Best Fishing Vests: Reviewed & Compared For Safety & Fit

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If you're out on your boat for a nice day of fishing, then the last thing you want to worry about is struggling to find your gear when you need it. That’s where a fishing vest comes in to solve your problems. A fishing vest is an essential piece of wearable fishing gear. It can often double as a flotation device, which will keep you safe while on the water.

There are tons of options on the market today, but all of them are designed to keep your fishing gear close to you with varying pocket designs. If you are in the market for a new fishing vest, then check out this guide for the top brands.

Preview

Product

Primary Material

Water-Resistant

Check Price

Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest Adjustable for...

Bassdash

Polyester

Yes

NRS Chinook Fishing PFD Green L/XL

NRS Chinook

200-denier nylon

Yes

Autumn Ridge Traders Fly Fishing Photography...

Autumn Ridge Traders

Polyester with mesh

Yes

Anglatech Fly Fishing Vest Pack for Trout...

Anglatech

Nylon and mesh

Yes

Allen Gallatin Ultra Light Fishing Vest & fly...

Allen Gallatin Ultra-Light

Fabric with mesh

No

Master Sportsman Youth 26 Pocket Fishing Vest...

Master Sportsman Youth

Polyester

No

M MAXIMUMCATCH Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest Mesh...

MAXIMUMCATCH MaxCatch

Nylon and mesh

Yes

Redington Clark Fork Mesh Vest -...

Redington Clark Fork Mesh

Polyester and mesh

Yes

Lixada Fly Fishing Vest-Fishing Safety Life...

Lixada

Polyester and EPE foam

Yes

Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack, Driftwood

Fishpond Gore Range

Mesh and recycled fabric

Yes


Benefits of Using a Quality Fishing Vest

When you're out on the water, you need as many free hands as possible, especially when you are trying to reel in your next big catch. Investing in a high-quality fishing vest can help you remain hands-free. Many fishing vests come with a ton of pockets to store lures, fishing lines, and tools.

Another great advantage of fishing vests is that they help you remain safe while out on the water. Many of the top brands include flotation devices in their vests. This will help keep you safe if something happens on your boat. Fishing vests also help keep the weight off your shoulders when using your poles. Many of them have a slot for assisting with the weight of the pole. On long fishing days, this can come in handy.


Fishing Vest Buyer’s Guide

Vest Material

Most of the vests on our list consist of fabric or mesh materials. Some of them contain both elements, but with one being the primary. Fabric is the most common material type. It usually contains lots of pockets with a heavier weight than mesh. They are slightly more durable. On the other hand, mesh materials are perfect for the blazing hot summer days. They also contain a large number of pockets but tend to be lighter weight. Most vests are water-resistant, but check the spec sheet to be sure.

Pockets

This factor is one of the most important when it comes to buying a new fishing vest. Depending on your needs and what you plan to carry, you want your vest to have the right number of pockets. A fishing vest with many small front pockets will give you easy access to your lures and tools. Some anglers may want to add a separate flotation device. This will require a larger back pocket. Consider what you want to bring on your fishing trips before purchasing.

Durability

Fishing can be a great adventure, but you need gear that can keep up with you. Fishing vests should be made of durable materials. They may often get wet or have to contend with sharp hooks. All of the zipper enclosures should be top-quality so that they don’t break under stress.

Design and Color

Not only do you want your fishing vest to be stylish, but you also want it to be designed in a way that will make your fishing trip easier. Many fishing vests come with extra features such as D-rings, storage compartments, and clips. You should keep in mind that you may want an interior pocket to store your phone or wallet. You should always look for a vest with subtle colors. Believe it or not, fish can be startled by bright moving colors.

Comfort and Size

You want your new fishing vest to be as comfortable as possible. Most people go fishing when it is sunny and warm, so ensure that your fishing vest comes with some breathability features. Look for a vest that has mesh panels near the arms and back. This will provide airflow and increased flexibility. Remember to check the size chart of the vest you intend to buy. Most will run true to size, but you should always buy a bit larger. This will give you room to store all of your gear.

SIMMS VEST SIZE CHART

image source: bogdangawlik.com

Cost and Value

I have included all of the best products below to fit every budget. Always remember that the value of your vest is important. The most expensive vest doesn't always mean the most valuable for you. If you are looking for a simple fishing vest, then you may not need to spend a lot of money. 


10 Best Fishing Vests Reviewed

1. Bassdash

Our Top Pick

Primary Material

Polyester

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

18

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

1.2 lbs

Key Feature

Included D-ring to hold a fishing net

To start our roundup, I will review the ultimate in wearable fishing gear. I chose this Bassdash vest as the best fishing vest available. It comes with maximum adjustability at every point. You will always have your gear on hand with this intuitively designed fishing vest.

The Bassdash fishing vest features padded shoulder straps so that you can carry your gear comfortably. It has an adjustable waist and shoulder straps that will give you an accurate fit. The breathable mesh back will keep you cool under the hot summer sun.

The zippers are concealed and flat locking so that they don't get caught up on your reels. It comes with an impressive 18 pocket design. There is a compartment for every lure in your tackle box. There is a D-ring on the back to attach a fishing net. The included rod holders are perfect for keeping steady while reeling in a big catch.

I thought that this fishing vest was designed well. The pocket layout allowed me to store all of my small lure boxes. The rod holder came in handy when I was out fishing on my kayak. I was comfortable throughout the day because of the mesh backing. It allowed the cool sea breeze to flow through the vest.

Overall, it is a great choice for men and women who enjoy both hardcore and recreational fishing.

Pros
  • Full panel mesh back
  • D-ring on the back for a fishing net
  • Rod holder
Cons
  • The back pocket may be difficult to reach for some people

2. NRS Chinook

Best For Serious Anglers

Primary Material

200-denier nylon

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

7

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

2.15 lbs

Key Feature

Internal flotation device, USCG level III certified

The most important thing when you are out on the water is your safety. This vest is ideal for people who are searching for a few extra pockets, but also a personal flotation device. I chose the NRS Chinook as the best fishing life vest for serious fisherman.

It offers 16.5 lbs of flotation assistance in a comfortable design. This vest comes with a USCG level III flotation rating, which will give you peace of mind when out on the water. It includes seven front access pockets so that you can store small tackle boxes and tippet. 

Since the upper flotation device sits higher on the back, the lower mesh panel fits perfectly on high back fishing seats. It will also keep you cool when the weather gets hot. The front heavy duty zip will ensure that you get a comfortable fit, and the PlushFIT foam contours to your body.

One feature that I loved about this fishing vest was the USCG certified flotation designation. It gave me confidence when out on the open seas. I liked that the fit was comfortable since most life jackets are bulky.

One kayak angler noted, “I bought this for its storage and the fact that the flotation is higher on the back so you could be comfortable in a kayak seat.”

Pros
  • Built-in flotation device
  • Durable front zipper closure system
  • Perfect for high back seats
Cons
  • Some users had issues with the flotation panel riding up when sitting down

3. Autumn Ridge Traders

Highest Rated Fly Fishing Vest

Primary Material

Polyester with mesh

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

16

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

0.9 lbs

Key Feature

Removable back material that exposes a breathable mesh

Are you a fly fishing enthusiast searching for a simple vest? This is the best product for you. The Autumn Ridge Traders model is the highest rated fly fishing vest on the market. It comes in an elegantly simple design that is sure to impress every angler.

This Autumn Ridge vest comes with soft padded shoulders for distributing weight evenly across your body. It features a water-resistant material that is also quick-drying, so you never stay wet. This fishing vest comes with a removable back panel that will expose breathable mesh. When it gets hot, you simply unzip the back fabric panel and tuck it away. It has 16 easy-access pockets with velcro and high-quality zippers. It features a key fob on one of the pockets to attach a small fishing knife or another handy tool.

I enjoyed the simplicity and look of this Autumn Ridge fishing vest. It kept all of my gear close by while distributing the weight evenly. Since it is pretty hot where I usually fish, I liked the breathable mesh panel on the back.

One customer expressed, “This is a well-designed vest, with an entirely removable back panel for ventilation in the heat.”

Pros
  • Removable back panel that reveals mesh
  • 16 pockets with velcro and zippers
  • Includes a key fob
Cons
  • Tends to run small

4. Anglatech

Best Trout Fishing Vest

Primary Material

Nylon and mesh

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

20

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

1.5 lbs

Key Feature

Includes a water bottle holder

If you’re a lake and stream angler, then this vest will be perfect for you. This Anglatech product is the best trout fishing vest that you can find. It comes loaded with pockets and breathable mesh design. It is sure to make an excellent gift for any trout angler.

The Anglatech vest comes with 20 well-placed pockets. You can carry your small tackle boxes, lures, and tippet. It comes with a specific place to hold your pliers, which is a great addition to a fishing vest. It features a back storage compartment to place extra gear.

The breathable mesh will definitely keep you cool and dry. It has a specific water-resistant pocket for storing your phone or wallet. The tackle box pockets unzip and lay flat, which is great when your hands are full. It even has a place to store your water bottle on hot days.

I thought that this vest was designed with accessibility in mind. I loved the front pockets that hold your tackle boxes. They unzipped and laid out flat so that you could see everything. The water bottle pocket was also a nice touch since you have to stay hydrated on the water.

One customer expressed, “This is a well-designed vest, with an entirely removable back panel for ventilation in the heat.”

Pros
  • Includes a water bottle holder
  • It has a specific place to hold pliers
  • Extra storage space on the back
Cons
  • Tends to run big

5. Allen Gallatin Ultra-Light

Best Womens Fly Fishing Vest

Primary Material

Fabric with mesh

Water-Resistant

No

Number of Pockets

12

Intended for

Women

Weight

0.2 lbs

Key Feature

Extremely lightweight vest with breathability

Most of the vests I have reviewed above will fit both men and women, but what about a vest designed with lady anglers in mind? The Allen Gallatin Ultra-Light is the best women’s fly fishing vest available. It is extremely lightweight at only 0.2 lbs. It can be worn quite comfortably with ample space for gear.

This Allen Gallatin product is a fishing harness with a ton of pockets. It comes with a padded neck strap that has a D-ring holder for your fishing net. It has zip close front pockets that hold larger tackle boxes. Multiple interior pockets can keep the extra fishing line and small fly fishing lures. The zippers are molded and heavy-duty. There are numerous exterior D-rings to add other accessories. The hi-visibility interior lining adds extra comfort and allows you to find pockets quickly.

One feature that I thought made this fishing vest unique was the fact that it was open and breathable. It fits more like a harness with a lot of pockets. This makes the fishing vest super lightweight and easy to carry.

As a verified buyer stated, “I was amazed at the amount of storage this simple vest offers. Ultra light and comfortable.”

Pros
  • Super lightweight and breathable
  • Open design for increased airflow
  • Padded neck D-ring
Cons
  • Some customers had issues with the comfort of the neck strap

6. Master Sportsman Youth

Best Kids Fishing Vest

Primary Material

Polyester

Water-Resistant

No

Number of Pockets

26

Intended for

Kids

Weight

0.56 lbs

Key Feature

Machine washable, includes a rod holder

I have covered the men’s and women’s categories, but what about the little anglers in our lives? Fishing is a sport that can be enjoyed by people of every age. The Master Sportsman Youth product is the best kids fishing vest.

This Master Sportsman vest has an impressive 26 pocket design. It can hold everything that the beginner angler will need. You can safely carry all of your tackle boxes, extra line, and lures. This vest is machine washable, so even if your little one gets dirty, it is simple enough to wash. It features a rod holder that is perfect for assisting kids in reeling in their big catch. It comes with exterior and interior pockets with heavy-duty zippers, so there's no accidental breakage.

One feature that I liked about this Master Sportsman fishing vest was that it had so many pockets. Kids love pockets, and they always need a place to put things so they can have free hands. I liked that it came with a rod holder to assist young anglers in holding up their rods. This fishing vest will make your kids feel like one of the adults when out on the water.

Pros
  • Machine washable
  • 26 pocket design
  • Included rod holder
Cons
  • Tends to run small

7. MAXIMUMCATCH

Value for Money Pick

Primary Material

Nylon and mesh

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

17

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

1.5 lbs

Key Feature

Comfortable suspension shoulder straps, two main fly compartments

Finding a great value is top on everyone’s list. You want your wearable fishing gear to be worth the money and to last a long time. The MaxCatch fishing vest is the best value for money pick. It comes with a ton of features, and it’s set at a reasonable price point.

This fishing vest from MaxiumumCatch comes with 17 pockets to hold all of your fishing accessories. It features gear attachment tabs, D-rings, and cord loops to attach all of your favorite gear. The shoulder straps feature suspension adjustability so that the weight is evenly distributed throughout the whole day.

It comes with a full mesh backing to keep you cool on the hottest summer days. There are two main fly compartments on the front of the vest that fold down into a molded carrying tray. The built-in rod holder is ideal for holding up your reel while you walk around.

I enjoyed using this MaxCatch vest when I went out on a kayak fishing adventure. It allowed me to keep my gear close by without filling up the limited space in my kayak. I liked that the suspension shoulder straps allowed me to move around with ease. I didn’t feel the weight of all of my extra gear.

Pros
  • Two main fly compartments
  • Built-in rod holder
  • Comfortable suspension shoulder straps
Cons
  • Zippers are not as high quality as other models

8. Redington Clark Fork Mesh

Best Cheap Option

Primary Material

Polyester and mesh

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

13

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

1.0 lbs

Key Feature

Padded neck collar for all-day comfort

Everyone loves a good bargain, and this product does not disappoint. If you're looking for something that won't break the bank, then the Redington Clark Fork Mesh fishing vest is the best cheap option. It is simple in its design, and the price is hard to beat.

This fishing vest by Redington features polyester quick-dry fabric that will ensure you stay dry and comfortable. It comes with a total of 13 pockets for easy access to all of your fishing gear. There are nine external pockets for storing lures, tools, and tippet. The large outer storage pocket is perfect for storing bigger tackle boxes. It has three interior pockets for keeping essential items close by such as your keys or water bottles.

I thought that this Redington vest was by far the most comfortable cheap fishing vest I’ve worn. The padded neck collar made it feel like an extra shirt instead of a bulky vest. The simple pocket layout made it easy to access my tools.

As Terry stated, “The padded knit collar may not seem like a big deal, but not having the collar of your vest dig into your neck makes a huge difference at the end of the day!”

Pros
  • Padded collar
  • Simple pocket layout
  • Budget-friendly option
Cons
  • Some customers didn’t like the way the fly box compartments unzipped

9. Lixada

Best Kayak Fishing Life Vest

Primary Material

Polyester and EPE foam

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

11

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

1.6 lbs

Key Feature

EPE foam to act as a personal flotation device

If you are an avid kayak angler, then you know it can be challenging to find the wearable gear that will work with your kayak. You need maneuverability for paddling and a flotation device in case you go overboard. This product from Lixada is the best kayak fishing life vest on the market.

Lixada has designed this fishing vest to meet the needs of kayak anglers everywhere. It features four large chest compartments that are perfect for your fly boxes. It comes with four zippered front pockets to carry other tools and extra fishing line.

It also has a large back storage pocket for all of your larger gear. Where this fishing vest really shines is the built-in personal flotation device. It comes with EPE foam to ensure that you stay afloat if you take a spill on the water. You can also remove the foam if you plan to do some shore fishing.

My favorite feature of this Lixada fishing vest was the included flotation device. It can be difficult to stand up in some fishing kayaks, especially when you are reeling in a big catch. If you go overboard, then you want to have full protection. I also liked that this vest came with the option to remove the foam.

Pros
  • Doubles as a personal flotation device
  • Four large chest pockets for fly boxes
  • Accessory loops and D-rings included
Cons
  • The zipper pulls may not be as durable as other models

10. Fishpond Gore Range

Top of the Range

Primary Material

Mesh and recycled fabric

Water-Resistant

Yes

Number of Pockets

19

Intended for

Men and women

Weight

1.6 lbs

Key Feature

Includes two molded fly benches with replaceable foam

Some anglers simply want the creme de la creme of all wearable fishing gear. That’s where this fishing vest comes in. The Fishpond Gore is the top of the range fishing vest on the market. It outshines its competitors in craftsmanship and durability.

The Fishpond Gore comes with a fantastic pocket layout. It features two molded fly benches that zip down to keep all of your fly gear right in front of you. There are two vertical chest pockets that will hold medium and large tackle boxes. The mesh backing will keep you cool and allow you to move your arms while casting. It comes with a D-ring on the back for lashing a net. There are also several loops and rings to securely fasten other useful tools.

I thought that this model truly shined in its craftsmanship. While it may be more expensive than other models, it’s a durable fishing vest. The zippers and pockets felt very secure, and the zipper pulls stayed on without any problems.

According to one satisfied customer, “I decided to splurge on this vest. Zero regrets. Fits tons of stuff including a rain jacket in the back.” As you can see the vest is worth the money.

Pros
  • Includes a large back pocket that can fit a rain jacket
  • Has two molded fly benches
  • D-ring on the back for attaching a net
Cons
  • May be too expensive for some users compared to other models

How to Properly Pack and Organize a Fishing Vest

Now that you’ve picked out the product above that suits you best, you need to know how to pack and organize it. You want to be able to find everything quickly and easily. Follow the list below to make sure that you have the essentials no matter what kind of fishing you’re doing.

  • Clippers or scissors
    These can be used to cut through fishing line and tangled hooks. They can be easily hooked onto a D-ring on your vest.
  • Forceps
    This item can be used to pry out hooks and fishing line. They allow you to keep your hands away from sharp teeth when removing hooks from fish mouths.
  • Poncho
    Always carry a rain jacket in the back pocket of your fishing vest.
  • Sunscreen
    I recommend bringing something to help protect you from the sun. There are small bottles that you can buy so that they won’t take up much space in your gear vest.
  • Insect repellent
    Bring some bug spray to protect you from harmful insect bites. Remember to buy DEET free mosquito spray.
  • Lures and flies
    Bring all of the normal flies that you use while fishing. I will include a detailed list below for each type below.
  • Trout Fishing Vest
  • Ultralight spinning gear
  • Jigs in basic colors
  • Small rooster tails
  • Small jerk baits
  • Pond Bass Fishing Vest
  • 6-inch plastic worms
  • Worm weights
  • Worm hooks
  • Crankbaits
  • Spinnerbaits

Fishing Vest Maintenance

Although your wearable fishing gear is durable, you should still know how to maintain it in the offseason. Some of the fishing vests we have included are machine washable, like the kids fishing vest that I reviewed above. Carefully read the instructions to find out if your garment is machine washable.

If your fishing vest is not, then you should use a damp cloth to wipe off any dirt or grime. If you have a fishing vest with a personal flotation device, then you should remove the foam or inflatable every month or so to check it for leaks. This will ensure that it doesn’t fail on you when you need it most.


Frequently Asked Questions

Are fishing vests also flotation devices?

Yes. Some fishing vests can double as a life vest. The Chinook and Lixada products that I reviewed above come with personal flotation devices built-in. If you are searching for a life vest, then I recommend these products.

What are the best manufacturers of fishing vests?

Orvis, Filson, Fishpond, and Chinook are some of the best brands for fishing vests. Fishpond products tend to be more expensive, but their craftsmanship is unmatched. Filson fishing vests are among the most expensive, but they generally offer a very comfortable fit. The Chinook products provide some of the best flotation devices on the market. 

Why are fishing vests purposely cut short?

The length will depend on your size, but in general, fishing vests are cut short to keep them out of the way while you are casting. It also allows you to sit in a fishing chair on a boat or kayak comfortably.

Are all fishing vests waterproof?

Not all fishing vests are waterproof. Some vests are water-resistant, like most of the products on our list. Polyester and quick-dry fabric are often used to ensure they repel some water.

Can I infuse a hydration pack in a fishing vest?

None of the products that I reviewed above come with a hydration bladder compatible pouch. Some of them may include a large compartment where you can store a water bottle.

Where is the best place to buy these fishing vests?

I recommend shopping on Amazon for all of your fishing vest and wearable fishing gear needs.


Conclusion

In this article, I have discussed and reviewed the top 10 fishing vests on the market. I have included products for every budget and type of fishing. I have also included tips on packing and sorting the items in your fishing vest.

I’m sure you are wondering what my absolute top choice is out of this roundup. In my opinion, the Bassdash product is the best choice for all types of anglers. It comes with all the important features that every fisher needs, such as a mesh back panel, a net D-ring, and a rod holder to keep your hands steady.