Whether you’re heading out on an adventure or just out to the back pond, a properly fitted and up-to-date PFD is the most important piece of kayaking safety equipment you can buy. We’ve gathered some of the best life jackets for kayaking from trusted manufacturers like Salus Marine Wear, Stohlquist WaterWare, Kokatat and more. Read on for our top picks.
The Best Life Jackets for Kayaking in 2021
$169 | salusmarine.com
The Capri PFD from Salus Marine Wear offers superior fit and comfort. The vest is soft on the outside, yet strong and practical on the inside. The roomy and contoured top, combined with fleece hand-warmer pockets, two zippered security pockets, full-length reflective trim and a unique splash of feminine styling make the Capri a welcome companion on any open water adventure.
$99 | stohlquist.com
One of Stohlquist’s most popular PFDs is now offered in Graded Sizing for the ultimate fit. The higher mesh back flotation fits more comfortably above the tall seat backs found in today’s rec/touring kayaks. The exclusive Cross-Chest Cinch harness eliminates ride-up, and the added internal ventilation helps keep paddlers cool during long days on the water.
Hustle and Hustle R PFDs
$139 | kokatat.com
The low-profile, side-entry Hustle PFD from Kokatat has two stacked and sculpted GAIA PVC-free floating foam panels that wrap around the torso to allow optimal comfort. Covered in 210D high-tenacity ripstop nylon with adjustable, padded shoulder straps and three side adjustments for secure fit. A large front pocket allows for secure internal organization. A single lash tab on the front for accessories.
Stepping up, the Hustle R provides guides, teachers and rescuers a full Type 5 rescue vest with the same fit and comfort as the Hustle in a pull-over vest. The Hustle R adds quick release safety harness and O-ring and protected rescue tab lash tab. The Hustle R is covered with tough, dependable and stain-resistant 500D Cordura.
$175 | gulnorthamerica.com
The versatile Saco PFD from GUL Performance Apparel delivers ultimate protection, comfort and peace of mind, whether enjoying whitewater adventures or flatwater touring. Featuring an anatomical fit, this pullover, low-profile PFD utilizes Gul’s Infinity+ failsafe shoulder strap system. Incorporates a Spacer Mesh Liner, 3D webbing, anti-ride-up waist belt, spacious Slimline front pocket, reflective details and EaZZy glide straps.
$169 | salusmarine.com
Ideal for kayak touring, the Ungava is a unisex-style vest with all of the trademark features from Salus Marine Wear, including soft foam, round edges and contour fit. Additional features make the Ungava a welcome companion on any water adventure, including hand-warmer pockets, the ability to attach a quick-release belt, zippered security pocket, mesh drop-down pocket for quick access, five lash points and added reflective trim.
MTI Life Jackets
$89 | mtilifejackets.com
MTI’s new premium universal vest. Large cargo pockets with stretch mesh offer secure storage for must-carry items like a smartphone. Stash sunglasses in the elastic loops without fumbling to open a pocket. Features upscale Oxford and ripstop nylon fabric finished with reflective material and adjustable padded shoulders and handy tethered signal whistle—because a vest with so many bells deserves a whistle.
Betsea Women’s PFD
$129.95 | stohlquist.com
The Betsea from Stohlquist WaterWare features the ergonomic Wrapture-shaped torso that wraps around the body for a close, low profile and comfortable fit. The Cross-Chest Cinch harness keeps flotation positioned low on the torso, eliminating ride-up. Interior sculpted cups and Stohlquist’s exclusive Graded Sizing ensure the perfect fit. Also available in Petite size (75 to 125 pounds) for smaller paddlers.
A properly fitted and up-to-date life jacket is the best piece of kayaking safety equipment you can buy. | Feature photo: Courtesy of Delta Kayaks