The Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest/PFD of 2023 | Safe Kayak Fishing

best kayak fishing life vest

Last updated on January 7, 2023

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Kayaking fishing locations come with safety precautions that personnel implement to ensure the safety of visitors. Warnings where low head dams are located and strict regulations on powerboats are some of these.

In the same way, your kayak fishing equipment has basic safety features too. For example, manufacturers make sure that you have a bright-colored boat to avoid getting run over by powerboats and stand out in water - it's important for survival! However there is still always room for freak accidents which could end up costing someone their life if they're not careful enough with what comes next: Life vests are necessary because these products might just save yours sooner or later.

In a Hurry?

Then See Our Top Picks!

(The Winner After 36 Hours Of Research)

NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Life Jacket (PFD)
  • The Chinook is a Type III, medium profile life jacket delivering 16.0...
  • PlushFit foam and a high-back design combine to create an extremely...
  • A mesh lower-back offers added ventilation on warm days.
  • Two large, zippered pockets, sized for tackle boxes, with internal...
  • The Chinook carries the US Coast Guard Certification through...

Like anything else, there are various types of vests depending on how far you're willing to spend for more comfort. To make it easier for you, this article is going to focus on the most basic life vests available for kayak anglers.

Don't head over to another website. This article will be a review of the 10 best PFD for kayaking of 2023 complete with an explanation of their features and my personal take upon testing them. Also, as always, there will be a buyer's guide and a FAQ section for you to make the best purchase of your life.

10 Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest/PFD | Comparison Table

Top 10 Editor's Pick To Kayak Fishing Life VEST or PFD| Specially For Enthusiast Kayakers

NRS PFD Foam Chinook Unisex Fishing Kayak Lifejacket, Charcoal, Size Large/XL

 This kayak fishing vest measures at 17 x 19 x 5 inches and is available in colors of red, grey-green, and grey-yellow colors. This product's design is appealing to buyers since it features wide armholes which allow for great mobility when it is worn. Apart from this, NRS Chinook Fishing Pfd Life Jacket front part is breathable which allows you to paddle with ease.

Multiple users won't have trouble using this product one after the other given that their sizes aren't different. It has multiple adjustment points that allow users to fit this life jacket according to their own body size. At the same time, it's fabric is durable. Therefore, you don't have to worry about other people busting this kayaking equipment of yours.

This kayak PFD/life vest has two front large pockets that are really large and holds enough space to store a 5,5-inch phone, baits, and other small kayak fishing pfd accessories. Aside from these, there are also smaller pockets that are equally handy. A rod holder strap is located at its right upper chest area. On the opposite end, is a knife holder that can hold small fishing knives.

NRS PFD Foam Chinook Unisex Fishing Kayak Lifejacket, Charcoal, Size Large/XL

All in all, I felt very comfortable while wearing this product. It floats really well and it held me up in the water even if I'm a bit heavy. One issue that I found about this product is that the pocket zippers might get busted when used haphazardly. With this, I'll give this product an 8/10.

NRS PFD Foam Chinook Unisex Fishing Kayak Lifejacket, Charcoal, Size Large/XL


  • Intermediate-level kayak fishing vest.
  • Lots of pockets, rod holder, and knife holder.
  • Comes with exterior attachment points.


  • Pocket zippers aren't very durable.

Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket, Violet Plus

Looking for a comfortable, body-hugging life jacket? Look no further than the Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket. This jacket features super soft, low-profile buoyancy foam for unparalleled comfort, as well as contoured inner chest panels and padded adjustable shoulder straps for a perfect fit. The full length front zipper and efficient forward pull adjusters make it easy to get in and out of this jacket, while the waist belt with a quick release buckle ensures a secure fit. And for added safety, the Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket is outfitted with reflective accents.

US Coast Guard Certification by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) ensures that this life jacket meets the highest safety standards. So whether you're paddling on calm waters or braving white-capped waves, you can rest assured that you're safe and comfortable in the Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket.

Stohlquist Women's Escape Lifejacket, Violet Plus


  • Made out of high-grade materials.
  • Best for plus sized woman.
  • Amazingly comfortable.
  • Reflective accents for added safety.


  • Doesn't have a lot of features.

Astral, GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD for Whitewater Rescue, Sea, and Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Blue/Black/Red, Large/X-Large

Astral's Green Jacket Life Jacket is perfect for Stand Up Paddle Boarding (SUP), kayaking, canoeing, and rafting. This life jacket features a 2-panel design that eliminates ride-up and lets you move freely and get in the zone. The pullover style has an adjustable side buckle to fit. It comes with 500 Denier Cordura Nylon shell and 200 Denier High Tenacity Nylon liner. Made to last many adventures.

Astral, GreenJacket Life Jacket PFD for Whitewater Rescue, Sea, and Stand Up Paddle Boarding, Blue/Black/Red, Large/X-Large

I'll give this product a 8/10 since it's style isn't up to my taste.



  • Not so impressive pockets.

ONYX General Purpose Boating Life Jacket Universal, Blue

Kayak life vests aren't very cheap. If you're a man or woman with a family who loves to go on different water adventures such as kayaking, snorkeling, boating, etc., giving each of them a specific life vest for one specific purpose might strain your budget. Still, there's a way to avoid this and one solution is to buy an all-purpose PFD.

Speaking of an all-purpose Personal Floatation Device for kayaking, I highly recommend Onyx General Purpose Boating Vest. This product's design is pretty straightforward. It has three vertical straps for securing and it's made out of durable fabric that covers a breathable foam underneath.

If you're new to kayak fishing and are looking for practice equipment, then you should go for this one.

ONYX General Purpose Boating Life Jacket Universal, Blue

Because this is pretty much a beginner's PFD. I'll give this product a 7/10.


  • Works well for kayaking, swimming, kayak fishing, and other water adventures.
  • Suitable for class 1 and class 2 rapids.
  • Affordable, stylish & gread fit.


  • Not suitable for advanced kayakers or kayak fishers.

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest, Aqua, XL/2XL

Aside from good fishing skills, your paddling skill is one crucial factor in winning any kayak fishing events. Paddle fast and you'll be securing the good fishing spots. Paddle slow and you'll be fishing at terrible waters. That's why aside from keeping you afloat, you should go for a life vest that won't get in the way of paddling.

You might love Onyx MoveVent. This is a best kayak fishing pfd / life vest that provides extra comfort due to a mesh installed on its lower back that compliments high back seats of kayaks. Also. it comes with shoulder adjustments paired with neoprene pads for more shoulder comfort. If you're feeling that the shoulders are too tight or too loose, level things out with the shoulder adjustments for you to paddle for more speed. 

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest, Aqua, XL/2XL

On a side note, since it caters efficient paddling. Dragon boat riders, aside from competitive kayak fishers, might want to have this product.

I'll give this product a 9/10 since it's style isn't up to my taste.


  • Lower back mesh for extra comfort.
  • Feels like you're wearing nothing.
  • Supports efficient paddling.


  • Style isn't very flashy.

ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket, Universal, Tan

ONYX kayak fishing life jackets is an upgraded version of Onyx MoveVent -at least for me. When worn, Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jackets supports efficient paddling with its neoprene shoulder pads and shoulder adjustments. This is pretty similar to what Onyx MoveVent gives. However, the former is much better than the latter in so many ways.

Compared to the previous one, this product comes with all the essential features for hardcore best kayak fishing life vest. It has six adjustment straps that ensure a snug fit so that your movement won't become awkward when reeling the fish in.

It also has a lot of pockets that may store different fishing accessories at once such as baits, fishing reel, fishing lines, whistle, sunglasses, etc.

Also, this kayak fishing life jacket doesn't smell bad easily. You may wear these up to two or 4 consecutive times before washing is needed.

ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket, Universal, Tan

An issue that I've encountered with this product is that it might be heavy when all the pockets are full. Still, this is natural since the pockets allow the user to carry lots of things. Therefore, I'll give this one a 10/10.


  • Supports efficient paddling.
  • Coast Guard approved (Level 3) Jacket.
  • Has features for hardcore kayak fishing.
  • Has extra pockets to comfort you on water.


  • Has lots of pockets and might get heavy when they're full.

Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest, 3000001685, Blue, Oversized

This product is somehow similar to the Onyx General Purpose boating vest. However, one key difference is that this product looks and feels more durable. I really love the fact that Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest's foam is much wider since this indicates that it has more capacity to keep large individuals afloat.

This is another great life vest to have for lending to friends or family so that you won't have to give your own personal specialized life vest. Therefore. having 1 or 2 of this product stored in your fishing kayak's will be great.

Stearns Adult Classic Series Vest, 3000001685, Blue, Oversized

 Because it's pretty similar to Onyx General Purpose Boating vest. I'll also give this product a 7/10.


  • Wide foam for more buoyancy.
  • Perfect life vest to be stored in your kayak in case somebody decides to ride with you.
  • Fits a wide range of sizes.


  • Kayak life vest that's a bit pricey for what it offers.

O'Neill Mens Superlite USCG Life Vest 3XL Black Stealth (4723)

This product is a compact life vest that's perfect for kayak fishing on turbulent waters like the sea. O'Neill Men's Superlite USCG Life Vest is soft and comfortable since it's lined with polyester foam. This product is availabe in colors of black, black-red, black-green, black-grey, and black-grey-yellow.

The straps of this life vest are really remarkable. They hold the life vest securely in place and ensures that it doesn't move around while being worn. Thus, it allows for more efficient movement when reeling in fishes that are difficult to catch.

The polyester foam lining extends way toward the back. It feels really great and provides the comfort needed if your kayak seat is lackluster. Perfect for water sports.

O'Neill Mens Superlite USCG Life Vest 3XL Black Stealth (4723)

It doesn't have a lot of features but is very comfortable when worn so I'll give this life vest an 8/10.


  • Very comfortable.
  • Holds securely in place.
  • Perfect For water sports specially kayaking.
  • Lightweight Polyethylene Foam which is soft and provide comfort.


  • Doesn't have pockets or holders.

Oceans7 US Coast Guard-Approved Kids Life Jacket 30-50 lbs -Type III PFD Flexible-Fit Open-Sided Design Personal Flotation Device – Pink/Berry

The problem with children's life vests is that they might go over their heads even when secured properly. This is really dangerous since the kid is left partially submerged in the water unable to move while the life jacket floats above. Most have this issue and one product that solved this problem is Oceans7 Life Jacket Type III.

The Nylon construction and EPE floatation foam are flexible enough to fit your child's body. Furthermore, this function is reinforced by open-sided adjustment straps that hold this PFD to your child's body. With this, rest assured that as this life vest floats, your kid floats with it too.

Also, the colorful style of this life vest will make your kid excited to wear it. That said if your child is picky about things, this product will surely live to his or her tastes.

Oceans7 US Coast Guard-Approved Kids Life Jacket 30-50 lbs -Type III PFD Flexible-Fit Open-Sided Design Personal Flotation Device – Pink/Berry

I'm giving this product a 10/10 since it has all the elements of a good kiddie life vest.


  • Colorful style.
  • Doesn't float over your kid's head.


  • Kiddie color makes it unsuitable for adults.

Fit One Size Fits All, Red/Gray

Plus-size people will surely love this one. This stohlquist fishing PFD has a very large armhole which allows people with flabby and large upper arms and chest to move without restrictions. Aside from this, the straps are strategically placed in specific positions to ensure that this life vest fits perfectly on huge individuals. Still, the best part about this product is that when it's not worn, you may flatten it for easier storage.

Fit One Size Fits All, Red/Gray

I'll give this product a 9/10 since it works well for plus size people. An issue that I encountered with this product is that its material is pretty to sensitive to washing detergents. Therefore, you might want to wash this with plain water only.


  • Perfect kayak life vest for plus size people.
  • Easy to adjust with three buckle front entry.
  • Made by thinner back panels which helps to eliminate interference with seatbacks.


  • Can only be washed with plain water.

Curious how I've come up with this list? Head over to the next section to find out how I did it.

Your Buying Guide to Kayak Vests!

Congratulations! If you've decided to proceed reading until this point, then good for you. By reading this section, you'll become an expert life vest buyer for kayak fishing that will save tons of money and can avoid getting scammed by fake products sold online.

The following are the best practices when buying a kayak life vest:

Know about the Different Types of Life Vests

By knowing the different types of life vests, you'll know which one best fits a specific need or purpose. The Boat U.S foundation provides the following classification of life vests recommended for use in the United States.

• Type 1 Life Vest- This is perhaps the type of life vest that offers the greatest buoyancy. This life vest will keep you afloat no matter how turbulent the water is given that the rapid or waves don't take you underneath. This is ideal for locations where rescue is very slow to arrive as it prevents hypothermia from occurring by helping you conserve body heat.

• Type 2 Life Vest- This life vest is good for kayak fishing, sailing, boating, or whitewater kayaking. Compared to Type I, most Type 2 life vests aren't bulky and allow for freer movement. This life vest isn't very buoyant and requires you to swim a bit to stay afloat. In this article, most products that I've mentioned are type 2 with the exception of Oceans7.

• Type 3 Life Vest- Type 3 life vests are ideal for kids. They're very light when worn but don't offer great buoyancy.

Go For USCG Approved Life Vest Brands

Always and always look for USCG approved life vest brands or at least those which have a reputation of showcasing performance similar to USCG approved life vest brands. USCG approved or recommended life vest brands follow the strict standard and regulations imposed by the U.S. coast guard in terms of buoyancy requirement, choice of material, design, and etc. USCG approved means that such life vests are approved for public use.

Go For Non-Bulky Life Vests

Non-bulky life vests mean more free movement. Free movement isn't only important for paddling and reeling fish efficiently but will also come in handy during emergencies. The purpose of a life vest is for you to swim with more ease thus allowing you to get to shore. However, this purpose is defeated if you're afloat but is carried by the water's turbulence to a deeper or isolated part of the water because you're immobilized.

Another purpose of a non-bulky life vest is for a more comfortable movement. The least that you want to happen is to look like a stiff tree when kayak fishing and very bulky life vest might cause this. Therefore, if you want to ride the kayak and fish with more grace, then a non-bulky life vest is what you need.

Go for Life Vest With Rod Holders and Pockets

A life vest with rod holders and pockets will be very useful. The pockets will allow you to carry baits or fishing accessories and will make it easier for you to get your hands on them as needed. Aside from this, the pockets will ensure that your kayaks storage will only be used for the fishes that you'll be catching. This means more fish for lunch or dinner and more quality talk with your peers over the campfire.

On the other hand, rod holders of your life vest will be useful if your kayak doesn't have them. Kayak with rod holders cost twice or thrice the price of fishing kayaks that don't have such function and as a result, you may have to invest an additional 300 bucks to 400 bucks. Life vests with rod holders will help you save money since they only cost at around 120 bucks which is a lot cheaper than buying a new kayak.

Kayak Life Vests FAQs

Why Would You Need a Kayak Fishing Vest?

Kayaking and angling are similarly an exterior activity that takes Put in an environment with seas. Similar to any other outside activities, protection is necessary and always a top priority. That's why most states rigorously mandated using Personal Flotation protection Devices (PFD) or life vests for the apparent factor-- to make certain the well-being of their individuals.

Life vests are used for numerous variables. Injuries can also be Bound to occur when having a superb time. For example, a boat, kayak, or any kind of angling vessel could tip over in the water, and also you can not call out a superhero and also request assistance from everybody onboard. However if you are furnished with life vest, it will surely help you from sinking.
Another scenario where life vest are made use of is through Rescue procedures carried out in the oceans. If the target is unconscious or in shock, life vests can assist him/her survive up until necessary rescue procedures are done.

In addition, a life vest is not just for safety purposes. It additionally enough storage for handy fishing equipment. It is convenient to make use of due to the fact that you do not have to search and search for devices you might need.

Even if you are an angler or an expert in kayaking or fishing, water as well as weather might come from hand. That is why it is Much better to be prepared as well as geared up with safety and security equipment than being sorry for not Abiding by what is right as well as appropriate.

How Should A Kayak Life Vest Fit?

A life vest for kayak fishing should fit in a way where it sticks firmly to your body and follows it wherever direction you suddenly turn to. In a simple sense, your life vest must move with your body and not dangle or drag. Furthermore, it must be firmly secured and closed where it doesn't expose your stomach or chest. As a safety precaution before heading out, it's a norm among professionals to secure the adjustment points of their life vests.

You'll know that a life vest has provides a secure fit if it has 4 or more adjustments points. Even better, go with ones that use zippers.

Are Life Jackets And Vests Comfortable When Fishing?

Capsizing can happen anytime when you are kayak angling or angling from a boat. So when you are out fishing, you have to wear an individual floating device. A life jacket or life vest is additionally a kind of PFD, but there are recognizable differences between a life jacket as well as PFD apart from the style and also style.

A PFD is comfier to put on, and people can wear them for a very long time. On the other hand, a life jacket or vest is bulkier compared to PFD, and they are probably seen in watercraft and various other cruising vessels.

Furthermore, most life vests have their buoyancy products before it; therefore, many people locate it awkward to wear when fishing. If you are an experienced swimmer, you can put on a PFD rather than a life vest. However, a life jacket will undoubtedly turn a subconscious individual from a face-down position into a face-up setting. A life jacket or vest will indeed be the most effective alternative for kids or people who are weak in swimming.

What is the Best Type of Life Vest for Kayak Fishing?

Type 2 life vests are the best for kayak fishing. They provide for freer movement and will allow you to paddle or reel the fish in without any problems. Aside from this, Type 2 life vests are very light, and most come with two or more pockets and other useful functions. Type III isn't recommended since they're designed to be bulky for greater buoyancy. Type 1 might be lighter than type 2 but they might struggle to keep you afloat.

What Is Coast Guard Approved PFD?

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has issued a rule on October 22, 2014, entitled Personal Flotation Devices Labelling and Standards. So the term "PFD" or personal floating device is used in regulatory language to refer to any USCG-approved buoyant devices that are specially designed for assisting and keeping people afloat while they're swimming about out at sea! There will be type codes which identify different levels of performance among PFDs; types I, II & III indicate wearable floatation devices whereas IV refers specifically to those which can attach securely onto an ESAB hard hat.

Where To Buy Life Vest for Kayak Fishing?

With things going right now, purchasing online is the best. There are lots of online stores out there that provide coupon codes for you to spend less on your purchases. Still, I recommend that you buy from Amazon since it's one of the most reputable online shops that are always ready to cater to the inquiries and needs of their clients.

What Does a Kayak Fishing Life Vest (PFD) Cost?

SL No.

Brand Name

Average Price Ranges



$59 to $900


Bassdash Strap

$38.98 to $390


Bradley Adult

$29.99 to $199


Lixada Fly

$45 to $350


JKSports Fly Fishing

$35.99 t0 $490


Eyson Inflatable

$69 to $760


Bluestorm Gear

$129 to $599


Stearns Comfort Series

$48 to $990



$99 to $750


NRS Chinook OS

$159 to $1500

End Notes

Kayak fishing is fun, but freak accidents happen. To save yourself from life-altering injuries buy a kayak vest and wear it with every adventure! This equipment might not look much - trust me its worth the peace of mind knowing you have this on when out in wilderness areas or near bodies of water where people don't usually go because if there were anything unforeseen...

The only problem? We can’t always predict what will happen next so we need something that'll help protect us should our day take an unexpected turn for worse than expected . That's why I recommend investing into quality Life Vests for Kayaking.

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