If there ever was a downside to fishing – it’s just how much stuff you need to carry.*
And trying to stay organized can often be a challenge, especially when you just want to get on with landing a catch.
Thankfully, there are all sorts of products and gear out there that helps us do just that.
Like the 11 best fishing vests in 2020.
Even if you currently don’t use one of these game-changers, I guarantee that picking one up will take your fishing experience and skill to the next level.
Don’t miss the buyer’s guide following the review for expert tips and advice on staying organized on the water.
(* Just kidding – there isn’t a downside to fishing.)
Disclosure: At BonfireBob, we recommend products based on unbiased research, however, BonfireBob.com is reader-supported and as an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on this page. For more information, see disclosure here.
Table of Contents
- TOP 11 Best Fishing Vests in 2020
- Bassdash Strap Fishing Vest
- Gihuo Outdoor Multi Pockets Fishing Vest
- Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack Vest
- Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack
- Magreel Fly Fishing Vest
- Master Sportsman Alpine Fishing Vest
- M Maximumcatch Maxcatch Fly Fishing Vest
- Allen Gallatin Ultra Light Fishing Vest
- Simms Headwaters Pro Mesh Fishing Vest
- Flygo Trout Fly Fishing Vest
- Stohlquist Fisherman Fishing Life Jacket
- How to Choose the Best Fishing Vest for Your Needs
TOP 11 Best Fishing Vests in 2020
How to Choose the Best Fishing Vest for Your Needs
Below, you’ll find some extra tips and advice for when you’re in the market for a new fishing vest, as well as some interesting frequently asked questions to help you stay organized on the water.
Why Use a Fishing Vest?
Probably the most obvious reason for using a fishing vest is convenience. You can keep your frequently used fishing tackle and gear to hand when you need it most.
It’s this ability to organize tools and equipment that is essential for many anglers, so you don’t have to keep returning to tackle boxes, and it doesn’t take time away from fishing itself.
Which is the most important thing – let’s be honest.
This is particularly true for fly-fishing, and a good fly vest can really make a difference to your whole angling experience.
Aside from this, a fishing vest can help keep you warm, and some include other safety features – such as reflectors or whistles that can help you be seen and heard while walking at night or in emergencies.
And if you choose one of the more fashion-conscious, versatile fishing vests, you can get away with wearing it all the time, and for multiple activities, such as hiking, camping, or in the bar.
Finally, some fishing vests also double as PFDs. Actually, I should rephrase that. Some PFDs double as fishing vests. Safety is the primary concern here, but it doesn’t hurt to add a few practical features either.
Don’t confuse the two. A fishing vest won’t save your life – but a fishing PFD will (and it will have some extra storage for gear).
For dedicated fishing vests, it’s usually one-size-fits-all, as the majority will offer fully adjustable straps and buckles to suit the wearer.
Look for options that are marketed as unisex, adaptable for use by men and women.
Other fishing vests – particularly the aforementioned fashion garments – will likely come in a choice of sizes, so you can pick up something that fits your frame the best.
When in doubt, and when shopping online for any item of clothing, check reviews and look for comments from people who share a similar build to you.
Then you’ll know if a product runs small or large, can adjust accordingly, and then hopefully keep those negative reviews down.
Fishing can be as energetic or as lazy as you like, but whichever style you prefer, you’ll need clothing and gear that will stand up to the rigors of the outdoors.
This is very much true with fishing vests, as they’re going to get a lot of use over the course of their lifetime, being at the mercy of the elements while doing so.
Look for well-made, tough, and durable options that have been manufactured with premium materials and craftsmanship.
Check zippers and fastenings, and make sure that the item doesn’t have a history of falling apart after being out once on a saltwater excursion.
Breathability and Ventilation
If you’re standing, moving, or working all day in a fishing vest, it’s likely that you’ll build up a sweat – especially if you’re on the water during warmer days.
And some vests just happen to run warm anyway.
As such, check to see that the vest you’re interested in has proper ventilation. Look for mesh straps and/or back webbing. Make sure it’s not going to be too figuring-hugging and offers room to breathe.
Having a sweaty, sticky, uncomfortable back or chest is a sure fire way to ruin your day.
Pockets and Compartments
Now, this is where fishing vests really come into their own. They’re basically the vest equivalent of tactical cargo pants.
If a fishing vest doesn’t have a load of pockets and storage compartments in which to stash, protect, or keep your gear to hand – then it isn’t a fishing vest. At least, not a good one.
It goes without saying that the more stuff you have, the more pockets you’re going to need. Likewise, if you don’t need upwards of 18 zippered compartments, perhaps look for something more subtle, such as an ultra-lightweight version with a smaller profile.
As much as the overall durability of the garment is important, so too is its ability to repel water.
This is where I always like to remind people that most clothing isn’t ever going to be 100% waterproof, unless you’re paying silly amounts of money.
Most fishing vests will offer you water-repellent as standard – but it’s going to still soak through in the event of a downpour, or if you’re hit with a rogue wave.
If you’re concerned about valuables getting wet – it’s a good idea to invest in a decent dry bag.
Style and color
How you look out on the water might not matter to many anglers – so long as the garment is practical.
But it’s still an important factor to consider for the rest of us – otherwise we wouldn’t need any thought put into making gear that looks attractive.
Choose whatever style or color you prefer, but bear in mind that brighter fishing vests offer an extra safety aesthetic when it comes to visibility – particularly on those darker days or in poor weather.
You don’t have to break the bank to purchase a good, serviceable fishing vest, but if you really want something that’s going to last with hardware that can take a beating – then it’s worth digging a little deeper.
But, it’s really up to you. The more important factor is choosing the one that is right for you and your needs. Always buy the best you can afford.
So long as it works for you – it’s only money. Fishing is far more important.
What is a fishing vest?
A fishing vest is an item of clothing that shares similarities with a normal vest or waistcoat, but with the inclusion of multiple pockets, compartments, and extra storage options for an angler’s gear.
They come in predominantly two distinct styles – vests that are really only designed to be worn when you’re fishing, and more multi-use styles that can be worn anytime as a regular, everyday garment.
Do I need a fishing vest?
You don’t need a fishing vest to go fishing, but it’s highly recommended if you’re planning on taking up the sport regularly – or you’re already a keen angler that might just be missing something.
It’s a game changer for anyone who has ever run out of pockets or places to store their stuff and gear in the field.
And there are some excellent stylish options out there that you can wear away from the water’s edge, doubling up as a decent item of clothing in its own right.
Nothing says “I like the outdoors” quite like a fishing vest.
How to pack a fishing vest?
Great question, the answer to which we could spend a whole article discussing. Check out the video below for some top tips and ideas on how best to stock your fishing vest.
Note that this is for spin fishing and fly or other types will be slightly different – but you can still get the idea. Check online for more experience and suggestions.
What to put in a fishing vest?
A similar question to the one above. It’s too easy to say “everything you need for fishing.” Watch the video below to see what one fisherman takes with him in his vest.
Fly-fishing vest vs pack
This depends on how you like to fish and how much you think you’ll be carrying. Of course, you can always get both, and spread your gear between a vest and a pack.
That way you can carry more equipment, offering you a wider range of options when you’re on the water.
You can then move gear around and only carry what you need on your actual vest.
There are many rigs and set-ups/loadouts to be discovered – find what works best for you.
What is the recommended sizing for a fishing vest?
Most fishing vests are one-size-fits-most, with adjustable straps to ensure a comfortable wearing experience.
However, there are products that are sized similar to normal items of clothing, such as jackets, waistcoats, or sweaters, etc.
If that’s the case, check with the manufacturer of your product of choice and follow their sizing guide so you know you’ll order the right fit.
And then many experienced anglers recommend you go up a size from what you normally would wear – so you can layer clothing underneath and have freedom of movement.
What is the best fishing vest?
That is up to you to decide. However, for me, out of all the products I covered in the review above – I lean towards the style that you can wear when you’re not fishing – or for other activities, too.
That’s just me though – I like things that are versatile and multi-use.
Are fishing vests flotation devices?
No. Never use them as such.
Unless, of course, they actually are designed to be. In which case, it’s not a fishing vest, but a personal flotation device with some practical fishing accessories.
Never rely on a fishing vest as a flotation aid. It’s a fishing PFD that you want for that.
There you have it folks, the exciting world of fishing vests. Some are stylish, some are practical, some even offer both. Choosing the best fishing vest of 2020 might not be as easy as it seems.
Let me know in the comments which one you would go for and why.
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