3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets


There is nothing more important while kayak fishing than the safety and well being of the kayak fisherman him or herself. This is why KFC is always quick to suggest that its readers, regardless of experience level, but heartfelt consideration into purchasing a fishing kayak life jacket as one of their very first kayak fishing purchases.

We’ve written this article about the 3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets to showcase for this KFC some of the best models of kayak life jacket on the market. Never heard of a fishing kayak life jacket? Take a look at our Fishing Kayak Life Jacket Ultimate Guide to get up to speed! Already up to speed? Let’s get started!

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets: Overview

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

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This KFC article contains everything you need to know about the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets and why we think they are so ideal for kayak fishing purposes. We’ve organized this post into several different categories. To begin, we’ve written a short section going over the basics of a fishing kayak life jacket, just to make sure that our audience is up to speed on these products. Next, we’ve provided a short check list that you can reference to make sure you buy a correctly sized fishing kayak life jacket and that you use it properly.

After that, we’ve highlighted the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets and have included brief summaries of some of the important features of each individual life jacket. Next, we’ve provided a link to a product page for one of the life jackets where you can visit to learn more about the specifications of the kayak life jacket to see if they meet your needs. Finally, we’ve included a short write up detailing our own experience with each of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets that we’ve written about in this article. Ready to get started?

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets: The Basics

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

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Shortcut to the 3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of a life jacket or life vest. After all, we’ve learned from a very young age that any time you are in or around the water, you need to be very cautious. One of the most popular ways to exercise the correct level of caution is by wearing a life jacket. Despite the generic name, life jackets actually come in a number of different styles that will vary largely based upon the type of activity that you’ll be participating while in the water. There are life jackets for lounging in the pool, life jackets for motorized water sports, and life jackets for water skiing and like activities. This article is devoted to the fishing kayak life jacket!

Not familiar with a fishing kayak life jacket? They have only recently become prevalent in the market place. They are actually a wisely constructed combination of two necessary pieces of kayak fishing gear. First, the kayak life jacket. Second, the kayak fishing vest. This wise combination of life preservation features and kayak fishing conveniences makes the fishing kayak life jacket an absolute no brainer for kayak fishermen of any level of ability or experience. Kayak fishing involves a lot of gear, and only a little bit of room in which to put it. Any time you can combine two pieces of gear into one, you are much better off! Ready to learn some tips on how to buy and properly use a fishing kayak life jacket? Let’s get started!

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets: How to Use Properly

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

The kayak fisherman showed in the image above is correctly wearing his fishing kayak life jacket. While a visual example helps, we’ve found that many KFC readers could use a few extra helpful hints to ensure that they buy an appropriately sized kayak life jacket and, once purchased, tips for wearing and using it properly. Remember, even one of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets isn’t going to do you any good if you’ve purchased an inappropriate size or have otherwise worn it incorrectly. Let’s take a look at some helpful hints below:

  1. Remember to consider what type of clothing you will be wearing underneath your fishing kayak life jacket. If you kayak fish in the winter time, you’ll likely be wearing extra layers and you’ll want to buy a larger size of fishing kayak life jacket to account for the extra space occupied by your clothing.
  2. Consider a kayak life jacket that is adjustable at the shoulders and at the waist. This adjustability will ensure a more customizable fit. The more you are able to adjust the kayak life jacket to your specific body, the more protection the kayak life jacket will provide you (and the more comfortable it will be).
  3. Slip the kayak life jacket over your head and place the desired contents in the various pockets PRIOR to making any adjustments to the straps (and before you get into or even near the water)! This will ensure, when you do adjust, that the life jacket and its contents are maneuvered into a snug yet comfortable position.
  4. Make sure that you have the appropriate number of kayak life jackets on board with you prior to setting out onto the water to kayak fish! We know that many of our readers are avid participants in tandem kayak fishing and that activity will require that each fisherman have his or her own life jacket. No exceptions!
  5. Avoid placing sharp objects in the kayak life jacket’s pockets. If you are anything like us, you will be in and out of these conveniently placed pockets tens if not hundreds of times per kayak fishing trip. An errantly placed blade or grouping of sharp fish hooks inside of the fishing kayak life jacket’s pocket could lead to a serious and painful injury! Keep the sharp objects in a non inadvertently accessed location!
  6. Once done on the water, make sure to allow your fishing kayak life jacket to air dry fully prior to storage. These types of life jackets are specifically built to handle the water, but they could deteriorate (and develop a bad smell) if they are stored without first being allowed to air dry.
  7. Also, when not in use, make sure to place your fishing kayak life jacket in a relatively temperature controlled area that is also free from direct exposure to sunlight. Constant variations in temperature and exposure to direct sunlight will cause a weakening of the kayak life jacket over time. If properly stored, each of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets will last you for an entire LIFETIME of use!

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets: Important Features

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

As you can see above, our showcased 3 best fishing kayak life jackets are full of features that make them ideal for kayak fishing. Its almost as if each of these life jackets were designed by a kayak fishing enthusiast. They include features that are perfectly tailored to kayak fishing rather than other water sports or activities. These models will include everything from light reflecting safety material at the shoulders, to strapping at the fisherman’s midsection which allows for quick and easy adjustment. In the list below, we’ve included some of the other features found in these particular models of kayak life jacket and have added some of the reasons as to why these features are so perfect kayak fishermen of any experience level!

  • Rod “Loop” Holder. A fishing rod is difficult to transport and store. This is due, at least in part, to its long and slender shape. This raises the problem of where to best locate it during times when you are not actively fishing with it – after all, you need to keep it out of the way so that it doesn’t poke somebody! Many fishing kayak life jackets manage this problem by adding a “rod loop” or “rod hanging loop”. Have you ever heard of this convenient feature? The picture below illustrates what we are talking about:
3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

The rod loops are located at the top right (near the shoulder) and lower left (near the waist) of the fishing kayak life jacket. These are wisely located rod loops,  because they let the kayak fisherman locate the fishing rod into the area between the large pockets located on the front of the kayak life jacket. This is a convenient, and safe, location for storage of the rod when not in use. This location also allows the fisherman to use his or her hands to address other situations instead of holding a rod (like reeling in a big catch on another line). We’ve noticed that this rod “loop” feature is particularly convenient when we are heading to or from our kayak cart while carrying the fishing kayak by hand. We are free to use our hands to move the kayak onto the cart, and then are free to push the cart and kayak safely to or from the water, all without having to worry about the location of the rod!

  • Front Zipper Pockets. Storage, storage, storage! The more places into which we can store our kayak fishing gear and accessories, the better! Each of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets have large front pockets with zippers. The pockets are generally approximately 5 by 8 inches, expanding outward roughly 4 inches from the vest itself. This means that each pocket can hold approximately 160 cubic inches of gear. That’s some serious size!
3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

The enlarged pockets are big enough to hold extra weights, pliers, backup fishing line, bobbers, power bait, and more, but remember – keep from putting sharp objects (like blades or fishing hooks) in these front pockets. Each of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets uses zippers (rather than velcro) on the pockets. This is a superior design as it keeps your contents safely contained. If frequently bend over, you might very well lose the jacket’s pocket’s contents UNLESS the pocket is securely zipped shut! Velcro simply isn’t reliable enough!

  • Customizable size/Adjustable straps. Any life jacket that you decide on, even if not one of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets, needs to be correctly sized and allow features that let you make adjustments for customization. Remember to consider what size you will be AFTER you are dressed to head out to the water. Like we mention above, if you kayak fish in the winter, you’ll want to increase the size of your life jacket to account for the extra layers of clothing. You’ll want your fishing kayak life jacket to fit you comfortably without compromising safety – take a look at the adjustable shoulder and waist straps on the example life jacket below:
3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

We prefer life jackets that adjust BOTH at the shoulders AND the waist. Each of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets are designed for this. The adjustable straps need to be tightened down snuggly to the fisherman’s waist. While it may seem ok to leave these just a little loose, don’t be fall into this dangerous temptation! These waist straps are specifically designed to keep the life jacket from pulling or pushing up when you are moving around. A life jacket won’t work unless you are actually wearing it. Equally dangerous is a fishing kayak life jacket that fits you poorly, is uncomfortable, or is non-adjustable because you will be less likely to wear it! Adjustability is a crucial feature! The 3 best fishing kayak life jackets have the appropriate amount of adjustability needed for safety and convenience!

  • Hanger.  Many kayak life jackets on the market, even some of the most expensive models, didn’t have a hanger. A hanger is an often overlooked, but very important, feature of these kayak life jackets.  You don’t want to hang the life jacket by the shoulder straps. Why? Continually doing this will cause a crease to occur where the strap is folded over. This will weaken the material of the life jacket over time. 
    3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

A built in hanger encourages you to take good care of your life jacket by properly hanging it (just like you learned about in the helpful hints section above). A hanger is also quite convenient as it allows you to rack several life jackets side by side without taking up too much room. Its far easier to hang items (like kayak life jackets) on a rack rather than jamming them onto shelves or stuffing them into boxes. Proper storage preserves the longevity of the already durable life jacket!

  • Attachment “Ladders” and Accessory Hoops. One of our favorite things about each of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets is the inclusion of what are commonly known as “attachment ladders” or “accessory hoops”. These  are great connection points for carabiners. Carabiners are a critical part of any kayak fisherman’s kayak fishing gear collection, and these kayak life jackets provide a durability constructed and logically located collection of locations to which the carabiner can be connected! Below we have added a zoomed in photo of some attachment ladders and accessory hoops:
3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

We like to use the attachment ladders for clipping on filled water bottles and our extra dry bags. Honestly, we were surprised that there were so few kayak life jackets on the market that contained these valuable features. Some of the life jackets that did include these features were actually of low quality (more dangerous than not having them at all, at least in our opinion). Each of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets have high quality attachment ladders – we rely on them and have no concerns suggesting that you do the same!

Buy the Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

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KFC Readers! Beware! There are so many different kinds of life jackets on the market. Do not be tricked into trying a “one size fits all” life jacket, especially if you are truly needing one for kayak fishing purposes! Even if you already have a kayak life jacket that you “think” will work, it is worth taking a second look at all the benefits of one of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets will afford you. Remember, here you are effectively buying two pieces of gear in one. First, you’ll be safer on the water (the life jacket feature) and second, you are benefitting from the vest (containing the perfect blend of kayak fishing features)!

The 3 best fishing kayak life jackets showcased in this article contain all of the features highlighted above, and thats only the beginning! Each have been designed with a ripstop polyester outer shell – creating a durable, long lasting and tough life jacket. This type of material can withstand  many seasons of use in the harshest of weather conditions. As an aside, but definitely worth mentioning, we really like that the sides of these life jackets “open” (instead of enclosed) because it provides more room to accommodate our kayak fishing movements (like casting, paddling, or using a kayak trolling motor).

The reflective material on the shoulder pieces is a great safety bonus and are particularly helpful at dusk and dawn when sunlight is at its lowest. The mesh that is used is ideal for safety and durability, but most importantly? Comfort! If you are not comfortable, you will not to wear your life jacket! Buy a fishing kayak life jacket (even if you don’t go with one of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets) that is adjustable and comfortable. You will be much safer if you do so!

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets: My Experience

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

I can’t believe it now, but I used to kayak fish with no life jacket at all! One day, I was given a ticket by my local lake’s governing regulatory authority. They pointed out how dangerous it was to be on the water without a life jacket. I wasn’t protecting myself against my own actions. I was guarding against the many other boaters on the water!

I decided to buy the fishing kayak life jacket that we’ve linked to above.  I should have bought it much sooner. The safety aspects are great, and they’re not the only benefit – the life jacket actually makes me a better kayak fisherman! It has been designed specifically for kayak fishing! Truthfully, I’ve started considering it to be more of a kayak fishing vest or accessory, instead of a piece of safety equipment. The good thing it, it is both!


3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets

We hope that this  article about the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets has served you as a useful guide and has helped you learn more about this important and convenient kayak fishing product. Remember, if you have any questions about any particular model of kayak life jacket (even if not one of the ones that we write about above), or doubts about whether you should wear a life jacket at all, be sure to write to us and let us know! We deeply value the safety of the KFC community, and those of the larger kayak fishing world, and we’ll do whatever it takes to help all kayak fishermen learn about the safety and other benefits of the fishing kayak life jacket! Now that you’ve read the best of the best about life jackets, take a look at the Best Foot Pedal Kayak – its great for kayak fishing! Learn more about water safety with this article from Teen Health!

Do you want to test your skill against the best around? Consider entering into a kayak fishing tournament!

3 Best Fishing Kayak Life Jackets: Comments

Do you own any of the 3 best fishing kayak life jackets? What has your experience with the life jacket been like? Did you know you needed one from the beginning, or did you experience a scare on the water? Does the life jacket perform well during kayak fishing outings? How comfortable is it? What features were most important? Anything you’d change? What overall score would you give it?  Please share your knowledge with the KFC Community by posting a comment below.  I read and reply to all comments, and I love interacting with our readers!

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