A Guide To Finding The Best Kayak Life Vest On The Market

A Guide To Finding The Best Kayak Life Vest On The Market

If you are planning on going kayaking anytime soon, you will want to ensure that you have all of the needed equipment so your experience will be a smooth and enjoyable one. While a lot of your gear can be rented if you are an occasional kayaker, there may be some gear that you will want to bring along yourself and that's where this guide to help you find the best kayak life vest might be helpful.

If you kayak often, you will want to invest in your own gear so you can avoid any potential rental fees. Out of all of the gear that you will want to invest in, there are a few pieces of equipment that are more crucial than others. In this post, we are going to help you find the best kayak life jacket for your needs.

Over the course of our kayak vest review guide, we are going to take a look at three of the best life vests for kayaking on the market. Once we have reviewed the life vests, we are going to take a look at why it is important to find the best model available and a few features to account for when making your purchase.

Keep in mind that each of the vests in our review can also be used as canoe life jackets if you need added versatility. Now that we have covered the basics let's get right into our search for the best personal flotation device (PFD) for kayaking.

Best Kayak Life Vest

Winner - Stearns Adult Watersport Classic Series Vest

Specifications:

  • You have a choice of three different high-visibility colors for this vest: red, yellow, and blue
  • Features approval from the United States Coast Guard
  • This life vest can support adults who weigh at least 90 pounds
  • There are four adjustable straps on this life vest so you can get the perfect fit
  • The open sides of this life vest mean that it can fit many different users

If you want a life vest which is highly adjustable, there are few models which can match this one from Stearns. The inclusion of four adjustable straps means that you will be able to tweak the fit on almost every part of your body. There are few things worse than a life vest which fits improperly, and this feature is a relief.

The straps are not the only reason why this life vest is able to fit many different users. The open sides of this kayaking life vest make it possible to adjust the size to a much greater degree than on other products. If you value versatility, there are few vests which are more useful than this model.

Stearns Classic Series Vest.

You may be wondering why you would want the best kayak life vest to be so adjustable. Aside from ensuring that the highest possible number of people can use a life vest, a more adjustable fit makes it less likely that you will have to deal with chafing and other irritations wearing your vest.

This life vest is ideal for use in a kayak for several reasons, but we would argue that the most significant factor is its size. If you are going to be kayaking, you will want a life vest which gives your arms a relatively wide range of movement so you can get the most out of your paddling.

A life vest which restricts you in your kayak will slow you down. Thankfully, the compactness of this life vest means that you will have a wide range of movement, but you will also be able to fit into your kayak in the first place. If your vest is too bulky, you will either be uncomfortable or entirely unable to fit.

This life vest has undergone the United States Coast Guard approval process so you can rest assured that it will perform reliably in an emergency. This is also one of the more reasonably priced models of kayaking life jacket, available for around 30 dollars per vest.


Runner Up - ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

Specifications:

  • There are two sizes available for this life jacket: universal and oversize (we reviewed the universal size)
  • Universal sizing means that you will not have to worry about finding a size that fits
  • This life jacket has been approved by the United States Coast Guard
  • Type III design means that this model is more comfortable than other options
  • Features a low profile design for use with a paddle
  • The materials used in this life vest are foam with a polyester exterior
  • The lower back features a breathable mesh for superior comfort in hot conditions

Up next in our search for the best life jacket for kayaking, we are going to take a look at a model which is a little more pricey. While this life jacket from ONYX may be designed specifically for use while kayak fishing, nothing is stopping you from using it while kayaking recreationally.

Though the price is higher when compared to the life vest from Stearns, this model is designed to help you maintain your form while you are paddling. If you are sick of your vest getting in the way while you kayak, the paddle-specific design of this product will ensure that you have relatively few issues.

ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

source: onyxoutdoor.com

You have a choice of either universal or oversize when it comes to the sizing of this life jacket in case you would like to use a wetsuit or a drysuit while you are kayaking. This life jacket is also much more durable than other models. You won't have any issues with wear and tear for a long time with this product.

The universal size of this life jacket means that you will not have any issues with inaccurate sizing charts, one of the main reasons for life vests being returned. Thanks to the heavily adjustable nature of this life jacket, you can rest assured that the model you are ordering online will fit you with ease.

While some would argue that a type III life vest won't help you float as much as a type I or type II model, kayaking usually doesn't require the excessive buoyancy needed in other activities. Type III life vests will be able to fit in your kayak without stifling your movement, and this remains true for this model.

This design features a breathable mesh near the lower back which ensures that you will not have to deal with sweat accumulating in that area on hotter days, which can get quite uncomfortable.


Alternative - KOKATAT Bahia Tour PFD

Specifications:

  • Comes available in a choice of three different sizes: small/medium, large/XL, and XXL
  • Comes available in a choice of two different colors: mango or orange
  • This is a type III life vest for added maneuverability
  • Features two front pockets with zippers for storage room
  • Designed specifically for use while kayaking or rafting
  • Comes included with a lifetime manufacturer warranty
  • Features a wide range of adjustability
  • Features padded shoulders for added comfort while sitting
  • Features reflective strips for visibility
  • Approved by the US Coast Guard

If you want the best kayak life jacket and you don’t care about the price, there are few models which can match the capabilities of this product from KOKATAT. There are three different sizes instead of a universal size which ensures that this life jacket will fit much more snugly than other models.

The number of features which cater mainly towards kayakers on this life jacket was the first thing that we noticed when we first received it. For example, the padded shoulders on this life vest ensure that you will be comfortable regardless of whether you are floating in the water or sitting in your kayak.

KOKATAT Bahia Tour PFD

source: kokatat.com

Reflective strips which are positioned strategically along the outer part of this life vest ensure that you will be visible to any potential rescuers during the night. Like most kayaking life vests, this is a type III PFD because a type I or type II model would have difficulty fitting into your kayak.

Since you can adjust this life vest in so many different ways, you can find the perfect fit. A life jacket which fits ideally isn’t only one which is comfortable, but it is also more likely to save you in the event of an emergency. The last thing you would want is your life vest slipping off while you float.

The inclusion of a lifetime manufacturer warranty coupled with the excellent build quality of this life jacket means that you can expect to see months or even years of service from this product. Depending on how often you go kayaking, you may not even begin to notice signs of wear and tear on this vest.

Keep in mind that this is the most expensive life vest for kayaking on this list. While this is the best kayak life jacket overall, you have to decide whether you are willing to pay 140 dollars for it.


Why You Should Choose Your Kayaking Life Vest Carefully

You may be wondering why you would want to put so much effort into the purchase of the best kayak life vest. There are a few reasons, but none of them are as crucial as ensuring that you are safe if the worst occurs. Kayaking can be a dangerous activity, like any water sport.

Finding the best life jacket means that you will be much more comfortable while you are sitting in your kayak. If you regularly have to adjust your life jacket because it is chafing or irritating you, it will be difficult to enjoy your kayaking. You also don't want to have to worry about your life jacket's reliability.

A kayaking life jacket which is selected with care will end up lasting you far longer than a model which is chosen based on the lowest price. If you are going to be trusting a product with your life, you will want to ensure that you are getting the best one possible.

On What to Pay Attention When Choosing Your Kayak Life Vest

Weight

The weight of your life vest is one of the first things that you will want to consider before you make your purchase. Keep in mind that a heavier life jacket will often feature superior build quality, but it will also end up fatiguing you more after a long day of kayaking.

Kayaking can be an intense physical activity, so you will want to opt for a life jacket that is light enough not to tire you out. You will want to consider the average length of your kayaking trips and plan the weight of your vest around that to ensure that you don't end up exhausted at the end of the day.

Material

The material used in the construction of your life vest will affect how well it performs as well as the price. Most of the time, the exterior of a life vest will be made out of a synthetic material like polyester because it is resilient, water-resistant and affordable.

Life vests lot.

The light interior of your life vest will usually be made out of foam, and the exact type of foam will determine precisely how buoyant your life vest will end up being. Different types of life vests will be designed to help you float in different conditions.

Comfort

Another thing that you will want to look for in the best kayak life vest is a suitable degree of comfort. If you are going to be using your kayak life vest for an extended period, you will want it to be as comfortable as possible.

The material used in your life vest will end up influencing how comfortable it is. Some life vests feature a mesh which is designed to make them more bearable in hotter environments.

Conclusion

Finding the best kayak life vest isn’t as challenging as it would seem. We hope that our reviews have been able to help you decide on which model is best for you.

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