Best Kayak PFD & Life Jackets of 2018

While you are legally required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) or a life jacket during kayaking for safety. You will all agree when I say that a PFD or life jacket boosts your confidence, especially on whitewater.

The best life jacket ought to provide buoyancy and comfort, both on calm and rough waters. To help you choose a high performing PFD/life vest, we have provided you with seven best kayak PFD/life jackets reviews for information.






Best Overall

ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest


2nd Choice

ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Vest


3rd Choice



4th Choice



5th Choice

Astral Buoyancy YTV Life Jacket


6th Choice

Stohlquist Edge Personal Flotation Device


7th Choice

NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD


No. 1 ONYX MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest Review

The ONYX MoveVent is the best kayakers’ life jacket for the money. This high-quality personal floating device comes in two color options for your choosing: aqua and orange. It comes with a customer-friendly sizing chart (x-small/small, medium/large, and x-large/xx-large).

The vest is vented on the front as well as the back for superior ventilation while paddling under the hot summer sun. This floating piece attaches comfortably to your body for a perfect fit. The soft floatation foam is very comfy to the touch.

The foam panels on the front are structurally shaped to fit your body, as long as you choose the correct size. Two main shoulder straps and side straps allow you to effortlessly dial in your desired fit for relaxation and security on water.

You can easily remove the jacket by simply opening the large front zip. You can stow away small gear in the front zipped pocket. The wide arm openings allow unhampered mobility for rowing and padding.


  • The vest is made of 200D ripstop nylon material that is very durable.
  • The vest features soft floatation foam that is very comfortable.
  • The advanced vented channels offer superior cooling while padding under the hot sun.
  • The vest’s SOLAS-grade reflective material improves visibility on water.
  • This PFD adapts to your body for continuous use.


  • This particular life jacket is not convenient for a woman with a larger chest.

Verdict: If you are looking for quality, long-term use, and unmatched performance with negligible flaws, then the ONYX MoveVent is the ideal life vest for you.

No. 2 KOKATAT Bahia Tour PFD Review

The KOKATAT Bahia is the best tour/fishing PFD that is geared towards kayak anglers with a lot of gear to carry. The very first impressive feature is the little flat window on the front that you can use to store your ID card or fishing license.

When you unbuckle the license window you gain access to a sizeable pocket that you can use to carry a GPS device or your mobile phone. There is another compartment behind the license window for pliers. The vest also comes with two duplex front pockets for larger tools.

This PFD is made of 210D nylon material that has high tenacity for durability. The articulated front foam panels and shell will fit your body perfectly for convenience and comfort. The back and front lash tabs and the side adjustments allow for easy dialing of a snug fit.

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  • The vest is United State Coast Guard, ISO, and Transport Canada approved.
  • The 210D lightweight nylon material has high tenacity for durability.
  • The back and front lash tabs and side adjustments allow for a snug and comfortable fit.
  • The reflective tape increases your visibility on water.
  • The vest has a license window and multiple pockets for a heavy geared kayaker.


  • The vest is available in limited color options for preference.

Verdict: The KOKATAT Bahia PFD is a very resourceful life jacket for a kayaker with lots of tools, because it is well-equipped with storage pockets.

No. 3 NRS Clearwater Mesh Back PFD Review

The NRS Clearwater PFD is the ideal safety outfit for a passionate kayaker. It is available in three color options, including charcoal, red, and blue. The sizing chart includes: small/medium, large/x-large, and xx-large. So, it offers an ideal fit for an adult.

It offers sixteen and a half pounds of flotation and a medium profile. You will admire the front zippered entry, which allows you to easily get in and out of it within seconds. The jacket is fitted with two large front pockets with Velcro closure.

The pockets are spacious enough to accommodate most of your fishing gear or personal items, such as your mobile phone. The upper part of the pockets is installed with a key attachment that you can use to attach your keys to avoid dropping them into the water.


  • The front panels and upper back flotation allows for a natural sitting position, especially when maneuvering rough waters.
  • The two large pockets on the front of the jacket provide you with adequate storage room.
  • The NRS Clearwater vest is equipped with eight adjustment points, which play a big role in achieving a snug fit.
  • The life jacket has wide arm openings, allowing you to move freely while rowing or paddling on rough waters.
  • The vest is equipped with a reflective tape that improves visibility in low light conditions, such as at twilight.


  • It is only available in three colors; so, you have limited options for preference.

Verdict: The NRS Clearwater PFD is one of the best life jackets that any kayak should have. Not to mention that it comes with a competitive price range that will fit the budget.  

No.4 ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Life Vest Review

Here is another unique PFD by ONYX. The ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports is a well-built personal flotation device. This life vest is exceptionally shaped for whitewater, SUP, and rowing. Basically, it offers a snug and comfortable fit.

This specific model is available in red color. The front zipper allows you easy entry into the jacket. The vest has expandable front zipped pouches with mesh drainage. The pouches offer enough room for carry small gears and personal items.

The inner back of the jacket is reinforced with bubble foam for superior comfort. You can easily fit in a high back seat, thanks to the meshing in the lower back. The ventilation panels in the back and front of the vest will keep you well-ventilated in hot weather.

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  • This personal flotation device is United States Coast Guard Approved for guaranteed performance.
  • The inner back is fitted with bubble foam for added comfort.
  • The back of the life jacket is meshed from the middle downwards allowing you to sit comfortably.
  • It comes with expandable zipped pouches with mesh drainage, allowing you adequate space for carrying gear.
  • The jacket’s visibility is improved in low light with the SOLAS grade reflective material.


  • Some models may be loose for rough water kayaking or whitewater.

Verdict: The ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle Sports Vest is built for kayaking; you just have to choose the ideal size.

No. 5 Stohlquist Edge Personal Flotation Device Review

If you are in the market for a low-profile personal flotation device for your kayaking activities, then the Stohlquist Edge vest is what you need. It comes with a customer-friendly price range that will certainly fit your budget. And it offers remarkable features for the price range.

This particular flotation device is available in the mango color and the following vest sizes: S/M; L/XL; and XXL. The small/medium size has a buoyancy of 15 pounds 8 ounces; the large/x-large size has a buoyancy of 16 pounds 8 ounces; while the xx-large size has a buoyancy of 17 pounds 8 ounces.

The vest has a rapture-shaped torso that does a great job of shaping the interior foam to fit your body naturally. This provides you with a comfortable, snug, and a more secure fit. The offset zip and the waist buckle do firmly hold the jacket into position.


  • The low-profile design of this personal flotation device makes it suitable for sailing, SUP, and whitewater.
  • It is available in three size options, and each size comes with a convenient flotation or buoyancy.
  • The PFD comes with a large top loading front pocket that you can use to carry a number of small gears and your mobile device.
  • The vest’s rapture-shaped torso does a great job of molding the interior foam into the shape of your body.
  • The PFD has wide arm openings that allow for effortless mobility, especially during SUP and whitewater.


  • The front part of the PFD may not be convenient for ladies with large chests.

Verdict: Unlike most personal flotation devices, the Stohlquist Edge is equipped with a large top loading front pocket and a bunch of features that are worth the price.

No. 6 NRS Ninja PFD Review

The NRS Ninja is a high performing personal flotation device for the money. The vest is available in three color options for preference, including black, blue, and red. The vest features a very simple design that you will admire at first glance.

It has double front panels that can actually fit your hands, providing you with great hand warmer pockets in case the weather gets cold. It is equipped with a sizeable front pocket for carrying small items that you might need during your kayaking activities.

The short torso along with the two shoulder straps and side adjustments offer you a custom fit. This makes the vest convenient for kayaking, boating, swimming, rowing, and paddling. The interior stretchy, soft fabric improved breathability of the vest.

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  • The vest is made of high-quality 500D Cordura shell and stretchy-soft interior fabric for superior breathability.
  • The 16.5 pounds buoyancy of the life jacket guarantees better security on rough waters/whitewater.
  • The short torso, two shoulder adjustments, and four side adjustments offer a custom and snug fit for kayakers.
  • The floating front section of the vest adjusts conveniently to match your body’s shape, providing you with hand warmer pouches.


  • The design of the jacket is not convenient for women with larger chests.

Verdict: The NRS Ninja personal flotation device is a competitively priced life jacket that will certainly fit the budget of a kayaker.

No. 7 Astral Buoyancy YTV Life Jacket Review

The Astral Buoyancy YTV is one of the best life jackets for kayaking. It comes with a user-friendly sizing chart that guarantees you an ideal fit. For preference, you have five colors to choose from, including eggplant, hot coral, cherry creek red, slate black, and cherry creek.

What you will admire most about the Astral YTV vest is the fact that it is simple by design. The manufacturer achieved the simplicity by reducing straps. It has a great torso lock platform, which incorporates adjustment wings on either side.

This platform does a wonderful job of holding the jacket in place below the widest section of your torso. Astral eliminated ride up in order to keep the vest right where you want it be. The vest has a very nice shelf, making it suitable for women.

The life jacket is also fitted with two zipped front pouches for carrying gear and personal items, such as a mobile phone. Each front pocket is fitted with a knife slip pocket. Generally, the feather-light construction offers superior performance in calm water as well as whitewater.


  • The YTV is Type III/V U.S. Coast Guard approved for surefire performance.
  • The torso lock platform holds the jacket in position below the widest part of the torso.
  • The two zipped front pockets offer adequate storage, and you can use the slip pocket to carry your knife.
  • The pullover design allows you easy entry into the jacket.
  • This personal flotation device is available in five color options for preference and convenience.


  • The pullover entry may not be convenient for you.

Verdict: The YTV simple design will meet your expectations; not to mention the high-quality features with fewer flaws.

The Wrap Up

The Astral YTV life jacket marks the end of our best kayak PFD/life jackets reviews. Kayaking is an adventurous water bound activity. However, safety is a priority, and there is no better way of protecting yourself than wearing a personal flotation device or a life jacket.

When choosing a kayak life jacket, always favor safety over comfort. However, life vest/PFD made for kayakers should have additional flotation in the area below the waist. Also, make sure that the PFD of your choice offers a snug and comfortable fit.