Best Life Jackets For Kayak Fishing or Recreational use 2018

The most important piece of equipment to think about before getting on the water in your new kayak should always be a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) or Lifejacket.

The main difference between the two is that a Life jacket typically provides more floatation but positioned around the neck and across the chest so the user will be flipped onto their back. Keeping the airway clear. This is ideal for small children and for use in big seas. Also for non swimmers, it can sometimes be a good idea. Life jackets can be foam filled or gas powered to provide the necessary lift.

The PFD (Personal Flotation Device) is designed with foam buoyancy both front and rear so in the event of a capsize the user will bob like a cork making it much easier to swim and climb back aboard their craft. The downside being that if the user is unconscious then the PFD will not prevent them from staying face down as a life jacket would.

For the majority of our usage, in a kayak, a PFD is a better, more simple option, with a range of extras and sizes available.

A buoyancy aid must be both comfortable and carry the correct amount of Buoyancy. All of the Buoyancy aids reviewed here carry the US Coast Guard accreditation meaning they have passed the tests and regulations set by the US Coast Guard committee in respect of designing and fabricating a good quality product which meets their levels of safety and security.

If you want to skip over to the Buyers guide take a look here

 

Best Life Jackets for Kayaking Comparison:

Image Name Brand Sizes Buoyancy
Chinook Mesh Back PFD NRS S/M, L/XL, XXL 16.5 lbs
High Back 60N PFD Yak Adventure Equipment S/M, L/XXL 14.5 lbs
C Vest Mesh Back PFD NRS S/M, L/XL, XXL 16.5 lbs
Bahia Tour PFD Kokatat S/M, L/XL, XXL 17 lbs
V Eight PFD Astral Designs S/M, M/L, L/XL 16 lbs
Keeper PFD Stohlquist M, L, XL 17.8 lbs
Fisherman PFD Stohlquist S/M, L/XL, UNIV+ 17 lbs
Womens MsFit Tour PFD Kokatat S, M, L, XL 17 lbs
Junior Blaze 50N PFD Yak Adventure Equipment Junior 7.7 lbs
Junior Spiral 100N Life Jacket Crewsaver Baby, Child 6.74 lbs

 

NRS Chinook PFD

What We Say

The Chinook PFD from NRS is one of my favourites a comfortable, attractive vest style PFD with lots of pockets.

The Chinook is a popular high back design. Allowing you to sit comfortably on your kayaks seat, using the backrest, without the extra foam bulk pushing you away. The Chinook is available in three colours to suit your own style and adventures. The array of pockets are well positioned so not to prove bulky or inhibitive. With good organisation and space, the chinook makes the perfect PFD for kayak fishing or touring.

This feature-rich PFD is soft and comfortable to wear allowing you a lot of movement to raft, kayak or Sup.
NRS Chinook Mesh Back Fishing PFD has seven front pockets which can store different items include tackle boxes and tipper.

This storage ability is supported by 8 customizable attachment points, such as a coil tool retractor, D-ring and attachment loops, rod holder loops, and a knife lash tab.

It’s easily adjustable with the front opening easy to fit over other garments.

What They Say

The Chinook is more than a safety aid. With pockets for all your tackle, attachment points for your tools and an integrated rod holder, it’s gear that makes you more effective on the water. Kayak anglers attest, no other fishing life jacket can match the comfort and utility it delivers.

  • Designed with anglers in mind, the Chinook features seven front pockets for everything from small tackle boxes to tippet.
  • Perfect for kayak fishing, fly fishing and extended tours.
  • The mesh lower back is a great fit on high-back seats and provides ventilation when the weather gets warm.
  • The roomy front-entry design with eight adjustment points lets you customize the fit for comfort and security.
  • Soft PlushFIT™ foam flotation conforms to your body as you wear it for unsurpassed comfort.
  • A coil tool retractor allows you to clip on line snips, forceps or other tools that you want to have handy.
  • Includes a D-ring on the back for attaching your net, plus a strobe holder loop for those low light conditions.
  • Other outstanding features include rod holder loops, a knife lash tab, and multiple D-rings and attachment loops.
  • 16.5 lbs. design flotation.

NRS Chinook PFD
Type PFD
Sizes S/M, L/XL, XXL
Buoyancy 16.5 lbs
Unit Weight 2.15 lbs

Pros

  • High back design allows comfort and ventilation
  • 8 Attachment points
  • Large well organised pockets
  • Front entry for easy donning
  • Easy adjustment for the perfect fit
  • Good amount of buoyancy
  • Good construction
  • 3 colours available to suit your style

Cons

  • Not as breathable as other similar designs
  • No reflective panels

Yak Adventure Equipment Highback 60N PFD

What We Say

A favourite of mine the Highback PFD from Yak Adventure Equipment really ticks all the boxes when it comes to comfort and functionality. In just 2 size offering the High Back has plenty of adjustment to fit everyone, Simple to put on with an offset front opening to maximise pocket location to easily access with either hand.

The High Back PFD is hardwearing yet still very breathable to allow its use on the hottest days. The lifted rear foam allows comfort in your recreational boat or on your Sit on Top kayak.

The design is very comfortable and the colours subtle. Yak have a fantastic lineup of quality PFDs with there own sister company Crewsaver the brand leader in gas life jackets they know a thing or two about quality and safety.

What They Say

The ultimate buoyancy aid for your next touring adventure, river calm or choppy sea, the High Back 60N provides the most advanced solutions in comfort technology design. It’s raised back profile buoyancy placement means that no matter what type of boat you are in, you can be assured of its

comfort properties.

In addition, the High Back 60N provides breathable air mesh air flow technology helping you stay cool on even the warmest of days and a sculpted foam design helping to ensure the buoyancy aid moulds to the shape of your body to help ensure you are as fresh and comfortable when you arrive

as when you set out.

  • Adjustable shoulders
  • Twin waist adjustment
  • Multiple attachment points
  • Extra-large front pockets
  • High back buoyancy for increased comfort when using a seat
  • Breathable mesh lower back and internal lining for better air flow
  • Reflective highlights  

Yak Adventure Equipment 60N High Back PFD
Type PFD
Sizes S/M, L/XXL
Buoyancy 14.5 lbs
Unit Weight Not Supplied

Pros

  • Large front pockets
  • Easily adjustable
  • Super comfortable and breathable

Cons

  • No green option available for fishing
  • Only 3 pockets

NRS C Vest Mesh Back PFD

What We Say

The NRS C Vest has been a firm favourite for a number of years. Both comfortable and user friendly the C Vest can be used as a Touring PFD or for fishing its high rear buoyancy is perfect for resting over the top of your seat giving you optimum comfort.

The C Vest has a number of well positioned front pockets and large Solas reflective tape to allow it to be seen easily

Front entry is easy to put on and fast to adjust the comfortable rear mesh is breathable and fast drying,

The C Vest is the lighter weight alternative to the Chinook with less features but still an action packed PFD

What They Say

Designed with offshore sea kayakers in mind, the NRS cVest Life Jacket has pockets and attachment points for all the essentials. It also has lots of reflective tape and a cool mesh back that works great with high-back seats.

  • For touring comfort, convenience and safety, the cVest can’t be beat. Photographers, naturalists and anyone who likes lots of pockets love it too!
  • Six pockets, including one for a radio, provide lots of handy storage.
  • An accessory lash tab and lanyard loops on the front, plus a beacon loop on the back, give you even more options for outfitting this vest.
  • Flotation is concentrated up front and behind the shoulders, with a mesh lower back that lets you recline, relax and stay cool.
  • SOLAS reflective tape on front and back provides outstanding low-light visibility.
  • Eight adjustment points ensure a snug, secure fit.
  • Large arm openings allow for unobstructed movement while paddling or rowing.
  • This jacket carries the US Coast Guard Certification, through testing by Underwriters Laboratories (UL)
  • Design flotation: 16.5 lbs.

NRS C Vest PFD
Type PFD
Sizes S/M, L/XL, XXL
Buoyancy 16.5 lbs
Unit Weight Not Supplied

Pros

  • Solas Reflective tape for visibility
  • Well positioned pockets
  • Front entry
  • Easy adjustment

Cons

  • No padding on the shoulder straps
  • Pockets can feel bulky when full because of the squared shape

Kokatat Bahia Tour Unisex PFD

What We Say

Kokatat are well known for their expedition athlete navigating the biggest rivers to the deepest seas so it’s very fitting that their Recreational offering takes a place in our Best PFDs. The Bahia tour is both lightweight yet comfortable the Gaia PVC foam is very soft and low density giving you more flotation for a better fit. The colors are bright probably suited better for recreational kayakers than fisherman but the array of pockets really allows it to be used by anyone, The 3 sizes cover the market well with easy adjustment to get a comfortable fit.

Again the Bahia uses a high rear buoyancy design. To best fit over your backrest for a comfortable ride.

What They Say

The Bahia Tour features a high-back with mesh panel to maximize airflow against high back seats. Ideal for kayak fishing, the vest’s multi adjustable side and shoulder straps give a complete custom fit and its various pockets provide plenty of space to stash gear. Made from GAIA® PVC free foam.

Kokatat Bahia Tour Unisex PFD
Type PFD
Sizes S/M, L/XL, XXL
Buoyancy 17 lbs
Unit Weight Not Supplied

Pros

  • Bright colours
  • Good amount of buoyancy
  • Centre Zip for easy donning
  • Large pockets

Cons

  • No Fishing darker colour alternative
  • Not the best looking piece on the market but very effective
  • Narrow electronics pocket

Astral Designs V Eight PFD

What We Say

Astral have been a brand leader in PFDs for a long time from their own resurrection from the old days of Lotus Designs Astral came back to the market with a purpose. To build the best quality, Safest PFDs PERIOD. Once again the V Eight has shown this quality in design and materials. The V Eight weighs just 1.22 lbs making it one of the lightest PFDs , n the market yet still with all the buoyancy you would expect from other brands.

The V Eight is the most breathable design available featuring vented mesh and vents throughout the foam to allow for maximum breathability the colours are a good mix of bright and more conservative and the wrap around design is only really seen in this and the Highback from Yak.

The V Eight is a great piece for hot environments being low profile and comfortable. With simple pockets and easy adjustment it’s a really good personal flotation device and a sure favourite for many years.

What They Say

The world’s first breathable PFD, and our long-time best seller. The V-Eight combines our patented Airescape® technology with an ergonomic design high mesh back, and lightweight construction.

Astral Designs V Eight PFD
Type PFD
Sizes S/M, L/XL, L/XL
Buoyancy 16 lbs
Unit Weight 1.22 lbs

Pros

  • Really lightweight
  • Super breathable design
  • Front entry
  • High back rear buoyancy
  • Good range of colour options
  • Easily adjustable

Cons

  • Lighter weight mesh fabric can get caught whilst walking or on hooks
  • Not as hard wearing as other designs
  • Pockets smaller than other designs

Price: $112.46
Was: $149.95

Stohlquist Keeper PFD

What We Say

The Keeper PFD from Stohlquist is a more traditional vest-style PFD with foam front and rear. The back of the jacket has a thinner layer of foam to be both comfortable and provide a little insulation against the cold. The Keeper has a really good wrap around design forming well to the body.

The pockets are well positioned for easy access with 3m reflection on both front and back to make sure you are seen. The Keeper can be used by both recreational paddlers or ocean paddlers with a really good fitting cinch system the PFD will stay in place no matter what the water throws at you.

The Keeper works well as an angling PFD with multiple attachment points and pockets as well as a darker olive colour to suit.

The Keeper PFD still offers a front opening to enable easy donning and removal.

What They Say

The Keeper PFD is constructed with comfort in mind. Extra-wide armholes offer a full range of motion while the low-profile, graded sizing ensures maximum mobility over a wide range of body shapes. Stohlquist’s popular “wrapture” shaped foam contours to the natural shape of the body, providing a secure and comfortable fit without that “restrictive” feeling.

The thinner-backed design works well with the higher-backed seats found on many fishing kayaks.

The Keeper also features Stohlquist’s innovative Cross-Chest Cinch Harness. This diagonal, front-to-back adjustment – in conjunction with Stohlquist’s graded sizing and wrapture-shaped torso – results in more mobility and a streamlined fit without being tight or restrictive. The “cinch” also keeps the vest down & in place, eliminating chafing on your chin and underarms caused by annoying vest ride-up.

As a fishing vest, the Stohlquist Keeper PFD provides a multitude of storage options for the ultimate in “gear management.”  

Stohlquist Keeper PFD
Type PFD
Sizes M, L, XL
Buoyancy 17.8 lbs
Unit Weight 2 lbs

Pros

  • Wrapture figure hugging design
  • Good adjustment for secure fit
  • Soft foam provides comfort and flexibility
  • Two colour options bright and dark

Cons

  • Not as comfortable on a high backed seat due to the low foam placement
  • Pockets not as big as similar designs

Stohlquist Fisherman PFD

What We Say

The Fisherman PFD from Stohlquist has to be one of the best specific fishing PFDs available on the market packed full of great features it’s a must have for any budding kayak angler. the ingenious use of pockets turning into working areas firstly stops everything falling on the floor but allows good organisation and structure to your layout.

Once closed the pockets aesthetically are a good looking design and not obtrusive to paddling or fishing.

The high rear foam is well positioned to allow you to sit comfortable against your kayaks backrest, The mesh lower is breathable and fast drying.

The Fisherman is only available in the Green color way but for any angler this is perfect, The materials are hard wearing and designed to last.

Front entry with easy adjustment allows it to be donned and fitted fast and simply

A real favourite for any kayak angler looking for a performance PFD for the biggest catches.

What They Say

The Fisherman provides excellent cockpit management with places for the little

things that could end up in your seat or overboard. Dual front-mounted tool pouch

pockets have protective EVA stiffened outer shells to protect pocket contents, and

act as fold down workstations

Stohlquist Fisherman PFD
Type PFD
Sizes S/M, L/XL, Univ+
Buoyancy 17 lbs
Unit Weight Not Supplied

Pros

  • Pockets once opened become worktops
  • Green colorway
  • Comfortable soft foam
  • Front entry
  • Easily adjusted for all
  • High back design

Cons

  • No additional electronics or key storage option
  • Single color way

Kokatat MsFit Tour Womens PFD

What We Say

With all the PFDs designed for unisex use they sometimes are just not the right shape for women. That’s why Kokatat who build a full line up of Woman’s specialist equipment complement their range with this MsFit Tour PFD.

The MsFit Tour is equipped with 3 large pain pockets with a number of smaller options available to organise all of your equipment. This Vest style PFD is suited to recreation and fishing with the buoyancy both front and rear. The MsFit Tour is a front opening design with side adjustment for a tailored fit.

The comfortable PVC free Gaia foam is soft and flexible allowing you to move easily and effectively.

The front electronics pocket is a great addition with the over the top fastener perfect for either a mobile phone or handheld radio or gps with protruding ariel.

In three colourways the MsFit Tour has lots of really good options for women and will also suit men.

What They Say

Front and rear reflective tape, knife garage, strobe lash tab and multiple top-loading pockets gives the gadget-happy paddler plenty of room for gear. Ergonomic and innovative components such as thermoformed, padded Hypalon® shoulders, 3 side adjustments, GAIA® PVC-free foam, and superlative construction methods set the standard in modern PFD design.

Kokatat MsFit Tour Womens PFD
Type PFD
Sizes S, M, L, XL
Buoyancy 17 lbs
Unit Weight Not Supplied

Pros

  • Electronics pocket perfect for GPS or Mobile phone
  • Good color ways available
  • Soft Gaia foam for comfort and flexibility
  • Lots of reflective panels
  • Rear Lash tab perfect for strobe or light

Cons

  • Full foam back panel is not as comfortable on high backrests as a mesh backed PFD

Yak Adventure Equipment Blaze 50N Junior PFD

What We Say

The Blaze PFD has been the best selling PFD from Yak Adventure Equipment for a long time having a few changes along the way the soft layered foam is extremely light weight. With a single centre zip and clip the PFD is simple to put on and adjust quickly, The adjustable shoulders mean you can get a really good fitment.

This is a simple looking PFD and you might wonder how it made it into our list with no frills no big accessories it’s a very standard PFD.

BUT it’s a junior sized. When introducing people to paddlesport it’s important everyone wears a PFD this is for everyones safety and a ill fitting PFD can be as dangerous as no PFD. so the Blaze is also built in a smaller size to suit juniors. Allowing them the freedom to get out and enjoy the water.

The Blaze is perfect for a range of watersports from Kayaking, to sailing and SUP whatever your adventure this is a great option for kids.

What They Say

When you’ve already got everything you need, why take the kitchen sink? If you’re simply looking to get out paddling and have a great time on the water, the Blaze has it all in one neat package. Front zipped for ease of entry and with adjustable shoulders plus a high cut design for all round movement, it’s a cleanly efficient, elegant solution.

  • ADJUSTABLE SHOULDERS
  • HIGH CUT SLIM LINE DESIGN
  • ELASTICISED SIDE PANELS
  • KEY POCKET

Yak Adventure Equipment Blaze Junior 50N PFD
Type PFD
Sizes Junior
Buoyancy 7.7 lbs
Unit Weight Not Supplied

Pros

  • Junior sized for correct fitment and safety
  • Adjustable shoulders for tailored fit
  • Front entry so it is fast and easy to put on
  • Bright colours are attractive for juniors
  • Lightweight comfortable layered foam

Cons

  • No big flashy features but that’s exactly what you want for a childs PFD

Crewsaver Junior Spiral Lifejacket

What We Say

So you want to take your infant out to experience the water. Again it is so important to make sure they are protected in the event of a capsize. The Spiral Lifejacket is built for both babies and Infants offering very small sizes with crotch straps to prevent infants falling out of the life jacket.

At this age we certainly recommend a lifejacket as they may not be able to swim the large collar of the life jacket will roll them onto their backs to keep the airways open.

Crewsaver are one of the market leaders in lifejackets and really understand safety and performance this life jacket is no exception why risk an inferior model with a loved one.

A simple zip and clip on the front allows it to be put on easily and the fitted interior vest allows for a secure fit.

Bright yellow for visibility with good reflective patches. This is the ideal life jacket for Babies and infants.

What They Say

Crewsaver continues to lead the way in life jacket design and the pioneering children’s lifejacket range is no exception. Crewsaver’s complete range of children’s lifejackets are specifically designed for children, so whether you need something for general in-water play, dinghy sailing or even ocean sailing, there is a Crewsaver to suit.

Entry level to the children’s* lifejacket range is the Spiral 100N.  The inherently buoyant foam life jacket is perfect for inshore use, including surface watersports and swimming. The 100N of buoyancy reduces fatigue during general in-water activities whilst still providing a fun and comfortable fit.

The Crewsaver children’s range now completely outperforms existing products on the market to give your child the safest introduction to life on board.

Crewsaver Junior Spiral Lifejacket
Type Lifejacket
Sizes Baby, Child
Buoyancy 6.74 lbs
Unit Weight Not Supplied

Pros

  • Bright with good reflective panels
  • Especially built for babies and children in smaller size
  • Lifejacket provides extra buoyancy
  • Easy to put on
  • Crotch strap for added security

Cons

  • A product that cannot be faulted. Super safe and well fitting for any infant on the water.

Remember to pop over to the buyers guide for more information on choosing the right PFD

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