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The open ocean, a winding creek, the brackish of the intercoastal…. Regardless of where you prefer to do your kayak fishing, you know that you want nothing more than to enjoy your time on the water. 

When it comes to kayaking, safety should always be a top priority. One of the most important pieces of safety gear for kayakers is a personal flotation device (PFD).

A PFD helps keep you afloat in an emergency and ensures your head stays above water. For that reason, it’s imperative to purchase a kayak fishing vest before your next adventure. But where do you start? 

Take a look at our list of the best fishing life jackets on the market. All of the products that have made our list are approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and are considered Type III, meaning they are designed to have more than 15.5 lbs of buoyancy, ensuring extra safety for your next fishing trips on the water.

When you’re out searching for your next catch, the last thing you should be worried about is your safety.



Best Storage

Stohlquist Keeper

  • Material: Neoprene, ripstop
  • Item Weight: ‎1.9 Pounds

Best Pro Option

NRS Chinook

  • Material: ripstop nylon
  • Item Weight: 1.81 Pounds

Most Comfortable

Astral V-Eight Fisher

  • Material: nylon
  • Item Weight: ‎1.22 Pounds

Best for Women

NRS Shenook

  • Material: Nylon
  • Item Weight: ‎1 Pound

Ideal for Kids

Stohlquist Spinner Youth

  • Material: Neoprene
  • Item Weight: ‎1.5 Pounds

Best Ventilation

Lure Angler PFD

  • Material: Lightweight EVA
  • Item Weight: 2.44 Pounds

Best Budget

Pike Paddle Sports

  • Material: Nylon
  • Item Weight: ‎0.55 Pounds

Best Safety

Leviathan PFD

  • Material: nylon
  • Item Weight: 2.35 Pounds

Our Top Picks For Best Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

Below is a carefully selected list of the best kayak fishing life vests to ensure you stay as safe as possible.

1. Stohlquist Keeper

Stohlquist Keeper Fishing Lifejacket

A life vest is an essential piece of equipment for any angler kayaking in open water. It’s designed to provide superior buoyancy, comfort, and freedom of movement as you paddle and fish.

The adjustable chest closure to cinch vest ensures a secure fit so that the life vest won’t slip off or become uncomfortable during long days on the water. 

The Stohlquist Keeper Kayak Fishing Life Jacket also features a quick-release belt buckle system, multiple pockets for storage, and reflective detailing for added visibility.

With this life vest, you can keep your tackle, snacks, electronics, and other items close at hand while staying safe out on the water. If you’re the kind of fisherman who often loses tackle or can never find what you’re searching for, the Stohlquist Keeper life vest is a must-have.

best life vest for kayaking

With its superior buoyancy and comfort, it’s sure to provide you with an enjoyable and safe experience on the water and ensure that everything you need is right at hand.


  • Price: Under $200.00
  • Material: Neoprene
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs 


  • Large fit
  • Thinner back panel eliminates issues with high seat backs
  • Soft buoyancy foam
  • Lots of storage space
  • Includes handwarmer pockets


  • One of the pricier options on the market
  • Women users have complained it is uncomfortable

Stohlquist Keeper

The Price of “Stohlquist Keeper” varies, so check the latest price at

2. NRS Chinook

NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Lifejacket

Life vests and jackets are designed to keep kayak fishers safe and secure on the water. It provides great comfort with a breathable mesh back, adjustment straps, and lumbar support for long fishing days. 

The adjustable neoprene waist straps keep you snug in the boat so you can focus on catching that monster fish! In addition, the NRS Chinook fishing PFD has pockets galore, including two large front pockets for gear storage and easy access to essentials like pliers or tackle boxes. 

A unique pocket organizer system makes sure everything stays organized. With a front zipper, reflective trim for better visibility, and USCG-approved Type III PFD certification, this NRS Chinook PFD will make your time out on the water a safe and enjoyable experience. 

best life jacket for kayaking

The NRS Chinook Kayak Fishing Life Jacket will keep you secure while providing complete freedom of movement so you can make the most of your day on the water. This product is ideal for those who are experienced at kayak fishing and want the best bang for their buck.


  • Price: $102-221
  • Material: Foam
  • Weight: 2lbs


  • The plush foam, combined with its high-back construction, makes this life vest extremely comfortable regardless of the kind of seat your kayak may have.
  • Extra ventilation on the back ensures you won’t sweat too much.
  • It comes with good storage capacity.
  • It features a rod holder, reflective coloring, and a customized fit with space to hold tools like pliers and knives to cut lines.


  • The price range is expensive.
  • Users have complained pockets aren’t big enough.

NRS Chinook

The Price of “NRS Chinook” varies, so check the latest price at

3. Astral V-Eight Fisher

Astral, V-Eight Fisher Life Jacket

The Astral V-Eight Fisher PFD is an essential piece of equipment for any kayak fisherman. This personal floatation device is designed with an extra-large front pocket to store your tackle, bait, and all your fishing gear

It also features adjustable straps for maximum comfort and flexibility. The large armholes allow unrestricted movement when casting or paddling, so you can stay focused on catching the big one. 

With adjustable shoulder straps, a waist belt, webbing loops, and D-rings, this jacket gives fishermen all the features they need for a successful day out on the lake or river. 

best kayak life vest

Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, the Astral V-Eight Fisher PFD provides superior protection and convenience in a stylish, lightweight package. 


  • Price: Around $150
  • Material: Nylon Shell with foam inserts
  • Weight: 1.37 lbs


  • Breathable
  • Has a unique patented system that will remove excess heat so you will be able to stay cool, even if you’re wearing it all day
  • Is lightweight
  • Includes two large mesh pockets and an external pocket for a folding knife
  • Has a sea level buoyancy rating of 16 pounds
  • Weighs only 1.37 lbs 


  • Price is above average
  • Some users complained about the mesh pocket not closing well

Astral V-Eight Fisher

The Price of “Astral V-Eight Fisher” varies, so check the latest price at

4. NRS Shenook

NRS Women's Shenook Fishing Lifejacket

The NRS Shenook Paddlesports Life Jacket is perfect for kayak fishing. With a low-profile design and mesh side panels, it provides superior comfort and ventilation for long days in the sun.

 It is designed to fit snugly around your shoulders, back, and sides, and adjustable chest straps are easily accessible when you need them most. This great life vest also features convenient pockets for storing small items like lures or bait, as well as reflective tape for increased visibility in lower light conditions.

The Shenook Paddlesports Life Jacket is USCG approved and made from durable nylon shell material that will hold up to everyday wear and tear out on the water. 

kayak life jacket

With the NRS Shenook Paddlesports Life Jacket, you can be sure that you are getting a life vest that is comfortable, secure, and stylish – perfect for any kayak fishing excursion. 


  • Price: $106-160
  • Material: Nylon
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs


  • Designed to withstand extended use in both fresh and saltwater environments
  • Plush paneled foam fits comfortably to the chest, making this life vest ideal for women users who want a less bulky option 


  • Some users have complained about limited arm movements when casting

NRS Shenook

The Price of “NRS Shenook” varies, so check the latest price at

5. Stohlquist Spinner Youth

Stohlquist Spinner Youth Fishing Lifejacket

This life vest is designed specifically for children and smaller fishermen eager to get out on the water.

The Spinner Youth Life jacket features an adjustable chest strap, a full foam back panel for extra buoyancy and comfortable flotation, and two large pockets to store gear or tackle boxes. 

The jacket has reflective tape across both shoulders to ensure that other vessels see you in low-light conditions.

With its ergonomic design and lightweight material, this product is perfect for any young kayak angler looking to make the most of their day on the water. 

life jackets for kayaking


  • Price: $61-80
  • Material: Neoprene
  • Weight: 1.5 lbs


  • Multiple storage points
  • Comfortable with high seat backs
  • Has mounting points for fishing tools
  • Easy to adjust
  • Good mobility for the size


  • Can only provide support for children between 75-125 lbs, so if your child has a growth spurt, this is a temporary option

Stohlquist Spinner Youth

The Price of “Stohlquist Spinner Youth” varies, so check the latest price at

6. Lure Angler PFD

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Old Town Lure Angler Men's

The Lure Angler PFD is the perfect solution for the fisherman looking to stay safe while enjoying their sport. Constructed with 500-denier Cordura® fabric, this jacket features a comfortable flotation foam interior and adjustable straps that make it easy to get the proper fit. 

The front pocket provides storage space for tackle, snacks, or other small items you may need when on the water. With both low-profile and high-visibility color options, this PFD will help keep you safe without compromising your style.

 With its lightweight construction and a special air comfort system, this life vest offers enhanced breathability but won’t weigh you down, making it great for those long, hot days on the water.

kayak life jackets


  • Price: Around $150
  • Material: Nylon
  • Weight: 2.44 lbs


  • Good mobility
  • Lightweight construction and adjustable straps
  • Has an air comfort system for unmatched breathability. 


  • Users have complained it lacks a knife attachment point
  • Designed for smaller men

Lure Angler PFD

The Price of “Lure Angler PFD” varies, so check the latest price at

7. Pike Paddle Sports Vest

Onyx All Adventure Pike Paddle Sports Vest

The Pike Paddle Sports Vest is one of the most trusted kayak fishing life jackets available on the market.

It offers a comfortable and secure fit and features adjustable shoulder straps, three front pockets, and a heavy-duty back zipper.

Reflective accents offer increased visibility. In addition, the lightweight design won’t weigh you down when paddling or floating on your kayak.

Ideal for those on a budget or amateur fishermen getting ready to take on a new sport!

kayak life jackets for adults


  • Price: $55-95
  • Material: Nylon
  • Weight: 0.55 lbs


  • Adjustable shoulder straps
  • Reflective piping on shoulders and chests for increased visibility
  • Snug-fit high foam contours to the body for extra comfort


  • Pockets are not waterproof
  • Only works for people who weigh more than 90 lbs, so not ideal for children

Pike Paddle Sports Vest

The Price of “Pike Paddle Sports Vest” varies, so check the latest price at

8. Leviathan PFD

Kokatat Ul Leviathan Life Vest

These PFDs feature a lightweight design, allowing you to move easily without worrying about your essential gear weighing you down. The pockets are designed specifically for storing fishing tackle and other accessories, as adjustable straps allow you to customize the fit.

The foam is good quality and buoyancy rated at 50N, providing plenty of support in case you accidentally capsize, making this PFD one of the safest life jackets on the market.

 The Leviathan also includes a unique safety whistle built into the shoulder strap buckle, giving kayakers extra peace of mind while out on the water. 

lightweight life jackets for kayaking


  • Price: About $180
  • Material: 210 High Tenacity rip-stop nylon shell with internal foam
  • Weight: 2.35 lbs


  • Created with ultra-light quick-dry fabric and air mesh panels to keep you extra cool
  • Reflective tape offers visibility at night
  • Several attachment points for fishing accessories, rod holders, and clips
  • 14 accessory pockets, including hand warmer pockets


  • One of the priciest jackets on the market

Leviathan PFD

The Price of “Leviathan PFD” varies, so check the latest price at

Types of PFD

 There are several different types of kayaking PFDs available on the market today. The type of PFD you choose will depend on your body size, what kind of water you’ll be fishing in, and how much maneuverability you need while paddling.

For recreational kayaking and fishing, look for a Type III or Type V PFD. These styles offer good buoyancy and range from lightweight to bulkier designs with a few extra pockets.

 For more intensive activities and whitewater kayaking, consider a Type IV PFD. This style is bulkier and offers greater buoyancy and flexibility than the other life jackets. It also includes multiple zippered pockets for additional storage.

If you’re planning to fish in colder waters, you may want to invest in a specialized fishing kayak life vest, like the ones listed above. These jackets are designed specifically for kayak anglers and provide better protection from hypothermia.

They often include features such as insulation, adjustable straps, and built-in tackle boxes or rod holders. No matter what type of PFD you choose, ensure it fits properly so that it won’t ride up or slip off in the event of a capsize.

When you’re out on the water, always wear your PFD – it could mean the difference between life and death.

What to Look For in Your Kayak Fishing PFD (Buyer’s Guide)

Below are some key factors you need to consider before purchasing your life vest or jacket.

kayaking life jacket


A kayak fishing life vest should fit properly and be comfortable. Look for a lightweight, breathable, and adjustable PFD to accommodate your body type.

Make sure the PFD offers adequate flotation for your weight and size. Most kayak fishing life jackets are designed with over sixteen pounds of great buoyancy so that you stay afloat in the event of an emergency situation.


When out on the water, your kayak fishing life jacket will be a part of you for hours on end.

Make sure to choose one that offers both maximum mobility and comfort so that it won’t cramp your style or distract you from your fishing experience. Look for adjustable straps and durable materials like neoprene or mesh that are lightweight and comfortable against the skin. 

Angling Features

When it comes to angling kayak fishing, you’ll want extra features for your life vest. Kayak fishing jackets need to have plenty of pockets and storage options to carry your essential gear. 

Look for zippered pockets, lash tabs, easy-access compartments, and other features to help keep essential items secure while on the water.

Durability is also important when considering this investment. The last thing you want is to buy a new life vest every fishing season. Look for a perfect fishing PFD designed to be durable and long-lasting.

Reflectivity is also important, especially if you prefer fishing at night or in low-light conditions. Look for a lifejacket with reflective material or bright colors that will be visible from afar. This can help you stay safe when out on the water after dark.


Make sure you select a life vest or jacket with enough flotation for your size and weight. All modern kayak fishing PFDs are designed to meet national standards for buoyancy—look for labels like UL (Underwriters Laboratories) or ULC (Underwriters Laboratories Canada).

Choose a jacket with at least 15 pounds of buoyancy per adult and more if you are larger or going out on bigger bodies of water.

Look for a life vest with soft foam evenly distributed throughout its construction. This ensures maximum floatation and proper fit, no matter how much fishing gear you carry in your pockets or how active you are on the water.  


Choose a fishing PFD made from tough materials that won’t rip or tear if snagged on a branch or stuck on rocks. Look for double stitching and reinforced construction so your vest can stand up to the rigors of kayak fishing.

life jacket kayak

Buoyancy Rating

Make sure your PFD exceeds the minimum US Coast Guard-approved buoyancy rating (at least 16 lbs). Higher ratings provide more protection, so opt for the most buoyancy you can find in your price range.

Warmth or Ventilation

Comfort is key when it comes to selecting the right life jacket. Not only should it fit properly, but look for soft and breathable materials, so you won’t feel uncomfortable while wearing it.

If you plan to kayak fish in cold weather or during the winter months, choose a PFD designed to keep you warm. Look for insulated models with vents to regulate your body temperature and stay comfortable on the water.

Consider the type of fishing activity you’ll be doing when selecting a PFD style. A standard life jacket will provide good coverage and buoyancy, while a kayaking life vest offers an increased range of motion, comfort, and storage options. 

Final Thoughts

As you can see, there are a variety of best life jackets to choose from for your next fishing trip, and what you will pick depends on your needs.

Inflatable life jackets are a lightweight option that can easily be packed away, while traditional foam life vests offer more buoyancy but can be cumbersome and limit mobility when casting for your next catch.

Hybrid life jackets combine the best of both worlds by offering some buoyancy and a lighter-weight design.

The most important factor to consider is fit. Make sure you measure yourself and look for a PFD with adjustable straps so it fits snugly but not too tight.

Comfort should also be taken into account as you’ll be spending extended periods of time on the water wearing these life jackets. For greater peace of mind, opt for a PFD with SOS labels that provide instructions on how to signal distress and stay safe while out on the water.  

Finally, make sure the PFD meets safety regulations by checking its rating – Type III is typically required for recreational boaters. With these factors taken into account, you can find the perfect life jacket for your adventures on fishing kayaks.

Once you’ve chosen the best PFD for your needs, make sure to wear it correctly at all times while out on the water and adjust it as necessary. Remember that this device is only effective when worn properly and checked regularly – never take shortcuts with safety! 

With proper care and maintenance, your kayak fishing life jacket will keep you safe and secure on all your adventures.

Happy paddling!

Categories: Kayaking

Megan MacGregor

Megan MacGregor is a published author and freelance writer with ten plus years of experience. She lives in Orlando, Florida where she spends her free time wakeboarding the city's lakes, paddle boarding and kayaking the rivers, and surfing at the nearest beach. Her dad, best-selling author and adventurer, Rob MacGregor, is a professional windsurfer and first taught Megan how to windsurf at the age of ten in Isla Margarita off the coast of Venezuela. Since then, Megan and her dad have embarked on windsurfing trips to the Colombian River Gorge, Dominican Republic, Aruba, Costa Rica and Mexico. During her four years at New College of Florida in Sarasota, Florida, Megan started the windsurfing program on the Sarasota bay and became the weekend windsurfing instructor for the college. She loves everything that brings her out on the water, from sailing to swimming, and any opportunity to practice a new water sport is time well spent.


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