The 7 Best Fishing Life Vest in 2022 – Buyers Guide

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Fishing, as much as we love it, isn’t always the safest of sports. The water can be dangerous whether you are wading a river or out kayak fishing. Therefore, having the best fishing life vest is a key piece of fishing gear that every angler should have with them on fishing trips.

best fishing life vest

But finding a good fishing life vest isn’t so easy as most of them are designed for sports like water skiing or are inflatable life vests that simply won’t work when you are fly fishing or casting a spinning rod.

Image Product Details  
flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Fishing Life Vest For All-Around UseNRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket
  • Good color options
  • US coast guard approved PFD
  • Built-in rod holder
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Kayak Fishing Life VestOnyx Kayak Fishing Life Jackets
  • Paddle-specific foam design
  • Comfy to paddle in
  • Small tackle box pockets
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Fishing Life Vest On A BudgetLixada Fly Fishing Life Vest
  • Loads of color options
  • Built-in rod holder
  • Comfortable and easy to fish in
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Fishing Life Jacket For SafetyNRS Raku Fishing Life Jacket
  • Coast guard approved
  • Transport Canada Approved
  • Hi-vis orange option
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Of The Best Fishing Life JacketOld Town Lure Angler PFD / Life Jacket
  • Coast Guard Approved life vest
  • Adjustable and comfy to wear
  • Durable, safe build
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Life Jacket For ComfortStohlquist Fisherman Vest
  • Coast Guard approved life vest
  • A few color options
  • High foam pack
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flyfisherpro-table__imageBest Fishing Life Vest For Longer Fishing TripsTaruor Fly Fishing Jacket Vest
  • Very affordable
  • Lots of gear attachment points
  • Fully adjustable
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Join me as we take a look at some of the best life jackets on the market so you can find the best fishing PFD (personal flotation device) for your needs.

Fishing Life Vest Reviews

NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket

NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket

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Best Fishing Life Vest For All-Around Use

Specs

  • Material: 400-denier ripstop nylon
  • Sizes: XS-XXL
  • Pockets: 7
  • Closure: Zip
  • Colors: Orange, Black/Red

Pros

  • US coast guard approved PFD
  • Good color options
  • Fits well and is easy to fish in
  • Large zippered pockets for fishing tackle
  • Built-in rod holder
  • VHF radio pocket or clip
  • Breathable mesh back for hot summer days
  • Good for fly fishing and kayak fishing
  • Durable lightweight design

Cons

  • Quite expensive

The NRS Chinook OS Fishing Life jacket is an awesome choice for anyone looking for a fishing PFD as it pretty much has it all.

It is a life jacket designed to be used as a fishing PFD, kayak fishing life vest, and a fly fishing vest too. This is the perfect life jacket for all fishing scenarios as it comes with excellent floatation, provides a snug fit, it’s comfortable, and has multiple pockets.

The US coast guard approved PFD will keep you afloat no matter what and its multiple adjustable straps allow you to tailor the fishing vest fit.

It secures with a zipper at the front, the mesh back panel ensures breathability, and you can get all the tackle you need into the four zipper pockets and the three velcro pockets too. There is even a dedicated space for a VHF radio so you can stay in comms with safety teams.

Once on, this fishing life vest doesn’t restrict movement so you can fish like you would with a normal fishing vest.

The only con to this fishing life jacket is that it is pretty expensive but you get what you pay for, so it is of excellent quality.

Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jackets

Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jackets

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Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest

Specs

  • Material: Ripstop Nylon
  • Sizes: Universal/Oversize
  • Pockets: 7+
  • Closure: Zip
  • Colors: Tan/Black

Pros

  • Paddle-specific foam design
  • Comfy to paddle in
  • Lower mesh back panel for breathability
  • Neoprene shoulder straps are soft
  • Small tackle box pockets
  • Zippered fleece-lined pockets
  • Accessory clips for pliers/radio/sunglasses
  • US coast guard approved
  • Adjustable straps for a great fit

Cons

  • A bit bulky when not kayak fishing
  • Not many size options

The Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket is, without doubt, one of the best kayak fishing life vests around as it is specifically designed to ensure you are comfortable in a kayak and have the freedom to fish.

This kayak fishing life vest features a foam back design that cushions your back as you paddle, and the adjustable shoulder straps mean you can get it in the perfect position.

The sides on this kayak life vest are left open for easy casting and paddling, the lower back is made of mesh for breathability, and the front is loaded with zippered pockets two of which are fleece-lined, accessory clips, and the drop-down tray pocket is great for small tackle boxes.

This fishing life vest is also approved by the US coast guard so it is guaranteed to keep you safe if you fall in the water. The only downside to this fishing life vest is that it is bulky at the back, which is good on a kayak but a bit chunk when wading a river.

Lixada Fly Fishing Life Vest

Lixada Fly Fishing Life Vest

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Best Fishing Life Vest On A Budget

Specs

  • Material: Polyester + Mesh
  • Sizes: Universal
  • Pockets: 11
  • Closure: Zip
  • Colors: Grey / Green / Red / Blue / Camouflage / Black / Dark Green

Pros

  • Loads of color options
  • Tons of pockets for fishing equipment
  • Built-in rod holder
  • Water bottle holder
  • Premium ripstop polyester shell
  • Snug fit through the adjustable shoulder straps
  • Fishing net hanger
  • Comfortable and easy to fish in
  • Keeps you afloat
  • A great fly fishing vest

Cons

  • Zippers can rust in saltwater
  • Not coast guard approved

The Lixada Fly Fishing Life Vest is without doubt one of the best life jackets for fishing on the market if you are shopping on a budget. This fishing life vest is so affordable while being super functional and having everything you need for fishing and staying safe while doing so.

While it is not coast guard approved, the fishing life jacket will keep you afloat if you fall in and is perfect for fly fishing, surf fishing, and any other types of fishing where you are on your feet all day.

The front section has two zippered pockets that are super large along with six other pockets for other gear storage. There is also a fishing rod holder on the front, a water bottle holder, and a large pocket on the back for storing extra layers or lunch, plus a net hanger too.

The only downside to this fly fishing life jacket is that the zippers can rust if not rinsed after saltwater use.

NRS Raku Fishing Life Jacket

NRS Raku Fishing Life Jacket

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Best Fishing Life Jacket For Safety

Specs

  • Material: 420D ripstop nylon
  • Sizes: XS -XXL
  • Pockets: 5+
  • Closure: Zip
  • Colors: Orange, Charcoal

Pros

  • Coast guard approved
  • Transport Canada Approved
  • Hi-vis orange option
  • Reflectors for being found at night
  • Super comfy to catch fish in
  • Dedicated pliers pocket
  • VHF radio clip
  • Adjustable straps for a perfect fit

Cons

  • Very expensive

The NRS Raku Fishing Life Jackets are probably the safest life jackets for fishing around as they are double approved by both the Coast Guard and Transport Canada.

The unique 5-panel design provides amazing flotation, you can own it in bright orange, and there are reflectors on it for being found at night.

The 5-panels also ensure a great comfy fit, provide pack padding when paddling on a kayak, and its fully adjustable straps ensure that you get a perfect fit.

On the front of the fishing life vest, you will find two large pockets for your fishing gear as well as smaller pockets plus accessory loops and a dedicated space for pliers so you can access them quickly and easily. There is also a spot for a VHF radio so you can stay in contact with everyone while you fish.

While this is an awesome life vest it is one of the most expensive fishing life vests on the market, but you do get the best quality with it.

Old Town Lure Angler PFD / Life Jacket

Old Town Lure Angler PFD / Life Jacket

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Best Of The Best Fishing Life Jacket

Specs

  • Material: Lightweight PE and EVA
  • Sizes: S-XXXL
  • Pockets: 5+
  • Closure: Zip
  • Colors: Grey

Pros

  • Coast Guard Approved life vest
  • Adjustable and comfy to wear
  • High-back sits comfortably on kayaks
  • Low-back mesh for breathability
  • Durable, safe build
  • Expandable mesh pockets for large fishing gear
  • Water bottle pocket
  • Hypalon tab and D-ring attachment points
  • Envelope pocket for a VHF/GPS

Cons

  • Very expensive

The Old Town Lure Angler PFD / Life Jacket provides the perfect combination of a safe life jacket for all fishing situations with enough gear storage so you can carry and access everything you need with ease.

Built to coast guard standards and with quality EVA foam, the life vest will keep you afloat in all dangerous situations. The high-back foam is designed to fit with a kayak comfortably while the low back ensures breathability to keep you cool.

The front is littered with pockets from zippered pockets to expandable mesh that holds larger bits of gear with ease. There is a slot for a water bottle, fly patch, attachment points for tools, and even a specific pocket for a GPS or VHF.

The life vest comes in a large range of sizes and is fully adjustable so you can ensure a comfortable fit. The only drawback to this life vest is how expensive it is but it will keep you safe and it will be a fishing life vest you have forever.

Stohlquist Fisherman Vest

Stohlquist Fisherman Vest

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Best Life Jacket For Comfort

Specs

  • Material: Ripstop Nylon
  • Sizes: S-XXL
  • Pockets: 2
  • Closure: Zip
  • Colors: Grass Green

Pros

  • Coast Guard approved life vest
  • Comfortable streamlined design
  • Good size range and adjustability for a great fit
  • Multiple mounting locations for accessories
  • A few color options
  • High foam pack for kayak fishing
  • A breathable low back keeps you cool on fishing trips

Cons

  • A little pricey
  • Could have more pockets

The Stohlquist fisherman lifejacket is one of the most comfortable life jackets on the market as it is light, streamlined, and not bulky whatsoever. It also comes in a great range of sizes and all of them are fully adjustable so you can ensure a perfect fit.

The high foam back design ensures ultimate comfort on kayaks while the breathable mesh low back keeps you cool wading or walking the surf. It is also USGC approved so it will keep you alive in a water emergency.

On the front, you will find a lot of locations to mount accessories like pliers, tippets, retractors, nippers, leaders, and lots more. There are also two pockets for tackle, and a special clip for a VHF.

There are a few things I would change about this life vest though. The VHF clip should be higher up so your radio isn’t easily splashed, and there could be more pockets for your gear as chances are you will have to carry a bag when fly fishing with this life vest.

The Stohlquist life jacket is also a little more expensive than others but it is super durable, safe, and will last a long time too.

Taruor Fly Fishing Jacket Vest

Taruor Fly Fishing Jacket Vest

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Best Fishing Life Vest For Longer Fishing Trips

Specs

  • Material: Polyester
  • Sizes: Universal
  • Pockets: 4+
  • Closure: Zipper closure
  • Colors: Green, Black, Camo, Orange

Pros

  • Comes in a range of colors
  • Includes a safety whistle
  • Reflective strips for being found at night
  • It will keep you afloat in an emergency
  • Fully adjustable and comfortable to wear
  • Lots of pockets for gear storage
  • Water bottle pocket
  • Lots of gear attachment points
  • Very affordable

Cons

  • Not USCG approved
  • Not a great fit for larger/smaller anglers

The Taruor Fly Fishing Life Jacket is an awesome life jacket for long fishing trips as this life jacket comes with more gear storage than you can shake a tackle box at.

You will find two large pockets and one small pocket on the front that will hold fly boxes, tippets, and lots more. There are also numerous D-rings and gear slots for your accessories, and a dedicated pliers/forceps slot on the front of one pocket.

On the back of the life jacket is a large pocket where you can keep anything from a rain jacket to your packed lunch, and there is even a large water bottle holder on the back too.

If you are planning on spending 14 hours wading up a river in summer, you can do so with this life jacket and even leave your backpack behind.

From a safety point of view, this life jacket will keep you afloat in an emergency. You will also find a safety whistle on the life jackets as well as reflectors for being found at night.

These life jackets are also super comfy as they are fully adjustable but if you are a little small or too big, the universal size might not quite work for you. These life vests aren’t USGC approved either but they are incredibly affordable for what you get.

Things To Look For In The Best Fishing Life Vest

When it comes to choosing the right fishing life vest there are some things you need to think about and this includes safety, gear storage, fit, comfort, budget, plus where and how you fish.

Things To Look For In The Best Fishing Life Vest

Picking The Right Life Vest For Different Forms Of Fishing

The key to being both comfortable and safe is using the right type of life vests for the right fishing situation.

For example, a kayak fishing life vest comes with high foam back and a breathable area beneath so you can sit comfortably when paddling.

This type of vest ensures your head stays up when you go in the water too, and it works well for wade/surf fishing too since it stays cool so it is a great all-rounder.

You can also find small inflatable life jackets which are much smaller but an inflatable life vest will have no pockets and you will have to wear the inflatable life vest over your normal fishing vest.

Safety Features

Some of the life vests featured are USGC approved and other life jackets featured are not. Now, it is always a good idea to get a USGC-approved vest as they are tested to rigorous standards but they are more expensive.

Other safety features to look out for include safety whistles, reflector tabs, and a special place to keep a VHF radio handy too.

I would recommend getting the safest vest you can within your maximum budget as if the fishing life vest isn’t safe, you may as well wear a standard fishing vest.

Gear Storage Options

Gear Storage Options

A great fishing life vest will have quite a few pockets and gear attachment points so you can have all the fishing tackle you need close and accessible. Being able to change lures, add tippets, remove hooks, carry water, and even extra layers is incredibly useful.

Not all fishing life vests are made equal when it comes to storage though as some have just 2 pockets while others have 11. Having 11 pockets means you can leave your backpack at home and carry everything from your lunch to enough water for a full day of fishing along with your tackle.

Think about how you fish, where you fish, and if you would rather have everything in your vest or carry a backpack and then decide on the storage capacity you want from a fishing life vest.

Fit & Comfort

Make sure that whichever fishing life vest you choose fits well. Most of the life vests are fully adjustable at the shoulder and waist so you can tailor them to fit well, but having some size options is also useful too rather than a standard universal fit.

winding up

Winding Up

Thanks very much for reading my article, I hope you enjoyed it and have found the right fishing life vest for you. They really are a great piece of gear as combing a fishing vest with a life vest makes fishing safely easier than ever.

Please share the article with your fishing buddies as everyone needs to stay safe on the water and check out some of my other articles. I cover everything from how to catch GTs on the fly to knots and more.

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