish.
The inspiration behind this flotation device was to give fishermen the storage capacity of a backpack while providing the security of a life vest, all while maintaining mobility. It has several front facing pockets, a rod loop, slips for small pliers and hook removers, and more pockets. Because it’s intended for fly fishers, most of the pockets have shell linings to keep your precious hooks and flies free from damage.
On top of all the storage this beast provides, it also comes with a great warranty. Within the first year of owning it, you can return it at any point, no questions asked! It also comes with a lifetime repair warranty, so if you run into any problems later down the road, Maxcatch has your back.
As awesome as this jacket is, it only comes in one size. It is adjustable and should fit most people, just make sure that you check the size chart before purchasing. Despite this, it’s a great life vest with an insane amount of storage. And it manages to weigh only 24.5oz. Definitely give this a look if you’re looking for a tackle box replacement.
For those looking for something a little more toned down and a lot more affordable, the Hardcore Water Sports Life Jacket is the way to go. It resembles most of the life jackets you’ve probably worn on family boating trips, without all of the bells and whistles of a traditional fisherman’s jacket.
That said, it’s still a great buy for someone who doesn’t need anything more than something to keep their head above the water. It comes in four colors: red, pink, yellow, and blue. The colors are super bright and vivid, so in a worst case situation, you’ll be easily visible to others.
This vest is also great for more than just fishing! A fishing vest is great for a day spent casting and reeling, but it quickly becomes cumbersome in any other situation. One of the great things about this vest is you can wear it to any water-related event, whether it’s hanging out at the lake with friends, surfing, etc.
It’s made from a durable polyester that should hold up against semi-regular use. Because of its minimal design, it offers a maximum amount of flexibility for wearers. It’s pretty adjustable and comes in multiple sizes that will fit any member of the family.
It’s priced at just $25, making it extremely affordable. If you’re looking for a vest that will keep your antique collection on your person at all times, you’ll find this vest a little shortcoming. However, for someone just looking for a vest for the sake of being safe, this will keep you out of harm’s way.
The ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest is all about mobility and comfort. It comes blue and yellow, both of which are very bright and visible. The vest is also made from SOLAS grade reflective material, so you’ll be easy to spot no matter the circumstances.
It has a unique design that sets it apart from most other life vests. The sides are very open, there’s plenty of room around the neck, and the bottom of the vest rides a little high to keep your waist and abdomen flexible. The lower back is made from a loose mesh to keep from overheating.
The material is 200-denier nylon ripstop and nylon Oxford, which is very durable and lightweight. It has shoulder adjustments for a tight, reliable fit, and is padded neoprene to ensure as much comfort as possible. The unique design paired with the lightweight materials means you won’t lose any discernible mobility while paddling or casting.
This vest is well suited to people who paddle out long distances to get to their desired fishing spot. It comes in three general sizes, which should work for just about everyone. It costs just $40, which is a great price for the brand and unique design going into this product. It’s a great choice for someone who already has their storage needs met and is looking for something that will be as comfortable and out of the way as possible.
The best way to figure out which vest is right for you is to take a look at your kayak, your usual supplies, and decide how much storage you need versus mobility.
If the kind of fishing you do is more intensive, like fly fishing, then you’ll probably end up having to sacrifice some mobility for a more robust fisherman’s flotation device. If you’re just out there to have fun, then something more casual and lightweight is the best option to keep from being over-encumbered by unused pockets.
Regardless, this list contains some of the best vests around today for whatever kind of kayak fishing you’re planning on doing!