Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing- Life Vest & Jackets 2022 Updated Review

If you’ve ever tried fishing in the waters, deep or shallow, big fish or small, you know just how thrilling kayak fishing is. If you’ve been in the waters on a kayak, you must know that having the best PFD for kayaking fishing on you keeps you safe from the hazard of potential drowning.

It is mandatory by the law in most states, but this is not just a formality for the law. Sure, kayaks are very safe to angle in, but you never know when you get too absorbed in your fishing, and it rolls. If you ever find yourself tripping and falling in the water, you will be happy to be wearing a kayak life vest.

For example, in 2017, a total of 658 deaths were reported by the US Coast Guard, most of them lost their lives because of drowning. And looking at the data regarding PFD usage, 84.5 percent of the dead people did not wear any PFD when they were in the water. This is why, before hitting the seas, always put on a PFD.

Your PFD for kayak fishing is not just a buoyancy aid; it comes with specialized design with a lot of storage, durable fabric, and kayaking comfort in mind. If you love kayak fishing, we have listed some of the best PFD for kayaking fishing, along with their detailed reviews. In this buyer’s guide, you will find all you need to know to choose your best PFD for kayaking.

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What Is a Fishing PFD?

Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing

A PFD stands for personal floatation device. Its other names are life vest, life jacket, floatation suit, cork jacket, life belt, buoyancy aid and Mae West. It is a vest made to help the wearer stay afloat when in water, whether conscious or unconscious.  

You can find various sizes in PFDs for people of different weights. There are also different designs of PFDs according to their level of protection and convenience of wearing. 

Many states have a strict policy that anyone going in or near water must wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or a life vest to ensure that their head stays above the water surface in case of an emergency.   

Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing: Why Do You Need a Kayak Fishing Vest?

Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing

When you are in a kayak for fishing or paddling, a vest will keep you safe from the hazard of drowning. 

Your personal floatation device (PFD) or life jacket is the most crucial safety equipment on a boat. Strong swimmers can also get tired and drowned after spending a lot of time inside water, provided that they are conscious when the emergency happens. 

Your PFD can be the only thing helping your head stay above the water level if you get your head hit by something and knock out while falling in water. It is essential to wear the right PFD according to the activities and conditions you will face. There are different regulations about the type of PFD appropriate for the said activity for different types of activities and water levels. 

Following are the requirements of the U.S. Coast Guard for the safety of everyone going in or near water:

  • There must be an appropriate sized wearable PFD for all people on a boat, whether they are kids or adults.
  • For boats longer than 16 ft, you must also keep at least one throw able type four PFD, such as a tube on board.
  • In case a PFD is in bad condition, such as having tears or rips on its surface, the USCG does not approve it.

Everyone should wear a PFD when going in or near the water. This includes all water-related activities such as swimming, wading, boating, fishing etc.

In the event of an emergency, there might be no time to wear a life jacket quickly, such as slipping while fishing or falling out of your fishing kayak. Your life vest will also maintain your body heat when you are waiting for rescue in the water.                 

Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing: What Type of PFD is best for Kayak Fishing?

There are five main categories of PFDs specified by the U.S. Coast Guard. However, the best life jacket for kayaking is usually a type III or type V because they offer the most freedom of mobility and comfort. 

All types of PFDs or life vests are designed for different purposes. Let’s have a look at all five categories of PFDs.   

Type I (Offshore Life Jackets)

Type I PFD is meant to be worn in open seas, oceans, remote water, etc. The rescue may get delayed, especially in rough conditions. They offer ultimate flotation. However, they are quite bulky and large, so they become quite uncomfortable. 

In an emergency, types one PFD will quickly make its wearer face up whether they are conscious or unconscious. Generally, type I PFDs are kept on commercial vessels and these are not available for sale to the general public.               

Type II (Near-shore Buoyancy Vests)

Generally, type II PFDs are used in calm waters. These are available for sale to the general public. They do not have as much buoyancy as the type I PFDs, but these do help as a quick response when quick rescue is possible.  

While these are not as uncomfortable or bulky as the type one vests, they still restrict the mobility essential for kayak fishing.       

Type III (Flotation Aids)

These allow the most range of motion needed for fishing or paddling due to their big armholes and the bulk’s location being away from the shoulders and arms.  

Type IV (Throw able Devices)

These are just throw-able ring or cushion used as a backup for conscious people who know swimming. These are not required on a kayak.     

Type V (Special-use Devices)

These are designed for specific activities such as kayaking, waterskiing, sailing, windsurfing etc. 

How to Choose the Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing

It would help if you kept a lot of factors in mind before you buy your PFD kayak fishing, this guide will help you find the best one.  Here are the considerations you should remember. 

Safety Standards

Before you get into the size specifications and color choices, find out if your PFD meets the safety standards or not! 

There are international safety standards set by four bodies dedicated to ensuring your safety in the waters. Make sure your PFD is approved by at least one of these bodies.

These bodies are: 

If your PFD has a certification from either of these, it’s okay.

Fit and Size 

Your PFD should fit you comfortably. Otherwise, it can get frustrating when you out in the waters. There have been cases where anglers slipped out of their vest because it was not their right fit. 

Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing- Life Vest & Jackets

Similarly, a PFD that is very tight or small can restrict your movement. And the ones that ride up when you move spoil all the fun. This way, you won’t be able to catch any fish. So don’t take chances with your size. Measure your chest with tape right below your armpits. Look up the manufacture’s guideline for sizing instructions. 

While the majority of the PFDs come with adjustment straps, but that only provides extra comfort. You will have to get your correct size designed for your frame.             


Usually, a regular adult needs seven to twelve pounds of extra buoyancy to keep floating on the water.   

Most of the type III life vests that are great for kayaking offer 15.5 pounds of buoyancy. Many factors affect a vest’s buoyancy like the weight and size of the person wearing it, the water current, whether it is freshwater or saltwater, and what clothes you are wearing underneath.

Go through the specifications by the manufacturer to see the buoyancy level of your flotation device. 


Your PFD should be highly durable and tough to face any conditions that may come your way. We recommend getting your hands on at least a 400 denier ripstop nylon, so it stays heavy duty. Also, look out for UV damage that reduces quality over time and ensure that your life vest can endure the scorching sun.


You must have noticed that most life vests have mesh on the lower back or some technology that makes the end breathable. 

It’s because getting soaked in your sweat when you’re out on the waters is not suitable for you. Wearing a life jacket can be hot, especially when you’re out in the sun. Get a PFD that has huge armholes to let the air pass and keep you fresh. So mesh fabric and vent provision etc. is all good for breathability. 


The colour of your kayak life vest is also an essential factor. While an all-black PFD may look cool, it isn’t the best when it comes to your safety. You want to be visible in the water if you get in danger. Pick a colour that can be seen easily from a distance. The colour of your vest might save your life someday.

Storage and Pockets

While storage is not a number one priority for a life vest, it comes in handy when you’re fishing on a kayak. Be careful here for how much storage you need because more pockets mean more bulk. Some pockets are excellent, though!


The armholes on your PFD kayak for fishing should be prominent. Your pockets should not get in your way. 

You want to move freely without any restrictions when you cast or paddle. If your life vest causes a restriction in your movements, it is not your best PFD for kayaking. One more time, take into consideration what size you’re going to wear and how much storage you need in your PFD before buying one. 

If you can keep the gear in some tackle box or a compartment in the kayak, don’t get life vest with too many pockets. 


The low price doesn’t necessarily mean bad quality. If your chosen PFD ticks all the right boxes discussed above, it is good to go. If you select a more straightforward design, you can save money, and there’s nothing wrong with that. One more time, check what exactly you need and what functions would not be as useful for you. Buy the one that offers the most value for your money.

Comparison Table of the Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing

[amazon table=”7818″]

10 Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing Product Review

The above comparison table helps you limit your search. Today you can choose you chosen the best PFD for Kayaking Fishing. However, it does not elaborate on each product and hence isn’t conclusive. We know, also, to help you make an informed decision, we provide details of each product so that your doubts will probably clean, and also you do not end up creating a hasty decision. 

The above comparison table helps you limit your search. Today you can choose you chosen the best PFD for Kayaking Fishing. However, it does not elaborate on each product and hence isn’t conclusive. We know, also, to help you make an informed decision, we provide details of each product so that your doubts will probably clean, and also you do not end up creating a hasty decision. 

Of course, if you believe you cannot make a decision even now, then we’ll provide you having a customer’s guide that will help you reach a decision making. Here is just a detailed review of each one of those above-listed products.   

01- Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

The MoveVent Dynamic by Onyx is easy to maneuver and comfortable. It is designed in a way that it doesn’t interfere when you are paddling. This is a very breathable, kayak life vest.     

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest has been approved by the US Coast Guard and has its guaranty. It has SOLAS grade reflective material on it for low light visibility. If you weigh ninety pounds or more, this is a suitable life vest for you. 

It is a type III PFD with bubble foam on the back and neoprene padding on the shoulders. There is a whistle attached to the vest in case there is an emergency. Its pockets are zippered and expandable with mesh lining. 


  • Mesh ventilation in front and back for breathability\
  • Six adjustment straps
  • SOLAS grade reflective material 
  • Expandable zippered pocket with mesh drainage
  • Heavy-duty front zipper
  • High back foam to accommodate high back kayak seats
  • USCG approved
  • Innovative vented channels
  • Soft, comfortable flotation foam
  • The bubble foam is lightweight, buoyant, and soft
  • The zippered pockets offer safe storage
  • The Large armholes allow free movement
  • Approved and guaranteed by the US coast guard
  • It is a very breathable life vest
  • The pockets may feel small to some people
  • The vest may feel bulky

02-Onyx Curve MoveVent Paddle Sports PFD

The Curve MoveVent is an entry-level life jacket for kayaking with a higher backrest for comfort and mesh in the lower back for ventilation.  

Its material is lightweight yet durable. It is highly comfortable for kayaking and doesn’t restrict your movement too much. The Curve comes in bright colors allowing visibility in low lights. 

There are no pockets, though, which is a downer. The Curve by Onyx may not be your best PFD for kayaking fishing, but it is an excellent choice if you keep your gear somewhere. It allows you to move while paddling. Its design is durable. And it is accessible in the pocket!


  • U.S. Coast Guard Approved
  • Flotation foam plus Bubble Foam on inner back
  • Shoulder adjustments with neoprene pads
  • Adjustable side belts
  • SOLAS grade reflective material
  • Soft, lightweight flotation foam
  • Mesh in lower back fits high back seats and sit-on-top kayaks
  • Its design allows a maximum range of motions
  • The Onyx Curve has a simple but effective design
  • The price is affordable
  • It is breathable with the mesh used in the making
  • Bright colors allow nighttime visibility
  • It doesn’t have any pocket, which technically makes it a non-fishing vest
  • Just an entry-level PFD

03-NRS Chinook Fishing PFD

The NRS Chinook is excellent for the storage it has to offer. It has got seven pockets on the front giving you ample room for small tackle boxes, tippets, snacks, as well as attachment points for gear and floatation when you’re swimming. It has a secure fit to your body that’s comfortable as well with its eight adjustable straps.

The mesh on the back makes NRS Chinook great for extended tours, fly fishing, and kayak fishing. Its front entry is spacious, making it easy to wear, and it’s a zippered vest, so it stays securely over your body.  

The attachment loops and D-rings on its backside allow you to carry your loops and nets there.  


  • Safety aid and personal tool kit
  • It has Attachment points for tools and integrated rod holder
  • This is Ideal for fly fishing
  • Mesh lower back keeps you cool in warm weather
  • Roomy front-entry design with 8 adjustment points
  • Ventilated back panel
  • High seatbacks
  • 8 front pockets
  • Front left pocket includes a key lanyard
  • The material is comfy and breathable
  • The NRS Chinook offers ample storage
  • It is US Coast Guard approved
  • It offers a secure fit to your body
  • Multiple D-rings and attachment loops
  • There is no reflective marking on the NRS Chinook
  • It is a bit costly

04- Onyx Universal Paddle Kayak Life Vest

The Universal Paddle life vest by Onyx is a Type III PFD for kayak fishing approved by the US Coast Guard. With a low profile, it comes with six adjustable straps to fit comfortably. It has a high foam back to accommodate kayak seats with the upper back. Its fabric is 200 denier nylon and mesh in the lower back.  

It has got a large pocket on the front to offer storage. It comes in two colors: red and aqua. There is a Universal size and then an Oversize. Onyx’s universal model is an affordable kayak life vest offering comfort and durability at a low price. Although it is not very fancy, like the other options available, it provides excellent quality and is reliable. 

Onyx Universal Paddle Kayak Life Vest allows you to move freely as you paddle. As well as it will stay in its place and won’t ride up despite the constant movements of paddling. In our point of view, this is probably the best PFD for kayaking when on a budget.


  • Imported quality
  • It is low profile, lightweight,
  • Compact design;
  • Sublimated liner graphics for added color and style
  • Made with high foam back accommodates high back seats
  • It is breathable mesh lower back
  • Featured with six adjustment straps to cinch vest up to fit snug
  • Comfortable neoprene shoulder pads; Large front pocket
  • The Onyx Universal life vest offers a great fit and adjustability
  • It is very comfortable to wear
  • Allows a high range of motions while kayaking
  • It offers excellent quality for a meager price
  • The US Coast Guard approves it
  • The sizes are generic and more suited for more significant people
  • It might feel a bit bulky to some

05- Stohlquist Edge Life Jacket

The Stohlquist Edge is a highly comfortable life jacket that makes it very easy to move wearing it. It offers a customized fit for anyone wearing it. The foam body can be cut to fit the chest of whoever wears it. It has no generic sizing. It is one of the best PFD for kayaking fishing in the market.

The straps on the sides and the shoulders make it a low profile vest, making it easy to maneuver. The zipper is located on the side, which is better than the usual front zippers. There are front pockets as well. 

While it is an excellent fit for a man of all sizes, it is not a life vest for women. It gets too tight on the chest for women. 


  • It has ergonomic WRAPTURETM shaped torso
  • It has adjustable shoulders,
  • 4 side pulls and front waist buckle closure
  • It is Low cut, offset front-zip entry
  • Features with high visibility 3MTM reflective accents
  • Roomy, top loading front pocket for secure storage and easy accessibility
  • Customized fit for all body sizes
  • Adjustability straps for shoulders and sides, allowing a more excellent range of motions
  • The foam is very buoyant
  • The front pocket gives a secure place to keep stuff
  • It is a US coast guard approved for recreational use
  • It is not suitable for women
  • The zipper on the front pocket might get stuck

06- Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Flotation Device

With the high back design, the stohlquist fisherman PFD for kayak fishing is suitable for kayak seats. It has got excellent storage with two EVA pockets and many locations to mount your gear. You get a tailored fit with its eight adjustability straps. Its sides are open to allow proper airflow.         

The fabric is five hundred denier cordura® nylon, which is very durable. It is not going to fade quickly and won’t form mold.  It comes in a variety of sizes with Cactus color. 


  • It is made with nylon
  • Featured with 500 dnier Cordura shell & 200 denier oxford liner
  • High-back flotation rides above back rest.
  • Neoprene padded shoulders and lower back waistband and open sides for ventilation
  • Hand wash soap and water
  • Made in China
  • It is a very comfortable life vest
  • Well ventilated
  • Its fit can be customized for the person wearing it
  • The US approves it as a coast guard
  • It allows free movement while kayaking
  • There is no reflective material on this vest
  • The pockets are too small

07- Stohlquist Fit Adult PFD

The Fit PFD features sculpted front and back foam panels and strategically placed buckles to create an economic vest that performs brilliantly for all watersports activities. With over 40 years of PFD design expertise, Stohlquist applied their vast experience to make a PFD fit best to an economical multi-use vest. Take this personal floatation device with you wherever your water spirit guides you. Feel confident knowing that this product is designed to fit and provide years of lasting safety.


  • High mobility, non-restrictive cut. Higher placement of the upper buckle helps reduce ride up. Thinner back panel to reduce back seat interference
  • Sizing: MD 34″-40″, LG 40″-46″,XL 46″-52″
  • Back loop for easy drying and storage.Four Adult Universal (> 90lbs) PFDs in a convenient zippered storage bag
  • Type III Coast guard approved PFD for paddling, general boating and personal watercraft.
  • All foam corners are rounded and sculpted compared to many three buckle PFDs. Box-stitched webbing is also more durable than bar-tac stitching used by other Economy PFDs.
  • Thin profile for minimal seat back interference
  • Wrap-around sides for comfort
  • Lightweight at .7 lbs and low bulk for easy storage
  • Sheathed strapping for ‘no hanging straps’
  • Comes with three full-size front adjustable buckles for easy fit customization
  • Not meant for kids
  • It does not fit well on a woman size 6.

08- Stearns Child Watersport Classic Series Vest

Your little adrenaline junkie will enjoy a comfortable day grabbing wakes in a Stearns Child Watersport Classic Series Vest. The comfortable, U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD is designed with three adjustable chest belts, an adjustable crotch strap and two large armholes for better movement. With webbed 1-in. straps, a durable 200D nylon shell and P.E. foam inside, this life jacket is sure to be on the boat with you season after season.

It is great for a day on the boat or beach and in the pool or lake for use on a boat, personal watercraft or for tow sports.

This PFD dries quickly and remains lightweight most of the time because of the drainage holes in it. Your children will be forced to sit upright; undoubtedly, it is a great thing. Stearns has kept every possible opportunity to ensure the safety of your children on the water. Its long-lasting nylon structure over P.E. foam confirms that the PFD is built to give many years of service.

With it, your children will never feel discomfort. It comes with three adjustable chest belts; 1 modifiable crotch strap will allow you to modify the fitting so that your children get the maximum comfort. Also, 2 large armholes ensure excellent movement. This way, even in the water, your children will be able to move hands quickly.

The most important thing is; it is an approved PFD by the U.S. coast-guard. Additionally, you can pick the PFD from 3 different colour options. This durably built chest vest is promised to give you years after years of service.


  • For children 30-50 lbs.
  • Durable nylon construction over P.E. foam
  • Secure 1″ webbing
  • Closed-sided vest
  • Leg strap, so vest stays in place, even in the water
  • Great for boating, tubing, and swimming.
  • U.S. Coast Guard-approved child life vest.
  • Durable nylon shell with P.E. flotation foam
  • Three adjustable buckles with a leg strap for a secure fit
  • It is designed for children weighing 30 to 50 pounds.
  • U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
  • Three adjustable straps, open sides and a leg strap for a better fit
  • Durable construction: Nylon shell, P.E. foam, three 1-in. webbed straps
  • Small size
  • Doesn’t suit toddlers

09- Coleman Company Stearns Comfort Series Personal Floatation Device

Carry your tackle, boat keys, or other gear with you in a Stearns Comfort Series Life Vest. A front pocket allows anglers and hunters quick access to their gear. The U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vest is designed to help cool you on a hot day, with mesh on the back and shoulders for added ventilation. The large arm holes also add comfort to a day on the water, giving you more room to paddle, cast or aim. A zippered front and webbed adjustable buckle strap offer a custom fit. With a durable 200D nylon shell and rigid CrossTech Flotation Foam inside, you’re sure to be wearing it when you catch your limit more times than you can count.

Coleman provides a fantastic range of outdoor equipment such as BBQs, tents, camping furniture, and safety products. The Coleman Company Stearns Comfort Series is a brilliant Type III PFD. It is one of the bulkier items on our list but is still one of the best life vests for kayaking. It has been designed in such a way to offer excellent comfort and padding. Moreover, it is approved by the United States Coast Guard. The following are some of the main features and pros and cons of this best kayak life jacket:


  • Crafted from the highest quality material
  • Perfect for outdoor and even indoor use
  • Made in China
  • U.S. Coast Guard-approved
  • Two front pockets for easy access to tackle and other gear
  • Comfortable mesh shoulders and back for added ventilation
  • Large arm holes make paddling, casting or aiming easier.
  • Visible design with high-vis strips
  • Approved by U.S. Coast Guard
  • Front zipper and adjustable webbing/straps
  • Available in 6 different sizes
  • Has large armholes that can be adjusted to suit
  • Shoulders have mesh padding for extra comfort
  • Made from durable 200D Nylon
  • Quite bulky – could restrict movement
  • Not the lightest model available

10- Stohlquist Fit Life Jacket

High Mobility Multi-Use Personal Floatation Device

The Fit is Stohlquist’s diverse multi-use personal floatation device, designed with paddling and general boating in mind. Take this floatation device from your kayak to your wakeboard with confidence!

The Fit PFD features sculpted front and back foam panels and strategically placed buckles to create an economic vest that performs brilliantly for all watersports activities. With over 40 years of PFD design expertise, Stohlquist applied their vast experience to make a PFD fit best to an economical multi-use vest for all ages and sizes. Take this personal floatation device with you wherever your water spirit guides you. You will feel confident knowing that this product is designed to fit and provide years of lasting safety.

You will get all-day comfort both in and out of the water. It is possible to plan your long days in the sun, knowing that Stohlquist has your back for style, comfort, and safety.


  • Easy to adjust, three buckle front entry
  • Sculpted foam panelling for higher mobility.
  • Thinner back panels help eliminate interference with seatbacks
  • Sea level buoyancy Adult Universal – 16 lbs. USCG approved
  • 200D nylon outer shell & liner with convenient hanging loop for drying and storage
  • Adult Universal fits Adults more significant than 90 lbs with 30″-52″ Chest
  • High profile cut-away arms for full movement
  • Lower positioned waist buckle for a secure fit
  • Upper buckle strategically placed to reduce ride up
  • Wrap Around Sides for Comfort
  • Contoured high-mobility back and rounded foam on all edges
  • Thin profile for minimal seat back interference
  • Not ideal for paddling
  • Quite bulky

Buyers guide for Best PFD for Kayak Fishing


Different types of fishers prefer different types of life vests for the kayak. A casual fisher would want the PFD to have more oversized armholes for more freedom of movement and comfort. A more serious fisherman will also want some storage pockets to pack some lures. It is best to make a checklist of the fish you wish to catch and the places you want to go fishing.

Similarly, knowing your fishing kayak is also crucial in selecting the right kayak life vests. You will have to decide the type of your PFD back based on how tall is the seatback of your kayak. For a high seat back, you’d want to get a PFD with mesh back that offers ventilation. If your kayak seat back is low, foam back PFD is best for you. That will feel like receiving a perpetual hug.            


Here are some different types of materials for PFDs discussed with their pros and cons:


Different types of nylons are used because of their ability to resist the formation of mildew. You will find simple Nylon, ripstop Nylon and coated Nylon used to make PFDs. Ripstop Nylon is highly durable. The coating helps in making the vest waterproof, so it dries faster. Always check the denier when buying a nylon vest; higher denier means more durability for the vest.      


It is UV-resistant, lightweight and environment friendly as compared to other materials.  


It has high durability and buoyancy; however, it also has flammability, which can be dangerous near other fire causing objects.   


PVC has resistance to flames and ultraviolet rays as well as other chemicals. It offers the right amount of buoyancy to keep you afloat.    


For fishing, you need your arms and shoulders free from bulk to cast, reel and fight the fish quickly. This is why a fishing PFD must have a satisfactory provision for mobility. Look for adjustable straps when choosing yours.  


PFDs come with several features that can help you on a fishing trip. Apart from saving your life in emergencies, you can also keep your fishing gear in storage pockets and hang your pliers or hat on its loops. Think about the fishing gear you want to carry and the fishing location before choosing what features are essential for your PFD.  


Non-inflatable PFDs usually come with front pockets. Look for the pocket placement and size, thinking of the gear you’d want to put inside them. 


You can attach a whistle, knife, strobes and other useful accessories with the help of tabs. See how many tabs are there on your vest and their placement on the front and back.

Reflective tape

Increased visibility is always good for your safety. 


Ventilation is vital in hot weather and locations and on trips where your activity level is high, such as when paddling. Look for built-in vents to let your body heat cool down.  

Fishing features

You can find PFDs having fishing-friendly features like loops, tool hangers, and drop-down pocket tables to secure flies and lures. 


The weight of your PFD is your personal preference. Lightweight PFDs won’t have as many fishing-friendly features as heavyweight PFDs. It depends on you where you want to compromise in terms of weight and features.  


Your day out on the fishing trip should be comfortable. For this reason, choose a PFD that doesn’t make you uncomfortable while moving. Make sure it has ventilation in the right places. The bulk on the back should not mess with your kayak seat. The armholes should be big enough to allow a free range of motion.          


Pockets can be great on your life vest to keep some of the stuff, whether you are a regular fisherman or a casual one. It doesn’t hurt to have a pocket or two to put some lures in it or anything else you want to take on your trip. 

Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing: What Is Coast Guard Approved PFD?

The U.S. Coast Guard requires the vessels to have life jackets for every person on board. Boat insurance companies also expect that the USCG regulations comply. 

This means that all recreational vessels must have a lifejacket approved by the U.S. Coast Guard for each person on board. For children, the lifejacket wearing regulations can differ depending upon the state. PFDs for adults may not be appropriate for children. There are child appropriate sizes available. A foam-filled life vest should fit snugly when you wear it correctly and should not rise above your ears or chin. 

You should test your foam-filled PFDs for buoyancy and wear once every year, at least. If it becomes faded, waterlogged or damaged in some other way, you should discard it. Maintenance of inflatable PFDs should be done according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Most adults’ buoyancy requirements are only seven to twelve pounds or 31 to 53 Newton for their head to stay above the water.

For size, see label for use weight and chest measurement. Try putting on the vest in water to make sure your airway is clear.

Must-Haves for PFDs

  • The right size for the intended wearer
  • Appropriate type for the activity intended
  • Proper condition to stay afloat
  • Meet Coast Guard carriage requirements

How Do You Care for and Clean Your PFD?

For kayaking fishing, the personal flotation device (PFD) is essential. It is needed to clean the personal flotation device (PFD) for its long run. Here are some significant steps that have to be taken to clean and care for your (PFD).       

Step number 1:

You can rinse your life vest or personal flotation device using a hose pipe or water bucket.

Step number 2: 

Soak the vest in a mix of water and detergent for half an hour.  

Step number 3: 

For heavily soiled areas, apply a concentrated detergent solution directly and brush gently with a soft-bristled brush. Never put too much pressure when cleaning the personal flotation device.    

Step number 4: 

Use a sponge to clean the surface of the personal flotation device and its straps.

Step number 5: 

Rinse the personal flotation device with clean water using a hosepipe.

Step number 6: 

A well open area of the air, even the shady area, is beneficial for PFD to air dry it. But it is vital to avoid hanging it directly into the sunlight because it is very harmful to PFD. 

Step number 7 (If it is needed): 

It is vital for PFD or life jacket to protect by using any chemicals on PFD except for a clean detergent-like Revivex. You can apply the U.V. protectant to the Life vest or PFD for protection from the sun’s damages and fading. For its dryness, you cannot flatten, kneel, and press on the PFD because it damages the flotation material. To take good care of your PFDs and the life jacket, it is crucial that you can prevent the growth of cast, mildew and increase the life of your items. 

Are Life Jackets and Vests Comfortable When Fishing?

When you are fishing from a boat or kayak fishing, capsizing can happen anytime. So for safety, you must wear a personal floating device when you are out fishing. A life jacket is different from the PFD due to its design and style, but the life jacket is still counted as a PFD type.

PFD is very comfortable wearing, and people like to wear it for an extended time. On the other side, a life jacket, compared to the PFD, is bulkier or heavy to wear. They are mostly available on sailing vessels and boats.

Many people feel uncomfortable wearing life jackets and life vests because, in front, it contains buoyancy material. An experienced swimmer can avoid life jackets and then mostly like to wear PFD for their comfort. For weak swimmer cannot use the PFD at the beginning of their swimming stage. The life jacket can be preferred at the beginning stage of their levels to save and protect their lives. Life jackets for weak swimmers can help to turn an unconscious person from a face-down position to move into a face-up position. 

Inflatable vs. Standard Foam – Which to Choose


Inflatable PFDs have a low profile comparatively. This makes them less bulky. This is why inflatable life vests are easier to wear, more comfortable and allows a more excellent arm motion range.

With that said, inflatable PFDs will need to be inflated to become buoyant. That means you will have to pull a cord for the vest to inflate. There are automatically inflatable PFDs available that inflate when submerged in water. However, you cannot wear an automatically inflatable PFD if your desired activity involves getting wet as they may get inflated unnecessarily. 

These have lesser storage options as compared to the standard PFDs as they are low profile. This means they might be no pockets to keep your fishing accessories on an inflatable PFD.                 

You might also want to consider the additional costs of using an inflatable PFD. Once the life jacket inflates, you will usually need to purchase and install a new CO2 cartridge so that it’s armed and ready for your next kayaking trip. This could become expensive if you frequently need to inflate your PFD.

​Standard Foam

A standard foam life jacket is an inherently buoyant PFD. This means it’s designed to float instantly and provide you with buoyancy to keep your head out of the water without having to pull any strings. The foam material is what makes the PFD float.

These types of PFDs can be beneficial for kayak fishing because they will often have pockets or loops to attach your gear. This can be especially useful in a kayak where you might not have a lot of room for additional accessories, or you want to make sure your fishing tackle is within easy reach.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing

Is a kayak life vest essential?

People take up kayaking as a recreational sport, which is alright. What isn’t okay is that people overlook when it comes to precautions. Be it your kayak’s quality, not applying sunscreen, or using a life vest or taking up a wrong fit or incorrect life vest for the type of activity.

People have lost their lives because of not using a PFD. Many people owned one but didn’t bother to wear it when going in the waters when they met their death.  

In short, life is necessary. Every time you go in the water, make sure you have your vest on. Drowning can also happen in shallow waters.

How to make my PFD fit my body?

Before heading into the water, make sure your life vest fits you snugly. You can do that using the adjustment straps. These days there are online tutorials for almost all PFD models and makes. Watch one for yours if anything doesn’t make sense to you. 

Are PFD and life jacket two different things?

A life jacket is a Type I PFD. The one that can turn an unconscious person to face upwards. The life jacket is more significant and bulkier, and it offers higher buoyancy. 

PFD offers free movements that make kayaking and paddling easy.

Life jackets have bright colors, like red, orange, yellow, etc. There is a whistle attached to the usual life jackets. 

How to keep the PFD clean?

Keep your PFD clean is pretty important. Hand washes it with warm water and mild detergent. Please don’t use any harsh agents, and don’t try to machine remove it. 

Air-dry it after wash, but don’t let it stay hanging for long periods in the sun. Make it a habit to check your PFD before a kayak trip. Make sure there are no tears or holes. 

Even if you don’t go to the waters that often, it is good to check your PFD a few times during the year to make sure it stays in optimal condition. Make sure it still works, try it on in the water to see it keeps you floating. 

Which one is the best PFD for kayaking, an inflatable, or a regular one?

It depends on you but here’s what you should consider before choosing:

Both inflatable and regular PFD have their pros and cons. Mostly it’s all about maneuverability and breathability. 

An inflatable PFD allows unrestricted movements and will be lightweight. But it has no pockets, which is a downer. Also, the inflating and deflating may make it challenging to wear again or to get on a kayak wearing it with regular use.  So it is best to use them only on sit-on-top craft or paddleboards. Once more, it is your choice, but we recommend to pick a PFD that is made for fishing in mind.

Are there any PFDs for kids or pets?

Yes, kids and pets have their PFDs designed, keeping their bodies in mind. Do not try to fit an adult PFD on a pet or a kid. There are specific ones for them, look them up and get those.

Best PFD for Kids

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Best PFD for Pets

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Are there Universal Size Lifejackets?

The fitting and size are critical factors and choosing the best life jacket for kayaking. You can find a PFD with a universal fit, so multiple having different body types can use it. 

Generally, small-sized life vests range from 28 to 32 inches, medium-size life vests range from 32 to 36 inches, and extensive-sized life vests range from 40 to 44 inches.      

Do User Age and Gender Matter When Choosing the Right PFD?

Of course, age and gender matter when choosing a PFD. An adult size PFD cannot work for a child. Similarly, women also need to have a secure fit for the PFD, which is only possible if they are designed according to their body shape.         

Do Non-swimmers Need a Special Type of PFD?

Non-swimmers and weak swimmers will need a PFD that readily brings their head above water level and make them face up without much effort. The buoyancy of a PFD is crucial for the wearer’s safety. 

Look at the buoyancy rating when choosing a life vest for kayak, especially for non-swimmers. A type III PFD has at least 15.5 pounds buoyancy while a type V PFD has at least 15.5 pounds buoyancy.      

Is It Better to Use Inflatable or Foam PFDs?

Choosing an inflatable or foam PFD is a matter of your individual preference. Neither of them is better than the other. Each type has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, foam PFDs offer increased storage, automatic buoyancy and low maintenance. However, foam vests are bulkier as compared to inflatable ones. 

On the other hand, inflatable PFDs offer more comfort and less bulk. However, they are high maintenance and not suited for non-swimmers and children.        

Can I Use Any Type of Vest for Kayaking?

All types of vests are not created equal. For a fishing kayak, the right vest must offer a free range of motion to the wearer so they can easily engage in fishing and paddling. 

This is why; the best PFD for kayaking is a type III or type V that comes with bigger armholes and less bulk.          

Do Adults And Kids Have To Wear PFDs When Kayak Fishing?

All states require children below thirteen years of age to wear a life vest for a kayak. For adults, it is mandatory to carry the appropriate fitting PFD on board when kayaking. However, the laws vary in different states for adults where some require you to wear it on board at all times, and others don’t.

For your safety, it is best to wear the appropriate PFD at all times when you are in or near water.        

What is the best auto inflatable life vest?

An auto inflatable life vest will inflate itself if the wearer gets immersed in water. You can also inflate it manually by pulling its T-cord. Inflatable vests are smaller in size, which makes them best for summers and more mobility. Eyson Inflatable Life Jacket Life Vest is the best auto inflatable life vest.

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Do I need a whistle to kayak?

Yes. You need a whistle when going kayaking, and it should be heard for a minimum of a one-half nautical mile. This is why the best life jacket for kayaking comes with a whistle attached to them.

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Can you drown with a life jacket?

The likelihood of you drowning with a life jacket on is very slim, unless you get drag under by the undercurrent or if you get trapped in a water vessel or if your feet get stuck somewhere. A life jacket is meant to keep you afloat and prevent drowning.   

What is the difference between a life jacket and a life vest?

While these terms are used interchangeably, there is a difference between a life jacket and a life vest. A life jacket has a higher level of buoyancy than a life vest. Life vest offers more mobility and a reasonable amount of buoyancy for the specific water-based activity it is designed for.        

How often should you replace the co2 cylinder in an inflatable PFD?

Always stick to the manufacturer’s recommendation for inflatable PFDs. Generally, you should replace the cartridges every three years. The same applies to the bobbin, the dissolves to automatically inflate the PFD. You need to replace some cartage every year so that the CO2 works perfectly in the event of an emergency. Inspect the cylinder condition every few months. If you see any corrosion, replace the cylinder.           

What is the best time to wear a PFD?

All the time, when you are near water, you should wear a PFD. Accidents can happen on calm waters as well as on the dock. So it is best to be prepared all the time.     

What is the disadvantage of a Type 3 PFD?

A type III PFD does not have enough bulk on the shoulder and the chest area to invert a wearer who is face down in the water. The unconscious person or non-swimmers will need immediate rescue in an emergency while wearing a type 3 PFD. It cannot provide extended survival in rough water.    

Will a life jacket keep you afloat if you can’t swim?

Life jackets are highly buoyant and can even make you face up if you are unconscious. While swimming skills increase your chances of survival, a life jacket will keep you afloat until the rescue reaches.      

How long will a life jacket keep you afloat?

This depends on several factors. How calm or rough the water is, how good is your life jacket’s condition, whether you are conscious or not, whether you swim or not. You cannot float forever. Your energies will deplete after a certain amount of time. A good life jacket will keep your body several days, but the chances of your survival or staying alive while floating become slim after three days. Moreover, if you don’t know What Piece of Safety Equipment is required on every Canoe and Kayak this guide is for you.

Our Recommendation for the Best PFD for Kayaking Fishing

After reading this full and detailed guide you are now aware of the best PFD for kayaking fishing. We have reviewed 10 best PFD and you can pick any of them, yet if you ask for our recommendation we would say go for the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest as features a sculpted flexible foam design that conforms to your body and stays in place when paddling.


This U.S. Coast Guard-approved vest is designed using heavy-duty nylon fabrics to resist tears and punctures; and is available in dual sizing to accommodate all body types.

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Looking for your best PFD for kayaking fishing can be a tough job. Hopefully, this guide has helped you find the one that’s just right for you. You should always put safety first when getting into any water sport. Wear your kayak life vest whenever you go kayak fishing. 

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