The Best Fishing Kayak PFDs

There are some people who will go kayaking without a PFD, or Personal Flotation Device (i.e. life jacket).  We aren’t those people.  Many adults think, “well, as long as the kids have on life preservers we are good to go.”  We don’t agree.  We highly discourage this.

Accidents on the water happen all the time so it’s always a smart idea to prepare and be ready for them.  Please remember to protect yourself and your family when out on the kayak fishing or just paddling.  Heck, you can even get a life jacket for your dog!

Kayak fishing PFD’s are not only a great safety net but many of them come in mighty handily when it comes to actually being a fishing accessory.  In many cases these PFD are so much more than just life jackets.

Comparison Chart

Note:  More info available below the chart

Best Kayak Fishing PFDs

Name &ImageFeaturesAvailable SizesAvailable ColorsResearch Price and Opinions


Stohlquist "Fisherman" PFD

- Nylon made
- Easy hand wash with soap and water
- Good pockets and anchor points
- Secure your tackle on you rather than in the boat or over board

- Small
- Medium
- Large
- X-Large
- Universal+

Cactus & Black


MTI Adventurewear Fisher Fishing Jacket

- Ample storage via 4 front pockets
- Adjustable side and shoulder straps. 3 center closure buckles
- D-rings as anchor points on front and rear of vest
- PVC Free

- X-small
- Small
- Medium
- Large
- X-Large
- XX-Large

- Green and Gray



Adventurewear Calcutta Kayak Fishing

- RetroGlide Fit System for easy fitting
- 7 Pocket Vest
- Lower Back, Sides and Shoulders Mesh for venting
- Shoulder attachment points

- X-small
- Small
- Medium
- Large
- XL

- Sand


extrasport striper fishing

Extrasport Striper Fishing

- All person fit: Fits size 30" to 52" chest
- Made for angling: Many large pockets, front lash tab, D-ring anchor points and more
- Two extra large tackle pockets
- Reflective trim

- Universal

- Orange RipStop
- Stone


Astral Designs Ronny Fisher

Astral Designs Ronny Fisher

- Multiple front pockets; easy knife access front
- Heavy Duty Make
- Reflective Trim and Stowaway Drink hold

- 31-37"
- 38-44"
- 45-51"

- Green
- Charcoal
- Real Tree Max Camo

Comparison chart of our Most Recommended PFDs for Kayak Anglers

5 Steps to Fitting a PFD

Step 1:  Loosen the straps.  Put on the PFD and zip it up.  This is the “natural” fit of the PFD prior to adjustment.natural fit

Step 2:  Starting at the lower part (waistline) begin to tighten all of the straps.  So, start low and finish at the highest strap.  If your PFD has shoulder straps then these would be last.

Step 3: Have a friend, significant other (someone) pull up on the PFD while you wear by grasping the shoulder areas and yanking upwards.  As a rule, if the PFD rose above your nose or all the way to the top of your head then you need to tighten the straps. If after adjusting the straps and the same happens then the PFD is too large for you.  Start over.

Step 4:  Swing your arms.  Wave your arms.  Put your arms out in front of you and clasp them together then let go and move them as far back as possible. Do this a few times to see if there is any rub that may cause chafing or restrictions to range of movement.  If you have the PFD at home, even better; try these movements in your own kayak for proper simulation.

Step 5:  Then, test the PFD in a pool or shallow water before putting your life in its hands. It shouldn’t ride up past your chin while floating.  If purchasing or fitting a child then observe closely for any sign of a bad fit.

Sizing and Fitting of Adult PFDs

Unlike child PFD fitting, adults will determine the size of their flotation vests by the size of their chest.  Of course, as in many things, sizes and wear will vary from brand to brand so ensure that you are looking closely at the size chart prior to buying PFDs from Amazon.

An adult PFD shouldn’t be so tight that you feel constricted in movement or breathing, but it should snugly.  For lack of a better term, the PFD should fit perfectly and comfortably…like a glove.  One thing to remember is that if the PFD is too small for you then it will cause constriction and even chafing when paddling.

If you’re a women then you should get a women’s fit PFD as opposed to a unisex fit.  These PFD are made specifically for women by implementing seams and cuts for a larger bust line and a longer torso.

Lastly, wearing and fitting a PFD is all about adjustments.  No PFD may fit you perfectly, the adjustment that you make via straps and buckles can get it near perfect.  PFD with more straps offer more versatility in adjustments.

Fitting for Kids

Children PFDs, especially young children’s PFD, are important because the flotation vest plays a key part in keeping the head above water.  Fit is the most important thing in choosing a child PFD.  DO NOT get a bigger PFD with the mind set of being able to “grow into it”.

Use the below guidelines based upon weight and not child size for choosing your child’s PFD:

  • Babys/ Young Children PFDs: 8 to 30 pounds
  • Child PFDs: 30 to 50 pounds
  • Youth PFDs: 50 to 90 pounds

Any child not in the above chart should be fitted as an adult.

What to look for in an infant and young child PFD:

  • Head support padding to keep the child’s head above the water.
  • A “grab handle” so that you can snatch the child out of the water.
  • A strap that goes under the crotch so to keep the PFD from riding up their smaller frames.

Most youth PFDs will look like and operate like an adult PFD.  Remember, more straps means more opportunity for adjustment.

Dog PFD Fitting

Okay, so yeah, most dogs are good swimmers.  However some of them don’t have confidence and will panic as soon as they become overboard rather than choosing to go
The USCG doesn’t certify dog PFDs to my knowledge but they can still help out your furry friends and possibly save their life.


  • It should fit snugly so your dog get out of it.  It’s what dogs do so be prepared to observe for a bit.  Even if they hate it.
  • Low profile styles equal less chance of snagging.
  • Choose a dog PFD with easy release buckles to save you aggravation trying to get your dog out of it.
  • Grab handles are great for dog PFDs, as well.


How long will a PFD last?

Keep it cared for and it will last longer.  There is no standard wear out time or expiration date on PFDs.  If it becomes water logged, mildewed, smelly, or you notice a lack of bouyancy when in use then it’s time to replace.  Again, take care of your PFD and your PFD will take care of you.

Definition of a hybrid PFD?

A PFD that is called “hybrid” contains both internal foam buoyancy and additional inflatable buoyancy.  This is not recommended for kayakers.

If a person cannot swim, what type of PFD should they get?

Everyone wants to enjoy the water. Even those that can’t swim or are nervous of the water while boating.  All people have a natural buoyancy.  Most adults only need an additional 7 to 12 lbs of buoyancy from a PFD to stay afloat so as long as you have the guts…then you can float and feel comfortable with a PFD.

Is there a Super PFD for various sports?

Type III PFDs are what the USCG recommend for different and various sports activities while Type V PFDs are approved only for certain types of water sports and only USCG approved when being used for that sport or recreation.  I.E. A Type V Kayaking PFD is not USCG approved nor recommended to replace a Type V Windsurfing PFD.  Read more here.

What are recommendations on having a PFD available but not worn at all times?

Better safe than dead is the bluntest most honest way I can put this.  The situation can change rapidly and obstruct clear and rational thinking.  Smarter to keep it on at all times.

How often should a PFD be tested?

Once per year, at minimum. If waterlogged, faded or leaky, a PFD should be replaced and the old one be thrown away properly.  Don’t leave it in a garage or vehicle to avoid others unknowingly using a bad PFD.

Hopefully this article has helped you in figuring out which products to buy, but if you want to find more fishing advice then head over to this page.

One Response

  1. Dave June 6, 2017

Leave a Reply to Dave Cancel reply

The Best Fishing Kayak PFDs
Shoreline Marine Ultimate Kayak Bag Review
Easy Fish Finding: Deeper Smart Fishfinder Review
Emotion Renegade
Emotion Renegade XT Kayak Product Review
Sit-On-Top vs. Sit-In Kayak: Which is The Best For You?
Shoreline Marine Ultimate Kayak Bag Review
Easy Fish Finding: Deeper Smart Fishfinder Review
Before Buying Your Fishing Kayak: 5 Tips for Prospective Kayak Anglers
Best Fishing Kayak Accessories
Are Inflatable Fishing Kayaks Good Enough?
Care and Maintenance of PFDs
3 Top Kayak Storage Tips
Kayaking with Kids
Tips on Casting from a Fishing Kayak