Responsible for keeping you afloat whenever you get dumped into the water, a life jacket is the most important safety gear to don while canoeing. While the main purpose of a life jacket for canoeing is to keep you afloat when you find yourself in the water, how the vest fits and feels will also determine your paddling experience.

For this reason, your best bet for safety and comfort when canoeing is to pick a personal flotation device (PFD) that is best suited for this sport in particular. Below, we present five PFDs that perform best when canoeing and offer some tips for choosing the best canoe PFD for your needs.

How To Choose A Life Jacket For Canoeing – Buying Guide



With canoeing life jackets, a perfect fit is also a matter of safety, not just one of comfort. Too loose, and your life jacket might slip away while in the water. Too tight and you won’t have enough room to paddle.

Life jackets are sized according to chest measurements. To determine what size to order, measure around the broadest part of your chest. When evaluating the best life jackets for canoeing, take a look at the manufacturer’s size chart and choose the size that corresponds with your chest size.

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A canoeing life vest should conform to your body and move with you. This means that it should offer a snug yet comfortable fit that doesn’t interfere with paddling. It should also stay in place without riding up.

Besides ordering the right size based on your chest measurements, pay attention to the adjustment options a life jacket offers. The best canoe PFDs offer plenty of adjustable straps allowing you to achieve a custom fit.   


High-quality canoe life vests and other life jackets for water sports are typically made of synthetic fabrics designed to retain air and float, while also sustaining the weight of your body while immersed in water. The best canoe life jackets are made of high denier nylon fabrics with great water and abrasion resistance.



Q: What Is The Difference Between A Kayak And Canoe Life Jacket?


Since both a kayak and a canoe are paddle crafts, kayak and canoe life jackets are very similar. Both kayak life jackets and canoe life vests feature a low profile design for comfort in a sitting or kneeling position. They also have large arm openings for a wide range of motion. Finally, kayak and canoe vests have minimal foam or mesh in the lower back for compatibility with kayak and canoe seats. 

Q: Can I Use My Kayak Life Jacket On The Canoe?


Yes, you can. Both kayaks and canoes require a life jacket that provides freedom of movement for paddling, and can accommodate the high seats in a kayak or canoe. For this reason, a life jacket for kayaking can qualify as one of the best canoe PFDs and vice versa.

Q: Are Canoe Life Jackets Safe?


Yes, canoe life jackets are safe. This is the whole point of a life vest, to make your canoeing adventures as safe as possible. All the best life jackets for canoeing in our canoe PFD reviews above are Coast Guard approved and safe.

However, it’s important to ensure that you order the right size. Too big or too small a size can diminish the safety provided by the PFD. Before you hit the water, you should also ensure your life vest is in good condition.

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Canoeing is an immense source of fun on the water. Like with any other water sports, safety comes first. Before you embark on a canoe ride, you need to put on the best canoe PFD. We hope our guide on the best life jackets for canoeing has helped you pick out the right life vest for your canoe and the kind of canoeing adventures you enjoy.

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