A quality Kayak Fishing Life Jacket is the most important purchase you will make.
Understandably, most people focus on the importance of what kind of kayak you paddle or peddle…let’s face it…it’s very important. But the most important thing you will use on your fishing trip isn’t the kayak, the paddle, or even the fishing rod, it’s your kayak fishing life jacket (also known as a Personal Flotation Device…or PFD). However, it’s crucial to understand that not all PFD’s are created equal.
For the past 4 years, I have been using the same NRS Chinook. It is weathered, faded, and frayed in places, but it has withstood hours of the Texas sun and has proven itself as durable and one of the best on the market.
Let m talk to the “I’ll just get a cheap one and put it in the back of the kayak” club for a minute.
A very experienced friend of mine fell out of his kayak not long ago into a thick patch of grassy weeds. He was fully submerged and struggling to get back to the top. The weeds were holding on to him and preventing him from swimming. His life jacket brought him back to the surface and most likely saved his life.
That wouldn’t have happened if the PFD had been i the kayak.
“We don’t wear our life jackets for ourselves, but rather for our mother, our father, our wife, and children.”
What Makes a Quality Life Jacket?
- Overall comfort – When sized properly could you wear it all day?
- Hot Spots – A PFD specifically designed for kayak anglers will have large openings for the arms so they do not create hot spots (rubs you raw).
- Mesh Lower Back: Quality Kayak fishing life jackets should accommodate the high back seats common in today’s kayaks. Otherwise, you’ll spend the day hunched forward.
- Adjustability: A quality PFD will have three adjustable straps on each side and one on each shoulder. This allows you to customize the fit for your body type.
- Functionality: For me, a life jacket is not only a life-saving device, but it is also a wearable tackle box. Having your frequently used gear within easy reach will greatly improve your day on the water.
- Quality Foam: A well-made life jacket will incorporate foam that is flexible and conforms to your body. A rigid foam will cause the PFD to fight you throughout the day. Trust me…the foam will win.
- Saltwater or Freshwater: If you are fishing saltwater, you will need a place to put your emergency radio.
Our Recommendation for the best Kayak Fishing Life Jacket.
While there are quite a few life jackets that meet these requirements, the NRS Chinook has been my choice for the past 4 years and I highly recommend it. It meets all of the requirements above, holds up well in the brutal Texas sun, and has kept me afloat on more than one occasion.
The ability to adjust the Chinook at 8 different points means that you can be sure it will fit you correctly and comfortably every time, and can be adjusted to accommodate even the bulkiest of winter clothing.
A Fishing PFD That Fits Right, Feels Right
“I’ve used the vest just a handful of times so far and it has been the perfect purchase. There are enough adjusting points to ensure a proper fit, the jacket is lightweight and the pockets are properly placed for easy access. The attachment points are great. It feels like it will withstand many years of kayak fishing.”
By: Fish Wrap Writer – Rhode Island – Verified Buyer – NRS
Comfortable, Dual Purpose PFD
“I liked this vest so much I bought a second for another home where I keep a kayak. It would be a fine fishing vest on its own. Add in the fact it’s a PFD (which I always wear on the water – at 61 with a surgically repaired shoulder I’ve left the macho stuff behind) and this is a dual-purpose winner. Very comfortable and works great with today’s fishing kayaks.”
By: C. HillBilly – Florida – Verified Buyer – NRS
Kayak Fishing Life Jacket – F.A.Q.
Q. What size should I get?
A. The only difference between the sizes is the length of the adjustment straps. If you are wearing it over winter outer wear, you may want to go a size up.
Q. How much does the PFD weigh?
A. 2 pounds 2 ounces
Q. Will the front pockets accommodate my small tackle boxes?
A. The main pockets measure 7″x5″x2″.
Q. How hot is it?
A. I forget I’m wearing it, even in the Texas summer heat.
Q. How Comfortable is it?
A. The adjustment straps on the PFD allow you to make it as loose or as snug as you want. When fitted properly, it’s very comfortable and does not restrict movement.