15 Best Fishing Life Vests: Compare & Save

fishing life vest

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A life vest, life jacket, or PFD is an absolutely essential piece of gear while out on the water, no matter the context. Whatever name you call it by, owning a life vest is a must.

While a life jacket’s purpose is to provide wearable flotation in the event of an emergency, that doesn’t mean it can’t be outfitted with some practical features for fishing. Our top list of fishing life vests has compiled a variety of options to accompany any style angler. Whatever your fishing style and needs are, we’ve tracked down the perfect companion for you!

What Are The Best Fishing Life Vests?

Astral Ronny Fisher PFD Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Stowaway bright yellow hood adds rain protection and visibility
  • Two flip down pockets act as a working platform
  • Thin-Vent back is compatible with tall seatbacks and provides great breathability along a paddlers back
Price: $69.98 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Astral Ronny Life Jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 200 Denier high tenacity nylon shell and liner, PolyPro webbing, and heavy duty hardware and zippers
  • Awesome pocket schematic provides ample storage space
  • Breast pocket can fit a beer!
Price: $99.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
NRS Chinook Fishing PFD Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Medium profile life jacket delivering 16.5 pounds of flotation
  • Awesome array of pockets and gear attachment points, including a rod holder, knife lash tab and more
  • PlushFit foam and a high-back design are suited for kayakers and paddlers in particular
Price: $179.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
NRS Raku Fishing PFD Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 2 Large zippered pockets, 2 small hook-and-loop pockets and a tool holder add up to some decent overall storage and organization potential
  • 5 panel design employs thin foam that allows you to sit comfortably and cast unrestricted
  • Versatile option great fot virtually any angling context
Price: $159.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Stohlquist Waterware Fisherman PFD Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Neoprene padded shoulders and lower back waistband with open sides for ventilation
  • 500 denier cordura shell and 200 denier oxford liner for impressive durability
  • High-back flotation rides above back rest.
Price: $179.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Stohlquist Waterware Piseas Life Jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Higher mesh-back design is great for seated paddlers
  • Zippered pockets act as fold-down work surfaces
  • Cross-Chest Cinch Harness
Price: $99.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Onyx Deluxe Mesh Fishing Life Jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Durable 200D nylon exterior and polyester lining ensure high integrity
  • Mesh back for improved ventilation
  • Two pass-behind pockets and shouder pocket for adequate gear storage
Price: $28.51 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • High back design is geared towards kayak fishermen and seated paddlers in general
  • Four different pocket designs and functions to hold your essential gear
  • One-button push drop down tray pocket holds a small tackle box and additional tools
Price: $50.26 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Extrasport Striper Kayak Fishing Type III PFD Amazon Customer Reviews
  • 7-Pocket fishing vest configuration for a high degree of organization and storage
  • Hypalon shoulder attachment points for tools and gear
  • Extrasport's exclusive RetroGlide fit system allows for a truly custom fit
Price: $34.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Flowt Fishing Comfort Mesh Life Vest Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Two low prolife pockets provide ample storage space for your essential geear
  • Chest mounts and D-ring attachment for small tools and accessories or kill switch
  • Mesh shoulders and back for maximum air flow
Price: $52.45 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Old Town Lure Angler Men's Life Jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • High-back construction that nests comfortably with tall kayak seats.
  • Awesome array of practical features, pockets, and attachment points for gear
  • AirComfort System provides excellent breathability
Price: $139.99 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Vbestlife Convertible Fishing Life Vest Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Super extensive array of pockets and attachment points for gear
  • Flotation is removable for added versatility
  • Mesh back for enhanced ventilation
Price: $107.09 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Mustang Industrial Mesh PFD Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Industrial mesh vest designed with large arm holes for unhindered mobility
  • Mesh shoulders for improved ventilation
  • 32-square-inch SOLAS reflective tape cover across the front and back of the orange vest make this a good offshore option
Price: $66.19 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Onyx M Series Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Extremely low profile option
  • D-ring attachment for small accessories and tools
  • 200 Denier nylon oxford protective cover
Price: $78.95 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
VGEBY Portable Inflatable Life Jacket with Reflective Tapes and Whistle Amazon Customer Reviews
  • Super low profile, inflatable life saving device that you'll forget you're wearing
  • SOLAS approved reflective tapes and integrated whistle for added safety
  • Built from TPU and Nylon material to ensure durability
Price: $40.89 Shop at Amazon Shop now Read our review
Our Unbiased Reviews
  1. 1. Astral Ronny Fisher PFD

    Pros:
    • Thin-Vent back is compatible with tall seatbacks and provides great breathability along a paddlers back
    • Stowaway bright yellow hood adds rain protection and visibility
    • Tool organizer with multiple attachment points for additional gear
    • Two flip down pockets act as a working platform
    • Mesh liner for added comfort
    Cons:
    • Fairly expensive
    • Limited color selection
    • Some may find the addition of the integrated hood to be unnecessary and slighly cumbersome

    The Ronny Fisher PFD by Astral is a full-feature (and some) fishing life vest that’s suitable for more or less every style of fishing!

    This is a low profile option built with Astral’s Thin-Vent back making it compatible with tall seatbacks if you’re a kayaker or seated paddler. The material of the back and mesh section that runs down the spine is furthermore effectively breathable, so you won’t overheat in this one.

    While most kayaking life jackets feature high-backed flotation in order to avoid contact with the seat, this option has a thin enough profile to still be a suitable option for sitting and fishing.

    Two flip-down pockets act as a working platform when deployed and feature an impressive storage capacity while a tool organizer and multiple attachment points for additional gear are also present. This option has integrated a lot of practical storage into the vest front without making it feel cluttered – giving you both a streamlined and highly equipped PFD.

    Coolest of all, the Ronny Fisher has an integrated a waterproof hood into the top of the jacket, so you can pop it out and give yourself some rain coverage in the event of a sudden downpour. The hood is also bright yellow in the event of an emergency where you need to call attention to yourself!

  2. 2. Astral Ronny Life Jacket

    Pros:
    • 200 Denier high tenacity nylon shell and liner, PolyPro webbing, and heavy duty hardware and zippers with Self Locking Vislon Teeth ensure long lifespan
    • Awesome pocket schematic provides ample storage space and there are several points to mount tools and gear
    • Breast pocket can fit a beer!
    • Impressively lightweight for its buoyancy at only 1.02 lbs
    • Thin foam and mesh back panel for enhanced breathability
    • Sharp color selection
    • Completely free of toxic PVC
    Cons:
    • No external D-ring to secure gear or for a killswitch attachment
    • Some might find that a few of the pockets are too small to accomodate for anything other than tiny items
    • Not an ideal option for paddlers or boaters with high backed seats

    Astral’s Ronny Life Jacket is quite comparable to the Ronny Fisher PFD previously listed, but offers a slightly different pocket schematic, hoodless design, and wider color selection.

    This life jacket is built to feel minimalist on your person, yet offers some killer storage and organization potential. Built with a 200 Denier high tenacity nylon shell and liner, PolyPro webbing, and heavy-duty hardware and zippers with Self Locking Vislon Teeth, Astral has ensured a long lifespan with this one.

    Like the Ronny Fisher, this option is built to be compatible with boat seats by employing a thin foam design that won’t bunch up or feel too cumbersome on you. It’s also effectively vented on the backside by employing some mesh into the design.

    The pocket schematic is extensive without being too cluttered, and one of the breast pockets is even designed to accommodate for a bottle or can of beer – now that’s innovative design! There are furthermore several points to mount tools and gear externally, so this jacket is adequate for gear-heavy anglers seeking a do-it-all PFD.

  3. 3. NRS Chinook Fishing PFD

    Pros:
    • Medium profile life jacket delivering 16.5 pounds of flotation
    • PlushFit foam and a high-back design are suited for kayakers and paddlers in particular
    • Two large, zippered pockets with internal organization can house tackle boxes, plus two smaller accessory pockets with hook-and-loop closure
    • An additional tool holder pocket offers quick access to pliers, nippers and other essential gear you want to have on hand
    • Includes an integrated rod holder, strobe attachment point, reflective accents and knife lash tab
    • Mesh lower-back for enhanced ventilation on warm days
    • Six adjustment points allow for a nicely customized fit.
    • Multiple color options available
    Cons:
    • Expensive option - but an excellent value none the less
    • Sizing is not very specific, so you may have to really utilize the adjustment points if the fit is awkward
    • Some might not prefer the high back design - this jacket is geared towards seated paddlers

    The NRS Chinook Fishing PFD is a brilliantly designed, ultra-durable option of life jacket for fishing that will last you a lifetime of service with the proper care and maintenance. 

    This is a medium profile life jacket delivering 16.5 pounds of flotation – so it’s not quite as low profile and streamlined as some of the other options listed here. It, in turn, provides some pretty impressive buoyancy, making it a great choice for paddlers and boaters navigating potetially dangerous conditions, like whitewater.

    The high-back design makes this a perfect option for rafters, kayakers, and seated paddlers in general. By having the main rear-flotation set higher up on the back, there’s no awkward foam-to-seat contact while trying to comfortably paddle. The PlushFit foam design of the jacket furthermore ensures comfortability during even long days on the water. 

    Two large, zippered pockets with internal organization can house tackle boxes, plus two smaller accessory pockets with hook-and-loop closure, so the Chinook has you covered on gear storage. An additional tool holder pocket offers quick access to pliers, nippers and other essential gear you want to have on hand, while an integrated rod holder, strobe attachment point, reflective accents and knife lash tab are also present.

    If you like the idea of owning a fishing life vest that doubles as an on the water work station and tackle box, this is a fantastic go-to that’s brilliantly engineered for a simple, but highly-inclusive set up.

    Regarding longer-term comfort, six adjustment points allow for a nicely customized fit and a mesh lower-back provides enhanced ventilation on warm days. NRS has truly hit all the bases on this one!

    Although certainly on the pricy side, the Chinook Fishing PFD is a potentially lifelong fishing companion that will serve you well on the water for years to come. 

  4. 4. NRS Raku Fishing PFD

    Pros:
    • 2 Large zippered pockets, 2 small hook-and-loop pockets and a tool holder add up to some decent overall storage and organization potential
    • 5 panel design employs thin foam that allows you to sit comfortably and cast unrestricted
    • Elastic band on right breast can be used to secure tools and gear
    • Low profile jacket, yet offers a reasonably relaxed fit
    • Versatile option great fot virtually any angling context
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • Limited color selection
    • Lacks D-rings for kill switch attachment

    The NRS Raku Fishing PFD is a great choice for anglers who do a bit of everything that want an option that’s equally as suitable for seated paddling, as for offshore angling.

    This jacket is highly comparable to the Chinook by NRS previously listed, but built a bit more low profile, and without a high-back flotation design. This makes this PFD more versatile overall, but a bit less suited for kayakers and seated paddlers (although still totally adequate).

    It has a slim, streamlined shape, yet offers a fairly relaxed fit compared to a lot of PFDs in this style. NRS has employed the best of both worlds regarding how the Raku fits – snug, yet permitting of excellent mobility.

    The extensive pocket schematic and array of external attachment points for tools and gear makes this is a highly equipped life vest when it comes to overall gear capacity. This bad boy is an angling work station as well as a reliable life-saving device, so fishermen seeking a full-feature option for the stream or high seas should certainly give the Raku a look.

  5. 5. Stohlquist Waterware Fisherman PFD

    Pros:
    • Neoprene padded shoulders and lower back waistband with open sides for ventilation
    • High-back flotation rides above back rest.
    • 500 denier cordura shell and 200 denier oxford liner for impressive durability
    • Nice array of high capacity pockets and tool attachment points
    • D-ring on back for net or additional gear attachment
    Cons:
    • Fairly expensive
    • No color selection available
    • Vest front might be a bit too cluttered for some

    The Stohlquist Waterware Fisherman PFD is a tough as nails, impressively equipped option for gear-heavy anglers. It is ideal for those seeking a PFD sporting a wide array of storage and attachment points for tools.

    This is a high-backed, mesh bottomed design that’s geared towards seated paddlers who require adequate ventilation. It won’t interfere with most boat seats, allowing your back to sit flush against the seat, therefore, enabling maximum comfort, and minimal disturbance from PFD bunching.  

    This option is built with a 500 denier Cordura shell and 200 denier oxford liner for some serious durability, so this one won’t quit on you even if you’re the type of angler who’s typically hard on their gear. 

    A nice array of high capacity pockets and tool attachment points are present on the vest front, while a D-ring is integrated on the back for net attachment or for securing other equipment. The front of the PFD may be a bit cluttered for some anglers, but most fishermen agree that a small number of large pockets beats a large number of small pockets when it comes to effectively storing your essentials.

    Lastly, the design of this jacket employs neoprene padded shoulders and a lower back waistband with open sides for ventilation, so this PFD is both snug and adequately ventilated. 

  6. 6. Stohlquist Waterware Piseas Life Jacket

    Pros:
    • Higher mesh-back design is great for seated paddlers
    • Zippered pockets act as fold-down work surfaces
    • Several mounts and points to externally secure gear and tools
    • Durable 240D ripstop shell and 200D Oxford liner
    • Cross-chest cinch harness eliminates riding up of the life jacket
    • Mesh back section provides some ventilation
    Cons:
    • Fairly expensive for the lack of features
    • Sizing is not particularly precise
    • Limited color selection

    The Stohlquist Waterware Piseas Life Jacket is built to be a bit less cluttered and more streamlined for anglers who don’t require all the bells and whistles of a full-featured fishing PFD.

    This high-backed option is built with a durable 240D ripstop shell and a 200D Oxford liner, as well as a mesh back section for enhanced ventilation. It’s a great design for kayakers and seated paddlers, but most fishermen will find this is a highly versatile option that’s totally suitable for almost every fishing style.

    The large zippered pockets act as fold-down work surfaces when unzipped and deployed, and a nice array of tool mounts and external attachment points add further storage and organization potential to this option. It’s a great balance of storage vs. minimalist design – providing you with an adequate gear capacity without making you feel overstuffed.

    A cross-chest cinch harness eliminates riding up of the life jacket and allows you to really cinch it down tight to your frame if you want to be particularly low profile, once again a design that provides you with the best of both worlds – a relaxed or streamlined fit. 

    All things considered, this is without a doubt one of the ideal fishing life jackets for a wide variety of anglers and fishing contexts. Another excellent go-to from Stohlquist Waterware worth putting your confidence into.

  7. 7. Onyx Deluxe Mesh Fishing Life Jacket

    Pros:
    • Durable 200D nylon exterior and polyester lining
    • Two pass-behind pockets with fleece and zipper closure as well as a shoulder pocket for adequate gear storage
    • Reflective material on shoulders and back for added safety
    • Mesh back for improved ventilation
    • Highly affordable
    Cons:
    • No color selection
    • Lack of external attachment points for gear
    • Complaints sizing runs small

    The Onyx Deluxe Mesh Fishing Life Jacket is an excellent value, great quality angling PFD that’s impressively equipped for fishing purposes for the cost.

    This jacket is built with a durable 200D nylon exterior and polyester lining to ensure high integrity, while Onyx has included a mesh back for enhanced ventilation. Reflective material on shoulders and back are also integrated for some added safety.

    While this option might lack external attachment points and D-rings for securing tools and gear to the outside of the jacket, there are two pass-behind fleece-lined pockets with zippered closure as well as a shoulder pocket for some adequate internal gear storage.

    There’s space for your essential tackle, tools and a few snacks, making this a stellar affordable option for more casual days on the water.

    All in all, it’s tough to beat the price point of this hot-weather approved fishing PFD if you’re shopping on a budget – no doubt a great choice from Onyx!

  8. 8. Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

    Pros:
    • High back design is geared towards kayak fishermen and seated paddlers in general
    • Four different pocket designs (including zippered fleece-lined pockets)and functions to hold your essential gear
    • One-button push drop down tray pocket holds a small tackle box
    • Mesh back enhances ventilation
    • Lash tabs and external attachment points for securing fishing tools and gadgets
    • Vest effectively drains if soaked
    • Great price point
    Cons:
    • Only universal and oversize sizing available
    • No color selection
    • Some anglers might not like how cluttered the vest front is

    The Onyx Kayak Fishing Life Jacket is an affordable option, offering an extensive array of gear and tool storage for highly outfitted anglers. In addition, it also helps to ensure a comfortable ride for seated paddlers.

    The high back design is geared towards kayak fishermen and seated paddlers in general, but this is a suitable PFD for any style angler really. It should be noted however that there is a mesh back for enhancing ventilation, so if you’re seeking something for more offshore conditions that might also break the wind a bit, you’d be wise to look elsewhere.

    Four different pocket designs (including zippered fleece-lined pockets) hold your essential gear, while a series of lash tabs and external attachement points provide you with plenty of spaces to secure tools like forceps, nippers and tippet bars. Coolest of all, the one-button push drop down tray pocket can hold a small tackle box – so there’s space for your larger items as well as tiniest of tools.

    Because this is a kayak life jacket, Onyx has designed it knowing that you might take a spill and end up in the water, and then hop back in your boat to continue fishing. In anticipation of this, the lash tabs for your tools are extra tight, and the pockets feature drain holes for quickly getting rid of any water you take on.

    While there is no color selection available and limited sizing, if this kayaking life jacket is well-suited for your fishing style you won’t be disappointed in its surprisingly affordable performance!

  9. 9. Extrasport Striper Kayak Fishing PFD

    Pros:
    • 7-Pocket fishing vest configuration for a high degree of organization and storage
    • Built durably from 240D rip-stop nylon
    • Mesh lower back, sides, and shoulders provide adequate ventilation
    • Hypalon shoulder attachment points for tools and gear
    • 3M Scotchlite reflective shoulders for added safety
    • Neoprene-covered adjustable waist belt sits nice and snug
    • Extrasport's exclusive RetroGlide fit system allows for a truly custom fit
    • Super affordable
    Cons:
    • No color selection
    • Some of the pockets are very small, so although the organization potential is great, the items you can actually fit in there are limited
    • Some might not like the snugness of the neoprene belt

    Extrasport’s Striper Kayak Fishing PFD is hands-down one of the top affordable fishing life jacket options worth buying on the market.

    While this option may not be available in larger sizing nor in a wide color selection – if you think it may be a fit for your body and fishing style you’d be crazy not to jump on this deal! Extrasport has built a more or less full-feature fishing PFD with this one at less than half the cost of most of the comparable competition – and out of generally the same materials!

    This option is built with a 7-pocket fishing vest configuration for a high degree of organization and storage – so if pockets are your thing, you’ll love this one. Hypalon shoulder attachment points are also integrated for additional tools and gear, and a D-ring for killswitch attachment is also present. For a fishing PFD at this price point, the brand has truly gone above and beyond when it comes to storage potential.

    Built durably from 240D rip-stop nylon, this life vest won’t quit on you as soon as the price tag suggests – it’s construction is no less robust than even some of the top outfitters. A neoprene-covered adjustable waist belt and Extrasport’s exclusive RetroGlide fit system furthermore allows for a truly customized fit, so you won’t have to settle for anything less than what works truly best for you (assuming the sizing is large enough).

    3M Scotchlite reflective shoulders are also included for added safety – a wise addition for the context of solo kayak fishing.

    A mesh lower back, sides, and shoulders provide you with adequate ventilation and an excellent range of motion while wearing this option, so paddlers, fly fishermen and photographers will enjoy the freedom to move.

    For those seeking a budget option worth buying, Extrasport’s Striper Kayak Fishing PFD will go above and beyond your expectations for a product of this price point.

  10. 10. Flowt Fishing Comfort Mesh Life Vest

    Pros:
    • Two low prolife pockets provide ample storage space for your essential geear
    • Chest mounts and D-ring attachment for small tools and accessories or kill switch
    • Mesh shoulders and back for maximum air flow
    • Reflective accents for added safety
    • Multiple color options available, including a camo aesthetic
    • Fair price point
    Cons:
    • Complaints the sizing runs small
    • While there are two pockets for storage, this jacket lacks overall organization potential
    • Some might not like how snug the fit is - this jacket is low profile and not a relaxed fit

    Here’s a streamlined, low profile fishing PFD option that budget-conscious, fast-paced anglers will jump all over. Flowt’s Fishing Comfort Mesh Life Vest is a brilliant option for those anglers seeking serious buoyancy, without all the added bells and whistles that come along with many angling-specific options.

    This fishing PFD is fairly minimalist in the sense that there are just two slim hip pockets as well as a mesh back and shoulders for maximum airflow. The brand has also included two chest mounts and a D-ring attachment for small tools and accessories or a kill switch, so there are some out of the way features present if you choose to utilize them.

    Flowt has provided the angler with everything they need, and nothing they don’t with this one

    The profile of this life vest almost looks like that of a PFD meant for watersports like wakeboarding or water skiing – so you better believe you can move around freely in there. This option won’t hold you back if you’re a fly fisherman seeking unrestrictive casting ability or a sport fishing guide who needs to be quick on their feet and always on their toes. Reflective accents are furthermore present as an added safety measure.

    A wide color selection is available for this option, so whatever aesthetic you’re seeking is likely an option. Bright colors for offshore applications and muted, dull colors (even a camouflage option) for anglers stalking inshore or freshwater species are all available.

  11. 11. Old Town Lure Angler Life Jacket

    Pros:
    • High-back construction that nests comfortably with tall kayak seats.
    • Features zippered pockets for tackle storage, stretch mesh pockets for tippets and spools, an envelope pocket for a GPS unit
    • Hyperon tab and D-ring attachment points for securing gear externally, as well as a rod holder
    • Tough 240D ripstop nylon design ensures long lifespan
    • AirComfort System provides excellent breathability
    • Reflective accents for added safety
    Cons:
    • Expensive option
    • Limited color selection
    • Some might not prefer the snug fit of this option, but good news is it's quite a comfortable jacket

    The Old Town Lure Angler Life Jacket is one of the ultimate options when it comes to kayak fishing that is both highly equipped and suitable for virtually any angling context.

    This fishing life vest is geared towards seated paddlers, employing a high-back design that won’t interfere with the way you sit – but that doesn’t mean stand-up fishermen won’t love it too! It’s a full feature fishing PFD that has integrated all the best bells and whistles without creating a vest that feels too cluttered or cumbersome.

    The Lure Angler features well thought out zippered pockets for tackle storage, stretch mesh pockets for tippets and spools, and an envelope pocket for a GPS or VHF unit – all oriented in a logical manner that allows for easy access and utilization. There are also hyperon tab and D-ring attachment points for securing gear externally, as well as a rod holder. Old Town has gone the whole 9 yards with this one!

    Tough 240D ripstop nylon construction ensures long lifespan while the brand’s signature AirComfort System provides excellent breathability and overall comfort. Old Town sent me a Lure Angler Life Jacket to field test a while back, and I have no problem paddling in mine on even the hottest summer days.

    A low-profile, yet unrestrictive fit that doesn’t hold you back, a wide array of effective storage that’s out of the way when you’re not utilizing it, and a high-backed construction perfect for maintaining the proper sitting position in kayaks and rafts – you gotta love the brilliant design and innovations used to build this top-notch angling PFD from Old Town.

  12. 12. Vbestlife Convertible Fishing Life Vest

    Pros:
    • Super extensive array of pockets and attachment points for gear
    • Flotation is removable for added versatility
    • Mesh back for enhanced ventilation
    • Features a rear neck ring for securing a net
    • Reflective accents for added safety
    Cons:
    • No color selection
    • Some might not like how cluttered the vest front is - that's a lot of zipper tabs!
    • Only one available size might be small for younger children, and big for particularly large anglers

    The Vbestlife Convertible Fishing Life Vest is a borderline ridiculous fishing PFD option due to its tremendous array of pockets and external attachment points for gear. If you’re the type of fisherman that prefers to bring ALL of their tools, tackle, and gear – this option should certainly be on your radar.

    As the name of the product suggests, this is a convertible fishing life vest that you can actually remove the flotation from. This means you can utilize this versatile option as a PFD when you’re boat fishing, and as a regular fishing vest when you’re wade or shore fishing. 

    Small and larger pockets line the front, side, and back of this vest – so whatever it is that you bring fishing, there’s room for it! The long term integrity of this option is a bit questionable due to the sheer amount of zippers, stitching and pull tabs here, but treat it gently and with the proper care and this vest should last you.

    While this option puts pockets over everything, there is a D-ring present for rear net attachment (comparable to a fly fishing vest) as well as some reflective accents for added safety, so the brand hasn’t overlooked all of the other features that make a fishing PFD worth buying.

    All in all, a highly equipped vest that will prove itself to be practical for the right type of angler.

  13. 13. Mustang Industrial Mesh PFD

    Pros:
    • Industrial mesh vest designed with large arm holes for unhindered mobility
    • 32-square-inch SOLAS reflective tape cover across the front and back of the orange vest make this a good offshore option
    • Mesh shoulders for improved ventilation
    • Two waist pockets and one D-ring for gear storage/attachment
    • Side adjustments for dual sizing
    • Includes a limited one-year manufacturer's warranty
    Cons:
    • No alternative colors - this vest puts safety first
    • Limited storage potential
    • Lack of external attachment points for gear

    The Mustang Industrial Mesh PFD is a wise option of fishing life vest for offshore anglers who embark on more serious, pelagic endeavors. 

    If you’re an offshore angler, you’d be wise to employ a fishing PFD that’s particularly buoyant, highly visible and that provides at least a little bit of tool storage. The open ocean is a serious environment that could easily take the life of an angler in the event of a man overboard scenario – so plan for the worst-case scenario out there with a PFD that’s capable of getting the wearer through prolonged search and rescue times.

    This option features 32-square-inches of SOLAS reflective tape across the front and back of the orange vest – making it an ideal offshore companion. Consider adding a safety whistle to this jacket (or stuffing one in a pocket) to be truly prepared out there!

    Aside from its high visibility, and snug yet unrestrictive fit, this fishing life jacket also features two waist pockets for essential gear storage and a D-ring for tool attachment or for securing yourself to a kill switch. It’s a fairly minimalist design that doesn’t fill up the jacket front (or back) with unnecessary clutter.

    Mesh shoulders improve ventilation on warmer days and improve overall mobility while side adjustments for dual sizing ensure a customized fit. Mustang has made sure to build this PFD in a nonrestrictive manner that won’t hold you back from actively fishing just because it’s a particularly safe option!

  14. 14. Onyx M Series Belt Pack Inflatable Life Jacket

    Pros:
    • Extremely low profile option
    • D-ring attachment for small accessories and tools
    • Pull tab to inflate (utlizes standard 16g threaded CO2 cartridge), or manually inflate/add more air
    • 200 Denier nylon oxford protective cover
    • Easy to size and adjust
    • Approved for persons 16 years of age and older; and over 80 lbs
    Cons:
    • Comes with only one CO2 cartridge, so you will need to purchase refills if you deploy this PFD
    • CO2 cartridges last 5-8 years if they're not deployed, so you'll have to be mindful of your purchase date
    • No color selection

    The Onyx M Series Belt Pack Inflatable Life Jacket is a stellar option of fishing PFD for those anglers that don’t want to feel like they’re wearing a life vest at all. If you’re a fly fisherman trying to stay as low profile as possible on the water or are simpy seeking a PFD to satisfy the law and not your own safety/angling needs, an inflatable option like this can be a great go-to.

    Stand up paddle boarders, fly fishermen, and those casting from smaller watercraft like a drift boat or stand-up raft will love the complete and total freedom this style of inflatable PFD provides. It feels just like wearing a belt – in fact, I’ve used one as a wading belt when wearing my waders on float trips several times.

    While there is no real storage capacity to this style option, there is at least a D-ring on the front that allows you to attach an essential tool or tools like a pair of nippers or forceps, or to secure yourself to an engine kill-switch. No storage might seem like a hard bargain, but consider the fact that this way you can wear your fly fishing vest, waterproof backpack or chest pack AND still have a PFD on. 

    This option utilizes a standard16 gram threaded CO2 cartridge (one included) in order to inflate when you pull the tab. A cartridge lasts anywhere from 5 to 8 years, so keep this in mind if this style PFD stays on your boat for more than a few seasons without being deployed. You can also manually add air for even greater buoyancy once deployed.

    If you anticipate needing a life jacket for flotation purposes on a fairly regular basis, you’d be better off purchasing a traditional style PFD rather than an option you need to spend more money on to “refill”. Those who swim well or who don’t expect to really need their PFD on the water will, however, love the freedom this style of flotation provides!

  15. 15. VGEBY Portable Inflatable Life Jacket with Reflective Tapes and Whistle

    Pros:
    • Super low profile, inflatable life saving device that you'll forget you're wearing
    • SOLAS approved reflective tapes and integrated whistle for added safety
    • Built from TPU and Nylon material to ensure durability
    • A water sensitive automatic inflatable bobbin inflates the vest when it hits water - or you can pull the cord
    • Can also manually inflate if needed
    • Over 48 hours inflation time
    • Several color options available
    Cons:
    • No pockets or storage space
    • The nylon belt used to secure this option is not particularly comfortable directly against your skin
    • Requires 24 gram compressed carbon dioxide gas cylinders to autoatically inflate

    The VGEBY Portable Inflatable Life Jacket is an excellent option for the minimalist angler seeking a low-profile PFD.

    Built from TPU and Nylon material to ensure durability, this inflatable option is built to last. SOLAS approved reflective tapes and an integrated whistle are present for added safety, but this PFD is otherwise a bare-bones option. It will be there to effectively draw attention to yourself if you end up in the water and need some buoyancy, but it won’t do much else.

    Like most inflatable PFD options, this unit utilizes CO2 cartridges to automatically inflate when you pull the tab or if the water-sensitive automatic inflatable bobbin gets wet. This particular PFD requires 24 gram compressed carbon dioxide gas cylinders to automatically inflate – so consider purchasing a few extras – they’re only good for one-time use.

    The brand offers this inflatable life vest in several different colors, so if you’re the type to color code your fishing gear, you’re in luck! A highly affordable safety measure that’s a virtually non-existent companion on your person- you gotta love the freedom and price point of this one!

Choosing The Right PFD

Before pulling the trigger on a new fishing life vest, carefully consider exactly what you need out of your PFD. There are countless options out there, so envision yourself actively fishing on the water and go from there. 

When selecting a fishing life vest, here are the main details you ought to be considering:

Life Jacket Type: There are many different styles of PFDs intended for different on the water conditions and contexts. The life jacket type you decide on should be in alignment with both the type of conditions you expect to fish in, as well as your personal needs as an angler.

Those fishing in potentially dangerous environments such as offshore, or in/through advanced rapids and whitewater should buy a PFD that's particularly buoyant and equipped with safety features like reflective accents, and a safety whistle.

Anglers fishing in more relaxed environments like lakes, slow-moving streams/rivers and estuaries should still, of course, put safety first, but won't necessarily require the same level of PFD as fishermen braving more intense conditions.

Sizing and Fit: This one's obvious, but ensure the life jacket you're interested in buying is a compatible fit for your body type.

Most PFDs are built with extensive adjustments in order to fit a wide variety of boaters, but if you have a particularly small or large build, carefully consider how you'll fit into each option before making a purchase.

Fishing-Specific Features: Are you interested in having your PFD double as a full-feature fishing vest that functions as both a life saving device and work station, or are you more of a minimalist angler? 

Don't pay for all the fancy bells and whistles that are integrated into many angling-specific life vests if you don't plan on using them - a low profile, or inflatable option can be easily paired with your existing fishing vest, hip pack or backpack if you don't want to change anything about your tackle/tool system.

Make sure to check out this helpful and informative post on how to select the best PFD for you if you're having trouble deciphering what will best fit your needs. 

It's The Law!

Always be aware of your local, state, and federal rules and regulations surrounding life jackets - chances are it's the law to at least have one onboard your vessel for every passenger.

Not all life vests are necessarily Coast Guard approved, so if you're seeking a jacket in order to appease state or federal level laws, be sure it's a USCG approved option!

In some cases and contexts, you're required by law to actively wear your life jacket on the water - oftentimes during the winter months in some states.  Wherever and whenever it is that you're boating, make sure you're in the know out there!

Kayak Life Jackets For Fishing

Paddling and fishing from a kayak call for a PFD that won't restrict your motion or become uncomfortable during long days on the water.

The main criteria for kayaking life jackets, in general, is a PFD that is low profile that has high-back flotation rather than full, or lower back flotation. By having the main buoyancy of the PFD's rear located high on the back, you can sit normally in your boat without any awkward foam between you and the seat.  

A low profile, high-backed life vest is ideal for kayak fishing, but kayaking life vests offer a wide range of fishing-specific features ranging from minimalist to full-feature. If you want your PFD to double as a fishing vest or to at least accommodate your essential tools and gear, there are plenty of highly equipped options available!

Some of our favorite options for kayak fishing life jackets include:

Fishing Life Vests For Fly Fishing

Similar to kayakers, fly fishermen will require a particularly low profile fishing life vest in order to ensure it won't interfere with the freedom of motion required for casting.

For those anglers that enjoy utilizing a fly fishing vest, there are plenty of life jacket options that can be used as such while still providing adequate on the water safety.

For those anglers that would prefer not to feel like they're wearing a life vest at all, perhaps an inflatable life jacket is more up your alley. 

If you're an avid fly fisherman then you'll want to check out some of the following PFD options for maximum mobility: 

 

Inflatable Life Vests

Inflatable life vests offer you the buoyancy and safety of traditional PFDs without the added bulk of wearing a foam-filled vest.

While they are not always necessarily USCG approved, there are many inflatable life vest options that are adequate for even offshore safety in the eyes of the law.

Inflatable PFDs typically wear like a belt - by far the most streamlined and low profile option of flotation overall. Those that don't want to wear a full-on vest will enjoy the freedom this style PFD provides - making it a great choice for fly fishermen, seated paddlers and more.

Some of our favorite inflatable options include:

Highly Equipped Fishing Life Vests

As you likely noticed glancing at this list - there are many angling life jackets that are impressively equipped with all sorts of fishing-specific features. If you're the type of angler who enjoys having gear with a purpose, then you're in the market for a highly equipped, full-feature fishing PFD. 

Some of our favorite choices for gear-heavy, tool-laden fishermen include:

Offshore Fishing Life Vests

Offshore anglers chasing serious fish in serious conditions are wise to own USGC approved fishing PFDs that are particularly outfitted with safety features. The open ocean is no joke, so don't treat it like one.

For offshore applications, it's wise to own a life vest with reflective accents and a generally stand-out color (like orange) in order to be more easily seen in the event of a search and rescue. Having a safety whistle integrated (or attached) to the PFD is also a smart move. 

Offshore fishing PFDs should furthermore have at least some tool/gear storage for keeping your most utilized, trusty pieces of equipment on hand. 

Some of our favorite options of fishing life jackets for offshore anglers include:

Life Jackets For Dogs

Don't forget about the pups! If you often boat-fish with a canine companion, you'd be wise to outfit them with their very own PFD.

Some of our favorite options of life jackets for dogs include:

See Also:

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