Kayaking is a very slick activity where a little disbalance can land a person in the water.
During your training, you may fall into the water a lot, and while you may be a great swimmer, life jackets can not be overlooked.
They are an indispensable floatation device that will offer us support. The balance and speed that Kayaking requires also comes with the requirement of adequate safety measures.
If you’re a woman who loves Kayaking or seeks to learn it anytime soon, then you need proper gear. It all starts with a life jacket. These are the only reliable partners that will keep you from drowning in the water.
Men or women, everyone needs life jackets. However, there are certain requirements a life jacket for kayaking women should fulfill.
So, without further ado, let’s take a look at these vests.
7. MTI Fluid 2.0 Belt Pack
Tired of wearing vest-type life jackets? Well, not anymore! As this USCG approved Inflatable PFD will take care of the safety while feeling natural.
Even though it’s small, its safety, comfort, and mobility are equivalent to or greater than other vests. Being inflatable it has a 24g CO2 cylinder inside that inflates the jacket in mere seconds upon pulling the cord.
Once inflated you have to pull it overhead for getting maximum buoyancy. After use, take the help of printed lines on the bladder to refold it into the belt.
There is an indicator inside the belt (attached to the inflation mechanism) that gives an insight into whether the PFD is ready for use or not. Red means “NO,” reason being you haven’t attached the cylinder while Green means “Yes.”
It’s an intelligent idea to check the indicator pre-use to ensure your safety.
Below is a boring point that you may need to know.
To ensure that the vest inflates properly, MTI uses a Premium Halkey Robert inflation mechanism that takes care of the inflation process.
Was it boring? I warned you!
Thanks to its size, it isn’t as bulky as traditional vests and doesn’t constrain movements like some others do which means its rather lightweight and fully mobile. Also, it can easily fit in the luggage without taking extra space.
The back mesh panel gives comfy support to the back (great for people with back pain) while its slender design doesn’t interfere with the high back seat of your Kayak that makes it comfortable.
On-top you get a small convenient zippered pocket where you can store your car keys or chapstick if you want to take it along. Otherwise, you can also store a back-up CO2 cylinder for further use.
Oh! Did I mention that you need to replace the CO2 cylinder after using it? Well, you have to!
Since you have to pull it over the head (once inflated) I will never recommend it to non-swimmers or weak swimmers since they may panic and forget to get it over.
Currently, it’s available in two colors and one size (50” waist) that you can adjust.
- Lightweight, allows mobility, slender design
- Zippered pocket and indicator insight
- Inflatable, easy to inflate
- USCG Approved
- Printed lines to easily refold it
- Have to replace CO2 cylinder after use
- Not for non/weak swimmers
6. Astral V-Eight Life Jacket
With an open and unique design, this PFD from Astral is specially made for recreational Kayaking. Its ample chest room offers enough space and makes it comfortable for large women.
From the design itself, you must have noticed its sturdiness. Made from 200X400 Denier Ripstop Nylon shell and polyester mesh liner with PolyPro webbing it has a sturdy exterior to tackle heavy pressure in the water.
The mesh on the front and back makes it breathable and not only ventilates the air but also provides a convenient way to drain water which makes it lightweight and cool even on a hot day. Since the foam is pre-shaped it’s a comfortable fit for men and women.
The PE(Polyethylene) and EVA(Ethylene-vinyl acetate) foam inside makes it very soft and comfy to wear, and also provides good buoyancy to keep you afloat. The vest provides a buoyancy rating of 16 lbs which is good enough to keep an adult afloat.
The foam on the upper back provides buoyancy while the mesh on the lower back makes it comfortable to sit on high back seat Kayaks. This division is great since it divides the buoyancy to keep you afloat while efficiently making sure you sit comfortably on the seat.
The zipper closure on-front keeps you secure inside while the adjustable straps (on side and shoulder) allows you to customize this kayak life jacket according to your fit. There are two large zippered pockets on each side that provide storage options for your gear.
Even though pockets are said to be large they aren’t as roomy as other vests. Personally, I can’t fit a 6s in there, so you can imagine how small it is. Maybe, a key or whistle can be good, but a big NO for anything bigger.
It also has a convenient lash tab where you can keep your rescue knife for an emergency. Approved by USCG Type III life jacket it’s currently available in 4 colors and 3 sizes.
- Durable and comfy
- Lightweight and Breathable
- Eco-friendly and good for high back seat
- USCG Approved
- Plenty of color and size
- Too much padding near the front zipper can make it difficult to zip up.
- Pockets are way smaller
5. Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports
With a modern look and open design, this life jacket from Onyx is the perfect mix of style with safety. For the unknown, Onyx is popular for making great vests with a fantastic design.
Its large armholes provide mobility and don’t constrain your movement while paddling which means you can kayak for hours without feeling discomfort. The mesh on the lower back makes it comfy for high back seat kayak while the open side makes it breathable.
The adjustable shoulders and sides allow you to customize the vest according to your fit, so no matter if you are slim or fat, you can get a good fit. Also, the shoulders have neoprene pads so you will be comfortable all the time.
Remember, if you have a large chest (like real large) then this may not fit as expected, so check some other vests (on the list) or take a look at large bust life jackets.
On each shoulder strap, we have a SOLAS grade reflective trim that enhances visibility during low light which is great if you are planning to go during dusk/dawn or night. Also, its high visibility colors make it easy to spot during the day.
It’s sturdy thanks to the 200 denier nylon ripstop and nylon Oxford material that ensures it won’t rip-off easily while the soft flotation foam gives a comfy interior.
Its zippered pocket gives you a small storage area to put your ID or car keys so you can carry them along safely while the inner mesh drains the water coming inside. Remember, it’s not waterproof.
Approved by USCG as Type III life jacket its available in four colors and three sizes.
- Stylish, sturdy and comfortable
- Adjustable and breathable
- High visibility color with reflective trim
- Zippered pocket with drain
- USCG approved
- Not great if you have a large chest
4. Astral Women’s Layla
Another life jacket from Astral, but this one is made for enthusiastic women who love kayaking, especially in whitewater.
Made from 200X400 Denier Ripstop Nylon with stretch polyester lycra shell with 200 Denier high tenacity nylon liner and a PolyPro webbing it’s among the sturdiest vest on the list. All these materials combined give you the best protection possible even in a high-pressure zone.
The PVC-free Gaia and PE(Polyethylene) foam inside offers great comfort even when you are paddling vigorously. Its feminine design gives you the best comfort necessary so you can focus more on paddling than readjusting the jacket.
The internally sculpted bust cup with Kapok foam provides great support and comfort to the bust. Since it has ample chest room, its good for large-busted women.
Unlike other vests, its multiple adjustable straps(shoulder and sides) give you more adjustability options while the zipper at quarter keeps you secure inside. Since the zipper is at quarter the pressure divides thus ensuring it won’t break on a huge impact.
Personally, I found that sometimes the zipper slightly comes unzipped when I’m moving a lot, that however, it not a big deal. One thing I loved is its buoyancy which is good enough to keep even a non-swimmer afloat.
At the center, we have a big pocket which is internally divided into three sections where one is big enough for carrying a phone, beverages while the other two can have a whistle or keys.
Being at the center it’s very convenient, but I would be much happy if instead of a flap pocket it would have been a zippered one.
Anyways, the pocket isn’t waterproof so don’t forget to put your mobile in a waterproof case. There is enough airflow under the arms thanks to its open design which makes it comfortable even during hot weather.
Being USCG Approved Type III life jackets its three colors and four size options.
- Very sturdy and comfortable
- Sculpted bust cup for greater support
- Multiple adjust points for maximum adjustability
- Big Pocket and open design
- USCG Approved
- Little bulky, of course, with so many things you can’t expect a super light vest
With high visibility colors and great design, this life jacket from Astral is something you will love. Not only does it look beautiful but its women’s design makes you feel comfy in the water.
The PE(Polyethylene) foam in the front provides comfort while keeping you afloat. Since the foam is at the front, you get a thin-vent back that is very comfortable against the kayak high back seat. But with all that padding present the front becomes too thick and bulky.
The back mesh makes it breathable and lightweight since it ventilates out excess heat while draining out the excess water collecting inside. Its adjustable shoulders let you customize the fit thus making sure it fits right.
Made from 200 denier high-tenacity nylon shell and liner that provides a durable exterior to withstand heavy wear and tear. The large armholes provide mobility and don’t constrain your movements while you are paddling or swimming.
The front zipper closure keeps you securely fit inside while the two front pockets give you plenty of storage to put your gear. These pockets are big enough to store your phone in one and a camera in the other. And don’t worry as the YKK self-locking vision teeth zipper keeps them securely tight.
Remember, the pockets aren’t waterproof so put your phone in a waterproof bag. It’s USCG approved Type III vest so you can trust its safety.
Currently, it’s available in three colors and three size options.
- Sturdy and comfortable
- Two big pockets
- Back Mesh and adjustable shoulder
- USCG Approved
- Bulky and thick at the front
2. Stohlquist Betsea
For those willing to take their kayaking experience to the next level is this life jacket from Stohlquist. With great design and comfort, it offers excellent safety in the water.
Made from 200 Denier Oxford nylon and 500 Denier Cordura shell its sturdy exterior withstands huge pressure and resists rip off. Like, with proper care it can last for years to come.
Unlike other vests, it has an ergonomic WRAPTURE shaped torso that wraps around the body to give a close and comfortable fit. The cross-chest cinch ensures that the flotation remains low on the torso which ultimately resists the vest from riding upon the face.
Being a man I can’t test it myself, so I gave it to my female friend who tested it and told me about its wonderful comfort even after wearing it for hours.
Like the last vest, it has a built-in contoured supportive inner cups that provide support and comfort to your chest so you don’t feel like squeezed out. Its large armholes and open design enable full mobility so you can sail without any hindrance.
The zipper on the front keeps you secure inside while the two large zippered pockets provide a convenient place to store accessories like phone, whistle, lip balm, etc. Remember, pockets aren’t waterproof.
Inside the pocket is a key attachment point for securely attaching important keys. Apart from that, there are plush-lined hand warmer pockets for those cold weather when hands begin to freeze.
Its adjustable straps (shoulder and chest) lets you customize the fit according to your will, so if you feel it tight or loose simply use the straps and you are good to go.
There is a reflective trim on the shoulder and back that enhances your visibility during low light which is great if you are going out during dusk/dawn or night.
Being approved by USCG and Transport Canada its available in three colors and two size options.
- Sturdy and Comfortable
- Storage pockets with handwarmer pockets
- Enhances visibility during low light
- Adjustable so fits better
- USCG and Transport Canada approved
- A little bulky
1. Stohlquist Women’s Flo
When it comes to beautiful design, great safety, and high comfort nothing can beat this life jacket from Stohlquist. Being one of the most loved women’s PFD it’s something you will love to wear.
Made from 400X200 denier ripstop shell and 210 denier Oxford liner, it’s amongst the sturdiest PFD on the list that can last for seasons. The lightweight PE foam inside makes it very comfortable while its inner mesh lining makes it breathable and maintains a cool temperature inside.
Its open design and large armholes provide mobility and comfort that allows you to paddle without any problem. Unlike other vests, it has a lightweight design that doesn’t feel like a burden.
The front zipper closure gives a convenient way to keep yourself safe inside and makes it easy to put the jacket on or off. The two large pockets offer storage to put your essentials.
Personally, I felt that the pockets are skinny and can’t store much, especially big gear. Also, the pockets don’t have a zipper closure, instead, it has a snap that doesn’t feel very secure to me.
There are built-in supportive foam cups that provide extra support and comfort to the chest. And that makes it great for larger women who have trouble finding a good vest.
The adjustable shoulder and cross strap helps you customize the fit according to your body, so it doesn’t matter whether you are large or skinny, you can get a good fit. Also, the cross strap resists the vest from riding up thus preventing chafe.
Its unique design has a high back flotation that fits in comfortably with the modern high back seat. Since the flotation is present on the upper half of the back it makes it comfortable and buoyant.
Being USCG Approved Type III PFD, it’s available in two sizes and three colors.
- Sturdy and very comfortable
- Built-in supportive foam cups
- Adjustable and secure
- Two pockets for storage
- USCG Approved
- Pockets have snap not zippers
But even if you are a pro at kayaking, are you free from all risks?
Well, no adventure is fun without some risk involved. As much as it is daring to take risks, it is even smarter to take safety measures to combat the risks.
Water sports are dangerous as the major risk involved with it is the risk of drowning. When you are out kayaking, you never really can foretell the weather.
Any unpleasant weather can take a toll on your kayaking skills, and you may have to deal with heavy water currents. What if you are an inexperienced person and your inexperience makes you fall into the water.
You may fall sick or be dehydrated and lose all the stamina to do kayaking. All these are situations when you may have high chances of drowning if you don’t take the necessary precautions.
And the most important thing that will save you from drowning is a life jacket.
How important is a life jacket for kayaking?
Without wearing a life jacket, you should never even think of kayaking, however good you are at it. It is very basic to wear a life jacket as it prepares you to handle any risks coming your way in the journey.
Statistics show that most of the kayaking related drowning happens because the rider was not wearing a life jacket. It will be a very careless and negligent attitude if you don’t wear one.
But, is it enough that you just wear a life jacket of any size, shape? The answer is ‘no’ as you will be required to choose a jacket according to your size and body weight.
The color choice is also equally vital as you should pick those colors which can be easily visible on the water. The visibility factor will act as a signal for the others during any emergency.
You will need to ensure that you are correctly wearing the life jacket. That it is properly zipped and well fitted in your body, as otherwise wearing it wrongly shall not serve the purpose.
Finally, the life jacket should not be in a damaged condition and should be perfect for the depth of water. Life jackets will help you survive in case of any unfortunate mishaps while kayaking.
Things to Keep in Mind
The purpose of the life jacket is to keep you floating in the water. The reason why it is called a life jacket is that it saves you from drowning as you remain floated on top of the water.
Therefore, you should always opt for one which has greater buoyancy. In simple words, the life jacket should have the maximum ability to make you float in an emergency.
Choosing between an automatic or manual life jacket
This is also an important aspect before purchasing a life jacket. Before using a life jacket, it has to be inflated, and this can be done either manually or automatically.
Manually, you can pull a cord in the jacket, and it will inflate the life jacket by inserting a firing pin into the CO2 bottle.
Otherwise, you can opt for the automatically inflated life jackets, which will get inflated on its own once you come in contact with water. Both have pros and cons.
If you are too unsure or panicky of how to use the manual life jacket, then go for the automatically inflated life jacket. But, at times, automatic ones may cheat you by false activation if giant waves hit you.
Choose one jacket depending on what type of water body you will be sailing through, how much distance you will cover, and your expertise.
Size of the life jacket:
Now, the size of the life jacket is naturally something you ought to keep in mind while purchasing one. It should not be too tight or too loose to begin with. It has to be best and comfortably fitted to your body after taking proper measurements.
Buying a wrong-sized life jacket will simply not serve the purpose, and it will do no good to you during an emergency. If there is no life jacket available according to your size, you may choose to order one for you according to your size.
Remember, safety is the most important thing while kayaking, and it is in your hands. Women especially have to choose the life jacket that fits their body size. You should not mistakenly choose a life jacket designed for men.
Excellent Quality, Strong, and Durable:
When you are kayaking, keeping in mind your safety, choose the best quality life jacket for yourself. The life jacket should be purchased from a recognized and reliable brand only.
Choose a brand that is popular among water athletes or used in major competitions. You should never compromise on the quality. A reliable brand will ensure that the life jacket is strong enough to tackle any adverse water conditions.
Water conditions include rough weather, strong waves, strong currents, submerged rocks and ice, and various other difficulties that may come your way.
At the same time, durability will allow you to be assured that it will not be damaged easily, and you will be able to use it for the longest time.
When you buy a long-lasting, durable life jacket, you gain a certain level of confidence after using it for a long time. You have the expertise to wear it and overcome any situation.
Whereas, continuously replacing a jacket with a new one means you will need to get used to the new jacket and its usage. It may act as a hindrance to your expertise and confidence.
It is recommended that you buy a life jacket that has the best brand value in the market, reliable quality, and durable in nature. It means that you may be required to invest some good money for it.
But, if you look at the bigger picture, this investment will be a very long term investment and will turn out cost-effective for you.
Whereas, if you buy a cheaper life jacket and then you have to replace it with a new one after a few months, you end up spending more and also compromise on the quality too.
Therefore, before purchasing a life jacket, have a look at its cost-effectiveness.
Visibility is also an important factor which should not be overlooked while making a deal of life jacket. Life jackets are emergency devices that will save your life when you are drowning in water.
While the life jackets will save you temporarily, a visibly, a bright-colored life jacket will make it easier for others to trace you and rescue you from the situation.
This is why you must purchase a jacket, which can be easily seen from a long distance. Avoid colors that blend in well with nature as it may be difficult to identify you.
Securing and comfortable:
The life jackets should be such that it should secure you tightly, and the straps should not loosen on its own. Securing and holding you firmly is the main function of a life jacket.
Therefore, when you go to buy one, make sure to try them out and be sure that it has good securing facilities.
While securing and wearing the best size are the topmost things to be considered while buying a life jacket, comfort should not be neglected. Wearing uncomfortable life jackets and suffocating yourself is not a good idea.
If any part of the life jacket irritates you, then you should not think about buying it. While you are in the water, you should be absolutely comfortable too.
So, in order to buy a life jacket, no one factor is important, make sure to choose one, which is a blend of all the factors mentioned above. All the factors are very important and are imperative to your safety while kayaking.
FAQs about life jackets:
Are there life jackets specially designed for women?
Well, traditionally, kayaking and other water activities had majorly male participants. Therefore, life jackets were manufactured, keeping only male customers in mind.
But, things have changed drastically as more women are participating in kayaking. Thus, a lot of manufacturers are making life jackets, especially for women and their needs. You should always purchase one for you as that will be the best fit for your body.
What type of life jackets should I consider buying if I am not a swimmer?
If you are kayaking, being a swimmer is an added advantage in any dangerous situation. But, that does not mean, non-swimmers should be discouraged from kayaking.
Non-swimmers will have to keep in mind that you buy life jackets with extra buoyancy features. This will help you remain floating in the water. Depending upon your body weight, you should be able to choose one but with extra buoyancy.
Do I need to be trained before using a life jacket while kayaking?
It is highly recommended that you take basic training as to how to wear the life jacket, how to inflate it, and how to secure it properly in your body. You should not really take the accidents related to kayaking very lightly as it can cost your life.
Therefore, get the basic training with regards to life jacket so that you can perform well during an emergency. You should be well acquainted with the life jacket techniques well before going for kayaking.
How do I determine when I have to replace the old life new jacket with a new one?
Life jackets should be purchased, keeping in mind the durability and long-lasting factor. But, depending on usage, they may be prone to damage, excess molds, or fading colors.
You should think about replacing it once you see the straps are in bad condition, there is excess tear or mold. If the color of the jacket has faded excessively, then you should consider replacing it with a new one as color plays an important role in rescuing.
Are life jackets automatically inflatable?
It depends upon the type of life jacket you choose to purchase. Automatically inflated life jackets will inflate on their own upon falling in water.
But, there are manually inflatable life jackets too, which you have to inflate manually. So, not all life jackets are automatically inflatable.
Should I buy a life jacket or simply borrow one?
It totally depends upon you. If kayaking is your regular activity or you are getting training for it, then you should consider a new one for yourself.
But, if you are just going to use it for a few days during your holidays or just have one experience, then there is no point buying one. Instead, you can easily borrow a life jacket from life jacket loaner organizations.
Look for a reliable life jacket loaner, pay a small fee, and borrow it for some time. Give it back to them after you are done using it.
How long can I float wearing a life jacket?
Depending upon the quality of the life jacket and its flexibility, you may remain floated up to a few days in the water. But, being floated is not the only tactic of survival.
Water bodies like the sea have many other challenges like salinity, which will eventually kill you with the rise in salt in your body.
Therefore, life jackets are an emergency tool that will save you for the time being. You will be required to make a concrete plan and take an elaborate preparation before going for kayaking.
Just carrying a life jacket is not everything. Nevertheless, kayaking is one of the most thrilling activities and an experience of a lifetime; you should go for it if you find an opportunity.
Finally, its the end, it was a sweet journey. Today in this article, I talked about the best life jackets for kayaking women that you can get. It took me a while to write all this, so I will really appreciate it if you could take a minute and share it with your enthusiast friends.