Staying safe when you’re out on the water either kayaking or canoeing is very important because there are a lot of dangers lurking under the water and even the smallest accident can be fatal if you’re not prepared and careful.
Wearing a life jacket helps to protect you in case you capsize or if you fall into the water by accident by making sure that your head is kept above the water and making it easier for you to float and tread water while you swim to shore, catch your breath before getting back into your kayak, or wait for help.
These days there are quite a few life jackets for kayaking and canoeing to choose from and even on my own search for the best life jacket for kayaking I came across so many different options that I didn’t know which ones were good and which ones I should avoid.
In this post I want to share with you some of my recommendations on what I believe are life jackets that are well-suited for those that are spending a lot of time kayaking, canoeing, and fishing and want a way to stay protected just in case of any water accidents.
Wearing a Life Jacket
There are a few reasons why life jackets are important and why I recommend always wearing one whenever you’re heading out onto an open body of water or even on to your nearby river or stream.
For starters, in many places it’s required by law that you wear a life jacket.
Having one on also really helps to prevent you from drowning because it keeps your head above water, makes it easier for you to float, and makes you more confident in case of an accident.
If you look online and take a look at the statistics about people that have drowned, the majority of them were not wearing life jackets and it’s not surprising that eventually these people ran out of energy or something happened and they had to succumb to the water.
Not only can they save your life but life jackets also come equipped with plenty of features that can actually make your water experience whether you’re fishing or kayaking a lot more enjoyable.
Here are some of the different features to keep an eye out for if you’re in the market for a new life jacket.
One thing I always like having is that the safety jacket can be adjusted depending on the size of whoever’s wearing it.
Being able to adjust it makes sure that the jacket fits much better it helps to prevent it from coming off in case of any accidents.
With a properly fitted life jacket you’re also more comfortable if anything happens and you get tossed overboard because your arms will still be able to enjoy a suitable range of motion and you’ll be able to stay afloat without worrying about the jackets that thing off of you.
Approved by the Coast Guard
Another one of the main reasons why people drown is because the life jackets that they are wearing are faulty and aren’t working the way they’re designed to.
That’s why I recommend going with life jackets that have been Coast Guard approved because these are safer and manufactured under the supervision of those that have expertise and experience out on the water.
Sizing and Fit
You’re going to want to look at the overall sizing and fit of any of the life jackets that you’re interested in, especially if you’re going to be sharing the jacket between more than just one or two people.
Many of the different options available these days offer a universal fit and this means that they can be worn by a wide range of different people that have different body sizes and this is why you want to look for adjustable ones that can be adjusted depending on your body size and shape.
They’re also available in different sizes with small, medium, and large options available to choose from and for a better look at the sizing I recommend reading the specifications of any of the jackets that you’re interested in to see if they’re going to fit properly and if they’re going to be the right size for you or whoever is wearing it.
Age and Gender
It’s also important to consider the age and the gender of the person wearing any life jacket for kayak fishing that you’re looking into.
There are different options designed to fit onto children, women, and then, along with universal ones that are designed to fit a range of different size kids or adults depending on the sizing.
You want to be especially careful when choosing one for a child because they’re going to freak out a lot more if something goes wrong and you want to make sure that they’re as safe as possible before taking them out onto the open water.
Companies have realized that many different people will be wearing a very young size of different life jackets and that’s why they come with different features in regards to buoyancy, weight capacity, and size.
Design and Colors
These days it’s possible to choose from a wide variety of different designs and colors when it comes to the different life jackets available.
Ultimately it’s up to what your preferences are regarding which different color and design you choose and some people prefer brighter ones while others might be looking for something more subdued.
As for the design, the different options these days come packed with features so it’s possible to choose a specific jacket that’s best suited for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, or whatever else your needs are.
The Best Life Jackets for Kayaking and Canoeing
Now that I’ve covered some helpful tips on making an informed choice let’s take a look at some of my recommendations when it comes to what I believe are suitable options for the best kayak life jacket to use for kayaking or canoeing.
ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest
The ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest is one of my top recommendations if you’re doing a lot of kayaking, canoeing, or any other water-based paddling activities.
What I like about this one is that the back part is a little bit raised compared to some of the more standard life jackets available and this helps to prevent it from getting in the way of the kayak seat so it’s more comfortable to wear.
There are a few different sizes available depending on the size that you’re looking for and when it comes to keeping you floating in the water it takes advantage of a flotation foam to keep you upright just in case you go overboard.
Vented channels across the jacket help to keep you from overheating while you’re paddling around and there are also some reflective materials that help when it comes to visibility if someone has to start looking for you in the water.
It’s possible to adjust to the shoulders and waist area for a better fit and there’s a pocket right on the front where you can store anything that you want to quickly access like a knife or even waterproof maps.
For even more safety there’s a whistle attached right on the front of the vest and getting it done up is done by a zipper that runs right up the middle.
ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Vest
The ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Vest is another option I would recommend checking out if you’re looking for a life jacket for canoeing and kayaking.
I like it quite a bit because it has decently sized arm holes so that your range of movement isn’t restricted when you’re paddling around and to keep it comfortable there are even these neoprene comfort pads on the shoulders.
The exterior is made from a heavy duty nylon fabric and on the inside it’s flotation foam that helps keep you afloat just in case you head into the water.
On the fronts are 2 expandable zippered pockets that you can use for storage of any items that you want to quickly access when you’re out on your canoe or kayak and they even have mesh drainage so that water doesn’t build up inside and weigh you down.
Just like the previous one I mentioned this life jacket comes with a mesh fabric across the lower back that’s designed to fit the high back seats of kayaks so that it doesn’t get in the way and both the waist and shoulders are adjustable so that it’s possible to find a suitable fit on your body.
As for safety, it comes with a whistle on the front that you can use in case you happen to capsize or go overboard and there’s also a reflective material that help with visibility when you’re in the water.
ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest
The ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest is more of a entry-level and no frills life jacket for kayaking or canoeing.
It doesn’t come with the same features as the previous two that I just mentioned but it’s still suitable for general use for your hobbyist that doesn’t spend too much time out on the water.
Just like the previous two it has a raised back so that it’s much more comfortable to wear with the kayak seat and the exterior is made from a 200 denier nylon material.
The arm holes are quite large and this allows for suitable range of movement when you’re paddling around and the ventilation across the jacket really helps to prevent you from overheating when you’re out on the water.
It’s possible to adjust the jacket to a better fit At the shoulders, mid ribs, and at the waist, and for more safety there are some reflective patches that help with visibility for other people locating you in the water if you’ve gone overboard or capsized.
Getting on and off is done with a single zipper down the middle of the front and the back and front pieces offer ample padding for comfort.
Astral Buoyancy V-Eight Life Jacket
The Astral Buoyancy V-Eight Life Jacket is another one of my recommendations and I find it well suited if you’re spending a lot of time on the water canoeing, kayaking, fishing, or even sailing.
It comes with a mesh back that’s designed to not get in the way when you are sitting on a kayak seat and the mesh also helps with keeping you cool and well-ventilated when you’re exerting yourself from doing a lot of paddling.
When it comes to ventilation, this jacket takes advantage of an air flow system that helps to keep your body ventilated and also helps to eliminate excessive heat buildup so that you don’t overheat or get too warm when you’re out on the water.
The arm holes are quite big so that there is a suitable range of movement for paddling and this jacket offers a universal fit so it can be worn by both men and women.
As for adjustments, it’s possible to adjust at the shoulders, mid ribs, and at the waist so that you’re able to take advantage of a better fit.
It comes equipped with a quick access knife tab so that you can quickly grab your knife if you need it to cut any rope and there also some pockets including an interior storage sleeve where you can keep maps or anything else inside.
This jacket has been Coast Guard approved and it’s available in a range of different colors and sizes depending on your needs and preferences.
Stohlquist Men’s Ebb Personal Floatation Device
The Stohlquist Men’s Ebb Personal Floatation Device features a higher back so that it doesn’t get in the way of the seat of your kayak and in place is a mesh cover that still allows you to achieve a suitable fit.
On the interior is an inner mesh lining that helps with ventilation and breathability and the arm holes are quite wide so that you’re still able to take advantage of a suitable range of motion for paddling or fishing.
It comes equipped with a neoprene padded waistband for even more comfort when you’re wearing it for extended periods of time and there are adjustment points at the chest and on the shoulders as well as along the mesh waist bottom piece.
On the fronts are some small pockets where you can stash a knife or any other small accessories that you want to quickly access but unfortunately there isn’t anywhere to clip on any other accessories such as a whistle without attaching it to one of the straps or even the zipper.
Stohlquist Men’s Trekker Personal Floatation Device
The Stohlquist Men’s Trekker Personal Floatation Device is another life jacket from Stohlquist that I would recommend taking a look at if you’re looking for something suitable to use for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, and even sailing.
To help keep you cool when you’re out on the water it comes equipped with a ventilated back pad as well as shoulder pads and the arm holes are quite big so there is a decent amount of area when it comes to range of motion to allow for paddling or casting.
On the back half of the bottom part is mesh so that it doesn’t get in the way of kayak seat backs and it’s also helps when it comes to ventilation.
As for adjustments, this jacket comes with a cross chest cinch harness that helps to prevent it riding up when you’re out paddling and there are adjustment points at the shoulders, chest, and waist.
Getting it on is done by a single zipper that runs up the very front of it and there are also two small pockets they can be used for quick access of any small accessories.