Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest

This is a review of the best kayak fishing life vests.

I am Wesley, a kayak fishing enthusiast. For the last 15 years, I’ve logged many hours on the water in different locations. I primarily fish out of my kayak. 

I cannot stress enough how important it is to wear a high-quality life vest during your kayak fishing trip. According to the Red Cross, wearing a life jacket can prevent 90% of drownings relating to boats.

The NRS Chinook is my pick for the best kayak fishing life vest in 2021.

It’s approved by the US Coast Guard, very comfortable, and is specially designed for kayak anglers. For sure, there are plenty of great options out there to match different needs, and I will show you my top choices in this post to help you find a PFD that works best for you.

Buckle up, let’s dive in!

Quick Summary

Who Should Get This

Always wear a life vest when you go kayaking. Even if you are highly experienced, accidents can happen. A life vest can save your life.

We love fishing too, so we found that a life vest with different fishing features can help you a lot. If you want to enjoy a safe, fun, comfortable, and easy kayak fishing trip, you should check out the life vests mentioned below.

Top 4 Kayak Fishing Life Vests for 2021 – 2022

The following four PFDs are my top pick overall, the best PFD for beginners, the best midrange PFD, and the best women’s PFD.

NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

  • Best: Overall kayak fishing life jacket
  • Key Features: US Coast Guard approved, shoulder and side adjustments
  • Key Benefits: Comfortable, roomy, and safe
  • Material: Water-resistant materials and PlushFit foam
  • Pros: Trusted brand, great fit, very mobile, good quality

The NRS Chinook is the best kayak fishing life jacket you can purchase! It’s safe, comfortable, and doesn’t restrict mobility while on the water.

The US Coast Guard approves the NRS Chinook for kayaking. Therefore, you do not need to worry about how safe your life jacket is while on the water. 

This life vest is designed for kayak anglers. They thought about the movement and seated position kayakers are typically in to avoid discomfort. The Chinook ensures you can accurately cast and paddle smoothly while wearing it.

Since it is the best overall, it is also the highest priced on this list. However, you get what you pay for; you pay a premium price for premium gear.

ONYX MoveVent Life Vest

  • Best: For beginners
  • Key Features: US Coast Guard approved, shoulder strap adjustments, and mesh drainage in pockets
  • Key Benefits: Comfortable, adjustable, and Safe
  • Material: Reflective material, mesh, nylon, and floatation foam
  • Pros: It isn’t going to break the bank, designed for paddling, fits high back seats

The ONYX MoveVent is best for beginners because it is safe and comfortable at a great price. This life vest checked two of my three most essential features. Price is also something to consider, especially when you are still trying to figure out if you like the sport of paddling or not!

The US Coast Guard approves the ONYX MoveVent. So you won’t have to worry about falling in and sinking during your first trips on the water. When you fall in the water, the mesh drainage pockets mean you won’t lug around the extra water weight the rest of the day.

This life jacket is designed with kayakers in mind. This ensures you will be able to paddle your kayak comfortably for hours at a time.

The price is hard to beat for a beginner kayaker life jacket. This is the lowest priced life vest on the list but quality was not forfeited. Cheaper life jackets can be bought, but you will begin to notice a lower standard for quality and functionality.

It was not designed for anglers, but since it is a kayaking PFD, you should have plenty of mobility to cast and land your next fish.

Old Town Treble Angler Life Jacket

  • Best: Midrange
  • Key Features: US Coast Guard approved, adjustable shoulder and side straps, 
  • Key Benefits: Comfortable, adjustable, and safe
  • Material: Nylon, elastic, and foam
  • Pros: Unisex, good quality, trusted brand

The Old Town Treble Angler is the best midrange life jacket because of its price, safety, and comfortability. The Old Town brand has been around for over a century because it delivers quality products at reasonable prices.

It is right in the middle of the price ranges for a fishing kayak life vest. At this price point, you are not sacrificing quality, safety, or comfort.

The USCG has approved the Old Town Treble Angler for kayaking purposes, deeming it safe as the others that made this list.

It is designed for kayak and canoe fishing for men or women. You won’t have to worry about it interfering with paddling or casting motions.

It is a little bulky and might cause you to sweat more than the others listed above.

NRS Women’s Shenook Fishing Life Jacket

  • Best: Women’s fishing life vest
  • Key Features: US Coast Guard approved, multiple adjustments, explicitly designed for the female body
  • Key Benefits: Safe, comfortable, adjustable
  • Material: PlushFit foam, Reflective accents, Mesh, and Water-resistant materials
  • Pros: Designed for women, trusted brand, mobile, and great quality

The NRS Shenook is a great fishing kayak life jacket. It is safe, adjustable, and comfortable, meeting my top three concerns.

Because the US Coast Guard approves of this life jacket for kayaking you can trust that it will keep you safe when you need it most. The reflective material adds a little comfort, know that it should help other boaters see you from a further distance.

The Shenook is designed specifically for female kayak anglers by a trusted brand. So you know you will have the comfortability and mobility needed to paddle, cast, and land your fish all day long.

Some women have a difficult time keeping it from riding up on them. The Shenook is one of the higher-priced life vests on this list, but NRS has high-quality standards for its products.

Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest – What to Consider?

When searching for the best kayak fishing life vest, you want to consider at least three key benefits. 


The reason for wearing a life jacket is to keep you safe in case of an accident. If the life jacket you are looking to purchase does not support your head above the water, then DO NOT BUY IT! Safety is the most critical benefit to consider when buying a life jacket.

Consider where you will go fishing. If you enjoy fishing in the sea, you may want to purchase a life vest that can automatically turn your face up even when you are unconscious (Type I life jackets). It may just be more expensive and bulky.

Always go for a United States Coast Guard-approved life vest if you can afford it.


As you search for a life vest, keep in mind you will want it to be as adjustable as possible. This will help it to adjust to fit you as best it can. The measurements and sizes are one thing to keep an eye on to ensure the life vest is not too tight or too loose.

You will be wearing it for an extended time, make sure it is comfortable, so your time on the water is more enjoyable.


Not being able to accurately cast or efficiently paddle makes for a long day of kayak fishing. Your life jacket shouldn’t restrict your casting or paddling motions. At the same time, you are testing out the comfortability, test out how mobile you can be while wearing it!


Think about what you love to have when you go fishing, for example, I love a vest with a lot of pockets so I can everything is easily accessible. My friend loves to have a plier attached to his vest for removing the hook.

Think about your habits and where you fish to pick the life jacket that comes with the most suitable features.


Here are a few quick answers to some commonly asked questions relating to kayak fishing.

Is a Fishing Vest a Life Jacket?

If a fishing vest cannot help you float and support your head above the water, it is not a life vest. Instead, a life vest can be used as a fishing vest if it carries features suitable for fishing.

How Much Does a Life Jacket Cost?

Low-quality life jackets that cannot guarantee your safety on the water can be very cheap. I’ve come across one that costs only $ 6

However, for high-quality life jackets that is safe (approved by the US Coast Guard), comfortable, adjustable, and loaded with features, you are looking at at least $ 50 to $ 350.

Is Kayak Fishing Dangerous?

Most of the time, kayak fishing is pretty safe if you go with a partner, wear the appropriate gear (for example, a life jacket), go to a right place with good conditions (including winds and weather conditions).

Useful Tips and Resources

Here are some useful tips for kayak fishing:

  • For safety reasons, always go with an experienced partner with kayak safety knowledge (at least they can save you if you flip over)
  • Inflatable kayaks are less preferable if you love salt water fishing.. 
  • Change tactics before leaving an area, and you may be able to catch different species of fish!

Wrapping Up

The NRS Chinook is my choice for the best overall kayak fishing life vest. This is a US Coast Guard approved option that offers you superior safety and maneuverability. You can wear it all day long effectively and comfortably.

If you don’t have a life vest for kayak fishing yet, all the mentioned options come highly recommended. The different styles listed here