Canoes & Kayaks

Best Inflatable Life Vest Jackets For Fishing

Chris King
Best Inflatable Life Vest Jackets For Fishing

Let’s get one thing straight- if you’re going out into the water, it’s vital that you wear a life jacket, life vest or personal floatation device (PFD). Perhaps that you assume that you don’t need a life vest because you’re an excellent swimmer. But you never know what will happen. Even if you don’t wear it, another passenger aboard your vessel might end up benefiting from it.

Best Inflatable Life Jackets & Personal Floatation Devices

Now, there are different types of life vests depending on your intended activity. Our focus today is on life vests for fishing. Read on to learn about the best inflatable life vests and their benefits.

Best Life Vests for Fishing

We review the top inflatable life vests on the market ideal for kayaking, fishing and paddle boarding.

ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest

One of the shortcomings of Stratus 35 is the fact that it comes in only size. If you’d like the opportunity to choose from an array of sizes, the MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest by ONYX is an excellent option.

To be specific, this life vest comes in X-small/Small, Medium/Large and X-Large/2X-Large sizes. Better yet, you can pick from an array of colors such as orange, purple, yellow and grey.

Our Choice
ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Life Vest
Our Rating
The Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddling vest provide excellent mobility for kayaking, canoeing, and stand up paddling. There are ventilation panels in the front and back to keep you cool, and the sculpted and flexible foam design conforms to your body and stays in place when paddling.
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Apart from the color and size options, there are a couple of other features you’ll like in this life vest. For instance, it has expandable zipper pockets where you can store items for convenient storage.

Also, the life vest is made of heavy duty nylon fabric, making it lightweight. This allows for freedom of arm movement, which is an important aspect when you’re going fishing. The nylon fabric construction is complemented by the SOLAS grade reflective material, which enhances your visibility in the water.


  • Equipped with zippered pockets for handy storage
  • Comes in multiple sizes and color options
  • Mesh ventilation on the front and rear for optimal airflow
  • Unique design that enhances mobility


  • A little bulky for some users

Bluestorm Gear Stratus 35 Inflatable PFD Life Jacket

If you’ve been shopping for an inflatable life vest, the Bluestorm Gear Stratus 35 is one of the best on the market. It’s hand-stitched using rigorously-tested materials to make it durable.

The Stratus is approved by the US Coast Guard as a Type II life jacket. Thus, you can rest easy knowing that it will offer maximum protection.

BLUESTORM Stratus 35 Inflatable Life Jacket PFD for Adults (Apex Black) | US Coast Guard (USCG) Approved Automatic Self Inflating Life Vest Preserver with Manual Override
Bluestorm was born of a long family history — over 85 years creating life-saving personal flotation devices. That’s time spent saving lives and ensuring the best time possible on the water with the highest care and rigorously-tested durable materials. All products are hand stitched, hand inspected and made to last.

The life jacket gives you two options for inflation. You can immerse it directly in water, where it inflates automatically via the replaceable CO2 cylinder. Or, you can inflate it manually by pulling the “jerk-to-inflate” cord.

To ensure it fits properly, the manufacturer has equipped this life vest with a 2-inch wide waist belt as well as an adjustment slider. We also like the neoprene collar on the outfit, which is supplemented with 3D mesh to prevent chafing and minimize moisture around the neck region.

Designed for adults, this life jacket provides 35 lbs of buoyancy. This is more than twice the amount of buoyancy you get from other life vests.


  • Comes in 5 different colors
  • Allows for automatic or manual inflation
  • Wide waist belt with adjustable slider for a comfortable fit
  • Provides adequate buoyancy
  • Includes a front zipper pocket for storage


  • Only fits chest sizes of 30 to 56 inches

Absolute Outdoor Onyx A/M-24 Inflatable Life Jacket

Constructed using 420 Denier ripstop nylon, the Absolute Outdoor Onyx Life Jacket is another option worth considering.

The Onyx is a life vest that’s approved by the U.S. Coast Guard as a Type V PFD with Type III performance. Like the Stratus, it also offers two inflation techniques. You can either pull the “jerk-to-inflate” handle or allow the vest to inflate automatically upon immersion.

Absolute Outdoor Onyx Adult Universal Sport Vest - Tan, Universal - 116000-706-004-12
Onyx products will enhance zest for outdoor and leisure living and will allow people of all ages to enjoy and spend more time in the outdoors.

What’s more, you can switch between auto and manual inflation or to manual-only inflation pretty easily. Regardless of the inflation method you use, the life jacket inflates to maximum capacity, providing 22.5 lbs. of buoyancy.

Another feature we like about this PFD is its lightweight design. The polyester build provides optimal durability without adding unnecessary weight. Plus, the vest’s neckline is made of soft neoprene to prevent chafing. The rear section and straps are reinforced with air mesh panels to improve airflow.

It is not bulky and allows widest range of movement for the wearer. This smallness in size too helps in easy package and has a unique design which covers a small body area, this makes it most suitable for hot weather conditions. His soft neoprene neckline too keeps the wearer in a free position. The jacket is both automatic and manual.


  • Suitable for wearing in warm weather
  • Small and lightweight profile; hence comfortable
  • Easy to fish in it thanks to the free range of movement
  • Versatile; can be inflated automatically or manually


  • Does not have any storage pockets

NRS Chinook Mesh Back Fishing PFD Life Jacket

Are you looking for an inflatable that’s designed specifically with fishermen in mind? Well, the NRS Chinook Fishing Life Jacket fits the bill.

A key highlight of this life vest is that it can be worn to any fishing activity;whether you’re going wading or fly-fishing. The jacket is equipped with foam flotation panels that enable it to conform to your body snugly.

NRS Chinook OS Fishing Lifejacket (PFD)-Orange-L/XL
The NRS Chinook OS Personal Flotation Device is a type II PFD optimized for offshore fishing. Its PlushFit foam rests high above your back to pair well with kayak seats and rafts, and the lower back is completely mesh for enhanced ventilation in warm weather.

The life jacket provides 16.5 lbs of buoyancy, which is not the best. But it’s sufficient for fishing. Besides, the life vest’s rear is made of mesh to enhance ventilation. It’s also an excellent fit for high-back seats. Just use the 8-adjustment point to tailor the fit.

Another perk of NRS Chinook is the amount of storage space. It has 7 differently-sized pockets on the front. Thus, you can store a fly box or tippets in any of these pockets and your line cutter on the coiled tool retractor.


  • Adjustable to provide a comfortable fit
  • Plenty of storage room
  • Mesh back enhances airflow
  • Comes in charcoal black and green


  • Expensive

Stohlquist Kids Life Vest

There’s nothing as fun as going fishing with your kids. But to have a successful fishing trip, you should keep your toddler safe using a kid-friendly life vest like the Stohlquist.

Measuring 4 inches high by 19 inches wide, the Stohlquist fits kids weighing 30 to 50 lbs. One of the best things about it is that it’s been tested and approved by the Coast Guard.

Stohlquist Waterware Child PFD Life Jacket - Yellow + Blue, 30-50 lbs - Coast Guard Approved Life Vest for Kids, Support Collar, Grab Handle, Fully Adjustable with Quick Release Buckle
Unique wrap-around flotation turns a child face up. Dual support collars cradle the head. Front zipper entry and adjustable crotch strap secures the jacket in place. Convenient grab loop stays open in water for quick location with Stohlquist's addition of floating beads around neck collar grab loop.

Another thing your junior fisherman will love about this inflatable life vest is that it comes in a variety of color schemes. Choose from red/yellow, aqua/pink, blue/black, blue/green, lime/yellow, orange/yellow and yellow/blue. We like that all the color combinations are bright, so it will be easy to locate your child in case they end up in the water.

The life vest is very comfortable to wear. It has a double collar, which is great for cradling your toddler’s head once they land in water. Even better, the straps are adjustable to help find the perfect fit for your child.

Overall, the Stohlquist is nicely designed to meet your toddler’s needs. It’s structure ensures that the child naturally floats with their face up. It also touts a front entry zipper that makes it easy to slip on. This is a handy feature for children that don’t like wearing personal flotation devices.


  • Double collar to support child’s head
  • Adjustable straps and wide neck for a comfortable fit
  • It’s Coast-Guard approved


  • Can be improved to provide more buoyancy


Picking an inflatable life vest can be daunting. Luckily, there are a couple of things that can help to narrow down your options. For starters, you should consider the technique of inflation employed. If you want one that inflates easily, you can look for a life vest with automatic inflation. Or, you can choose one that allows for both manual and automatic inflation.

Other factors you should take into account are comfort and material used in their construction. Taking these aspects into account, our favorite inflatable life vest is Bluestorm Gear Stratus 35. It’s a Type II life jacket that’s approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. It comes in multiple colors and can be inflated manually or automatically.

A life jacket is a jacket filled with buoyant material that is used as a life preserver in case of a water accident or water related calamity. They keep one from drowning as most people dint use their life jackets because they were bulky and uncomfortable hence restricting movement but the inflatable life jackets are so lightweight and comfortable making all people going into waters both shallow or deep to use one.

Other Inflatable Life Jackets

Mustang Survival MIT Manual Inflatable

It has a membrane inflatable technology which reduces its weight making it flexible and is made with best material and its craftsmanship from buckles to straps are well made. It is purely manual.

Onyx Carbon Dioxide Automatic Vest Universal

It is also from Onyx and it is designed purely for adults .it has a slender feature with same construction and material as other products from the can function automatically when emerged in water or it can be inflated manually. The jacket too has a reflecting piping which gives it great visibility especially in bad weather conditions.

Mustang MIT Automatic Inflatable Personal Floatation

It has a convenient automatic activation system which makes it stand out from the rest. It has an integrated membrane inflatable technology which makes it light and comfortable to the wearer. The jacket too has a high floatation properties meaning it has high buoyancy which is estimated to be around 26Ibs.It also has a professional looking design making it more appealing. The jacket too has neon accents which makes it easily spotted especially during rescue missions in a case of water accidents and calamities.

Mustang Deluxe Auto Hydrostatic

This inflatable life jacket is mainly used for water rescue operations. The jacket has an automatic hydrostatic inflation system and it will only expand when submerged at least four inches of water. This means it hard to experience inconveniencing inflations. Inflations therefore can be caused by rain water or water splashes. The life jacket has a 420-denier nylon construction and polytirethane coating which makes it long is due to this reason that it does not require a time to time maintenance and can go up to five years.

How to Buy an Inflatable Life Vest for Fishing

Life vests and life jackets can be inflated either manually or automatically, with a few offering both options. The benefit of a manually-inflated vest is that it allows you to swim in it and only pull the cord when you want to inflate it. Conversely, an automatic inflation means that the vest inflates automatically without external intervention.

Choosing a life jacket

When getting an inflatable life jacket you have to ensure that it is approved by coastguard personnel meaning it has to have a mark to indicate the approval. This is to ensure marine safety and ensure it is also safe for usage. The water event too determines the inflatable life jacket you will wear for example a different jacket would be worn by a person waterskiing and paddling and a different one for canoeing.

It is important too to choose the proper size of an inflatable jacket depending with the size of the is advisable to check the manufactures label to see if the jacket fits your size and weight. You should also try the jacket in shallow waters before getting deep into the water so as to be able to correct any errors that you may sight.

The inflatable life jacket should also be in good and serviceable condition. You should always check your life jacket from time to time in order to see any should also be properly stowed meaning any time you need it should be easily accessible.

Consider too greatly the time you plan to use your inflatable life jacket. Different jackets will be able to hold you for different time so be careful not to lose your buoyancy while still in deep keen too to see the material your jacket is made up of, some could be imitations which can end up messing you up. Check also to see that your inflatable life jacket has robust and functioning buckles, straps and zippers before you get in the waters.

When to use your life jacket

The major and main purpose is to protect one from drowning in rough waters but there are also other inflatable jackets that are worn in shallow waters but all for the soul purpose of preventing drowning.

The jackets too protect one from hypothermia. This is to prevent one from having an abnormally low body temperature which in most cases is dangerous. This condition is more often experienced due to long hours of being in deep waters.

Inflatable life jackets are also used in life saving missions in case of water accidents and calamities. The life savers will put them on to maintain their buoyancy as they help those involved in the accident.

Types of Inflatable Life Jackets you can buy

The difference in inflatable life jackets comes in the way carbon dioxide is inflated into the jacket. The first is automatic inflatable life relies on a dissolvable bobbin with a pin or spring arrangement, water dissolves the bobbin and the spring powered pin punches the carbon dioxide canister for should however be noted that all automatic inflatable life jackets have a manual cord and an oval tube for it can fail if not well maintained. A disadvantage of the automatic inflatable life jacket is that some can it can inflate unconsciously causing inconveniences in case it come into contact with water like due to a splash.

Manual inflatable life jackets bring us to the other has to manually inflate the jacket, you pull a rip cord to inflate the jacket. The manual inflatable life jackets too involve the use of oral tube to inflate the jackets. This is used mostly to top up gas in the jacket or where the carbon dioxide cylinder does not fully inflate the air bladder.


Apart from inflation method, there are other methods of a life vest’s construction that you should take into account. Comfort is a particularly crucial factor as you’re probably have to wear it over wet/dry clothing, and sometimes for multiple hours. As such, you should look for a life vest that feels comfortable against your skin or the clothes you’re wearing underneath it.


There are two main materials used to make life vets: nylon and neoprene.


This material is mainly used to make life vests for water sports activities. However, some manufacturers also use it to make fishing life vests.

An advantage of using nylon over neoprene is that it’s cheaper and lighter. The fact that it’s light means it allows for freedom of movement. Whether you want to paddle your kayak or cast a fishing reel, this life vest won’t hinder you from doing these tasks.


Life vests used for other water-related activities like surfing, fishing and kneeboarding are made of neoprene. It’s a pricier fabric than nylon. However, it’s also more comfortable and fits more snugly. Plus, it provides a higher amount of buoyancy to keep you above water.

About the author: Chris loves the outdoors and has developed a love of gadgets and inflatable toys, from kayaking and paddle boarding to relaxing in his hot tub at home. The founder of WhichInflatable and has been the editor for 7 years.

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