Best Inflatable Life Vest for Fishing

Best Inflatable Life Vest for Fishing

Best Inflatable Life Vest for Fishing: While fishing, it is important to have a PFD on, rather than on your boat. You never know what could happen. You could be a skilled swimmer, but accidents do occur. Unfortunately, there have been documented cases of fatal water accidents. The reasoning usually is, “I’ll have time to grab my PFD should anything happen”.

Inflatable life vests are much less cumbersome as compared to the other standard foam-filled life jackets. You want to be sure of your safety and at the same time be comfortable. The inflatable PFDs are a really great choice for you. Take a look at seven of the best plus some additional information on inflatable life jackets.

Inflatable Life Vest Rating Manufacturer Inflation Style
Slim Inflatable PFD Life Jacket 4.6 Eyson Automatic/ Manual
Onyx A/M-24 Inflatable Life jacket 4.5 Absolute Outdoor Automatic/ Manual
Onyx M-24 Inflatable Vest 4.6 Absolute Outdoor Manual
Slim Inflatable PFD Lifejacket
4.4 Eyson Manual
Inflatable Life Jacket Life Vest 4.3 Eyson Manual
Corp M.I.T 100 PFD 4.6 Mustang Survival Automatic
M-16 Inflatable Belt Pack 4.7 Onyx Manual

Slim Inflatable PFD Life Jacket Life Vest Adult Automatic/Manual

Slim Inflatable PFD Life Jacket Life Vest Adult Automatic/Manual

Life jackets can be a bit uncomfortable but this slim inflatable PFD from Eyson ensures you remain comfortable. You can choose your best from the wide range of colors; ten to be precise.With a soft neoprene neckline, you are assured that even when wearing it for a whole day, you will be extra comfy. The inflatable PFD is lightweight and you won’t even notice you have it on until you need to use it.

With an adjustable belt fit for the universal adult, the belt comes with a slender design that helps keep you cool in warm weather. You can be confident that this PFD will serve its purpose should the need arise as it is CE certificated. It also features the SOLAS approved 3M reflectors.

Keeping this inflatable PFD clean shouldn’t be a hassle. It is reusable, washable and easy to dry. With a buoyancy of 150N, this inflatable PFD can easily support universal adults under 330 lbs (150 kg). Should you fall into the water, you won’t need to wait for long for it to self-inflate. 3-5 seconds is all it takes!


  • The airbag has reflectors for greater visibility in darkness
  • The heavy-duty nylon fabric makes this PFD soft and lightweight
  • Quick release buckles make for easy on-and-off and easy to repack
  • The durable ripstop fabric makes the PFD resistant to tears and punctures


  • It is not U.S. Coast Guard approved

Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

Onyx A/M-24 Automatic/Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

Just like the slim inflatable PFD from Eyson, this one also has a soft neoprene neckline for all-day wearing comfort. I particularly love this inflatable life jacket as it is both automatic and manual. To manually inflate it, you just have to pull the T cord. It also automatically self-inflates upon immersion in water.

The reflective piping on the vest offers better visibility, especially in the dark. The durable ripstop material resists tears and punctures while holding up to the rigors of outdoor use. Its slender design helps to keep you cool in warm weather, so go ahead and use it on your summer fishing trip.

The best thing about this vest is that it is U.S. Coast Guard-approved and provides a wide range of motion and movement with minimal bulk.


  • It is comfortable and lightweight
  • The price for this vest is pocket-friendly


  • It is a bit small for bigger persons
  • Humidity and moisture impacts the switch over time so you may have to get a recharge kit from time to time
  • It doesn’t have heavy duty rings for lifting with tackle someone from the water to the boat

Onyx m-24 Manual Inflatable Vest

Onyx M-24 Manual Inflatable Vest

Unlike its counterpart above, this vest can only be manually inflated by pulling the ‘jerk to inflate’ handle. Besides that, it is equipped with backup oral inflation to provide you with safety, comfort, and peace of mind.

This vest is especially handy for new users of inflatable life vests. It shows green when armed and ready to use and shows red if not ready for use. The lightweight design makes this vest quite comfortable to wear, even for longer periods.


  • The attached D-rings are an excellent accessory
  • It is simple to reload the CO2 cartridge


  • It may be bulkier and heavier than expected

Legal disclaimer: This product contains chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm

Slim Inflatable PFD Life Jacket Life Vest Adult Manual

Slim Inflatable PFD Life Jacket Life Vest Adult Manual

The only difference between this life jacket and the other one above, also from Eyson, is that this one has a transparent window that allows you to see the CO2 cartridge.

It has a slim design with a soft neoprene neckline for all-day wearing comfort. The adjustable belt fit makes this beautiful vest a great fit for the universal adult. In warm weather, the vest is a great choice for its slender design keeps you cool.

The vest is CE certificated and has SOLAS approved 3M reflectors for greater visibility in darkness. It has a buoyancy of 150N and  would therefore comfortably support an adult under 330lbs (150kg)

The vest is reusable, easy to wash and air dry.


  • The airbag has reflectors for greater visibility in darkness
  • The heavy-duty nylon fabric makes this PFD soft and lightweight
  • Quick release buckles make for easy on-and-off and easy to repack
  • The durable ripstop fabric makes the PFD resistant to tears and punctures
  • Inflates in 3-5 seconds when the inflation handle cord is pulled


  • It is not U.S. Coast Guard approved

Inflatable Life Jacket Life Vest basic Manual

Inflatable Life Jacket Life Vest basic Manual

The lightweight and durable fabric of this vest is certainly a plus. Unlike the others above, this life vest has an adjustable belt that makes it a great fit for adult and youth.

This inflatable life jacket life vest is reusable, washable and easy to dry. It also has a buoyancy of 150N and can comfortably support a weight under 330 lbs. The heavy-duty nylon fabric makes this a soft and lightweight vest so you can go about your fishing without feeling weighed down.


  • Fast inflation. It inflates in under five seconds
  • It is ultralight and very comfortable
  • It has reflectors for greater visibility
  • It is durable for reusing
  • The adjustable strap webbing makes it a universal size


  • It is not U.S. Coast Guard approved

Corp M.I.T. 100 Auto Activation PFD

Mustang Survival Corp M.I.T. 100 Auto Activation PFD

This premium product from Mustang Survival has a sleek beautiful design. I love this simple vest as it is easy to wear and easy to use. Although this vest features auto inflation, it can be manually inflated by pulling the bright yellow detonator pull tab. In non-emergency situations, you can also orally inflate the PFD with the oral inflation tube.

For added safety and convenience, the M.I.T 100 PFD is equipped with an easy access flap and an inflator inspection window.  The membrane inflatable technology inside creates a lighter and more flexible fit for you.


  • It is light and comfortable
  • Easy to wear and use
  • It is of great quality making it quite durable

M-16 Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

M-16 Belt Pack Manual Inflatable Life Jacket

If you really don’t want to put on a life jacket, you do not have to compromise on your safety by not having a PFD on you. This sleek grey belt makes it less cumbersome for you while at the same time providing your safety.

The belt is made of 200 denier nylon oxford protective cover and has D-ring attachments for small accessories. You can use the oral inflation tube to provide additional buoyancy to the CO2 cartridge.  The belt is quite versatile and it can double up as a wading belt.

This lightweight belt is super comfortable and you will hardly notice you have it on. It is approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and persons over the age of 16 can use it. You have to be over 80lbs to use it although it has a Velcro type clasp to hold slack for the smaller people.


  • It is very light and comfortable
  • It is small therefore does not get in your way


  • The Velcro that covers the inflatable can come loose and needs regular checking

What to Look for When Buying an Inflatable Life Vest


For your inflatable life vest to work as it should, it needs to be a perfect fit. Your inflatable life vest should fit snugly around your chest, but still, leave some room for you to move comfortably. Sizes range, depending on the model and manufacturers. While trying out an inflatable life vest, ensure you are wearing whatever you will have on while on the water.

Although there are unisex inflatable jackets, women should really consider getting PFDs that are specifically designed for them. These PFDs feature contoured cups for larger busts and are designed for larger torsos making them much more comfortable for women.

Getting the perfect fit could be a tedious process but it is well worth it.

Your water activities

Inflatable life jackets can be quite versatile and can be used for almost all water activities; fishing, sailing, boating, e.t.c. However, there are various instances where you are better off with the traditional inherently buoyant life jacket.

Inflatable jackets are not for high-speed impact with the water. If you are going to be engaging in high-speed activities, consider getting the standard life jacket. For activities that will require you to constantly get into the water, the inflatable jacket may not be a good choice. You will require repeated flotation and will, therefore, be better off with the buoyancy of the standard foam life jacket.


This is the amount of force required to keep your head above water. Most people have natural buoyancy in the form of body fat. However, you will require additional buoyancy to remain afloat. While looking for an inflatable life jacket, be sure to look for how much buoyancy it will provide. The standard minimum buoyancy should be around 22lbs (100N). However, for offshore and coastal sailings, 33lbs (150N) is the recommended buoyancy.

Type of inflation system

Deciding on the inflation system of your life vest is very important. A manually inflated life vest will require you to be conscious and calm for you to activate the CO2 cartridge. You could also choose to go for an automatic with bobbin type os system. This kind of inflatable jacket uses a paper capsule that immediately releases the firing pin when it becomes wet.

If you will be taking part in something that could potentially leave you unconscious, the best kind of inflation system to go for is the hydrostatic automatic that self-inflates when submerged in water. This kind uses the water pressure to activate the CO2 cartridge.


Your inflatable life jacket should be a bright color that is easily visible. In case you are in the water for some time, it will be easier to get spotted if your inflatable jacket is brightly colored.

Additional attachments and accessories

  • Reflective tape

Again, being visible in the water is crucial. Reflective tapes improve your visibility in low light conditions, especially for those using flashlights. In case your inflatable life jacket does not come with its reflectors, you can purchase some adhesive strips and put them on. Just make sure they are inflatable-approved.

  • Safety whistle

Most inflatable life jackets will come with a safety whistle attached. However, you can always attach your own if this is not the case. Being heard is still as important as being seen when you are stuck in the water.

  • Crotch straps

Crotch straps help keep your inflatable life jacket from riding up to your face. Keeping the vest in place ensures that your body, and more importantly your head will ride higher in the water. Purchase manufacture specific crotch straps if your inflatable doesn’t come with its own.

  • Spray hoods

Spray hoods can be a lifesaver in extreme weather conditions where waves, spray or rain is intense. Water in the face can make breathing difficult and spray hoods reduce this amount. They are conveniently stored in a small pouch attached to the waist belt of your inflatable PFD.

  • AIS (Automatic Identification System)

AIS units are generally activated by water though some are manual. They contain a GPS to broadcast your location to nearby vessels that are receiving AIS.

USCG approved or not?

Getting USCG approval takes time and money. Therefore some manufacturers, especially those in Europe may not seek the approval for their products, even if they will meet the standards. However, wearing an inflatable life jacket that is not USCG approved could land you a ticket so be on the lookout for that.

USCG typically categorizes the inflatable life jackets into five. Take a look.

  • Type I PFDs are geared for rough or remote waters where rescue may take a while. Though bulky, they have the most buoyancy and will turn most unconscious people into a face-up position. They are the kind of PFD you’ll likely find on commercial vessels. Type I PFDs are available in inherently buoyant, inflatable or hybrid designs.
  • Type II PFDs are intended for calm inland waters, where fast rescue is likely. They have a very basic design that is less bulky than Type I, and typically less expensive, but they are not as comfortable as Type III. They will turn some unconscious wearers to the face-up position. Type II PFDs come in inherently buoyant, inflatable or hybrid designs.
  • Type III PFDs are suitable for most paddlers where there is a chance for quick rescue. They offer freedom of movement and comfort for continuous wear. These PFDs are designed so wearers can put themselves in a face-up position, but they may have to tilt their head back to avoid being face down in water. Type III PFDs come in inherently buoyant, inflatable or hybrid designs.
  • Type IV PFDs are flotation devices that are meant to be thrown to a conscious person who is in trouble and provide backup to a PFD. Examples include life rings and buoyant cushions. Type IV PFDs are not meant to be worn and they are not required for canoes, kayaks or SUPs.
  • Type V PFDs are considered special-use devices and intended for specific activities. To be acceptable by the USCG, they must be worn at all times and used for the activity specified on the label. Varieties include kayaking, waterskiing, windsurfing, deck suits and hybrid inflatable vests. Type V PFDs come in inflatable or hybrid (inherently buoyant and inflatable) designs.

Get the right kit

For most watersports, nylon life vests are recommended. This is because they allow for a greater freedom of movement as compared to other materials. They are also cheap and light.

Testing your inflatable life vest

Before you actually go out with your inflatable life vest, you need to be confident that it works as it is supposed to. Testing your life vest should be a regular activity, especially if you are on the water frequently.

To test your inflatable life vest;

  • Put it on and adjust to make it a proper fit.
  • Wade into chest-deep water.
  • Bend your knees and float on your back
  • Ensure the life vest keeps your chin out of the water and that you can breathe properly.

Make sure that you are testing your inflatable life vest in a supervised environment.

Why it is Important to Have a Life Jacket While Fishing

It’s a beautiful sunny day and you decide to go fishing. The last thing you would want is to add on to the heat you are already feeling. So, rather than have your life jacket on while you are fishing, you opt to put it in your boat, just in case. After all, what could go wrong? And anyway, should anything happen, you will be able to get hold of your PFD fast enough, right?

This mentality is so wrong. Unfortunately, life jackets can only save lives IF won. Inherently buoyant life jackets may be a bit cumbersome, especially on a particularly hot day, but inflatable jackets are much more convenient.

Having a life jacket while fishing is crucial. You never know what could happen out there. Should you, by any chance fall overboard, your life jacket, be it the inherently buoyant or the inflatable type, will help keep you afloat. Although it is true that you could probably reach for your PFD when this happens, what if you are knocked out unconscious when you fall?

There have been fatal accidents documented where people drowned simply because they did not have their life jackets on them. Ensure your safety, regardless of how uncomfortable that life jacket is.

How do self-inflating jackets work?

Unlike the more common inherently buoyant life jacket that uses foam to stay afloat, the self-inflating life jackets rely on CO2 cylinders to provide buoyancy.

A self-inflating life jacket automatically inflates when submerged in at least four inches of water. This happens in two ways. The jacket could have a small tablet that dissolves in water causing the inflator to activate. Alternatively, the jacket could have a pressure gauge that activates the inflator.

All self-inflating jackets have a manual ‘Jerk to inflate’ system in case the automatic self-inflation fails. By pulling on the toggle or handle, a lever system gets released that pierces the CO2 cylinders, and therefore inflating the jacket.

You could also inflate the jacket orally by breathing into the inflation tube of the jacket.

Self-inflating life jackets can be very useful PFD (Personal Flotation Devices). However, they are not recommended for use by persons under the age of 16. People under the age of 16 must have a well-fitting inherently buoyant life jackets.

Non-swimmers are also not advised to use the self-inflating life jackets. Should the automatic inflation system fail, they will need to remain calm so as to pull the release for the cylinder. I don’t know about you, but if I suddenly fell into the lake and I didn’t know how to swim, remaining calm would be the last thing I’d do.

In addition to all that, inflatable PFDs are not for use for active water sports such as skiing, tubing, and waterboarding.

Although these jackets are re-usable, it is important to have the CO2 cylinder replaced after each use.

Self-inflating jackets vs manual life jackets: which ones are the best?

I know you are probably wondering, of the two, which one should I go for?

You have probably heard some myths about inflatable jackets.The self-inflating life jackets would be life-saving supposing you were knocked out unconscious when going overboard. They can, however, inflate inconveniently. For example, you could plunge through a wave while on the bow and the jacket would immediately inflate itself.

Manual life jackets, on the other hand, require you to be conscious and calm. Panicking would make you forget to manually inflate the jacket so if you are not a good swimmer, this may not be a good choice for you. As compared to automatic life jackets, the manual ones require less servicing and are more reliable.

That being said, the sole purpose of the life jacket is to act as your PFD, so, if you are comfortable with either, go ahead. Just make sure your life jacket is working properly before you go with it to sea, lake or whichever water body.

Are inflatable life jackets safe?

Just like any other PFDs, inflatable life jackets have to be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. The manufacturers have to meet set standards before their products are approved. what’s more, should the manufacturer decide to change any feature, they will be required to go through the same vigorous process again.

So, if you buy a U.S. Coast Guard approved inflatable life jacket, you can be sure it is safe. Just ensure you do the regular checks as mentioned above and maintain your inflatable life jacket well to ensure efficiency.

Extra tips!

For them to do their job, inflatable life jackets need to be well-maintained.

  • Do not sit on them or use them as bumpers. This may cause damage to the jackets making them less efficient.
  • Make frequent inspections on your life jacket. Orally inflate it and ensure that it can hold air for up to 24 hours. Ensure the CO2 cylinder is neither discharged nor corroded and is screwed in tight. Replace immediately in case they are damaged.
  • To dry them, hang them out to air dry away from direct sunlight and in a well-ventilated area.
  • Store the jacket in an easily accessible place away from any chemicals.
  • Never dry-clean or use strong detergents to clean your jacket. Use some mild soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
  • Life jackets can never be worn under clothing. They wouldn’t be efficient and would lead to some injury.
  • ALWAYS have your inflatable life jacket on when you are on the water.
  • Replace the bobbin on your inflatable every 12 months, unless specified otherwise.
  • Inflatable life jackets labeled ‘for women’ will be a better pick for them rather than the unisex ones. This is because of the customized shape with the bust lines and contours.
  • Here are some great fishing kayaks or fishing floats


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