Things To Consider Before Buying a Recreational or Fishing Life Jacket

California State Parks, Division of Boating and Waterways reported that; in 2009 event where 67 percent of people onboard drowned after their boat capsized, 84 percent did not wear life jackets.

Apart from acting as a life saver, personal flotation devices are supposed to be well fitting and comfortable wears. Designed with great features and great colors. Other important things to consider when buying fishing life vest include the following:

High Back or Fullback Foam option

So I touched on this within the Best Recreational Lifejacket review but it is important to think about your own usage. If you have just purchased a new kayak with a big comfortable seat you don’t want to be pushed away from it by the foam of your PFD. The mesh back options offer a more comfortable seating position. With the rear foam sitting high above the backrest allows you to recline and relax.

The Rear mesh is breathable and fast drying for comfort even in the warmest environments.

The full rear foam style is a good option for those who want to use the kayak in more challenging environments, in the event of a capsize the foam will offer some impact protection from the elements,


Once donned it is important to adjust the PFD for the best fit for its user. This is done with multiple adjustments both on the waist and on the shoulders to cinch the jacket to your own form.

Be aware of jackets with no level of adjustment as a poorly fitted vest can be very dangerous

For Children , ome vests include crotch straps these are a good option to stop children wriggling free of the jacket and to provide a more secure fitment.

Coast-Guard Approved

Statistics show that most unsuccessful rescues from drowning are caused by faulty life jackets. It is, therefore, advisable to go for Coast-Guard approved life jackets always.  Coast-Guard approved PFD are dependable and completely safe. They are manufactured under the supervision and approval of water life experts, following a series of tests to assure quality and lift the US Coast Guard shows the PFD is suited to its stated use.

Within Europe they use the CE or ISO marks to assure quality, be aware that there are a few slight differences between the two testing procedures but both assure quality and safety.

Size and Fit

As you can see life jackets are sold in many different sizes it is important to look at the manufactures guidelines to obtain the best fit. If you have the opportunity to try on the vest also is helpful.

The most important aspect being the actual size of the jacket. This is more important than the weight guidelines as a correctly fitted jacket will contain plenty of buoyancy. The US coast guard sets a minimum buoyancy needed by jackets to pass its rigorous tests many buoyancy aids are now supplied with much more than the minimum to offer increased safety and to suit a wider range of body types

As you can see we have included a couple of alternatives for both children and women in the review, this is because fitment of a PFD is so important. With different body shapes it is important to get the correct fit. Many fishing PFDs have been designed with Men in mind and this can mean they are large fitting and bulky, look out for specialist options for children and women to get the best fit possible.

Colors and Design

The old style design of orange bulky fishing life vests has been left on commercial boats. In the current market, you are guaranteed to find exactly what you are looking for in a PFD or lifejacket.

With this, I mean these jackets are designed to look good while saving your life at the same time.

They are available in bright and reflective colors, as well as darker greens and olives better associated with fishing.


Think about what you need to carry and look for a vest with adequate pockets. Think about storage on your boat so you only really need to carry the essentials on your person. Many of the PFDs offer large easy opening pockets keep in mind you may need to use the pockets with cold or gloved hands.


When buying a new Lifejacket or Personal Flotation device it is really important to think of both your own needs and any other people who intend to use the jacket. Kayaking is a watersport with inherent risks and one of the ways we can vastly minimise the risks is by wearing the correct fitting personal flotation device at all times.

For juniors and infants find a jacket that is easy to use and attractive, Start by using it at home to get them used to its fit and its comfort by promoting the use at a young age will encourage them to seek a life jacket anytime they use the water.

For adults if you have the option to try a jacket before you buy it’s definitely worth while to find the best fit.

Think about your own usage and the options of high back and breathable designs to maximise your levels of comfort when on the water for extended periods of times, lastly look at the pockets and what you really require.

The fit is more important than pockets and accessories so really do your research, look for something with soft foam and a US Coast Guard approval to keep you safe on your next adventure.

Take a look at some of my favourite fishing and recreational PFDs