Want to know the Best Life Jackets for Canoeing? Then you are in the right place.
Canoeing is a passion for some and hobby for others, you get on board, paddle it with your hands and test your spirit against nature.
Riding with friends in the white water or with your family in the local river is always a great experience.
But your best experience will turn into the worst one if an event like capsize occurred.
Now, many people will say that they don’t need a life vest in calm water, but that’s not always true.
It may be good for professional swimmers as they can swim to the safe side, but what about non-swimmers and bad-swimmers?
Even though they are in calm water, they can still drown and put a risk on their life.
Also, a professional swimmer can drown if their leg or arm is injured during capsize which means they are also not safe.
So why put your life on risk?
To make yourself safe even in the worst situation you need a life jacket specially made for canoeing.
Now you may be thinking – Which life vest to buy?
Well, I spent more than 50 hours researching and asking the professionals about the best one.
And after substantial research, I finally found the 9 Best Life Jackets that you can buy for canoeing.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
#9 Astral Buoyancy V8
Made from 200X400 Denier Ripstop Nylon shell and breathable polyester mesh liner this jacket deserves to be on the list.
There is a PolyPro webbing on the vest that repels the water, thus making it a little lightweight.
A zipper is present at the front complemented by a quick-release safety buckle to make sure that the vest doesn’t move on a heavy impact.
It is U.S. Coast Guard approved type III jacket with a Buoyancy rating of 16 lbs, which means you are ensured for safety.
The PE(Polyethylene) and EVA(Ethylene Vinyl Acetate) foam make the vest comfortable so that you can fully enjoy your ride.
This foam is pre-shaped in the front and back for a better fit, making it even more comfortable.
An air escape system is present in the vest that eliminates excessive heat and maintains a comfortable temperature so that you feel cool during the ride.
There are two large zippered pockets present in the front of the vest where you can put some critical equipment like Whistle etc. that you may need at the time of emergency.
Also, there is a quick access knife tab that can be helpful and used in an emergency for things like cutting the rope or line.
- USCG Approved
- Denier Ripstop Nylon
- Good storage
- Airescape System
- Knife Tab not ergonomic
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – No! The price asked is quite high but the features provided are not as useful as other jackets on the list.
The most beautiful thing about this jacket is its color and design, which is fantastic.
It has a revolutionary airflow system that eliminates excessive heat, which is excellent.
The material is strong enough to withstand huge impacts, and the PolyPro webbing repels the water just like it should.
But there are some cons that I need to tell, so here it goes.
This vest is way bulkier than other life jackets and can also sometimes interfere with your arm movement.
Also, the knife tab is not ergonomically situated, which means you can have a problem drawing the knife in an emergency.
The zipper and straps can also be uncomfortable for some and may feel like pinching, which can ruin your canoeing experience.
This is a slender design, highly visible life vest made from durable reflective ripstop fabric that is strong enough to withstand huge impacts.
Since this life vest is made in China, it is not currently USCG approved, but it is CE Certificated & SOLAS approved USA 3M reflector.
There are two large SOLAS reflectors present on the cover that increases the visibility of the vest in the darkness and decreases the chance of an accident.
The vest is covered with Waterproof polyester oxford Neoprene material which resists tears and punctures and provides you with comfortable support.
Also, the neckline is made from extra comfortable Neoprene material that provides a satisfying experience so that you can wear it all day and still feel nothing.
It is an auto-inflate life jacket, which means it will automatically inflate in less than 5 seconds when immersed in water.
Once the auto-inflation begins, the airbag made of Nylon and TPU stars filling, which makes the vest float for more than 48 hours.
And even after 24 hours, the buoyancy loss is less than or equal to 5%, which is a good thing for your safety.
The Buckle and D-ring are made from Stainless Steel, which makes them durable and long-lasting.
- Easy Wash and Quick-Dry
- High Visibility
- CE Certificated
- SOLAS reflectors
- Not USCG Approved
- Poor Instructions
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – YES! The price is a little higher, but I think that too because you are getting the auto-inflation system, SOLAS reflectors, Whistle, etc. that will be required.
It is a lightweight vest with a slender design and high contrast colors that can be easily identified in case of an emergency.
The SOLAS reflectors work perfectly and increase your visibility during night/day, so if you are planning to do canoeing at night, then this vest is for you.
Auto-inflation is great for non-swimmers and bad-swimmers so if you fall in any of these then this jacket is right for you.
The problem with this jacket is that it is difficult to put on/off as the instructions are poorly written, so you may face a little difficulty while wearing this jacket.
Also, once the auto-inflation is used, you have to install a new cylinder in the vest for further usage of auto-inflation.
#7 ONYX MoveVent Torsion Paddle
There is a Bubble Foam present on the inner back that adds extra comfort and helps you to sit comfortably.
Two SOLAS grade reflective material is present on the straps that increase the visibility of the vest even in the dark.
It has two Expandable Zippered pockets where you can put something, but remember that these pockets are small and you can only put small things like keys.
Mesh drainage is also present that will drain excess water from collecting in the vest, thus making it lightweight.
It has a secure, durable zipper closure, an adjustable side belt, and a zip assist loop at the zipper base that prevents the vest from moving even on a huge impact.
The shoulders adjustments are made with neoprene comfort pads, which is a very soft material, so you can wear it for a long time and still feel comfortable.
Approved by U.S. Coast Guard, it is a Type III life jacket.
- Expandable Zippered Pockets
- SOLAS-grade reflecting fabric
- Zipper closure
- Adjustable Shoulder comfort pads
- Mesh Drainage
- USCG Approved
- Small Pockets
- Not For White Water Rapid
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – Yes! You are getting a good life jacket for canoeing at this price range. But still there is the better vest that you can get for the same price, so keep searching.
This vest is made from the strong exterior, soft interior and has a good design.
The shoulders are very comfortable as they are made with neoprene comfort pads that will make you feel comfortable even after long wear.
The Bubble foam present on the inner back gives a special comfort to the back, so even the people with back pain can comfortably enjoy the ride.
Overall, it is a good life jacket, but there are some disadvantages.
It has two small pockets which can only be used to store some small things like keys, etc.; even your phone may not fit unless it’s a small one.
Also, the vest is much bulkier than expected so that you may feel it a little heavy.
And finally, it’s a Type III life jacket which means it is only suitable for places where the rescue is quickly available, so it is not suitable in white water.
#6 MTI Adventurewear Solaris
There are reflective striping present on the front and back of the vest, which increases the visibility in low light conditions like evening and night.
It has a high back design with mesh lower sections that work well with higher seat backs found on many recreational kayaks.
Want to store something?
There are two large expandable bellows front pockets and a small zippered pocket that offers enough space to store most of your daily use essentials like keys, mobile, etc.
Remember, the pockets are not waterproof so if you are putting your phone then use a zip lock bag for waterproofing.
There is two center buckle closure with adjustable sides which encloses the vest with your chest so that it stays on a huge impact.
Also, there are adjustable shoulder straps, which means you can adjust the straps as per your need, thus reducing the chances of chafe.
The low profile 3D contour cut-foam present in the front makes it very comfortable so that you can wear it for long without any discomfort.
It is U.S. Coast Guard-approved as type III jacket with buoyancy 15 lbs and 8oz.
Hat hanger loop behind your neck and key retainer clip in front pockets can be used to secure your hat and keys.
- Strong Exterior
- 3D contour cut-foam
- Large Pockets
- USCG Approved
- Hanger Hanger, Key Retainer Clip
- Large Armholes
- Rides up at the back
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – Yes! This vest is an excellent investment for somebody whos hobby is canoeing. Anyways you are getting a lot of great features at a great price, so fully worth the money.
This is one of the best life jackets for canoeing which has all the things you would ever expect.
You get a strong exterior to withstand huge impacts, soft foam to provide a comfortable experience, two large pockets to keep most of your things, and a lot more.
What else do you need?
Also, I liked the high contrast color, which can be easily found in water in case of an emergency.
The reflective strip works perfectly and reduces the chances of an accident during the night, which is great.
I can not find any significant negative thing about this life vest, but there is a general problem.
The vest will come up around your ears when you sit, which is a generic problem with all life vests.
#5 Stohlquist Men’s Ebb Life Jacket
There is a lightweight PE(Polyethylene) foam with inner mesh lining present in the vest.
PE adds a little stretch to the vest, which makes it comfortable, and the inner mesh eliminates excessive heat, thus making you cool during the ride.
You also get a Neoprene Padded waistband along with the vest which will take care of your wrist while you move your canoe paddle.
It has a zipper closure at the front which encloses the vest with your chest and makes sure that the jacket does not move on a huge impact.
Unfortunately there are no quick-release buckles in the middle to add extra safety, but still, the zipper does a great job.
But there are two adjustable side buckles and shoulder buckles that helps in adjusting the shoulders and chest size of the life vest according to your need.
You can use the two large front bellows pockets to store your equipment like Mobile, Keys, etc.
But remember that the pockets are not waterproof so put your cell phone in a ziplock before keeping it in the pocket.
This is currently available in two colors – Red/Gray and Steel Green.
So if you are deciding to buy this one the choose the Red/Gray color as it is more vibrant and visible in water which can be helpful during an emergency.
- Eight Points of Adjustability
- Polyethylene Foam
- Adjustable Side Buckles
- Large bellow pockets
- Highly adjustable
- No Buckle in middle
- Currently, not USCG Approved
- Not much Vibrant
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – Maybe! You are getting a good quality life jackets, but the price hits the high end for this type of jackets which is not good.
If the price is an issue, then you can get better vest at a lesser price so keep looking.
It is a perfect vest, the strong denier ripstop exterior, and soft PE foam makes it a right combination.
The best thing about this vest is its level of adjustability; you can adjust the shoulders and sides according to your perfect fit.
Two big pockets present on the front can store most of the essential things that you will require during canoeing like your phone, safety whistle, keys, etc.
There is a high cut back to clear the Kayak seat, which I think is wanted by most of the enthusiasts.
So now let’s talk about what I don’t like.
Firstly, there are only two colors available, and that too is not very much vibrant, which I think is not great as other vests have a lot more color options.
Secondly, this is a Type III jacket, which means it is suitable for calm and inland water where the rescue is available almost instantly, so it is not the perfect one for white water rapid.
#4 ONYX Universal Paddle
It is approved by U.S. Coast Guard as Type III PFD(Personal Floating Device) which means you are assured that the safety and quality of the vest are good.
The mesh lower back eliminates excess water from collecting in the vest, thus making it lightweight.
Also, the mesh eliminates excessive heat trapped inside, making it a breathable vest, thus making you cool during the ride.
The two adjustable shoulder pads are made up of soft Neoprene foam that adds extra comfort so that you can wear it all day and still feel no pain.
There are six adjustment straps present on the vest, two on the left, two on the right and two on shoulders which can help you in adjusting the vest as per your requirement.
It is available in two sizes – Universal and Oversize.
Universal fits best to the person who has a 30-52 inch chest and is 90lbs and over, whereas Oversize fits best to someone who has a 40-60 inch chest and is 90lbs and over.
There is a zipper closure in the front which makes the vest enclosed securely with your chest; unfortunately, there is no buckle present to compliment the zipper in the middle, but that’s not a problem.
On the left, you get a big pocket where you can keep your accessories like phone, chapstick, glasses, etc. which means you get plenty of space to keep your things.
- Very Adjustable
- Strong Exterior, Soft Interior
- Two Sizes
- USCG Approved
- Lightweight, compact design
- No Buckle in Middle
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – Of course, you are getting a good quality highly adjustable, strong exterior, and soft interior life jacket for a good amount.
The vest is fantastic, it is low profile, lightweight and has a compact design which most of you will love.
There are around six adjustment straps present on the vest with which you can fully adjust the size of the vest and make it fit perfectly on you.
The foam in the back and shoulder pads make it a comfortable vest so that you don’t feel any discomfort even after wearing it for a long time.
Unlike other jackets in this list, this vest has one large pocket which can store most of your important things like phone, camera, etc. that you may need during your ride.
Well, there are very few negative things that I can tell and that too after properly observing everything.
Firstly, there is no reflective strap present, which means your visibility in low light conditions will be very low.
Second, it is a Type III jacket which is suitable for calm and inland places where rescue can be immediate, so if you are planning for going in white water, then this vest is not the best.
#3 Onyx Curve MoveVent Paddle Sports PFD
Nylon ripstop ad nylon oxford is very strong material which makes sure that your vest will not tear, puncture or move on a significant impact during canoeing.
For making it comfortable, Floating foam and Bubble foam is present on the inner back that will comfortably support your body, making sure that you can wear it all day and still feel no pain.
The mesh in lower back fits high back seats and sit-on-top Kayaks sculpted and flexible design conforms.
Also, the mesh eliminates excessive heat from the vest, thus making you stay cool through the most strenuous exertions during the ride so that you can fully enjoy the ride without feeling discomfort.
There are two adjustable side belts that let you adjust the vest according to your fit, thus making it look and feel good. Also, the adjustable shoulders are made of soft neoprene pads so that you can wear them all day and still feel comfortable.
Zipper closure in the front securely encloses you within the vest so that you don’t slip out on a huge impact and stay safe.
Two SOLAS grade reflective strips are present near the shoulder that will increase your visibility during low light conditions like evening and night, thus reducing the chance of an accident.
It is currently available in three colors – Blue, Yellow and Black.
But if you have decided to purchase this vest then go for Yellow one because it is highly visible among the other two thus can be helpful during an emergency.
It is available in various sizes like X-Small/Small, Medium/Large, X-Large/XX-Large, which means you can buy it for your whole family, including kids, teens, and adults.
- Various Size available
- Strong and Comfortable
- Mesh in the lower back
- Excellent Mobility due to large Armholes
- Soft Shoulder Pads
- SOLAS reflective material
- USCG Approved
- No Pockets Available
- No D-Ring
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – Yes! You are getting a fantastic life jacket that has a hard exterior, soft interior, a zipper closure, SOLAS reflective material, and so on for this amount. Definitely a worthy investment.
Like other Onyx MoveVent series jackets, this one has an identical design which is a good one.
The jacket is soft, and the double foam present in the inner back will give you comfortable support while sitting, and if you have back pain, then the foam will keep your back a little straight thus reducing the pain.
Two large armholes give excellent mobility and do not interfere with the arm movements while canoeing thus making you feel free and comfortable.
It is a little bulky than other life vests for the same purpose.
There are no pockets or D-ring available, which is a bad thing as you can not store the crucial thing that you may need later.
Also, the colors are not much vibrant as other vests available on this list.
#2 Stearns Watersports Vest
200D Nylon shell is a strong material that makes it durable, whereas Polyethylene adds a little stretch, which increases the comfort, thus making it comfortable.
The two open sides allow full mobility so that you can easily use your canoe paddle without any interference or discomfort.
Available in three colors – Blue, Red, and Yellow this jacket has four adjustable quick-draw safety buckles present on the front of the vest by which you can adjust the vest according to your fit.
The first safety buckle securely tightens the upper chest, whereas the remaining three encloses the lower chest with the vest.
It is approved by U.S. Coast Guard as an adult life jacket for canoeing that is great for sports like Canoeing, skiing, tubing, etc. It is designed for adults weighing 90 pounds or more.
- USCG Approved
- Durable and Comfortable
- Four Adjustable Buckles
- Available in 3 colors
- No Pockets
- No Zipper Closure
- Can feel tight
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Value for Money?
Simple Answer – Yes! You are getting a very good life vest for a reasonable price which is rare in the market. Definitely worth a purchase.
The vest looks very professional, secure, and has a list of high vibrant colors available that you can buy.
Of course, you can be ensured about the quality because it is from a big brand like Stearns, so rest assured.
The exterior is strong, and the interior is very comfortable, which is a great combination.
These four adjustable straps on the vest are not easily adjustable so they can be hard to adjust and sometimes can also become uncomfortable, which is not good.
Without any pocket, you can’t store any important thing in here like your phone, keys, etc. that is crucial for you in your journey.
Also, while canoeing, you may feel that the jacket is coming up to the neck, which makes your neck area a little tight and can be uncomfortable for some.
#1 Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle
It uses a SOLAS grade reflective material for visibility and has a soft, lightweight floatation foam for keeping you afloat.
A mesh is present at the lower back that fits high back seats to prevent the water from collecting, thus making it lightweight.
Onyx also gives you an expandable zippered pocket and attached whistle so that you can call someone for safety.
There is a very strong durable zipper closure present at the front of the vest complimented by Adjustable side belts.
Two neoprene comfort pads are present for shoulder adjustments so that your shoulders can be comfortably rested without getting hurt.
You can get it in four different colors, i.e., Orange, Purple, Yellow, and Aqua, depending on which color you prefer.
Other features like Ventilation, mobility, lash tab, etc. make this vest a great investment.
- Great Built-in material
- Lightweight, durable foam
- Adjustable Side Belts, Zipper pocket
- Drying loop
- Small fit for some
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Value For Money?
Yes! This is a really great vest with all the features and a great design that you will need. Great overall, full value for money.
The first thing that will catch your attention in this jacket is its a great design.
It got a SOLAS grade reflective material, comfortable foam, very hard material that makes it a beast.
You get an expandable zippered pocket, Lash tab where you can keep some important things like a key, etc.
Also, you can use it in other paddle sports like a canoe, Kayak, etc.
The only bad thing about this vest is its size, which can be considered too small for some of you.
Even though it looks small when compared to your T/Shirt, it provides you the same safety.
How to choose the best one?
Want to choose a life jacket for yourself?
Well, it’s not a difficult task once you understand what are the things you should look up to before buying a jacket.
Now there are several things that you have to consider before buying a life jacket for canoeing, and I will be mentioning them in a bit.
So let’s begin.
Before choosing a life vest, you must consider the activity for which you are buying, which in this case is canoeing.
As you know that we have to sit in a canoe for a long time and paddle with our hands, therefore the comfort comes in the first place.
You have to frequently move your arms to paddle, which means you will need a vest with large armholes; otherwise, your skin will chafe, and your experience will be ruined.
Also, because you will sit for a long time, therefore, you need support for your inner back; otherwise you may feel pain in the back.
And people who already have back pain will need a comfortable foam in the inner back that is why comfort is important.
So whenever you are thinking of buying a jacket, always consider the comfort level as one of the important things.
See whether there is any sort of foam that provides extra comfort or not.
When we are talking about buying a life jacket, the first question you must ask is whether the jacket is USCG Approved or not.
A coast guard regularly goes in the water, and they know what type of vest do you need in such an event.
They classify jackets in five types where all the types are meant to be used in a specific situation.
For instance, Type III life jackets are made for calm and inland water where rescue can occur immediately.
So if a vest is approved by USCG then you can rest assured that the quality is good, otherwise, research why it is not USCG approved?
Is the quality bad or it is made in another country like China?
Anyways, buying a USCG Approved jackets of the proper type should be your goal.
Of course, the material is another important thing to consider while buying a life jacket.
The material used to make the vest determines it’s quality, so getting a good material vest means good quality jacket that will be operational for years to come and vice-versa.
Well, most of the jackets here are made of Nylon, Polyester, Neoprene, and Polyethylene.
Nylon and Polyester is a lightweight, strong material that also can be made waterproof, so they are in good quality material.
Polyethylene is mostly used for internal Foam, and they are strong, comfortable, and add a little stretch to the jacket.
If your jacket has Polyethylene(PE) Foam, then you must be ensured about the good comfort.
Most of the jackets for Water sports like canoeing are made of Nylon(Denier, Oxford, etc.), which is a good material since it is strong and repels water.
But if your vest is made from Neoprene then think no more and get it because it is very strong material and has a natural stretch to it.
Neoprene will also prevent tears and punctures that you may get during canoeing.
Even after getting the right size, you may not get the perfect fit, which can make your experience uncomfortable.
Of course, how can you be comfortable wearing some tight hard material?
So always get a jacket that offers the correct size for your chest and has adjustable straps.
Because even if the size is too small or large, you can adjust it properly for your fit by adjusting the straps.
Also, a perfect fit jacket makes you look good, which I think is the basic requirement for all.
So you must make sure that the buckles and straps are adjustable so that you can tweak them as per your requirement.
Q. Do you need life jackets in a canoe?
Of course, you need life jackets in a canoe, especially in a white water rapid as the water is uncertain and anytime the pace may increase, and an emergency may occur.
Even if you are going in slow pace water then also an uncertain event of the spill may occur that may leave you injured or dizzy.
So life vests must always be we wore even if you feel uncomfortable as no chances must be taken with your life.
Especially if you are a bad or non-swimmer, then wearing a vest is a must.
Q. What is the Difference between a Kayak and Canoe Life Jacket?
Many people argue that there is no difference between a Kayak and Canoe life vest, which I think is only because they look similar.
But when it comes to compatibility, both the vests are different just like their sports, which looks similar but is different.
The basic difference is with their gear as a canoe has two or more people who sit on benches or kneeling down whereas in Kayak people sit on the floor with legs stretched out in front of them.
The paddle used in a canoe is short and has one blade whereas for Kayak it is two sharp blades.
Seeing all these differences, the experts make the jackets specifically compatible for one sport.
Q. Can I use my Kayak Life Jacket on Canoe?
Yes! But before taking this decision, please read the whole thing.
The vest made for Kayak is different from Canoe by their level of compatibility.
Even though both sports look similar, there is a difference that can only be determined with a professional eye.
So, let’s come back to the question.
If you are going to a calm and inland place where the water’s pace is low, then you can wear a Kayak jacket for sure.
But if you want to go to some fast pace water stream, let’s say white water then you need a specially made jacket.
Now, because the sitting positions are different in both, therefore, the level of comfort may not be great, but do check it before going.
Q. Are Canoe Life Jackets Safe?
Of course, they are! That’s why they are life jackets, but don’t be confused by thinking that all life jackets are safe.
Make sure that you buy the vest from an authorized seller that is from a reputable brand.
Buying something from an unknown brand can be dangerous for you as their quality might not be great.
Also, check whether the jacket is USCG Approved or not as an approved jacket is much safer than an unapproved one.
In today’s article, I talked about the Best Life Jackets For Canoeing that you can currently buy in the market. If you like this article, then do share it with your friends and family. Remember, even after wearing a life jacket, you are not fully safe, so try not to act carelessly after wearing one.