10 Best Life Jacket for Kayak Fishing in 2023

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A personal floatation device, known as the life jacket, is one of the essential pieces of safety equipment that every angler must have, whether you’re a beginner or a professional swimmer. 

The best life jackets ensure that you’re safe from drowning by giving you more buoyancy. There are different types of life jackets in the market. However, not all follow the standards. 

Choose the best life jacket for kayak fishing that’s right for you! Here’s our list to help you find the one.

10 Best Life Jacket for Kayak Fishing

1. Onyx MoveVent Sports Life Vest

Best in Construction

Key Features

  • Equipped with an expandable zipper for a versatile use
  • Three size ranges to choose from to accommodate all body types
  • Attached is a whistle in case of emergency

This kayak fishing life vest stands out with its lightweight sculpted flexible foam design and neoprene padded shoulders that are suitable for floatation foam. 

It’s made from a 200-denier nylon ripstop and nylon oxford that can resist tears and punctures. If you decide to paddle during dawn or dusk, you’ll still be visible through its SOLAS-grade reflective material. 

2. NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Lifejacket (PFD) 

Most Functional

Key Features

  • High-back design for a comfortable use
  • US Coast Guard Certified
  • Sung fit through its multiple adjustable straps

This kayak fishing PFD has a simple design, but it’s equipped with features that enhance its functionality, including a pocket, a knife lash, and a rod holder. 

For comfortable usage, it’s made from PlushKit foam with mesh-type fabric for optimum ventilation on hot summer days.

3. Stohlquist Fisherman Life Jacket

Best Fitting Vest

Key Features

  • Uses new ultra-soft and Gaia floatation foam with EVA inner platform
  • Comes with a small box for lures
  • Pockets with anchor-points

This personal floatation device uses a mechanism that offers graded sizing, providing a better fit to whoever will use it. It has a dual front-mounted tool pouch pocket to secure some of your fishing accessories. 

If you like to bring a lot of accessories, this life vest is the best for you. It has mounting locations for pliers, leader-line, retractors, and tippets.

4. West Marine Coastal Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket 

Best in Design

Key Features

  • Reflective strips for increased visibility
  • Offers a wide range of chest sizes
  • Large pockets to safe-keep your belongings
  • Buckle closure straps

This is a unique-looking personal floatation device designed to automatically inflate as soon as it’s immersed in the water. If you’re not used to wearing a bulky life vest, this is a good option because it’s lightweight, which enhances mobility.

Constructed from nylon material and 300-denier polyester, this life jacket is very durable. It’s a versatile inflatable PFD suitable for all kinds of water activities, such as paddle boarding and kayak fishing.

5. West Marine Offshore Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket

Best in Buoyancy

Key Features

  • Comes with an integrated harness
  • Equipped with a CO2 cartridge
  • Can be comfortably used by those who have a large chest size

This is another automatic inflatable kayak fishing life jacket that offers up to 35 lbs. of buoyancy to ensure that you’ll stay afloat faster if your kayak accidentally capsizes. It is equipped with features for both comfort and convenience, like its neoprene neckline for freedom of movement. 

It’s constructed with 400-denier nylon Oxford material that can endure wear and tear over time. It also has ripstop nylon shoulder straps to make it more sturdy.

6. Spinlock Automatic Inflatable DeckVest

Best One Size Fits All Life Vest

Key Features

  • Double crotch strap
  • Zippered closure
  • Lifejacket bladder illumination lights

This automatic inflatable vest is designed to comfortably allow the neck and waist to move freely. For safe usage, it has an indicator window in its outer shell, which gives you a signal if you’re properly armed with its safety features.

It provides an easy take-on and take-off entry through its buckle closure type and its wide waist strap. It’s one of the offshore life jackets that’s one size fits all but can still fit even the extra-large sizes due to its shoulder fit system feature.

7. Mustang Survival Inflatable Life Jacket

Best in Safety Features

Key Features

  • Features Hydrostatic Inflator Technology 
  • Suitable for rigorous activities
  • SOLAS-grade reflective tape for increased visibility

If you’re in search of the best kayak fishing vest that’s not only suitable for recreation purposes but also efficient in attending to severe marine environment emergencies, this one should top the list. It’s a favorite vest used by law enforcement authorities doing their work duties. 

It features both manual and automatic inflation abilities. It’s made from 410-Denier nylon and heavy-duty polyurethane-coated nylon material, making it suitable for all weather conditions.

8. Stohlquist Ebb Men’s PFD

Best Mid-Range Life Vest

Key Features

  • It has 8 adjustment points
  • Padded neoprene waistband 
  • Open sides for great ventilation

This coast guard-approved vest uses graded sizing with its cross-chest cinch functionality offering anglers the best fit. It’s a type III PFD with a buoyancy of up to 16 lbs. It has multiple pockets on the sides with snap closure.

For easy wearing and take-off, it has a non-corroding YKK zipper with a center zip design. This kayak PFD vest is applicable for both recreational and kayak anglers.

9. Onyx MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest

Best Lightweight Vest

Key Features

  • Zippered fleece-lined pockets
  • Available in a wide range of colors
  • Heavy-duty nylon fabric

This kayak angler vest is equipped with fishing-specific features like an expandable zippered pocket, or known as the tray pocket. You can safely keep fishing accessories in its spacious storage space.

If you plan to fish for hours, its lightweight floatation foam gives enough comfort. It has a tear and puncture-resistant fabric that provides ventilation functionality. Its six adjustment straps ensure a snug fit use. 

10. Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

Most Durable

Key Features

  • Multiple adjustment points
  • Neoprene adjustable shoulder straps
  • Comes with a lash tab to hold different kinds of accessories

This fishing lifejacket stands out with its breathable fabric construction, helping it dry instantly. It holds a Type III PFD US Coast Guard certification making it one of the best kayak fishing PFDs in the market.

It has fishing-specific features like fleece-lined hand warmer pockets that can fit in small tackle boxes and other fishing safety equipment like the radio, pliers, fly fishing tippets, and other safety gear.

best life jacket for kayak fishing
Kayak fishing with a life jacket. Source: Virginia State Parks

What Should I Look For When Buying the Best Life Jacket for Kayak Fishing

Life jackets are lifesavers. It’s designed to keep you afloat to prevent drowning, so it’s important to invest in the right one that’s suitable for your water activity. When choosing the life jacket that best suits you, there are several factors to consider:


Since your vest will be exposed to sunlight and water, that’s commonly a cause of wear and tear, choose a vest made from durable materials.

Most life jackets are made from nylon or polyester with plastic foam for buoyancy.


The kind of water activity you’ll be engaging in will determine the type of life jacket to choose.

For rigorous water activities, choose the one that has multiple adjustment points to ensure that it will stay in place.


Pick one with a snug fit but still allows you to move freely. It should be comfortable but still gives you security.

Choosing a small vest restricts your movements, while a large-sized jacket may give you problems staying afloat in water.

Size and Fit

The size and fit would determine the efficiency of the floatation device. The number of adjustable straps would determine how fit it would be. 

Even though you have chosen a vest that has universal sizing, it must still comfortably fit any size through its adjustable straps or buckle.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I have a life jacket for kayak fishing?

It’s immediate safety equipment in case the kayak capsizes suddenly. The best kayak fishing vest must use a Type II PFD, Type III PFD, Type V PFD, or Type IV PFD kayak life vest.

How should I clean and care for my life jacket?

Wash it normally using a cleaner designed to be used for kayak fishing PFDs. Rinse and fully dry before storing.

Are life jackets comfortable when fishing?

The comfort would depend on whether you’re wearing a life vest that’s perfect for your size. Even though you’re using a life jacket, you must still be able to move freely.


Wearing kayak fishing life vests is always required in any type of water activity since it’s vital safety equipment. With a lot of life jackets in the market to choose from, make sure that it fits you perfectly, it’s durable, and it’s within your budget. 

Diana Nadim
Fishing Expert
Diana began fishing at the age of seven, as it has been a long-time family tradition. From catching small bullheads to catching strippers on the backwaters of Bighorn, she loves to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water. Her dad was an expert angler, and he taught her fishing along with her two siblings. They used to go to the Bighorn River in Montana and Henry’s fork, Idaho. As a pragmatic person, she is obsessed with creating well-researched and practical guides and reviews of the best fishing methods and gear.
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