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Up to date Jan 18, 2023 8:36 PM

It’s official; kayak life vests are cool. After years when kayakers prevented life vests, the tradition has shifted to simply accept a vital key to water security. The change in perspective is because of a brand new technology of life vests which are extra snug, have higher options, and maintain anglers and different kayakers safer. To seek out the very best kayak life vest, we seemed for a private floatation system (PFD) that’s snug to put on, an asset when fishing, and neatly designed.

How We Made Our Picks

The most effective kayak life vests are ones that work. Private flotation units (PFDs) are vital for water security and may at all times be worn whereas kayaking. The most effective kayak life vests not solely operate as a flotation system however also needs to match properly, be sturdy, and, ideally, have some exterior storage for actions like fishing.

We took lots of the issues inside the “shopping for concerns” part on the backside of this roundup into consideration. On prime of that, we evaluated decisions based mostly on private expertise with the merchandise, verified buyer testimonials, company-specific analysis, and trade information. Our prime picks for the very best kayak life vests are up to date periodically to mirror new product testing and updates on how every product performs with extra use.

Finest Kayak Life Vests: Evaluations and Suggestions

Finest for Fishing: Kokatat Leviathan

Finest for Fishing

Why It Made The Minimize: The Kokatat Leviathan life vest shouldn’t be solely the very best for fishing, however it’s our prime decide total for the very best life vest for kayaking. It not solely has wonderful storage for all of your fishing ventures, but it surely matches properly, is snug, and can improve your security on the water.

Key Options

  • Buoyancy: 16 lbs
  • Closure: zipper
  • Weight: 2 lbs 1 oz


  • In depth storage
  • Sturdy supplies
  • Distinctive options


If we measure the very best kayak life vest for fishing on security, consolation, and performance, then the winner is Kokatat’s Leviathan. For many years, Kokatat has been making gear for severe paddlers, and so they poured all their expertise into the Leviathan.

The Leviathan’s shoulder and torso straps are padded with breathable mesh. To accommodate the excessive seat again in a fishing kayak, the Leviathan has floatation excessive on the again panel. The within of the vest is comfortable materials that seems like a cotton T-shirt in opposition to the pores and skin. The Gaia flotation foam molds to the paddler’s physique.

With 14 pockets rigorously positioned and stacked on the entrance panels, there’s a place for every little thing. The plethora of pockets does make the Leviathan somewhat cumbersome, however with an ideal place to place security and fishing gear, the additional house is value it. Along with pockets, the life vest options D-rings, tabs and attachment factors to carry a security knife and kit tether. It even has fleece-lined handwarmer pockets for these chilly days on the water.

The Leviathan is accepted by each the American Coast Guard and Transport Canada to be acknowledged on either side of the border. It gives 16 kilos of buoyancy throughout all sizes for assured floatation.

Finest Light-weight: Mustang M.I.T. 100

Finest Light-weight

Black kayak life vest.

Why It Made The Minimize: The Mustang M.I.T. 100 is a conveyable and light-weight choice that any kayaker can really feel secure carrying in case of an emergency.

Key Options

  • Buoyancy: 25.1 lbs
  • Closure: buckle
  • Weight: 1.75 lbs


  • Light-weight
  • Simple to retailer
  • Increased buoyancy than foam vests


  • No storage
  • Guide inflation wire

Mustang Survival makes security gear for rescue employees and the navy and their improvements carry over to their shopper merchandise. The M.I.T. 100 Computerized is Mustang’s most accessible inflatable PFD. M.I.T. stands for Membrane Inflatable Expertise, referring to the comfortable, pliable bladder that fills with air. The panels have a low profile when not inflated. In an emergency, the bladders blow as much as 22 kilos of buoyancy, which is extra floatation than most foam PFDs and sufficient to qualify as a leisure Sort III life vest.

Deflated, the M.I.T. 100 sits flat in opposition to the wearer’s chest. When the bladders are inflated, the wearer will float face up. Two vibrant yellow strips make it simpler to see the inflatable life jacket within the water.

The M.I.T. 100 Computerized fills with air in seconds through a sensor that prompts the CO2 cartridge when it detects water. It additionally may be inflated manually by pulling a wire. When the CO2 cartridge is spent, it’s straightforward to deflate and repack the bladders and substitute the cartridge. Checking the activation is straightforward with a transparent plastic window to indicate the indicator.

Mustang’s M.I.T. Computerized options 3D building to hug the physique with vast adjustable straps to maintain the PFD in place. Delicate, padded material on the neck prevents it from chaffing the pores and skin.

Finest for Girls: NRS Chinook

Finest for Girls

Black and blue women's life jacket

Why It Made The Minimize: The NRS Chinook is a life vest constructed for girls that includes a cushty design with loads of storage for practical fishing.

Key Options

  • Buoyancy: 16 lbs
  • Closure: zipper
  • Weight: 2 lbs


  • Snug excessive again design
  • Wonderful air flow
  • High quality security options


  • Not essentially the most sturdy
  • Velcro isn’t tremendous safe in pockets

Specifically designed to be the very best ladies’s life vest, the NRS Chinook has molded Plushfit foam panels which are articulated to suit quite a lot of feminine physique shapes. Pockets, lash tabs and durable building make the NRS Shenook an ideal fishing life vest. Two giant pockets and two smaller gear pockets on the entrance present simply sufficient house for fishing and security gear with out creating extra bulk that might intervene with paddling.

The mesh again with excessive floatation retains the life vest cool, and received’t intervene with a excessive sit-on-top kayak seat. A rod holder, knife lash tab and strobe attachment spherical out the minimal, however good, fishing options that make the Shenook a perfect kayak life vest for girls.

Finest for Children: Astral Otter 2.0

Finest for Children

Blue and green kids' life jacket

Why It Made The Minimize: The Astral Otter 2.0 is a flexible and kid-specific PDF that matches a variety of sizes and physique sorts. The adjustability is nice so it may well work for a number of years as your youngster grows.

Key Options

  • Buoyancy: 11.5 lbs
  • Closure: buckles
  • Weight: 1 lb 5 oz


  • Adjustable
  • USCG Sort III
  • Removable leg loops


The Astral Otter 2.0 appears to be like, matches, and performs like a pro-level whitewater PFD. Kind-fit and low profile, the Otter 2.0 gives 11.5 kilos of buoyancy in a small bundle that isn’t overly cumbersome. The arm holes are beneficiant to forestall rubbing the pores and skin or binding up garments. Padded shoulder and torso straps maintain the PFD in place with out squeezing the child. Waist, stomach, and chest clips provide redundant closures for a dependable match.

Vivid colours enchantment to the kids and make the PFD straightforward to identify on the river. A big seize deal with on the again makes rescue straightforward. Our favourite function is the Kapok foam, made out of natural, sustainable plant fibers, that’s comfortable and moldable for a cushty, environmentally-conscious match. Little ones like to discover, and Astral gave the Otter 2.0 two small zippered pockets to carry their discoveries. The grown-up options on the little Otter 2.0 make it the very best kayak life vest for youths weighing 50 to 90 kilos.

Finest Price range: Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Vest

Finest Price range

Orange and black life vest

Why It Made The Minimize: The Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Vest is a common and practical finances choice that also ensures security on the water.

Key Options

  • Buoyancy: N/A
  • Closure: zipper
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs


  • Suits adults 90+ lbs
  • Oversize choice accessible
  • Wonderful storage


The Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Vest prices half the value of high-end life jackets with lots of the similar options and the best security commonplace. It has a excessive foam again, a cushty neoprene shoulder pad, and varied pockets and tabs for kayak fishing equipment and security gear. A breathable mesh again stays cool and cozy whereas six adjustment factors and common sizing work to maintain the wearer afloat. The vest affords considerable floatation to offer the vest loads of buoyancy.

Issues to Think about Earlier than Shopping for Kayak Life Vests

Kayak life vests, like a variety of kayak gear, have come a good distance within the final decade. These outdated orange life preservers had been heavy, cumbersome, scorching, and sticky, and many individuals would take them off after some time. The most effective kayak life vests are actually extra snug, practical, and secure.


After all, crucial side of the very best kayak life vest is security. As we speak’s PFDs are safer than conventional life vests. Adjustable straps on the shoulder and torso dial within the match so the life vest works correctly. Reflective accents make the angler seen at night time.

To encourage water security, Coast Guard rules say a paddler will need to have a Sort III life vest on board (although we urge kayak anglers to put on their life vest). It’s no query {that a} PDF is among the finest kayaking equipment.


Consolation an important issue for a life vest. A heavy, cumbersome, clammy and scorching PFD is a PFD that many individuals received’t put on. The most effective kayak life vest shapes the froth for a greater match and to cut back measurement and weight. Padded straps, 3D building and softer material are extra snug in opposition to the pores and skin. Mesh panels, vents and dimpled foam maintain air flowing by way of the vest. For those who don’t like a foam vest, then the newest inflatable life vests are an ideal alternative for a light-weight, low profile strategy to keep secure.

One essential distinction between commonplace PFDs and kayak life vests: a kayak PFD has the rear floatation part positioned excessive on the again so it received’t intervene with the seat again.


Along with consolation and security, many anglers desire a fishing PFD—a life vest with storage for deal with, security gear and instruments. Which means pockets, D-rings, tabs to carry pliers, cutters, gear, and small deal with packing containers. Different kayakers desire a private flotation system freed from all however important kayak fishing equipment.

Some anglers like to hold important security gear in case they’re separated from the kayak. These anglers search for a spot to stuff a private locator beacon, security whistle, sign gentle, paddling knife, and smartphone.

Get essentially the most out of your kayaking expertise with the very best kayak paddles.


If a foam life vest is just too scorching and ponderous in your type, then an inflatable vest is the subsequent smartest thing. These kayak life vests function a rubber bladder that makes use of a CO2 cartridge to inflate in seconds. A guide inflatable vest inflates when the person pulls a wire. An automated mannequin prompts when the vest hits the water.

Inflatable life vests use a CO2 cartridge to explode rubber bladders contained in the vest. A guide vest is inflated when the person pulls a wire. Computerized inflatables have a sensor that causes the vest to inflate when it hits water. Neither sort of inflatable is as secure as a foam vest, as a result of it requires an motion to grow to be a PFD. That’s why inflatable life jackets shouldn’t be relied on in river rapids or heavy surf crossings, however for near-shore journeys in sheltered waters, an inflatable PFD is an effective choice as a result of it’s lighter, cooler and extra snug than foam.


Q: What function ought to I search for in a kayak life vest?

The most effective kayak life vest for fishing has particular design components. Search for pockets and tabs to carry fishing and security gear. At minimal, the vest ought to maintain a security whistle and sign strobe together with a spot to maintain a paddling knife in attain. A life vest for kayak fishing ought to have foam excessive on the again so it received’t intervene with a kayak seat. Giant arm holes and a number of adjustment factors make the PFD cosy whereas preserving the arms free for fishing and paddling.

Q: How ought to a life vest match?

First match the life jacket measurement to the paddler’s weight. After you have the proper measurement, placed on the life vest and shore up the shoulder straps till the arm holes are simply giant sufficient to permit freedom of motion. Then, inhale deeply and pump up your chest. Tighten the torso straps till the PFD turns into cosy. Then exhale and make minor changes on the shoulder and torso straps till the life vest matches good.

Q: What’s the finest life jacket for kayaking?

The most effective life jacket for kayaking is any USCG Sort III that matches correctly. If the life vest is snug and has practical storage for the meant exercise, that could be a plus, however the precedence ought to at all times be security.

Q: Do you want a particular

life vest for kayaking?

No, you don’t want a particular life vest for kayaking. It’s important to put on a life vest whereas kayaking, and we suggest a USCG Sort III for security causes.

Q: Are neoprene life jackets good for kayaking?

Sure, neoprene life jackets are good for kayaking. They can assist maintain you cooler in heat climate and are usually a cushty various to conventional foam PFDs.

Closing Ideas on the Finest Kayak Life Vests

The most effective kayak life vests provide consolation and options to maintain the paddler secure, plus pockets and tabs for deal with and important security gear, comparable to a whistle and sign strobe. On the subject of security, cash ought to by no means be a problem, so purchase the very best kayak fishing PFD you’ll be able to afford.

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