Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket


KFC cares deeply about the safety and wellbeing of the kayak fishing community, and particularly the KFC readers. That is why we are so quick to suggest that all of our readers invest in the best fishing kayak life jacket that they can afford.

Did you know that there are specific kinds of life jackets that have been built specifically for kayak fishing purposes? KFC has written an all encompassing guide to all things related to fishing kayak life jackets that you should reference prior to reading this article. Once you’ve built your foundation, we’d like to introduce you to the best fishing kayak life jacket on the market, the one we write about below!

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: Overview

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

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We’ve written this article to contain everything you need to know about the best fishing kayak life jacket on the market today and why we suggest that you buy one right away. Our article is organized into several separate categories to keep all of the information in an easy to follow presentation. We start with a discussion of the basics of this particular fishing kayak life jacket and then move into a helpful list of “Do” and “Don’t” type recommendations that will serve you as a guide.

After that, we’ve highlighted the top 5 features of the best fishing kayak life jacket and have included illustrations of each described feature and a short summary about why we think the particular feature is so important for the average kayak fisherman. We’ve also added a link to link to the product page for this life jacket so you can learn more about its abilities and specifications to see whether it might be a good fit for you. Finally, we’ve briefly touched upon our own experience with this model of fishing kayak life jacket and make a suggestion about whether we think you should try one out for yourself!

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: The Basics

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

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Shortcut to the Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

There are two necessary pieces of equipment/gear that you’ll need each and every time you are out on the water kayak fishing. First is safety gear that will assist you in the event that you inadvertently end up in the water. The second is a kayak fishing vest where you can efficiently store the numerous pieces of kayak fishing gear that you bring along with you onto the water. A fishing kayak life jacket is essentially a combination of these two pieces of equipment/gear!

The best fishing kayak life jacket has been constructed with an eye towards making you a safer and better kayak fisherman. Sure, there are many other types of life jackets on the market, but each has been designed for a specific kind of use. There are basic life jackets for lounging in the pool or swimming in the lake. There are performance life jackets for use in motorized water craft like wave runners and seadoos. Luckily, there is also a life jacket that has specifically been built for kayak fishing. Don’t make the mistake of using a generic life jacket during kayak fishing outings when the below shown best fishing kayak life jacket is affordably priced, stylish and will make you a safer and better kayak fisherman!

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: How to Use Properly

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

Take a look at the kayak fisherman above. This is a good example of how to wear your fishing kayak life jacket correctly. You’ll want to correctly wear and use this kind of life jacket not only because for safety reasons, but also due to the benefits that correct usage will provide you in your kayak fishing experience! Remember,  even the best fishing kayak life jacket won’t help our protect you if you are using it incorrectly. This is why the writers at KFC decided to put together the short “Do” and “Don’t” summary below. The list will help you properly use your life jacket and will, in turn, make you a better kayak fisherman! Ready to find out how and why? Take a look below:

  • DO buy a fishing kayak life jacket that is appropriately sized for you. When you think about which size is proper, think about what you are going to be wearing underneath the life jacket. If it is cold, for instance, you might be wearing multiple layers and would need to buy a larger size life jacket.
  • DO properly adjust the straps to customize your fit. The straps are found on the shoulders and near the mid-section of the kayak fisherman. You need the life jacket to fit snug enough so that it won’t ride up or shift over to one side or the other if you accidentally fall outside of the kayak and into the water. Be careful, however, as you don’t want it to be so tight that you cause discomfort (and thus discourage your use of the life jacket altogether).
  • DO always keep the correct amount of fishing kayak life jackets on board. Do this PRIOR to venturing out onto the water. This comment is aimed at the numerous KFC readers who partake in tandem kayak fishing. You need at least one life jacket per kayak fisherman in the kayak – no exceptions!
  • DON’T put too many different kayak fishing accessories or other pieces of gear into the pockets of your life jacket. Yes, fishing kayak life jackets feature  multiple pockets and zippers. The last thing you want to do, however, is overload these pockets. Why? Overloading puts you at risk by potentially offsetting the level of buoyancy built into the life jacket and putting you in harm’s way if you ever fall overboard!
  • DON’T store your life jacket while it is still wet from the day’s fishing. Fishing kayak life jackets are built to handle the water, but they should never be left in a wet condition upon storing. Let the life jacket dry entirely (air drying is best) and then locate it in a cool and non-humid area for future use! You’ll also want the storage location to be away from exposure to direct sunlight, as direct sunlight could degrade the material over time.
  • DON’T leave sharp or exposed blades (or other sharp objects, like fishing hooks) concealed within your fishing kayak life jacket’s pockets. We always suggest that our readers locate any potentially dangerous items or pieces of gear or equipment in a designated area. Such an area should be one that is not flippantly accessed. The risk of reaching into a pocket and cutting or snagging yourself on a sharp piece of metal is simply too high. Save your pockets for other, less dangerous accessories (like bait, weights, bobbers and even extra night crawlers!).

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: Important Features

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

As you can see above, this particular life jacket was named KFC’s best fishing kayak life jacket because of all of its features. Its truly as if this life jacket was designed by a kayak fishing enthusiast, as nearly every feature you could possibly hope for has been included. This life jacket has everything from reflective safety material at the shoulders, to adjustable strapping near the fisherman’s midsection. Let’s take a look at some of the other great features and you can decide for yourself whether this life jacket will suit you in your kayak fishing needs:

  • Rod “Loop” Holder. The fishing rod is notoriously difficult to transport and store. It is largely without a good “home” for storage during times when you are not actively using it. Many fishing kayak life jackets address this problem by adding a particular type of rod holder known as a “rod loop” or “rod hanging loop”, though some manufacturers do it much better than others. Are you familiar with this particular feature? We’ve included a picture below to show you what we are talking about:
Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

Do you see how the kayak life jacket has a small rod hanging loop towards the right shoulder of the life jacket? There is a second and lower rod loop located near the lower left of the life jacket. These are well places rod loops,  as they allow the kayak fisherman to safely place the fishing rod into the gap in between the two large pockets located on the life jacket itself. This placement keeps the fishing rod safely tucked into the fisherman’s chest. More importantly, this location allow the fisherman to keep his or her hands free to tend to other matters (like reeling in a big catch). We tend to use this feature most when launching the fishing kayak into the water for the first time of the day and then again on once we’ve completed our day’s fishing and are ready to place our kayak into our kayak cart for carrying back to our truck.

  • Front Zipper Pockets. Kayak fishing requires all different kinds of gear and accessories. We’re sure that you are like us – always searching for extra ways to maximize the amount of space available in our fishing kayak. After all, the more efficient we are with space, the more gear we can bring along with us! Our favorite model of fishing kayak life jacket has large front pockets with zippers – take a look at the image below where you can get a good feel for the pocket’s oversized nature. Just think of all the gear you can store:
Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

If you look at the sizing chart above, you can see that these pockets are big enough to hold several of your smaller kayak fishing items (extra weights,  pliers, backup fishing line, bobbers, power bait, etc. etc). You’ll want to keep from placing sharp objects (like open blades or extra fishing hooks) in these front pockets. As we mentioned above, you should have a separate area for any dangerous or sharp pieces of gear and this area should never be in a concealed location (like a pocket). We must reiterate that this life jacket uses zippers on the pockets, and not velcro (or simply gravity). This is critical as it allows the life jacket pocket’s to keep their contents safely contained. Remember,  if you frequently bend over, you run the risk of losing your jacket’s pocket’s contents UNLESS the pocket is securely zipped shut!

  • Customizable size/Adjustable straps. Make sure that the life jacket  you decide to buy, even if it isn’t the one we suggest in this article, is correctly sized for you. To do this, you’ll want to consider what size you will be AFTER you are dressed to head out to the water. What do we mean? Well, if you are kayak fishing in the winter, you will likely be wearing several layers of clothing under your life jacket. You’ll need to increase the size of your life jacket to account for the extra layers of clothing you’ll be wearing. Next, you’ll want a life jacket that can be customized and adjusted such that you can manipulate the life jacket to fit you in a comfortable, but still safe, manner. KFC’s best fishing kayak life jacket has been designed with adjustability in mind – take a look at the adjustable shoulder and waste straps below:
Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

We like that this model of kayak life jacket adjusts at the shoulders and the waist (instead of one or the other, like you see in lesser quality life jackets) and has slots where the extra strapping can be tucked away in an organized manner. All adjustable straps should be tightened down to the fisherman’s midsection. Even though it may seem ok to leave these just a little loose, don’t be tempted! These waist straps will keep the life jacket from pulling or pushing up when you are casting (or even just moving around the fishing kayak). Remember, a life jacket won’t work unless you are actually wearing it. Don’t buy a fishing kayak life jacket that fits you poorly, is uncomfortable, or is non-adjustable. Why? You will be less likely to wear it! That is why adjustability is such a crucial feature and its inclusion is one of the main reasons why we named this the best fishing kayak life jacket!

  • Hanger.  We were shocked to see how many kayak life jackets on the market didn’t have a hanger. How are you supposed to get your life jacket to dry without being able to hang it and let the air do the work for you? You don’t want to hang the life jacket by the shoulder straps, as this will cause a crease to occur where the strap is folded over and can actually weaken the material over time. 
    Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

The built in hanger is a great feature because it encourages you to take care of your life jacket by properly hanging it when not in use. Aside from proper maintenance, the hanger allows you to rack several life jackets side by side without taking up too much room. If your garage closet looks anything like mine, you know that its much easier to neatly hang items on the rack rather than placing them on shelves or boxes. This also preserves the longevity of the already durable life jacket!

  • Attachment “Ladders” and Accessory Hoops. Again along the lines of convenience and efficiency, KFC’s best fishing kayak life jacket has all sorts of extra features that are perfect for attaching and transporting gear. The attachment ladders are great connection points for carabiners. I don’t know about you, but I use carabiners for attaching just about everything! Take a look at the zoomed in photo of this particular feature below:
Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

The attachment ladders are sturdy enough to allow for clipping on fully filled water bottles and even extra dry bags. I also use the connection loops to attach my iPhone so that I can have it handy, but yet keep it out of the way of my casting and paddling. We were surprised that there were so few life jackets on the market that had good attachment ladders or connection points. We discovered that many of the life jackets that did have these features were actually of very low quality (which, in our opinion, is more dangerous than not having them at all). KFC’s suggestion for the best fishing kayak life jacket is built with high quality ladders and connection loops – trust us, you can rely on them. We do!

Buy the Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

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Try it when Kayak Fishing!

It is worth reiterating that there are hundreds of life jackets on the market. Please, please, please do not be tricked into trying a “one size fits all” approach to life jacket selection. 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 that a kayak fishing specific life jacket will provide you. Remember, with this particular model of fishing kayak life jacket, you are actually killing two birds with one stone – First, you’ll be safer on the water and second, you are benefitting from the vest features (like the  rod loop and oversized pockets) that have been designed with kayak fishing in mind!

The best fishing kayak life jacket contains all of the features highlighted above and so many more! The life jacket has been designed with a ripstop polyester outer shell. This material is perfect for creating a durable, long lasting and tough life jacket. We know from experience that it can stand up to many seasons of use in the harshest of weather conditions. Also, we like that the sides of the life jacket are “open” (rather than enclosed) because this allows us more room to accommodate our paddling motion and let’s us stand and cast with ease.

We mentioned it above, but the reflective material on the front and rear shoulder pieces is a nice safety bonus. The reflectors are particularly helpful at dusk and dawn when sunlight is at its lowest. The mesh on the back of the life jacket  is great for breathability and comfort. If you are not comfortable, you will be encouraged not to wear your life jacket, which is very dangerous indeed! Take our word for it, you want to buy a fishing kayak life jacket (even if you disagree with our opinion on the best fishing kayak life jacket) that is adjustable and comfortable. You’ll be better off for it!

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: My Experience

Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

Until one winter, several years ago, I would kayak fish with no life jacket at all! Eventually, I was pulled over and given a ticket by my local lake’s governing regulatory authority. They reminded me just how dangerous it was to boat without a life jacket. It wasn’t necessarily myself and my own actions I was guarding against. Rather I was guarding against the many other boaters on the water that I could not control. There are so many other boats on the water at any given time – if one of them hit me, it would be a very serious incident. I needed to find the best fishing kayak life jacket and find it quickly!

I decided to buy the life jacket showcased above. Honestly, if I had known how much reassurance it would provide me, and how easy it was to use, I would have bought it much sooner. The safety aspects of this life jacket are great, but that’s not the only benefit. This life jacket actually makes me a better kayak fisherman! There can be no doubt that it has been specifically designed with an eye towards making it the perfect life jacket for kayak fishing. point. Truthfully, its almost more of a kayak fishing vest or accessory, rather than a piece of safety equipment. But I won’t argue about which one it is better categorized as, because both are of great benefit to me! One other thing. Even though I know that my life jacket will keep me safe if I overturn, I have started using an inflatable kayak outrigger to help make sure I don’t accidentally flip over in rough waters!


Fishing Kayak Life Jacket

I hope this article about the best fishing kayak life jacket has served as a useful guide. Remember, if you have any questions about this particular model of life jacket, or doubts about whether you should wear a life jacket at all, be sure to write to us and let us know! We care about our readers and we know that a kayak life jacket is the best way make our community safer on the water! Oh, and since you are clearly looking for the best in your kayak fishing gear, take a look at our post on the Best Pedal Kayak on the market, its great for kayak fishing! You can learn more about recreational water safety here.

Consider entering into a kayak fishing tournament! Tournaments are a great way to test your skill and meet new friends!

Best Fishing Kayak Life Jacket: Comments

Do you own a fishing kayak life jacket? Did you always wear one or have you more recently decided it was the right move? What has your experience with the life jacket been like?  Does it perform well on the water? How comfortable is it? What features did you find to be important? 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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