Best Kayak Life Jacket: Always Wear One!!

Ocean Kayak

Kayak safety, which most new kayakers take for granted, is the most essential part of kayaking safely. There have been far to many accidents that could and should have been avoided if people were wearing their kayak life jacket. It is designed to save your LIFE which it can not perform that duty on the shore or in the car. ALWAYS! Keep it on when you paddle. You Never know when you may loose balance and tip your kayak over. Life Jackets are designed to assist you in floating.

Today PFD’s have advanced greatly and the choices vary depending on the activity being performed. For Kayaking we recommend a Life Jacket that does not hinder your arm movement. When out on the water you will use your arms to propel you forward and reverse. Life Jackets that hinder your arm movement will cause your arm to rub against them. This could develop into a painful rash.


Key factors when finding the best kayak life jacket for you!

  • Check your  life jacket to verify that it is  U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
  • Verify your body weight and size does not go over the manufactures ratings for the life vest.
  • Make sure your life jacket’s mechanisms that secure it to your body, zippers,  straps, or buckles, perform correctly.
  • Take as much time when picking your life jacket that it fits properly
  • Life jackets meant for adults do not work for children. Make sure if you are with children they too are wearing a child rated life jacket
  • Place your life jacket on and make sure it fits snugly. Test your life jacket out in shallow water to find out its performance.
  • Test your PFD’s buoyancy. The goal of the PFD is to keep your chin above the water and help support your weight in the water.
  • If you find that you are having trouble keeping your chin above the water and your body is starting to sink, you need to find a life vest with more buoyancy.
  • Your life jacket, when in the water, should not ride to far up on your body. If this occurs your may have too large of a life jacket and need to purchase a smaller size.


Great pointers for taking care of your kayak life jacket.

  1. Do not alter your life jacket. If you have out grown your vest throw it out and purchase a new one.
  2. Do not use your life jacket for other task for example as a seat cushion. Some vest when smashed loose buoyancy.
  3. Try not to leave your vest wet when storing. This can cause mold to grow on your vest which may cause you to not wear it. Let it air dry before you store it in a well ventilated area.
  4. Never dry your vest on an open heat source. The heat can change the properties of the vest and may cause it to loose buoyancy.
  5. Before every outing, check to make sure the zippers or buckles are in good working condition.
  6. If you have more than one, say multiple for the family, it is a good idea to label which vest belongs to whom.


Below are some great Kayak Life Jackets we recommend:


 #1 life vestX20 Universal Adult Life Jacket Vest

  • Universal-size, all-purpose adult flotation vest
  • Three buckles with EZ adjustable straps
  • 200-denier nylon shell with X20 graphics
  • Fits adults from 90 pounds and up
  • US Coast Guard approved, type III flotation device


Life Jacket

Stearns Comfort Series Life Vest

  • Small size fits chests 36-38″
  • Durable 200D nylon oxford with comfortable mesh for ventilation and freedom of movement
  • Zipper front, adjustable waist belt and side adjustments for a great fit
  • Durable Crosstech flotation foam
  • Coast Guard approved



#4 life vestO’Neill Superlite USCG Vest

  • Soft and comfortable personal flotation vest
  • Closed cell PVC marine foam for optimal buoyancy while minimizing bulk
  • Durable coated nylon shell will hold up to years of heavy outdoor use
  • Quick release buckles; United States Coast Guard (USCG) certified
  • Includes limited one-year manufacturer’s warranty