Best Kayak Life Vest for Safe Paddling

Best Kayak Life Vest for Safe Paddling

All kayakers know that wearing a life vest results in a safe paddling adventure that all can enjoy.  However, finding a high-quality life vest that will help get the job done, while also being affordable and comfortable, is difficult. 

Many experienced kayakers seem to go through life vest after life vest, for this or that reason, resulting in a ton of money spent and the feeling that you’ll never find the right one.

We’ve been there.  We know the struggle.  With that said, we’ve decided to put together a list of the best life vests for kayakers, regardless of what level of experience in kayaking you have.  If you’re an advanced rider or a beginner, these are the best life vests for you.

When searching for great life vests, we always make sure we look for affordability, durability, comfort, and overall satisfaction.  It’s also incredibly important to have a life vest when out on the water because you want to be as safe as possible, no matter what

The following is our list of the best life vests (in our humble opinion) that you could have if you are a constant kayaker.

The Best Kayak Life Vest for Everybody

Onyx Movement Curve Paddle

Onyx Movement Curve Paddle

The absolute top life vest for all kayakers is, hands down, the Onyx Movement Curve Paddle life vest.  We’ve ranked this life vest to be the best for a variety of reasons, which we’ve detailed below in a nice little pros and cons list.  This life vest was made in an incredibly lightweight design and comes in a variety of different sizes you can buy from (ranging from x-small to xx-large), meaning you can buy one for a young child or an adult.  It’s amazingly adjustable, making it easier for the wearer to adjust the side belts and the neoprene pads. 

To keep things simple, here’s a neat little pros and cons list we’ve made for this life vest:

Pros

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    Allows you to move freely
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    The design is very lightweight, making it easier to move around in than some other life vests
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    Very easy to adjust
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    U.S. Coast Guard approved
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    Affordable

Cons

  • While it is easy to move around in, the jacket is a little bulky
  • Has no real storage room/pockets
NRS CVEST Mesh Back PFD

The NRS CVEST Mesh Back PFD life vest is an amazing addition to any kayaker’s journey, even if we don’t consider it to be the ultimate best.  This life vest comes supplied with eight different ways you can adjust the vest to make your experience as comfortable as possible.  The aspect that makes this life vest stand out among the rest is the storage capacity.  It comes with six different pockets (one that is special just for a radio) and accessory lash tabs. 

To keep things simple, here’s a neat little pros and cons list we’ve made for this life vest:

Pros

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    Six pockets for storage
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    Great additional add-ons compared to other life vests
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    Eight different adjustable points that one can change

Cons 

  • The radio pocket is a bit small and seems to only fit a certain type of radio
  • It is a bit bulky
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    It’s a bit more expensive

The NRS Chinook Mesh Back is the perfect fit for the constant angler.  This life vest is designed with a mesh lower back, which is ideal for ventilation.  This vest also comes with eight different adjustable points, letting one try to find the one that is the most comfortable for their specific body.  Just like the NRS life vest we talked about above, this life vest stands out because of the additional features it provides.  It comes attached with rod holder loops, seven pockets situated in the front, and multiple D-rings to hold whatever it is you need held.  Therefore, this jacket is perfect for fishers.  However, even if you aren’t an angler, it’s a nice jacket to have because of the added storage. 

To keep things simple, here’s a neat little pros and cons list we’ve made for this life vest:

Pros

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    Very nice storage design with pockets
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    The mesh lower back provides ideal ventilation
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    Perfect for fishers

Cons

  • Sometimes, the upper strap can irritate you by rubbing up against your upper neck
  • A bit expensive
Kokatat Bahia Tour BFD

The Kokatat Bahia Tour BFD life vest is quite a lightweight and stable life vest, making it a top contender on this list.  The lower back part of the life vest is made from mesh, resulting in perfect ventilation.  It is easy to adjust this life vest, as it comes with multiple areas and ways to adjust it to make sure it fits one perfectly.  This life vest also comes with two front pockets, a pliers pocket, and an electronics pocket, as well as a license window. 

To keep things simple, here’s a neat little pros and cons list we’ve made for this life vest:

Pros

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    United States Coast Guard, ISO, and Transport Canada approved
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    The mesh lower back is great for ventilation
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    Very easy to adjust

Cons

  • This life vest can be awkward to wear with a bag or pack of any kind, as the upper back of the vest is made from foam (and not mesh, which would’ve made it ideal)

​A good life vest equals a fun, safe paddle

When looking for a high-quality life vest, one needs to look for a variety of components.  You need to make sure the life vest is durable, comfortable, and looks like it would be long-lasting

Sometimes it can be worth it to spend more than $100 on a life vest -- if you know that it is going to last and be able to withstand a few years’ time.  However, it can be hard to find life vests that will do this for you. 

This list of life vests is, in our opinion, the best life vests one could own when kayaking.  You always want to make sure you are as safe as possible when kayaking, whether you’re going for a nice paddle or planning on fishing all day, and these life vests will definitely help you feel safe and ready for fun!