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Best Kayak Life Vests Reviewed
There’s nothing quite like getting out on the water. It is so much fun to splash around a lake or take part in watersports, especially when it comes to some of the more extreme water sports like whitewater kayaking.
When it comes to kayaking, it is an amazing experience that can really make you realize what you’re made of. Of course, kayaking is great for adrenaline junkies, but kayaks are fantastic for people who like to go fishing and get up close and personal to the water as well.
However, whatever you are doing on the water, you can never underestimate the importance of safety. And that’s where the best kayak life vest comes in handy.
Whenever you are on or near water, it’s important to have the right safety gear. When you are in a kayak, as fun as they are, they are very unstable, and if you end up being thrown into the water, you need something to keep you afloat. Even if you are a strong swimmer, you need that extra bit of support while you turn your kayak the right way up, especially in choppy waters.
In these situations, the right kayak life vest is invaluable. Ultimately, you need to swim, float freely, and paddle, so you need something that doesn’t restrict your movement.
Check Out Our Favorite Kayak Life Vest
If you are new to kayaking and need advice on the best kayak life vest, here are some fantastic kayak life vest choices to consider when you are out on the water.
We will make sure you get the most of your time out there, without worrying about your safety. Here are our favorite kayak life vests, whether you are relaxing out on the water or participating in high-octane action!
Top Kayak Life Vest Comparison Chart
Best Kayak Life Vest
1. NRS Ninja Kayak Life Vest
This life vest brand is designed for athletic performance and focuses on the high-quality range of motion that should be part of every life vest. While this is not always the case, the durability and malleability this life vest provides is second to none.
The soft PVC foam panels and the floating front panel guarantees comfort at every angle. The front panel also doubles up as a nifty hand warmer, which makes all the difference either when you are sitting waiting for your catch or thrown into cold water!
The best kayak life vest doesn’t impose on your abilities to move, which is a common problem. Many people feel like they are trapped by their life vest, and shouldn’t move too much for fear of it slipping off. The great thing about the Ninja is that it comes with AirMesh fabric on the shoulder straps and inner panels, making for maximal ventilation and comfort, so you don’t need to focus on the life vest at all or feel lumbered by it.
This vest also comes with a dual entry zipper and front clamshell pocket features so you can keep all your essentials, and can even store a drink for those long days. The big problem with many life vests is they feel overwhelming and almost too big for the person. This modest design is not just perfect for adults, but it is also a fantastic option for smaller adults and children with short torsos.
2. Stohlquist Edge Kayak Life Vest
The biggest selling point of this life vest is the ergonomic WRAPTURETM shaped torso, which has the foam body of the PFD so it can match the size of the paddler.
Most PFDs on the market just vary the strap size, which can hinder your comfort, but this life vest comes with high-quality Graded Sizing that matches the cut of the foam to each size, making sure there is enough comfort for the wearer.
As the foam fits your unique dimensions, this guarantees a low-profile life vest in extreme circumstances, allowing you to focus on the task at hand!
Comfort is crucial, especially when you need to focus on paddling or in a spot of bother, and the adjustable shoulders with four side pulls guarantee a customizable fit so you can navigate any situation.
As it contours to the natural shape of your body, it is a great vest for people who need extra mobility during paddling and sailing. The mesh sides offer maximum ventilation, and as Stohlquist is a brand that comes highly recommended, you will not go far wrong.
This is a perfect choice for people who like to go in their kayak at dusk or in low light; the high visibility 3MTM reflective accents provide extra protection, ensuring that, whether you are paddling against the elements or waiting for a fish, you won’t drift out of view. Additionally, the top-loading front pocket is easy to access, so you can store your belongings safely and easily.
3. Astral Ronny Kayak Life Vest
If you are looking for a kayak fishing life vest, this provides a great recreational fit but also has safety at the forefront of its design. T
his lightweight life vest weighs only 1.02 lbs and is a very durable material. The 200 Denier High Tenacity Nylon shell and liner, and heavy-duty hardware give this life vest a strong, yet secure sensibility, making it a perfect choice in all water-based environments.
These come highly recommended for people who like to go fishing, and many reviews have stated that they haven’t even got wet in these vests! It is a great choice for people looking for extra security, especially if they are not too keen on getting wet!
And with breathable material made from mesh liner, this guarantees an enjoyable experience for anybody out on the water. The PE foam inserts add an extra leader of security, and the rating of USCG Type III means it is the best choice for keen fishers. An ideal high seat-back recreational life vest that is designed for maximum comfort and usability.
4. NRS cVest Mesh Back PFD
An ideal choice for a safe and comfortable kayaking experience. The 400-denier ripstop nylon fabric easily resists tears and abrasion from any threats and the 16.5 pounds of flotation accommodates most sea kayaking seats.
The mesh on the lower back provides ventilation for long days on the water, and its six adjustment points means you can make it perfect for your individual contours.
There are plenty of storage options for easy access to kayaking gear, including the two lash tabs, D-rings, two generously sized zippered pockets, and two dual-entry clamshell pockets; this provides plenty of storage options.
The nylon material is made to last and is an ideal choice for anybody looking to spend long days out on the water catching fish or just taking the opportunity to relax on the water. It is also the perfect way to keep yourself safe.
The reflective patches will make sure you are touring or relaxing with peace of mind, and the reflective patches mean you will maintain your visibility in low light, they double as attachment loops, so there is plenty of storage for snacks if you find yourself stranded for a short period of time.
5. Onyx MoveVent Curve Kayak Life Vest
This is one of the most comfortable life vests out there; a durable and diverse life vest that suits most water-based situations.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect choice for kayaking experiences or you need a comfortable vest while lazing on the water, the mesh material in both the front and back keeps you comfortable, but is also breathable at the same time, while also providing flexibility for extra comfort.
The mesh in the lower back is worth noting as it can help you fit into high back seats and sit-on-top kayaks, making small work of comfort.
The soft, lightweight flotation foam provides ventilation in the front and back to keep you cool in all weathers and the 200 Denier nylon outer shell provides solid protection, while not being too restrictive.
The shoulder adjustments come with high-quality neoprene comfort pads, and the design conforms to your shape and stays in place. The roomy armholes give you a full range of motion when on the water. And the short waist with low profile vest design sits higher up on your torso, making it less restrictive while paddling.
In addition, the heavy-duty front zipper prevents vest ride-up, which is vital when in a sticky situation where you need to focus on the task at hand! The zipper is non-corrosive, making it great for fresh or saltwater applications.
Top Kayak Life Vest Features To Consider
There are many different things to consider when looking for a kayak life vest. In order to make sure that you get the right life vest for your needs, and one that is in your budget, here are some of the things that you need to pay attention to:
Life vests are made from strong materials with a high number of thickness levels, also known as Denier, which will guarantee the best possible buoyancy.
The material can be made from a handful of materials: nylon and PVC, which are the two most common; there are also life vests made from environmentally friendly fabrics like Gaia and Kapok.
While nylon and PVC are very popular due to their resistance to the sun and chemicals, the latter is new to the scene, but are becoming very popular with people who are looking to be more on the environmentally friendly side of things.
The comforts of a kayak life vest should be second to none. However, the comfort will depend on the size of the equipment. Many life vests come in double sizes, such as small/medium and medium/large, which makes it more confusing to choose between, especially when you are a newcomer to the kayaking game and need to find the perfect fit.
The best way to do it is to measure the circumference of your chest and compare this to the size guide created by the brand. As every size guide is different, think about your measurements so you can find the perfect fit.
If you need more reassurance, look at the size of the vest you want in comparison to other brands. You should also read reviews from people who have purchased that life vest, ensuring you have a solid idea of what you want, and if it delivers the goods.
Even if you choose the right size, it may not fit exactly as you would like it to. Customization will certainly help you in these circumstances.
Also known as adjustability; you need to make sure your life vest is placed just right- not too tight, but also not too loose. The adjustable sides and front are part and parcel of all life vests, allowing you to customize them to your contours, but the hallmark of extra customization is if you can regulate the shoulder pads. This will make for extra comfort during your experience, and not restrict your movements at all.
It’s not essential to have a life vest with additional features, but it can make all the difference when you are using it in the right circumstances. For example, if you plan on fishing in a kayak, it’s nice to have extra storage pockets and multiple D rings for easy access.
Additionally, life vests with reflective shapes can be a lifesaver in low light conditions, and provide additional peace of mind.
Safety should always be the main concern. Choosing a life vest that comes approved by the United States Coast Guard, International Standards, European Standards, or Commercial Standards is essential.
When life vests are sold, they are divided into five different categories based on their use: Offshore Life Vests (Type I), Near-Shore Buoyancy Jackets (Type II), Buoyancy Aids (Type III), Throwable Flotation Devices (Type IV), and Special-Use Devices (Type V). You should ensure that you choose the right type for your choice of activity. For example, Type III is the best choice for people who go fishing and sailing.
You cannot underestimate safety when you are on a kayak. This is why having the best kayak life vest for your needs is a must.