If you are about to spend your holidays going out and fishing or this is something that you regularly do, having a fishing vest is equally important as other fishing tools and supplies.
When it’s about getting a life vest for fishing, you can either get a regular life vest that does nothing but keep you floating underwater, or the fishing life vest that comes with multiple pockets as storage for your fishing gears and equipment.
To help you to make the best out of your bucks, here is a list of 10 best fishing life vest that gained much trustworthiness among pro anglers.
Why You Should Use a Vest for Fishing?
Most people prefer wearing a vest for fishing. But, there are some anglers who don't prefer to wear it. Whatever reason it is, here are the common reason why you should wear a vest while out for fishing.
This is the the first and foremost reason why you must consider using a vest while fishing is because it will save you from drowning if you accidentally fall into the water. Even if you know how to swim, it’s a must to wear a life vest as the law requires you to wear one.
No matter if you have an expensive boat, fishing vessel, or kayak, you cannot surely say that it will not capsize in the water. Accidents can happen while engaging in any activity that requires conducting with the water.
If such a case happens, and there is nobody to help you, having a life vest or PFD (Personal Floating Device) will be a great relief during that situation.
Another reason why the law wants people to wear such vests. When the victim is in shock or falls unconscious on the water, the vest will keep the person floating until the rescue team comes.
Keeping all necessary gears and equipment in multiple pockets also makes people interested in wearing a life vest. It’s super convenient to have a lifejacket with multiple pockets that reduce loads off your carrying bag.
Moreover, it’s always better to be extra careful while you are fishing so that you don’t have to be sorry if any mishap happens.
10 Best Fishing Life Vest Reviews
The following list of products come with a wide variety of price ranges so that you can find the right one according to your budget.
1. ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket, Tan
If you have already been to the life jacket market, you know that there are hardly any decent ones that come with quality fabric, easy to access pockets, perfect adjustment strips to fit, etc. under $100.
You can still get this good fishing life vest that pretty much checks all aspects of being an ideal vest for fishing priced quite less than $100.
The vest comes in universal and oversized that can fit pretty much an average adult person as well as large individuals. Its universal size fits perfectly in most cases. If you think you need a larger size than average, consider getting the oversized one.
According to the US Coast Guard, it is necessary to have a level 3 life-preserving jacket that can lift 7-12 lbs of pressure to make the jacket floating above the water. Whereas, this fishing jacket provides up to 15 lbs of lifting pressure so that you feel confident while fishing or kayaking.
As regular life jackets don’t have pockets, so, people prefer getting a fishing life jacket, whether it’s fishing, kayaking, or other outdoor activities that have to do with water. This one comes with 4 pockets to accommodate most of your fishing gears and smaller tools.
Apart from regular pockets, there is a push drop down tray pocket that can accommodate a small box and a few gears with ease.
To make the vest perfectly fit your body shape, there are six adjustment straps that you can adjust up and down considering your activity type and boat or kayak seat height.
As the back is made of high-quality mesh, you will find it breathable enough so that you can comfortably continue fishing for a long period. In addition to that, neoprene made shoulder pads make you feel comfortable regardless of how much weight you are carrying.
- Large pockets
- Six adjustment straps
- High breathability
- USCG approved
- Great value for the money
- Plastic made zippers with no buckles
- Feels a bit bulky
2. Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest for Men and Women
There is always an inexpensive way to enjoy features of expensive things, this fishing vest from Bassdash is one of those vests that comes with pretty much everything you need for fishing that doesn’t require you to pay much.
Whether you are a fly fisher or prefer fishing from a boat or kayak, you no longer need to carry a tackle box to keep your supplies and gears in it.
This fishing vest comes with a total of 18 pockets that will be more than enough to accommodate all your fishing gears and necessary equipment conveniently.
It includes 14 zipper pockets that have concealed smooth zippers. In addition to that, there are several loops and attachment ladders for carrying accessories and gears so that you can quickly access them whenever you need them.
To fit most body shapes, there are numbers of adjustable shoulder and waist straps. You can easily custom fit the vest with adjusting those straps without spending much time.
The manufacturer designed the vest considering the comfort of the users. There is the breathable mesh back, mesh padded air shoulder straps that make you feel comfortable enough to continue fishing for prolonged periods. The overall breathability of this equipment is up to the mark, considering its price.
If the situation requires you to fish in low lights or there is an emergency, there are several reflectors at both the back and front side of the vest to make you visible enough to others. So, even if it’s dawn or sunset or even night, you have no reason to worry while wearing this amazing jacket.
- Made of high-quality polyester fabric
- 18 pockets with several loops and attachments
- Smooth and concealed zippers
- Breathable mesh at back and sides
- Padded adjustable shoulder and waist straps
- Feels heavy
- Zippers are prone to corrosion
3. NRS Chinook Fishing PFD Life Jacket
NRS chinook PFD has a good reputation among kayak anglers as well as fishers for being an ideal fishing life jacket with plenty of great benefits.
This one even got US Coast Guard certification for being a safe and standard PDF for fishing. It can lift 16.5 lbs. of pressure to make it float in the water with ease.
Having this vest makes you more confident while conducting any activities with water, and you can be more effective in fishing. It provides you great comfort that cheaper conventional vests aren’t able to.
The vest comes with two large pockets that will be more than enough to store most of your fishing or kayak touring gears and small accessories. Both pockets are easy to access.
You can conveniently carry boxes in both of them along with one essential gear. There are separate chambers inside the pockets for holding other items, including your smartphone, wallet, and a small water bottle.
In addition to that, there are dedicated exterior attachments, holders, tool holster, knife lash tab, etc. that make your fishing experience hassle less. It even has a rod holder loop as well. When you have all the necessary items inside one vest, it becomes easier to concentrate on fishing.
For better breathability and ventilation, the manufacturer used mesh material to make the back of this vest. The shoulders got padded foam so that your shoulders don’t hurt while carrying the load. To make you visible in low lights and during nights, the vest also has a reflective accent for convenience.
You will find the straps long enough to make necessary adjustments that fit your body perfectly. The back float is high enough to make you sit comfortably on a kayak or fishing boat.
- Lightweight and very comfortable
- Numbers of pockets with necessary attachments and loops
- Padded shoulders straps
- Comfortable mesh lower back
- Good quality zippers
- Reflective accent
- A little bulky in shape
4. Lixada Fly Fishing Vest Breathable Padded Superior 209lb
This vest from Lixada will make your fishing more convenient and hassle-less with its numbers of pockets, breathable build, durable fabric, and more. Whether you prefer fly fishing, canoe fishing, or kayak fishing, this life jacket vest will suffice all your needs.
A good & best fishing life vest will be made with quality fabric and accessories. This isn’t an exception to this one.
The fishing vest is crafted with a premium ripstop polyester shell that ensures the overall durability of it. In addition to that, it will provide you with superior buoyancy with its replaceable EPE foam.
The floating foam is inside a zipper opening that is pretty thin as well as quite breathable. You can unzip it out easily whenever you want. Its mesh back is made of breathable material so that you don’t feel uncomfortable wearing it for a long time. Also, there is mesh fabric for better air circulation inside the vest.
As far as accommodating all your gear and fishing equipment is concerned, the vest has enough pockets for that.
There are 4 chest pockets, 4 zipped front pockets, 2 sides mesh pockets, and 1 back pocket; so, in total 11 pockets to hold all necessary fishing-related supplies. All the front pockets have double zippers for convenience.
More so, there are also attachment ladders and accessory loops for attaching quick access gears and equipment. Whenever you need to access something quickly, these attachments will come handy for you.
The vest comes in a universal size to fit all individuals who weigh less than 209lbs. There are multiple webbing adjustable shoulder straps so that you can make necessary adjustments if needed. For fishing in low lights or during nights, there are reflectors on the shoulders and back to make you visible to others.
- Crafted with durable fabric
- 11 well-zipped pockets as storage
- Several loops and ladders to attach additional stuff
- Breathable mesh back and mesh fabric
- Multiple buckle straps for adjustment
- Great visible reflectors on the front and backside
- Zippers corrode while conducting saltwater
- Small floatation inserts
5. Onyx Absolute Outdoor M-24 Manual Inflatable Vest
If you are looking for an inflatable vest for canoeing or kayaking, M-24 vest can serve you well. This is for those who don’t like to wear a vest because they don’t feel comfortable wearing one.
When you wear it, you will hardly notice you are wearing something extra; it doesn’t restrict your normal movement at all.
The vest is certified by the US Coast Guard for being a safe inflatable life jacket.
It provides you with a buoyancy of 22.5 pounds, which is far more than what standard level 3 vests offer. So, in terms of safety and performance, you can rely on this vest, it will not let you drown in the water.
This super lightweight vest is made of high-grade denier nylon ripstop, the pockets and protective cover got denier nylon oxford fabric. You will find it durable enough to be able to take loads of gears and your intensive outdoor activities without much struggling.
Even though it doesn’t come with plenty of pockets for storing gears and stuff, it has a small fleece-lined padded pocket, which you can put your glass into. More so, there are also pockets for storing a CO2 cylinder, a GoPro or action camera, and other small-sized gears.
Like most vests, it also has a D-ring attachment on which you can attach small accessories.
The vest requires a CO2 cylinder to make it inflatable. When you mount the cylinder, a green light will turn on, telling you it can inflate whenever you need it. You need to manually inflate the vest when you are in the water. There is a ‘Jerk to Inflate’ handle that requires you to pull it to make you float.
Individuals who weigh 80 lbs. or more can wear this vest with great comfort.
- Very lightweight and thin profile design
- Mesh padding
- Adjustable straps
- Attachments and pockets for small accessories
- Made of durable fabric
- Requires re-arming kit
- Expensive option
6. Lightbare Fly fishing Vest Pack for Men
You can use this multi-purpose vest for fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and other outdoor activities, including photography. Having such a versatile vest allows you to wear the same jacket, which also saves you a considerable amount of money.
Made of premium polyester fabric, it can withstand the intensity of your outdoor activities without much issue.
The fabric is durable and dries faster if the situation requires you to come across bad weather conditions. It doesn’t feel suffocating when you wear it for a long time.
The vest comes with 18 pockets to accommodate your fishing gears and small-sized equipment. 14 of them have smooth conceal zippers. These pockets are of different shapes and designs that you can use for keeping fly boxes, thermometers, knives, and many more gears.
There are also a few accessory loops as well as attachment ladders so that you can get quick access to some of your accessories.
As far as the padding is concerned, it got a breathable mesh back, which you will find in the best fishing life jacket. Also, there are side mesh pockets that don’t make your sides feel uncomfortable as well.
Even though it only comes with a universal size that fits all, the manufacturer did include webbing adjustable shoulder straps made of air mesh fabric.
When the situation requires you to stay outdoor during nights or you are out for fishing, and it’s almost sunset, or even if any mishap happens, you have no reason to worry about visibility. The vest has reflectors on both the front and backside, the one on the back is larger.
- Made of durable fabric
- 18 pockets along with several loops and attachment ladders
- Comfortable and breathable mesh
- Adjustable shoulder and waist straps
- Wide reflector
- Zipper pull tabs aren’t of good quality
7. M Maximumcatch Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Pack with Fishing Backpack
This one from M Maximumcatch combines the design of traditional vests with multiple pockets and a backpack.
Whether you are to go outdoors for one-day fishing, hunting, hiking, or camping, the vest got pretty much everything to store all your gears well-organized, while making it easier for you to wear it.
To hold everything that you need for a one-day fishing trip, it comes with 17 pockets for all your gears. Also, there are attachment tabs, D-ring lash, cord loops, and hemostat keeper to keep additional essential items that you will need for making the fishing day hassle-less and organized.
You can keep boxes and files in front of molded pockets. These pockets got two shells with fly patches that make storing very convenient.
There are comfortable shoulder straps to make necessary adjustments foreasier weight distribution. Even if you wear it with lots of gear and supplies, it will not hurt your shoulders.
To make you feel comfortable during your outdoor activities, the vest is made of well-breathable fabric with a mesh backing that ensures enough ventilation and aircirculation. It feels very comfortable to wear even in hot weather.
The most selling point of this vest is its attachable backpack. It comes with a chest pack that you can attach with shoulder straps. This chest pack, aka mini backpack, has three compartments to store all your gears and equipment.
Whether you are a man or woman, you can adequately fit your body in this vest via its adjustable shoulder and waist straps. With all that this one offers, it is the best life vest for fishing in terms of its storing capacity.
- Vest with chest pack
- Big storage
- 17 pockets with additional attachments and loops
- Two drop-down fly patch pockets
- Adjustable shoulder and waist straps
- Made of breathable fabric, and mesh backing
- Feels lightweight
- Zippers aren’t of good quality
- Overall average quality vest
8. NRS Chinook Fishing PFD
Yet another PFD from NRS Chinook series! With a flotation capacity of 16.5 lbs., you can count on this one regardless of your fly fishing, kayak fishing, or extended tour.
For anglers like you, the PFD got 7 front pockets that can accommodate pretty much all your fishing gear from small tackle boxes to tippet. All the pockets are well-designed and placed at positions where you would expect them to be to get access to the necessary items easily.
Unlike conventional ones, it doesn’t look like it has lots of pockets, but once you take a close look, you will see that there are multiple sub-pockets in both front pockets. The chest pocket also has an inside pocket that can hold smaller items that you would frequently use.
There are also D-ring, tool retractor, and forceps to attach gears that come in handy in every situation. It has a strobe holder loop that also makes you somewhat visible in low light conditions.
Whether you are canoeing or kayaking, the vest will not make it difficult to sit on. In fact, its lower back fits perfectly on high-back seats while providing you comfort. The floatation insert is up in the shoulders. It feels so comfortable that you might forget that you are wearing a vest.
In addition to that, the back of this vest got a breathable mesh that ensures enough air circulation regardless of the weather.
Although there are S, M, XL sizes to choose from; if you still need to make some adjustments according to your body shape, there are convenient adjust points that let you customize the vest.
- Comfortable to wear
- Perfectly positioned pockets
- Attachments, loops, and D-ring
- Very durable
- Comes in three sizes
- No reflective material
9. Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest Pack Adjustable for Men and Women
There are a few unisex vests, and this one from Kylebooker is one of those. It comes with all necessary pockets, decent breathability, basic functions that make a vest ideal to wear for any type of fishing, kayaking, and more.
The vest comes with four different types of pockets to hold all your fishing gear and small-sized equipment so that you don’t have to carry anything additional for fishing longer.
You can put a radio, piler, or similar items and get easy access by opening the top of the pocket.
In addition to that, both the front pockets are big enough to hold enough gear. One of them has a drop-down tray for holding a small tackle box, smartphone, wallet, and more. There is also a lash tab for a knife, whistle, fishing tippets, keys, etc.
For convenient adjustments, the vest features 6 adjustable straps so that you can fit the vest properly according to the activity you are engaged in. It also comes handy in adjusting the vest according to the seat height of your boat or kayak.
The back of this vest is placed in a high position so that you don’t feel uncomfortable while sitting on the boat. For better air circulation, the back is made of breathable mesh material that does its job quite nicely. The ample drainage is also there to keep it dry when you don’t use it.
It comes in two sizes, universal size that fits 30 to 52 inches, and oversize that fits 40 to 60 inches chest. Apart from fishing, you can go for outdoor activities having this vest on to keep all necessary gears with you in an organized way.
For making you visible in emergencies and low lights, it got reflector straps on both the front and backside.
- 4 pockets, 1 drop-down tray pocket
- 6 adjustment straps
- High back
- Breathable mesh
- Lightweight and low profile design
- Great value for money
- Light-duty zipper
- Not an ideal PFD
10. Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Floatation Device
If you don’t want to make any compromise when it comes to getting a decent PFD, you can consider buying this one as it comes with a low profile slim and comfortable design while offering lots of space to hold your fishing gears and accessories.
The life jacket is made of 500 denier Cordura shell along with 200 denier oxford liner.
No matter how much weight you put on this, it will easily withstand the load without damaging its fabric and accessories.
To make you feel comfortable while carrying it, the manufacturer used Neoprene padded foam in the shoulders and lower back waistbands. Your shoulders will not feel the actual load of all your gears inside the vest.
The floatation insert in this one is positioned at high-back so that you don’t feel uncomfortable while sitting on a canoe, kayak, or boat at all.
All the pockets have anchor points for attaching items with ease. Both the front pockets got zipper entry closure for convenience.
To protect all your precious items, front pockets got stiffer EVA protective outer shells so that you can move freely and whatever it takes to cope up with outdoor situations without risk loosing whatever is in those pockets.
The pockets are large enough to hold a lure or tackle box, along with a handful of gears. There are also hooks and loops for attaching items that you will need more frequently while on fishing. You can conveniently attach retractors, tippets, hemostats, pliers, leader-line, and more on this fisherman vest.
You will rarely feel its weight as it got a lightweight profile. In addition to that, there are three straps on both sides and two shoulder straps that are attached in various angles to make you perfectly fit this vest.
- Made of durable fabric
- Perfectly fits
- Protective outer shell for pockets
- Straps at various angles
- High back floatation insert
- Feels a bit bulky
- Poor quality zippers
What to Look for Before Buying?
As life vests are of different types and come with many features, not all of them are required for fishing purposes. There are a few considerations to make before you purchase a fishing life vest. You can also get one that can be also used for canoeing, kayaking, and other outdoor activities.
So, regardless of the reason why you are about to get a fishing vest, to make sure your purchase is worth, and doesn’t go vein, here are some key things to check –
Despite offering a handful of pockets, loops, attachments, lashes, reflectors, etc. Some people still prefer not wearing a vest while they are out fishing. This is because they don’t feel comfortable wearing such a vest.
There is no denying the fact that most of the fishing vests can make you feel uncomfortable unless you pick the right one.
Earlier, people used to only wear life jackets in case of emergencies; but, fishing vests, as well as PFDs, require the users to wear one all the time.
Therefore, you must make sure that the one you are about to get, will make you feel comfortable even if you wear it throughout the day.
The size of the vests also has to do with providing the users comfort. Most life jackets come in universal and oversized, whereas some come in S, M, L, XL, XXL size.
A slim and low profile fishing vest feels lightweight, and you can hardly say you are wearing a vest along with your shirt.
Consider your body measurement and go for the once that matches your body size the most. There will be adjustable straps to make the vest perfectly fit your body as well.
Ease of Mobility
If you manage to get the top fishing life vest, it will provide you excellent mobility experience, whether you are paddling a boat or kayak or sitting on it. With conventional vests, it feels uncomfortable to sit on a boat while wearing a vest, due to the floatation insert on the back.
The products on the list above, come with floatation inserts on the back raised at a higher position so that it doesn’t contact with the seat whatsoever.
In addition to that, when you are out fishing on a hot sunny day wearing a vest, you must make sure the back has quality breathable mesh material, which can provide good air circulation. Some vests have mesh material on other parts for added comfort.
Furthermore, make sure the vest has padded shoulder straps so that your shoulders don’t feel pain carrying all your fishing gear and equipment.
As different people have different preferences, there is no one-fishing vest to rule them all. You will see vests with plenty of pockets, and some that barely have more than four. Both of these will come handy for people with various requirements.
If you have a sailing boat and drop anchor somewhere for a few days, then you don’t need much pockets, as you probably already have a storage box for all your gears, supplies, and equipment.
On the flip side, if you are on a canoe or kayak for fishing, you should get a vest that comes with more pockets than usual, as there are hardly extra spaces on your kayak to accommodate all the stuff in an organized way.
Some individuals prefer only taking some main supplies on the front pockets while having another option for the rest of the supplies.
In addition to that, pretty much all of those have loops, attachments, lashes, D-ring for holding supplies that you use more frequently.
You need to also determine the purpose of getting a life jacket too. Is it only for floating purposes? Or you would like to have some extra space for your gears as well so that you can wear the same vest when you are outdoors for other activities that have to do with water?
I have listed some multi-purpose life jackets that are ideal to use for various outdoor activities. If you are an occasional angler, having a multi-purpose vest can be a great deal for you. But for pro anglers, they mostly prefer having different equipment that is made for different purposes.
If you want to take only the vest for fishing, make sure it has a good storage capacity to accommodate everything you would need for the fishing period.
No matter which life jacket you buy, it must fit your body shape properly so that it doesn’t come off when you are in the water. On the flip side, it shouldn’t be too restrictive either that will make you feel uncomfortable while having it on.
All the PFDs come with adjustable straps that allow you to fit the vest according to your body. Even if you get a vest of the right size, you still may need to adjust the straps to make it perfectly fit your body shape and activity.
The placement of adjustment belts or straps can vary depending on the brands. As different vests have different designs, these belts and straps come at various locations of the jacket to support your body as well as weight adequately.
Some have belts and straps across the chest, while some have them on the top of the chest. These placements vary depending on designs.
Once you fit the vest on your body, be sure to test it in a swimming pool, and see if it fits your body well in water or it moves around. The jacket should be able to support your weight and make you float properly. If it moves, you need to further adjust the straps.
US Coast Guard Approval
Faulty life vests are responsible for numbers of drownings each year all around the world. So, the US Coast Guard has put restrictions on vests to mark the safer ones. The one you are about to get must have approval from USCG.
For fishing, kayaking, canoeing, etc. purposes, make sure you get Type 3 life jackets approved by USCG that have enough buoyancy for the user to get out and float in the water while leaving the arms open to be able to move or do the paddling.
These PFDs are designed to keep the wearer in a floating state in inland and calm water where the rescue team responds quickly. Type 3 life vests can provide more than 12 lbs. of floatation support to make the wearer float in the water. So, make sure your one offers at least 12 or even higher floating capacity.
Colors and Reflective Straps
Have you ever wondered why life jackets on large ships have bright colors on them? There is a reason for that. A brighter color means the rescue team can easily spot the wearer and respond quickly. Yellow, red, orange and other bright colors have better visibility than darker ones.
It’s totally up to you which color to get. But, to some, having a vest of bright color is a peace of mind in case anything bad happens.
Another essential feature that you must look for is the reflective straps. Life jackets come with reflective straps more or less. Some provide more visibility than others. The rescue team can quickly spot by seeing those reflective straps on the vest during nights and in low lights.
If you have to canoe, kayak, or go for fishing during nights, having reflective straps will make you visible to others easily.
Best Fishing Life Vests Reviewed and Tested
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Q: What is the difference between a PFD, life vest, and life jacket?
A: A PFD - Personal Floatation Device is addressed to the device that is designed to make the wearer float in the water. There are different types of PFD. Life vests, life jackets, fishing vests, etc. — all come under the most commonly used PFDs that people address them interchangeably.
2. Q: How long does an inflatable life jacket last?
A: If you do regular servicing of your inflatable PFD once every two years, the life jacket can last you about ten years or more.
3. Q: Should I clean my life jacket after using it?
A: After every use, you need to completely rinse off the vest with clean water. Then air dry it thoroughly under the sun. Don’t hurry the drying process by using any heat source such as a hairdryer. After it’s dried, store the vest in a dry, cool, and dark place.
4. Q: What is the main purpose of a life jacket?
A: Life jackets and vests make the wearers inflate in the water by keeping the face and head above the water level. It will also support your body by not letting you drown in the water. You can also move your arms and slowly move towards the shore as per your ability.
5. Q: How much weight will a life jacket hold up?
A: An average person requires about 10 to 12 additional pounds of buoyancy to be able to float in the water. Therefore, life jackets provide this amount of buoyancy to support the human body. Some life jackets provide even higher buoyancy as well.
The best fishing life vest will not only provide you with a necessary amount of buoyancy in the water, but it also makes it easier to hold and organize all your fishing gear and equipment conveniently. Make sure your vest fits perfectly to your body shape, whether you are on the ground or in the water.