Before catching fish, safety should be the primary concern for kayak anglers. Luckily, the latest generation of kayak fishing life jackets offer some of the best features ever seen in a vest. With this level of comfort and convenience, there’s no excuse not to wear one.
Your life jacket’s too hot? Try an inflatable. Worried a PFD makes it difficult to reenter the kayak? Look at a hybrid. PFDs are too bulky? Plush, form-fitting foam hugs your curves. Even better, fishing life vests combine the function of a flotation device with the convenience of pockets and attachment points for tools and tackle.
These life jackets from trusted brands like Onyx, NRS, Mustang, Stohlquist and Kokatat balance form and function to keep anglers safe on the water. Take a look at the selection below to find your perfect fishing PFD.
Best Fishing Life Jackets For 2021
Lure Angler PFD
$129 | oldtowncanoe.com
This performance high-back fishing life jacket from Old Town Canoes and Kayaks is designed with the performance kayak angler in mind. The Lure Angler PFD comes equipped with many features and adjustments that are designed to keep you fishing in comfort longer.
The Lure Angler life vest features a high-back construction, which nests comfortably with tall kayak seats, and the AirComfort system to keep you cool on the hottest days.
View all Old Town Canoes and Kayaks PFDs.
Pike Paddle Sports Vest
$89 | onyxoutdoor.com
The low-profile Pike Paddle Sports Vest from Onyx has a segmented foam design for increased range of motion when paddling and casting.
Other features include contoured lower back foam to fit the body comfortably, adjustable neoprene shoulders, reflective piping on shoulders for increased visibility, six adjustment straps to cinch vest up for a snug fit, and six zippered pockets for storing essential gear. D-ring included.
A/M 24 Inflatable PFD
$199 | onyxoutdoor.com
This inflatable life jacket from Onyx can be converted from automatic/manual to manual-only inflation, making it easier to use when paddling, but it still keeps you safe.
Utility pockets for storing gear, padded air mesh for additional comfort, a heavy-duty outer shell fabric and a padded, fleece-lined sunglass pocket are other important features.
Use ReArming Kit #1352 when a replacement CO2 cartridge is needed.
$149 | stohlquist.com
Soft foam combines with Stohlquist WaterWare’s exclusive Graded Sizing and Cross-Chest Cinch harness to make the Keeper one of the most comfortable fishing PFDs on the market.
The thin back design is perfect for tall seat backs. Multiple zippered pockets and mounting points ensure your tackle is close at hand when needed. Available in both hi-vis and low contrast colors.
View all Stohlquist Waterware PFDs.
$99 | mtilifejackets.com
Ripstop shell and universal sizing make the Calcutta a great PFD for anyone. The utilitarian design is full of features including large pockets and several attachment points. Ripstop nylon defends against hook points and sharp objects, prevents splitting and cracking while reducing weight.
The Calcutta is also a reliable backup PFD to give to a guest. Bulky foam may be overkill for smaller paddlers, but padded shoulder straps and long side straps dial in this PFD to fit anyone.
$139 | nrs.com
NRS put all their creative energy into the Chinook. Relying on feedback from pro anglers, the full-feature vest balances highly adjustable fit with customizable functions.
Seven pockets in the front offer space for small and large gear with lashings for a knife, safety light and even a rod holder. Nine adjustment points and a full front zipper snug the Chinook to a perfect fit. Best of all, the soft, plush foam conforms to fit the angler.
$199 | mustangsurvival.com
In Greek mythology, the Khimera is a monster combining a lion, goat and a snake. Mustang Survival’s Khimera PFD is a hybrid of an inflatable and foam life jacket, but it’s no three-headed monster. The foam provides eight pounds of inherent flotation. Pull a cord, and an inflatable bladder adds another 12 pounds of buoyancy.
A single, large pocket in front is sufficient to hold safety gear and a cell phone. Side entry with two adjustable buckles eliminates zippers and buckles on the front. A bulky PFD loaded with fishing gear might make climbing into a kayak from the water more difficult, but the Khimera’s low-profile foam and obstruction-free front panel makes it easy to reenter.
View all Mustang Survival PFDs.
$159 | kokatat.com
The Leviathan PFD reflects Kokatat’s roots in the Pacific Northwest where outerwear is a matter of survival. The soft, flannel liner and insulated pockets are welcome on cold, wet days.
Kokatat packed 14 pockets on the front of the vest, so there’s always a perfect place to store tackle and safety gear. The high back fits over any seat frame. The chassis features wide shoulder and kidney straps with foam forming to fit the body.
Ronny Fischer PFD
$159 | astraldesigns.com
Astral Designs went out of the box to make the Ronny Fischer comfortable and functional. The thin, vented foam along the spine keeps anglers cool and comfortable against high seat backs. Low-profile pockets in the front fold down to fill with gear. There’s even a hideaway cup holder. The coolest feature is the stowable hood in the collar, a welcome relief on sunny or rainy days.
Video Review of the Best Kayak Fishing Life Jackets:
With the best features and comfort ever seen in a vest, these kayak fishing life jackets leave you no excuse not to wear one. | Feature image: Kayak Angler TV/YouTube