Best Fishing Life Vests Reviewed

When you think of all of the items you need for fishing, what comes to mind?

  • Fishing pole?
  • Bait?
  • Fishing Net?
  • Bucket to carry the Fish?
  • A Fishing shirt?

These are normally the items which are thought of first. After these items, you start getting into the area of fishing bags and vests. And most times, because these items are not one of the first things which are thought of, they are the items which get skimped on the most because you already spent your budget on aforementioned items.

However, there is no item which might be most important to saving your life while you are out fishing than a great fishing life vest.

Within this buying guide, we are going to cover what goes into making a great fishing life vest, and how the life vest is different than a standard vest or a fishing bag. Although there are some similarities, there are some very significant differences as well. In addition to this, we’ll outline some of the most important features you should be looking for in order to make the proper decision on which life vest is best for you.

With all of this in mind, let’s get started!

Our Top 3 Picks

Stohlquist Life Vest
  • Stohlquist Life Vest
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Floatation pads
  • Price: See Here
Onyx MoveVent
  • Onyx MoveVent
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Adjustable
  • Price: See Here
Maxcatch Fly Vest
  • Maxcatch Fly Vest
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Nine pockets
  • Price: See Here

Reviews

Down below, we have listed out our top 10 options you can find in the market today. We made sure to include all the pro’s and con’s we can find, in order to help you make an easier decision on which one is best for you and your needs.

1. Stohlquist Fisherman

1. Stohlquist Fisherman
The number 1 option from Stohlquist is made completely out of a Nylon material, and comes with a flotation pads which are located higher up along the back.
Expand to see more
This allows it to make sure to keep a majority of your body above water while in the water floating. The front of this life vest has 2 different zippered pockets along the front, along with a hook and a loop for you to easily store the needed items. There are plenty of places on the vest which are ventilated, to ensure you stay cool during the hot summer days.
Pros
  • The shell is comprised of 500 denier, with a liner comprised of 200 denier
  • Available in four different sizes, so you are sure to find one that fits you and your company
  • Floatation pads located up higher will ensure you stay afloat
  • Two large pockets along with a loop and hook area provide plenty of storage opportunities
Cons
  • Needs to be washed by hand
  • Is only available in a cactus green color

2. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic

2. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic
Onyx has a great item for you and a top choice among the vests on this list.
Expand to see more
This vest is adjustable using the shoulder straps, so it is easy to adjust to fit your upper body as needed. It also has high-vis orange streaks, so it will be easier for others to find you while you are in the water. The material of the vest is made completely out of Nylon, and the vest will keep you afloat using lightweight and soft foam inserts.
Pros
  • Back of the vest has mesh, which will allow you to easily sit in any chair no matter how high the back of the chair is.
  • Adjustable shoulder straps make it easy to adjust to meet your upper body size
  • High-Vis orange streaks allow the vest to be seen from a far distance
  • Two zippered pockets for easy storage of items
Cons
  • Only available in a black or gray Color
  • Mesh design along back will not protect you from any water

3. Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest

3. Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest
This one from Maxcatch is the right one for you if you want to carry as many things as possible along one vest.
Expand to see more
There are nine different pockets available along this vest, all of which can be zipped up or down. You also will see two different strips of material, which will allow you to hook or loop in other items. There is also a hook on here for you to carry your fishing rod and reel.
Pros
  • Has adjustable straps in order to fit multiple body types
  • Nine different pockets, along with a couple of strips and a hook for your fishing rod
  • Back has some mesh material, which allows the vest to be breathable
  • Has a Ring along the back so you can easily store it while not in use
Cons
  • Very heavy duty vest, which should only be used by those who can carry the extra weight
  • Has back pocket, which is very difficult to open on your own.

4. Coleman Company Stearns

4. Coleman Company Stearns
Coleman has provided a vest which serves its main function of being a flotation device first and foremost.
Expand to see more
Approved by the Coast Guard, and is available in three different color combinations and seven different sizes, so you are sure to find one that meets your needs. There are a couple of pockets along the front which will allow you to keep some extra bait or tackle close by. The front of the vest also has a zipper on it, which makes taking it on and off very simple and easy.
Pros
  • Approved as a Life Vest by the US Coast Guard
  • Available in three colors and seven different sizes
  • Large arm holes, so you don’t feel restricted while wearing it
  • Easy to adjust size and webbing
Cons
  • Pockets are small, so this can really only be used as a life vest
  • Large openings will not protect you from water hitting your shirt, whether you are actually in the water or not

5. Onyx Movement Torsion

5. Onyx Movement Torsion
Acting mostly as an actual life vest, this model from Onyx is available in a red color and has two zippered pockets along the front, which have mesh material behind for easy drainage.
Expand to see more
It's available in three different sizes, and are all adjustable using the straps along the shoulder area to fit your upper body. The bottom half of the back area is comprised of a mesh material, so it is not uncomfortable to sit on any type of bench or chair.

Pros
  • Easy to adjust using the straps along the shoulder area
  • High back area floating pads ensure you stay afloat while in the water
  • Available in three different sizes
  • Zippered pockets along the front
Cons
  • Only has two pockets, meaning this is mostly to be used as a life vest only
  • Back area with the mesh might be more comfortable to sit in, but it will allow more water to hit your back.

6. Stohlquist Piseas

6. Stohlquist Piseas
Available in three different sizes and two different colors, this is from Stohlquist and a great option for those who are looking for a standard life vest.
Expand to see more
This vest comes with four pockets, two of which are zippered up, and then there are two subset pockets within those pockets which are closed using a Velcro strap. There is also a ventilation port along the side of the vest to allow the vest to breathe as necessary.
Pros
  • Made from 100% Nylon, so it will stay durable and long-lasting
  • Zipper front allows you to easily take the vest off and on
  • Flotation pads are high along the back, allowing you to easily sit along any surface
  • Comes with four different pockets for easy storage options
Cons
  • Only available in three sizes and two colors, and the straps are not easily adjustable
  • Not machine washable

7. Stearns Comfort Series

7. Stearns Comfort Series
Allowing you to have a life vest which is very comfortable, this option is available in six different sizes.
Expand to see more
This vest is approved by the Coast Guard as a Type III life vest, with soft and comfortable pads. The outside is made from a Nylon material, meaning it will stay durable and long-lasting. There is also a front pocket located on the vest, which will allow you to carry some small items you need throughout the day.
Pros
  • Priced very competitively compared to other life vests within the marketplace
  • Approved by the US Coast Guard
  • Has a Zipper Front
  • Available in six different sizes
Cons
  • Front pocket is very small
  • Only available in one color scheme

8. Extrasport Osprey

8. Extrasport Osprey
This multi-purpose life vest is great for any fishing, hunting or rowing activity.
Expand to see more
Available in a camouflage design, the padding along the back of the vest is thinner along the bottom, making it more comfortable to sit within any structure. The front of the life vest has a zipper, allowing you to easily take the vest on and off. There are seven different pockets, along with multiple hook and loops allowing you to store a large assortment of items.
Pros
  • Great vest for multiple activities
  • Seven different pockets
  • Easy to adjust straps for comfortability
  • Front zipper and quick release buttons allow you to easily take vest off and on
Cons
  • Only available in two different sizes
  • Camouflage design is the only design available

9. NRS C Vest

9. NRS C Vest
This life vest from NRS is available in three different colors and four different sizes, so you are sure to find one that meets your size and personality.
Expand to see more
There are six pockets on the vest overall, all of which are different sizes and shapes to allow you to maximize the full potential of storage. There are extra tabs and loops along the front of the vest, allowing you to store even more items than expected. The flotations pads are located along the top of the vest, meaning you are sure to stay afloat anytime you are in the water.
Pros
  • Vest comes with six different pockets in various shapes and sizes
  • Zipper front
  • Flotations pads along the top of the vest
  • Has a mesh lower back
Cons
  • Quite expensive in comparison to other vests
  • Not easy to adjust

10. MTI Adventurewear Solaris Life Jacket

10. MTI Adventurewear Solaris Life Jacket
There are three different sizes available for this life jacket, and it comes with easy to adjust shoulder straps to fit any body type.
Expand to see more
The front of the vest has three quick release buckles, so it is easy to take off and on. There are a few different pockets along the vest, along with some rings and loops and tabs to allow you to store as many items as necessary for your fishing trip.
Pros
  • Multiple pockets along the front of the vest
  • Three quick release buttons to easily put on and take off the vest
  • Adjustable straps along the shoulders and sides to easily fit any body type
  • Floating pads are located along top of the life vest
Cons
  • Only available in one color
  • There are only three size options for this vest

What Makes a Great Fishing Life Vest?

When it comes to finding a fishing life vest, you might think the functionality of the vest is the most important aspect. And while a life vest is there to help ensure you stay safe, most vests today can serve a dual purpose of both helping to keep you afloat while also letting you have some supplies within arm’s reach. And due to this, really the most important aspect is that it is comfortable.

Comfort

This is why, when you are looking for one, you actually need to try them on. There is nothing wrong with eventually buying them online; however, you should take the time to go into a store and see the kind of fit and fabric which is best for you. You have to know how you typically fish – do you normally have a shirt on or not? Do you typically fish early in the morning, or during the mid-day sun? What is the normal temperature when you fish? All of these factors are important to consider as you are testing out fishing life vests. Just because a vest is comfortable in the confines of a store which is climate controlled doesn’t mean it will be as comfortable while you are out fishing on a boat in the middle of the water. If within the store you can feel that the vest is itching you a little bit, then that feeling will become even more pronounced if you are out in the blazing sun during a fishing trip. If you feel the life vest seems a little lightweight for your body type, then you don’t want to wait until you need it to find out if that is true or not.

You will need a life vest not only to ensure you stay safe while out on the water, but it is also wise for you to ensure you have enough for everyone who is in the boat with you. There may not be a worse feeling than having four people in a boat which is becomes broken and only having 2 life vests to utilize. So you need to think about not only how comfortable you need our life vest to be, but also think about the others who typically go out fishing with you, or could go out fishing with you, and make sure they have vests which will fit them and be comfortable for them as well. And this is not just for humans, but for any dogs you might bring with you on a fishing trip as well. There are life vests you can put on your dog to ensure they are just as safe for when the time comes where they need one. Although your dog may be able to doggy paddle over to shore, if you are a couple of miles out, you really don’t want to take the chance of your dog not having enough stamina to make it – so, ensure they have life vest!

Functionality

Once you figure out the comfortability component of your life vest and how many you need, you can start thinking about the functionality of your own vest in comparison to the fishing you do on a routine basis. When you think about what you use currently to carry all of your bait and hooks and other accessories, you can think thru how best to use some pockets on the life vest to ensure those items are near you for when you need them. Although you might use a big waist or shoulder bag or a fishing shirt currently, you can reduce the number of items you need by utilizing a more efficient item like a fishing vest. For example, instead of using both a waist bag and a life vest, you can use just a life vest, as most have pockets and other hooks and loops on them which allow you to store a variety of items on them that you might want to have access to at a moment’s notice. It is much nicer to have these items on you as close as possible, rather than having to dig thru a bag or not know exactly where the item is.

Overall, when you are considering what kind of life vest you need for your next fishing expedition, you have a lot of different options available to you. You can choose one which is bulkier or one which is sleeker. You can choose one with lots of pockets of varying sizes, or you can choose one which is just a vest with no pockets. You can choose a vest that you can adjust in size as needed, or you can get one which provides a tighter fit. Most vests come in a variety of colors and styles as well, to help meet your personality. No matter what kind of life vest you want, you can find it, you just have to narrow down your choices based upon what you need and want out of a fishing life vest. Just remember, finding one which is comfortable to wear and has all of the options you desire is the perfect intersection of the best kind of life vest for you, no matter how it looks.

Conclusion

When it comes to finding the right accessories and items you need for fishing, having a life vest is one of the most important decisions you have to make. Hopefully it is an item you will never have to use as an actual life vest, but when that time comes, you will be thankful for spending the time and effort you did ahead of time to find the right one. Having the right one can literally help save your life, so make sure you don’t just buy one to buy one, or buy one because it is the kind that everyone else has. You need to find the one that is best for you, your dog and anyone else that might be in the boat with you. As stated before, hopefully it is an item that you don’t ever have to use, but if you do, we hope it keeps you afloat so you can recover and continue to enjoy your next fishing trip.