Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest/PFD in 2021

There is no doubt that kayaking is a wonderful outdoor sport. Being out there in the open water fishing can be exhilarating. One of the most common components that are often overlooked when kayaking is a vest, also known as a life jacket or PFD (Personal Flotation Device). Actually, a life vest is required by the law in many states, whether you are on a kayak or a typical sailboat. But the matter is that to find out the best kayak fishing life vest/PFD is difficult a bit to somebody. So, this article is for them.

However, not all vests for kayak fishing are made in the same way. If you are a woman, it is a good idea to find a gear that is suited for your gender rather than going for a universal vest.

In addition, the vest should fit perfectly and not chafe when wearing them and should be able to fit all the natural curves of a woman. Keep in mind that for adults, another seven or twelve pounds of buoyancy is needed to stay afloat. You have to keep in mind a few factors before making your pick. In this short post, we are going to discuss the important points to consider when looking for the best kayaking life vests. 

Top 16 Kayak Fishing Life Vest or PFD: At A Glance

  • Absolute Outdoor Onyx Manual Inflatable Vest
  • Onyx A/M-24 Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket
  • Onyx Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket
  • Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket for Infants
  • Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Floatation Device
  • MTI Adventurewear Inflatable PFD Life Jacket
  • Astral Ronny Life Jacket PFD for Recreation
  • Mustang Survival Corp M.I.T. Automatic PFD
  • O'Neill Men's Superlite USCG Life Vest
  • NRS Chinook Fishing PFD
  • ONYX MoveVent Curve Life Vest
  • ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket
  • ONYX MoveVent Sports Life Vest
  • ONYX Universal Paddle Life Vest
  • Stohlquist Men’s Ebb Floatation Device
  • Eyson Slim Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest/PFD - Reviews

Absolute Outdoor Onyx Manual Inflatable Vest

This inflatable jacket supports manual inflation with easy pull off cord functions. Absolute Outdoor is known for manufacturing the best kayak products, and this also reflects its urge to satisfy their customers. The vest enjoys type V certification from USA Coast Guard with a type III performance.

Hence, it will protect you even when the water is quite violent. This makes your life easy and risk-free during kayak sessions.

The life vest’s neckline is made of using soft neoprene so thatthe wearer will enjoy premium comfort all day long. Whereas, the 300-Denier polyester ensures supreme durability. Furthermore, it features fully functional all motion at a minimal bulk.

Lastly, it guarantees support for a large person weighing up to 330 lbs. while the vest itself weighs only 1.5 pounds. So, you won’t even realize that you have worn one until it comes into function.

Specifications

  • Length: 22.”
  • Width: 15”
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 330 Pounds
  • Material: 300-Denier polyester
  • Suitable For: Type III performance
  • Strategy 1: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Lightweight 
    • Comfortable
    • Durable construction
    • It supports the full range motion

    Cons

    • Lacks an automatic transition

    Tips

    If you are someone who dislikes wearing life vests, it is one of the best life vests for kayaking for them with no discomfort.

    Onyx AM-24 Automatic Inflatable Life Jacket

    This is our second pick from Absolute Outdoor, and it features both automatic and manual inflatable facility. That works excellently when you are busy at angling with your kayak. When immersed in water, the vest inflates automatically or you can manually do it with the T-cord.

    The life vest is made using ripstop nylon, which gives the garment lifetime durability. The ripstop nylon is puncture and tear-resistant. Also, its neoprene made neckline ensures you feel at home no matter where do you fish and swim.

    Finally, its piping offers perfect visibility during low light due to its reflective nature. With Type III performance certificate from US coast guard, this is an ideal match for adventurous kayak and boating enthusiasts.

    Specifications

  • Length:10”
  • Width: 10”
  • Weight:15 lbs.
  • Capacity:330 lbs.
  • Material: Ripstop nylon
  • Suitable For: Type III performance
  • Strategy 2: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Durable
    • Incredibly lightweight
    • Reflective piping
    • Comfortable neckline

    Cons

    • Not suitable for weak swimmers

    Tips

    With increased visibility, this life vest is an ideal option for kayaking and boating under harsh weather where sunlight is meager.

    Onyx Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket
    Onyx Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket (PFD) for Stand Up Paddelboarding,Kayaking, and Fishing (SUP)

    If you love paddleboarding, canoeing, or fishing and don’t appreciate wearing a traditional life vest, this inflatable PFD belt will surely surprise you with fantastic performance.

    Likewise, all inflatable belts this one also comes with a CO2 cylinder for easy inflation. The US coast guard gave it a Type V life vet approval with class III performance. So, you won’t have to worry about its performance and quality.

    The belt is made of durable nylon so that it will withstand wear and tears at ease. The universal fittings of the belt are suitable for persons 16 or over with 80 lbs. weight. Its chest is between 30-52 inches and waist measures 52 inches.

    Due to its easy buckling option with waist, most stand up paddle boarders and canoers like it- since it doesn’t hinder movement.  The low-profile of the jacket is helpful for swimmers.

    Specifications

  • Length: 36-52” chest
  • Width: 52” waist
  • Weight: 16 ounces
  • Capacity:  17-27 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: 200 denier nylon
  • Suitable For: Type III
  • Strategy 3: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Easy movement 
    • Comfortable
    • Long-lasting
    • Lightweight

    Cons

    • Not suitable for kids

    Tips

    Your stand-up paddleboarding, fishing, and canoeing experience will get a new level of comfort with this brilliantly designed PFD.

    Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket for Infants

    Do you want to take your toddler or infant with you during the kayak and angling session? Most parents wish it but leave the idea for the lack of a proper life vest for the loving kid. With this Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket, now you can take your kid for his first kayak lesion without any worries.

    The toddler jacket is made of a 200-Denier soft Oxford shell that is suitable for kids’ delicate skin. Moreover, its PVC free construction will save kids from undue rashes.

    It enjoys the US coast guard Type II approval that ensures superior safety to all toddlers weighing between 8-30 lbs. Your child will undoubtedly love its colorful representation, while its open back gives natural breathability and comfort to all children.

    Specifications

  • Length: N/A
  • Width: N/A.
  • Weight: N/A
  • Capacity: 0-30 lbs.
  • Material: 200D Oxford liner
  • Suitable For: Type II performance
  • Strategy 4: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Unisex design  
    • Available in multiple colors
    • Comfortable breathability
    • Backstrap for quick rescue

    Cons

    • Expensive

    Tips

    The colorful representation of the life vest will help your toddler build a lifetime love for the water.

    Stohlquist Fisherman Personal Floatation Device

    This life vest from Stohlquist will turn your kayak and fishing experience into a playful enjoyment. It ensures excellent flexibility at work with brilliant cockpit management. Its pockets are made to keep many gears safe inside, which might generally end up on the cockpit and blocking movement.

    Its entry closure has front zip for readiness with Gaia super soft flotation foam for floating in the water. Furthermore, its neoprene padded shoulders ensure all-day-long comfort on the water.

    The fishermen vest is made of 200-denier Oxford and 500-denier Cordura, and both are leak and scratch-proof. So, it will serve for an extended period. The Fisherman features tippets, nippers, and retractors, likewise, any standard angling vest.

    Specifications

  • Length: 5-15.”
  • Width: Up to 15”
  • Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 16.75 lbs buoyancy
  • Material: Gaia foam and durable denier
  • Suitable for: Type III
  • Strategy 5: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Economic
    • Ventilation
    • Hand washable
    • Ample storage

    Cons

    • Improper location of drop-down pockets

    Tips

    This fishing life vest is a rare blend of quality, economics, and pleasant look that you must love. Really, it is one of the best life jackets for kayaking & fishing.

    MTI Adventurewear Inflatable PFD Life Jacket

    It is a yoke-style life vest, and so, you will enjoy premium comfort with it. Particularly, if you are planning for kayaking or angling in hot and humid weather, this is going to be your best buy.

    Unlike most life jackets, it comes in a fresh and pleasing design that won’t be impeded into your angling and kayak time.

    There’s even a tag near the ripcord that allows the vest to inflate instantly, which is a life-saving feature during perilous times. The Helios also have space for a back-up oral inflation tube and CO2 cylinder that ensures optimal safety. Its tethered whistle comes handy for convenience.

    Specifications

  • Length: Chest size 30-52.”
  • Wide: Upto 52”
  • Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Capacity: 29 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: Nylon and polyester
  • Durable for: Hot water kayaking with Type III
  • Strategy 6: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Lightweight and mobility 
    • Low-profile
    • Reflective trim
    • Backup cylinder and tube

    Cons

    • Pricy
    • Manual inflation

    Tips

    The yoke style life jacket has excellent safety with a backup inflation tube and cylinder and also looks eye soothing.

    Astral Ronny Life Jacket PFD for Recreation

    This PFD is designed to withstand many years of wear and tear with its high-tenacity 200 Denier and PolyPro webbing. Furthermore, the zipper features advanced Vislon Teeth for the self-locking option.

    The life vest is available in different attractive colors without the contamination of any toxic PVC. So, it is friendly for nature and your skin. What’s more, the back panel of the recreational PFD features mesh and super-thin mesh that adds superior breathability.

    It also has multiple front pockets to store all your essential gears safely while increasing breathability and comfort. Its adjustable side buckles let you adjust the life vest for ideal fittings to make your kayak session convenient and comfortable.

    Specifications

  • Length: 17.”
  • Width: 21”
  • Weight:1.02 pounds
  • Capacity: 16 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: Ripstop denier nylon and polyethylene foam
  • Suitable For: Recreational activity and Type III
  • Strategy 7: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Increased mobility
    • Reflective trim
    • Available in multiple colors
    • Optimal breathability

    Cons

    • The chest is bulky
    • Lacks angling features

    Tips

    If you are a casual fisherman who loves kayaking for fun, this Astral Ronny will surely blow your mind away with its superior quality and minimalistic design.

    Mustang Survival Corp M.I.T. Automatic PFD

    This stylish PFD from Mustang Survival is a combination of necessity, premium feel, and superior quality at an affordable price. Its automatic inflation comes handy as soon as one enters into the water. For further safety, it supports manual inflation with a tube.

    It enjoys a 26 lbs. — buoyancy rating, which is almost 1.5 times the regular PFDs. The life vest possesses US coast guard certification for type III use with commercial approval of class V. So, it will keep you floating even when the weather is harsh.

    The outer shell is made of 500 Cordura and features exclusive membrane cells for easy inflation. It also has a flap with easy access.

    Specifications

  • Length: 22.5.”
  • Width: 30-52” chest size
  • Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Capacity:26 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: 500 Cordura
  • Suitable For: Type III
  • Strategy 9: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • 1.5 times more buoyancy 
    • Extremely lightweight
    • Auto inflation
    • Economical

    Cons

    • Nothing reported so far

    Tips

    This elegant looking PFD brings style and safety at our feet at an unbelievably affordable price.

    O_Neill Mens Superlite USCG Life Vest

    This Superlite life vest is purposeful with a trendy look. Available in a wide range of vibrant color schemes, the life vest will be an ideal alternative for most explorers in water.

    The polyethylene foam adds a lightweight and water-resistant feature to the jacket. So, carrying is incredibly easy. Also, minimal bulk ensures excellent mobility and comfort during kayak sessions. According to Amazon customer reviewers, this jacket is one of the most reliable PFD for adventures and water sports, thanks to its premium construction.

    Lastly, the polyester shell creates the outer coating for the life vest that ensures superior durability to the life jacket. Polyester exterior fittings mean you can hand wash it with regular washing detergents or soap.

    Specifications

  • Length: Multiple sizes
  • Width: Depends upon the size
  • Weight:  Item weighs 5 pounds.
  • Capacity: Up to 300 lbs. body weight
  • Material: Coated polyester
  • Suitable For: Type III
  • Strategy 9: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Stylish look
    • Durable
    • Hand wash possible
    • Water-resistant

    Cons

    • Undefined buoyancy

    Tips

    The life jacket is ideal for swimming, canoeing, water sports, and waterskiing.

    NRS Chinook Fishing PFD

    The Chinook PFD is ideal for carrying gears with multiple pockets. In fact, it has seven front pockets that you can use to store tippets, small tackle boxes, and snacks for a long day tour.

    You can additionally store flotation and gear attachment points for your safety with this PFD. It also has eight super-comfortable adjustable straps to make you feel at home under any conditions. Not to mention its back mesh, which gives superior breathability for long fishing hours.

    The front entry supports a zipper with acres of space available. The PFD is available in dark green and charcoal colors, and both look impressive.

    Specifications

  • Length: Varies according to the size.
  • Width: Depends on the size.
  • Weight: 2.1 lbs.
  • Capacity: 16.5 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: Ripstop nylon with 200-denier coating 
  • Suitable For: Type III
  • Strategy 10: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Attractive color scheme  
    • Ample storage
    • Adjustable straps
    • Superior ventilation

    Cons

    • Pricy
    • Inappropriate for active users

    Tips

    With seven front pockets and eight adjustable straps, this life jacket is a personification of comfort and safety that makes it the best kayak fishing life vest.

    ONYX MoveVent Curve Life Vest

    This innovative PFD from Onyx fits like a glove in the wearer’s body. The 200 Denier outer shell construction makes it lightweight and ideal for any water sports.

    The back mesh also fits comfortably with the high-back of the most sit-on-top kayaks and gives exclusive breathability. The conforming design is also flexible. All these unique features make it a practical choice for recreational boating experiences such as SUP, kayak, and canoe.

    The PFD is available in three standard colors- blue, black, and bright yellow with sizes from X-Large to 2X-Large. Since it features solar reflection, its visible from a long distance in daylight.

    Specifications

  • Length: 21”
  • Width:14.5”
  • Weight: Over 90 lbs.
  • Capacity:  15 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: 200 Denier
  • Suitable For: Recreational canoe, kayak, and paddling
  • Strategy 11: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Inexpensive  
    • Easy mobility
    • Super-comfortable
    • Lightweight

    Cons

    • Lacks angling features

    Tips

    This Onyx PFD is a perfect match for watersports lovers with smooth movement and increased security at a relatively low price.

    ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket

    This Onyx fishing life jacket is the best value for money PFD that comes loaded with all the crucial features that you want in a premium life jacket. You can store most of your fishing tools and gears in its four pockets with zipped design.

    Additionally, its tope pocket opening allows users to clamp their radio and few other accessories. This life jacket has six flexible back straps. Each of them is adjustable according to your height preference and activity.

    You will enjoy super-cool ventilation, thanks to its premium mesh at the back. Moreover, the jacket is made of Oxford nylon from 400 Denier. It adds durability and gives easy mobility.

    Specifications

  • Length: Universal length
  • Width: 30-60 inches
  • Weight: Approximately 2.5 pounds
  • Capacity: 15 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: 400 Denier Oxford nylon
  • Suitable For: Kayak fishing
  • Strategy 12: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Superior breathability  
    • Best value for your money
    • Available in universal and oversized fittings
    • Adjustable back straps

    Cons

    • Slightly weighty

    Tips

    You will enjoy kayaking with this safety jacket eve in the humid conditions due to its super breathability due to mesh construction.

    ONYX MoveVent Sports Life Vest

    This Dynamic Paddle Sports life vest from Onyx comes ready to use for both men and women. The life vest offers premium mesh construction at the back to prevent extra perspiration as you enjoy kayaking and other watersports even for long hours.

    The best part of the life vest is its reflective trim material. So, the wearer is visible even from a long distance during the rough weather. The jacket helps you keep a small action camera, and phone store securely in the pockets.

    There’s even a knife holder for further utility. Its large armholes and V-neck shape give easy mobility at times should emergency happens.

    Specifications

  • Length:26 inches
  • Width: 23 inches
  • Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Capacity: 15 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: Oxford nylon with 200-denier ripstop nylon
  • Suitable For: Class III activity
  • Strategy 13: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Reasonable pricing  
    • Ideal for dynamic and athletic movement
    • Comfortable
    • Breathability

    Cons

    • Insufficient storage

    Tips

    This is the best kayak fishing life vest if you love dynamic paddle sports and want some thrill in life.

    ONYX Universal Paddle Life Vest

    We included it in our best kayak life vest due to its high and superior foam back. The preferred foam back is a perfect match for high kayak seats. So, you will not feel uncomfortable when you sit on the kayak for fishing purposes.

    Furthermore, the model has adjustable straps and incredibly low-profile that will add a comfy feeling. This is made possible due to its fewer bulks at the shoulder-end. The lower-back also supports comfortable breathability.

    It is made with nylon oxford of 200-denier that ensures extended durability. It also enjoys Type III approval from the US coast guard.

    Specifications

  • Length: Universal and Oversize
  • Width: Universal and Oversize
  • Weight: 8-10 ounces
  • Capacity: 15-17 lbs. buoyancy
  • Material: 200 Denier nylon
  • Suitable For: Type III activity
  • Strategy 14: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Available in universal and oversize 
    • Ideal for paddling and fishing
    • Reasonable pricing

    Cons

    • Inferior quality
    • Lacks storage

    Tips

    This is a basic life vest who likes to kayak in calm water, especially for the beginners.

    Stohlquist Men’s Ebb Floatation Device

    The first thing you will notice about this life jacket is its impressive look. Available in two colors, red and grey combination, and steel green- the PFD is sure to withstand years of wear and tear.

    The personal floatation device (PFD) has Type III approval with a buoyancy rating of 16.02 lbs. So, you will be experiencing the utmost safety as you wear this durable life vest. The back has superior mesh which offers comfortable ventilation and breathability.

    The back also has eight straps that you can adjust for your preferred fittings and comfort zone. Moreover, the Men’s Ebb has zipper pockets that you can use to store essential gears.

    Specifications

  • Length: Variable sizes
  • Width: Depends on the size
  • Weight: 1.6 lbs.
  • Capacity: 16.13 lbs.  buoyancy
  • Material: Denier ripstop of 400X200
  • Suitable For: Type III activity
  • Strategy 15: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Padded straps
    • Breathable and well-ventilated mesh
    • Pockets are self-drainable
    • Cinch has cross-chest

    Cons

    • Lacks angling features
    • Slightly weighty

    Tips

    This is a perfect fishing kayak life vest for humid conditions with the topmost comfort at a reasonable price.

    Eyson Slim Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

    With an enormous weight carrying capacity of up to 330 lbs., this Eyson PFD is suitable for all adults no matter how large or small you are. Besides, it has an incredible buoyancy rating going up to 150N which is one of the highest available in the market.

    Its 3M reflectors have approval from Solas and CE so you will get maximum visibility during low light conditions. The jacket is also lightweight, which is a great feature to have in a PFD.

    Furthermore, the neckline is made of soft neoprene. So, you will enjoy the utmost comfort during your kayak times. The jacket is hand washable with regular detergent or soap and has a secure Air-dry facility.

    Specifications

  • Length: Universal and oversized.
  • Width: Universal and oversized
  • Weight: 1.76 pounds
  • Capacity: 330 lbs.
  • Material: Soft neoprene and denier nylon
  • Suitable For: Type III
  • Strategy 16: Pros & Cons

    Pros

    • Durable
    • Inflates quickly
    • Available in multiple colors
    • Lightweight

    Cons

    • Manual
    • Inappropriate breathability

    Tips

    This is an ideal life vest for people with a tight budget. It serves users well despite having a reasonable price.

    How to Choose The Best PFDs for Kayak Fishing

    As much as anyone loves water, we should always be prepared in case any mishaps happen. Appropriate preparation before kayaking and fishing will ensure that we remain safe no matter what happens when we are on the water.

    One easy and convenient way to be safe and still enjoy the fun of fishing on a kayak is to get the best kayak fishing life vest. These jackets are lightweight, come in vibrant color and above all, keeps us safe in case of accidents happen. So, it is vital that you choose absolutely the best PFD or life vest for kayaking. That’s the reason why we have invested our time to compile all the necessary things that you need to consider when purchasing an appropriate life vest.

    Comfort zone

    The last thing you want to limit your mobility and breathability as you wear a life vest only to ruin your kayak and angling fun. You should feel comfortable with the life vest. The comfy of the PFD primarily comes from its breathable mesh structure at the back and less bulkiness on the shoulder.

    It should also be lightweight with enough room for easy mobility.

    Coast Guard approval

    You can’t just wear any life vest and feel safe in the water. The US coast guard has developed an efficient and reliable testing system for all the PFD and life vests. Your jacket must pass the test to get an approval from the US coast guard.

    As a standard, most life vests come with Type III approval, with the lowest being Type II.

    Durability matters

    Your life vest should be a longtime investment if not meant for a lifetime one. That’s why the PFD must be extensively durable. The durability of the fishing kayak life vest solely comes from its construction material.

    Most manufacturers use Ripstop Nylon of either 200 or 400 Denier to make their life vest. The material is exceptionally durable. However, if you hate nylon, you have the luxury to choose from PVC and Kapok. Furthermore, if you have the budget, selecting the Gaia or organic foam is the best option since it is environment-friendly. It is also preferable for those who have allergic issues.

    Different styles

    Life vest for fishing or PFD comes in a various range of styles and types. The conventional life vests may have –

    • Belt packs: This type of life belts remain in the inside of the belt. As you go fishing, you need to put the strap over your head. These are easy to carry and comfortable.
    • Inflatable: Likewise, an inflatable fishing kayak this type of life vest inflated in case any mishaps happen.
    • Traditional: The traditional life vests are like jackets that we wear with inflating options and CO2 cylinder inside. This is the most popular PFD at present.

    Automatic or manual

    If you are purchasing an inflatable life vest with the traditional form, it is vital to know whether it is manually operated or supports automation. Ideally, the PFD should be automatic so that you don’t need to activate it in water.

    Nonetheless, many life vests support both automatic and manual inflatable functions.

    Buoyancy

    Buoyancy, aka buoyant force or upthrust, determines the ability of the life vest to float in water. Ideally, a life vest should have a minimum buoyancy of a minimum of 10-12 lbs. But some of the best kayak life vests have buoyancy well over 20 pounds. And it rises to 26 lbs.

    In a nutshell, the higher the buoyancy, the better the vest will be.

    Size also matters

    The adequate performance of a life vest mostly depends on the perfect size of it. Remember that the size of a PFD has nothing to do with your weight. Instead, it is related to your chest width and waist.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • My life vest says it is Type III approved. What does this mean?
  • According to US Coastal Guard, personal floating devices (PFD) or life jackets have five different categories depending on their buoyancy. Type III is the most common as it is more comfortable and has sufficient floating ability. It means that the PFD is capable of keeping a person floating in harsh water conditions.

  • I am not sure about which size will fit in my body. How do I measure the size?
  • If you are not sure about which fittings are suitable for you, we recommend you to go to Universal sized life jackets. Commonly universal size PFDs have a chest measurement of 30-52” that should fit most people.

  • Do I need to consider age while buying a PFD?
  • As long as you are not bringing any kids with you, you need not worry about the age while buying Life vests. As a general rule, all adult PFDs are compatible with people aging 16 or above and over 80lbs weight. However, if you are buying for kids, you need to get specific life vests for them.

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     Final Verdict

    The most important factors you need to keep in mind are:


    • The material that has been used to make the life vest
    • Appropriate fit and size for the life vest
    • The category the vest should be for proper usage

    You need to address all the factors we have listed above before you go out to buy your kayaking life vest. If you find that a vest doesn’t fit well, just find another one because it may sleep off when you need it most.


    You also need to know what type is best suited for the activity you intend to use it for. We hope this short guide will help you to choose the Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest.