Best Life Jackets For Kayaking: Here’s What You Need To Know Before Buying

Have you ever found yourself asking – what are the Best Life Jackets for kayaking? If you love the outdoors, especially the water, for sure, in one way or another, you have asked such question already. There is no need for you to be left wondering. We got you covered! Continue reading the rest of this guide and we will provide you with insights on some of the most important things that should be taken into account and some of the top models that you can consider.

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The abundance of the options can be intimidating. In most instances, they can be overwhelming, and for some people, this could be a reason to end up deciding in haste. Do not be like these people. Be more intelligent and responsible, which will be possible through exerting time and effort in differentiating the options that you will be confronted with.

Top 10 Best Life Jackets, Best Life Vests

Guide to Buy Best Life Jackets for Kayaking

Essential Considerations in Choosing the Best Life Jackets for Kayaking

  • Type Of the Life Jacket: When looking for lifejackets that can be used for kayaking, the following are some of the most common types:
    • Type I PFD: It has the most reliable flotation from all the types. It is best used in open and remote waters where rescue may not be immediate.
    • Type II PFD: This is the best choice if you expect to be kayaking in inland or calm water where it is likely that rescue will be quick.
    • Type III PFD: This is the most comfortable from the types of life jackets and its use should be limited to calm waters.
    • Inflatable Life Jackets: They are beneficial in terms of portability because you can bring them deflated and inflate it only when it will be used.
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  • Size of the Life Jacket: You should also pay attention to the size or fit. Refer to the specifications from the manufacturer and see to it that it is not too tight or too loose. Aside from the actual size, you should also take a look at the adjustments that can be made, such as the straps. Make sure that the life vest offers options for customizing the fit based on what you personally require.
  • Materials that are Used: As you try to differentiate the options that are available, it is also important to take a look at the quality of the materials, which will be indicative of comfort, durability, aesthetics, and overall quality. If you are looking for an affordable choice, nylon is excellent, which is also lightweight, making it perfect for kayaking. Neoprene is also an excellent material, which has better buoyancy, but can be bulkier and heavier.
  • Comfort: You should also evaluate the features that will be indicative of your comfort. Having mesh parts, especially on the back, will be a good thing. This will encourage proper air circulation, especially if you are kayaking on a hot day.
  • Capacity: A life jacket can be an excellent way to be protected while in the water. However, the protection that it can provide will be restricted by its capacity. Take note of its maximum load so that you can have peace of mind.

Life Jacket Reviews: Before getting settled with the final decision, it will also be good if you will consult with online reviews, like this reviews. Through the insights and experiences that are being shared by other people, it will be easier for you to make a decision that you won’t regret.

Some Mistakes to Avoid

  • Deciding on the Basis of Price Alone: It’s cheap, I should buy it! If you have this mentality, avoid it! Quality should be given more emphasis over price!
  • One-size-fits-all Mentality: Keep in mind that life jackets are made in different sizes. Choose one that will be perfectly fitted for your physique.
  • Not Thinking about Color: The color of a life jacket is not just about aesthetics. Choosing a brighter color is recommended as it will help improve visibility.

Now that you know some of the things to keep in mind, you are most probably ready for the next part! We will make things easier for you by listing down ten of the choices and some of the most notable features that you can expect from each of them.

Life Jacket Reviews: A Quick Look At The Top Picks

1. Stearns Adult General Purpose Life Vest

Main features:

  • Coast Guard-approved flotation device
  • Three adjustable chest belts
  • Nylon shell and PE foam construction

Benefits:

  • This model comes with an affordable price, making it an excellent choice for those who are budget-conscious but unwilling to compromise quality and functionality in any way.
  • This life vest is Coast Guard-approved, which is one of the things that can provide you with the confidence that it indeed works.
  • Given the fact that the straps are adjustable, users can easily have it configured based on how tight or loose they want it. This will give you the chance to configure it based on your size and comfort requirements.
  • Another benefit should be highlighted is the fact that it is made with the use of premium materials, which contribute into making it an exceptional choice. To add, these materials will also provide you with the guarantee that the life vests will be beneficial season after season.

Who is it for?

In many life jacket reviews, it has been revealed that this is the perfect choice for adult kayakers who weigh more than 90 pounds. It is perfect for both male and female users, even for those who are oversized because it is fully-adjustable. Whether in the river or lake, this is an excellent choice and can provide peace of mind.

2. Stearns Child’s Classic Series Best

Main features:

  • Constructed with the use of heavy-duty nylon
  • Equipped with a crotch strap and three adjustable straps on the chest
  • Open-sided
  • Secured 1-inch webbing

Benefits:

  • Durability – this is one of the reasons why it stands out from many other products that you can find in the market. It is made with the use of durable nylon and PE flotation platform, the combination of which is highly indicative of the ability of the life jacket to withstand many years of use. Even the straps and the enclosures are long-lasting.
  • With the webbing that you can find in this product, it can provide parents with peace of mind, knowing that their kid is safe all the time.
  • The wide opening on the shoulders is one of the design features that can immediately attract your attention. This is going to be vital in terms of the comfort of babies. In the same way, there is no need to fear about safety. The chest straps will make sure that the life vest will be securely tightened even in spite of the large opening in the shoulders.

Who is it for?

This is a life vest that is designed specifically for children who weigh 30 to 50 pounds. This is classified as a Type III life jacket, which is why it is best to limits its use in calm waters or in places where there is immediate rescue. This is best when used in a lake because of the condition of the water.

3. ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest

Main features:

  • SOLAS-grade reflective material
  • Whistle is included
  • Made from 200D nylon rip stop and nylon oxford
  • Open sides and meshed back
  • Sculpted foam design

Benefits:

  • The mesh part in the back is perhaps one of the reasons why it can provide a high level of comfort. It also comes with innovative vented channels, allowing you to be kept cool even when paddling.
  • It is constructed in such a way that it easily conforms to the body of the user, allowing it to deliver an almost personalized fit.
  • Another benefit is that it is made with the use of exceptional materials, which can guarantee its durability. In addition, it also provides an assurance of visibility, as it has a reflective part, making it easier for you to be seen in different conditions

Who is it for?

This is best for people who are into white water kayaking. This is perfect for intense activities because of the opening on the side and the fact that it is comfortable. It is designed in such a manner that it will not restrict movement, especially when paddling. It is made for adults and is perfect even for larger users because the biggest size is 3XL.

4. Stohlquist Unisex Infant Life Jacket

Main features:

  • 200D nylon outer shell and 200D Oxford liner
  • Adjustable crotch strap
  • 5-inch height and 16-inch width
  • Quick release buckle

Benefits:

  • It comes with padded head support, making it able to provide a high level of comfort to infants, even when worn for an extended period.
  • Comes with a wrap-around flotation, which means that the child’s face will be kept up all the time. This is more comfortable than conventional designs of life jackets for kayaking.
  • Available in bright colors, allowing it to offer a high level of visibility.
  • Many parents may also appreciate the grab handle that is located at the back. This makes it easy to not only grab the life vest, but to also keep hold of the baby while on water.
  • Designed with front zipper and side-release buckles. This will make it effortless to have the life jacket tightened or loosened, depending on what is most comfortable for the infant.
  • Made with the use of durable materials, allowing the life jacket to remain superior even with long-term and frequent use

Who is it for?

This life jacket for kayaking is made specifically for infants, specifically for those who weigh less than 30 pounds

5. Stearns Infant Classic Boating Vest

Main features:

  • Designed with 1-inch webbing
  • Crosstech flotation foam and nylon shell
  • Neck float
  • Grab handle and leg strap

Benefits:

  • You do not necessarily have to spend a fortune to be able to enjoy the best product. This is what this life jacket proves. It comes with an affordable price, yet it has been given words of praises by many people, giving you a good reason to have it considered.
  • It is also a good thing that it comes in a vibrant color, which is one of the reasons why it is highly-visible. Your child will be easily seen when floating in the water.
  • When it comes to durability, it also does not fail to leave a positive impression. It is manufactured with the use of Crosstech flotation foam and nylon shell. These materials are known for their ability to withstand external elements and to deliver long term functionality.
  • It is designed with a contoured flotation on the neck, which is similar to a pillow. This provides comfortable support to the neck of the infant

Who is it for?

This is one of the best life jackets for kayaking for infants. Based on the specifications from the manufacturer, this is best for those who are less than 30 pounds in weight.

6. ONYX MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest

Main features:

  • Outer shell made from 200 denier nylon
  • Zippered and expandable pockets
  • SOLAS-grade material for optimal visibility
  • Shoulder adjustments

Benefits:

  • The soft and lightweight flotation foam that is integrated in this life vest is one of its exceptional features. This means that it will be light as it is worn, while making sure of optimal flotation once you are already submerged in water. This can provide you with peace of mind regarding your safety.
  • It is also a worth noting that it conforms to your body like a glove, as it has been asserted by the manufacturer. This is possibly because of the sculpted designs of the foam, which will make it look like it has been tailor-fitted for your body.
  • It is designed with an airy back mesh, which will encourage optimal air circulation. Even if you are kayaking on a hot day, you will surely not complain of discomfort

Who is it for?

This is a Type III life jacket. This means that it is best for people who often kayak in protected and inland water that is just near the shore. It is recommended to be worn only when immediate rescue is available. It is not recommended for rough waters.

7. IMAX Adult Inflatable Life Vest Jacket

Main features:

  • Equipped with LED light
  • Adjustable crotch and waist strap
  • Inflatable for extra buoyancy
  • Oral inflation tube

Benefits:

  • This is the LED version of the life jacket from IMAX. Meaning, it comes with LED lights, which will be the perfect way to increase visibility. Although no one wishes for it, if in case you are in water and need to be rescues, you will be easily seen when wearing this vest because of the added lights.
  • The horse-collar design of this life jacket gives it a distinction above many others within the competitive landscape. There is a donut-shaped bladder, which can provide the assurance that you will be properly secured.
  • Another unique aspect of the design of this life vest is that there is no covering on the back. The flotation will only be around the neck. This is good for extended periods of kayaking because it encourages better air flow, and hence, promotes your comfort.

Who is it for?

This is for people who are looking for a personal flotation device that offers versatility. You can have it inflated and deflated depending on the buoyancy that is needed.

8. NRS Chinook Mesh Back Fishing PFD

Main features:

  • D-ring on the back for several attachments
  • Exterior pockets for storage
  • Soft PlushFIT foam flotation

Benefits:

  • This is built specifically for kayakers and for anglers. It comes with seven pockets on the front, which will provide you with easy access to all of the small things that you will need. If you love kayak fishing, this is a must-have!
  • The flotation mechanism is one of the innovations worth mentioning. It makes sure that the vest will conform to the shape of the body, and hence, providing you with personalized comfort.
  • Speaking of comfort, it is also impressive because it comes with eight adjustment points. This will provide you with complete control on how it is tightened or loosened, depending on what you are most comfortable with.
  • The lower back part is made from mesh. This will encourage more air circulation, making you comfortable even when you are kayaking on a hot day

Who is it for?

This is perfect for people who are kayaking on calm waters and in places where immediate rescue is available, in case the unfortunate happens. It is also perfect for people who love kayak fishing, since the design provides easy access to the things that you will need.

9. ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Vest

Main features:

  • Bubble foam incorporated in the inner back
  • SOLAS-grade material for optimal reflectivity
  • Expandable pockets with zipper
  • Adjustable belts on the side
  • 400 denier nylon rip stop

Benefits:

  • The mesh ventilation, which is integrated on the front and back of the vest, is perhaps one of its most notable features. This will improve air circulation, which will be vital for your comfort, especially if you are kayaking on a hot day.
  • Aside from encouraging optimal flow of air, another feature that helps to make it comfortable is the wide open part from the shoulder. This is not going to restrict your movement. The shoulder adjustments and the bubble foam will also make it more comfortable.
  • Looking for a kayak that will last long? This is one that should be included in your list of choices

Who is it for?

This is a kayaking life jacket that is perfect for people who are often in calm waters and those who kayak just near the shore.

10. Stohlquist Men’s Ebb Life Jacket

Main features:

  • 4-inch height and 17-inch width
  • 210 denier oxford liner and rip stop nylon shell
  • Neoprene waistband
  • Beverage pockets

Benefits:

  • Lightweight, comfortable, and cool – these are three of the best reasons why it is one of the highly-recommended models for the best life jackets for kayaking. It is made from materials that will keep the weight at its minimum.
  • When it comes to comfort, the mesh back is perhaps one of the reasons. This allows air to enter the body and to keep you cool, even if it is worn on a hot day. The sides are also open to provide you with optimal ventilation.
  • With this kayaking life vest, users will be able to enjoy eight points of adjustments. With this, you can have the fit customized based on what you deem to be necessary.
  • Many of the life jackets that you can find in the market have straps in the chest to make it properly fitted on the user. In this model, however, there is a zipper on the front, which is perhaps a better way of making sure that it is secured on the wearer

Who is it for?

This is for people who are looking for a high-quality life jacket for kayaking without minding the price. This is expensive, but for discerning users, the price will surely be worth it.

Benefits of Using Life Jacket when Kayaking

Why should I wear a life jacket when kayaking? This is one of the questions that most people have. After all, especially for those who know how to swim, they think that it is unnecessary and will only be an expense on their end. In reality, however, it can be beneficial in more ways than one, such as through the following:

  • It Promotes Safety: This is probably the most significant benefit of wearing a life vest when you are kayaking. It is a fact that adults can drown within just 60 seconds and children within 20 seconds. More so, many of the drowning accidents could have bene avoided when you are wearing a life jacket. Knowing how to swim should not be an excuse as many people who drown actually know how to swim. Through wearing a life vest, you will have peace of mind, especially when you are kayaking with children.
  • It Improves Visibility: Many of the life jackets available in the market are equipped with a reflective material. This will make it easy for you to be seen when you are in the kayak or when you are already drowning. This can make rescue efforts a lot easier.
  • It Provides Access to the Things you Need: There are life jackets that are designed with interior pockets. The latter is especially beneficial if you are on a kayak fishing trip. You can easily access some of the things that you can keep inside the pocket.
  • It is a Requirement: In some places, such as lakes in parks, you cannot go kayaking if you are not wearing a life vest

How To Best Use a Life Vest When Kayaking

It is not enough that you have a life vest. It is important to know how it can be properly used. With this, keep the following things in mind:

  • Make Sure that it is Fitted: When it comes to life jacket, fit is perhaps one of the most important things. Take care of all the necessary adjustments. See to it that it has a snug fit, but at the same time, you must be comfortable.
  • Inspect the Life Jacket: This is especially true if it has been in the storage room for quite some time. Check all parts and test it if it will still float in water to be assured that it will function as anticipated.
  • Supervision is Important: This is especially critical if you are kayaking with kids. Even if they are already wearing life vests, this should not be an excuse for you to be not attentive. At all times, be watchful of children

Last Buying Advice

You’ve come a long way. You now know some of the most important factors to consider when buying a life jacket, and most importantly, you are already aware of some of the best choices. There is one final thing that you should be concerned about – where should I purchase a life jacket?

If you are looking for the best seller of life vests, there is no need to look far. Amazon is the best place! First of all, it is convenient as you can shop even at the comfort of your own home. It is also a good thing that you can easily read the reviews of other people, helping you to thoroughly evaluate the possibilities. Depending on the seller that you will choose, you can even be eligible for free discounts and free shipping. The best part is that many of the sellers are offering prices that are more affordable compared to retail outlets.

The Bottom Line

Looking for the best life jackets for kayaking is not an easy task. Many brands would claim that they have the best options, but you should not easily believe what they are saying. At the end of the day, the important thing is for you to conduct your own research. Consult with life jacket reviews. Take a look at the specifications and the materials that are used. Consider how comfortable the life vest will be. And most of all, you should look beyond price. A life jacket should be seen as an investment, which is why you should not mind spending for it!