Which fishing vests are best?

The amount of gear you need to bring with you while fishing can be overwhelming. Fishing vests can help you organize all of the essentials — including boxes of flies, tools, weights, floatants, leaders and line cleaners — and take them with you while you wade into the stream, lake or river. The Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest comes in a wide range of colors and has accessory loops and multiple pockets for gear.

What to know before you buy a fishing vest

Construction

The type of construction is one of the most crucial factors to consider when purchasing a fishing vest. There are a couple of options when selecting the material your vest is made of.

  • Mesh is a netted material that breathes much better than fabric and is typically cooling on hot days. Mesh also stretches, which can boost your mobility.
  • Fabric is less breathable than mesh, but it’s usually more durable. Common fabrics include cotton, polyester and nylon.

Size

Consider whether the vest comes in multiple sizes, and check the size charts carefully to make sure the one you’re buying will fit. Buy a size or two up, since fishing vests usually run on the shorter side. Some vests are categorized as “one size fits most”; these usually have straps that let you adjust the size.

Weight

Your vest will weigh enough when it’s fully loaded with fishing gear, and you don’t want the vest itself to be too heavy. Lightweight vests are more comfortable, especially when you’re fishing in the summer heat.

What to look for in a quality fishing vest

Comfort

A comfortable vest distributes weight evenly over your back and shoulders, so there are no stress points that form with repetitive use. Your vest should include a belt or shoulder straps that help distribute your gear’s weight. Padding will also help boost comfort, and so will having enough room for full range of motion to set hooks, cast and perform other fishing moves.

Pockets

The best fishing vests have plenty of pockets of different sizes to handle all your fishing gear. Big pockets work best for fly boxes and tools, while smaller pockets work well for storing leaders, weights and other gear. Use specialized pockets to hold beverages. Keep in mind that having too many pockets can prompt you to overpack and leave your vest feeling too bulky.

Fasteners

Pockets won’t be helpful if your fishing gear falls out of them. Use fasteners to secure at least some if not all of the pockets on your vest. Velcro fasteners are the cheapest and easiest, but rugged zippers will secure your gear better.

How much you can expect to spend on a fishing vest

Fishing vests range in price from about $30-$100 or more, depending on the ergonomic design, durability, quality and number of pockets.

Fishing vest FAQ

Do fishing vests also work as life vests?

A. Most don’t have floatation abilities, but it’s an excellent safety feature to look for. Some do act as both fishing vests and life vests, but the buoyant foam used in these double-duty vests often leaves them feeling too bulky.

Are fishing vests usually waterproof?

A. Some provide no waterproofing, and others have selective waterproofing, so you can protect your phone, wallet and other belongings in secure, waterproof pockets. Place your belongings in a plastic bag before putting them in your pocket if you really want to protect them.

Can you use a fishing vest for other activities besides fishing?

A. Fishing vests’ multiple pockets can be helpful for other activities, including hiking, photography, bird watching, hunting and playing some sports, as long as you’re comfortable.

What’s the best fishing vest to buy?

Top fishing vest

BASSDASH Strap Fishing Vest

Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest

What you need to know: This vest comes in a wide range of colors and has accessory loops and multiple pockets for gear.

What you’ll love: It has reflective panels, 18 pockets with lots of storage for gear and all sorts of loops for easy attachment of your net, pole, lights and more. The vest has comfortable, adjustable straps, so it can fit nearly anyone.

What you should consider: The zippers sometimes get stuck on fabric.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top fishing vest for the money

Magreel Fly Fishing Vest

Magreel Fly Fishing Vest

What you need to know: This comfortable vest features a mesh back and lightweight design.

What you’ll love: It has reflective panels to help boost visibility in low light, as well as padded adjustable shoulder straps for just the right fit. The multiple attachment loops and 18 pockets hold everything you need while fishing.

What you should consider: It’s slightly short and might not be very comfortable for tall individuals. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Amarine-Made Fly Fishing Vest Pack

Amarine-Made Fly Fishing Vest Pack

What you need to know: This versatile vest doubles as a life jacket for rough and difficult waters.

What you’ll love: It comes with a nice big zippered back pocket, as well as an adjustable belt for a great fit and big front pockets that work well for fly boxes. Its design allows for an excellent range of motion while casting.

What you should consider: It doesn’t offer as many storage options as other vests.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

Sign up here to receive the BestReviews weekly newsletter for useful advice on new products and noteworthy deals.

Alex Kilpatrick writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

Copyright 2022 BestReviews, a Nexstar company. All rights reserved.