Best Fishing Vests in 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

Fishing is all about the interplay between skill, patience, and packing the right equipment. In order to secure a catch, you will have to carry around different hooks, lures, and other accessories. This can get out of hand at times and you start losing track of your gear. 

Here comes the role of fishing vests. They allow you to organize your various tools and make everything within a hand’s reach to quickly swap different pieces and act in a fraction of a second to retrieve your catch.

We put together a list of the best fishing vests that can make your fishing trips a lot easier. Without further ado, let’s dive into what makes or breaks a fishing vest and how to pick one that better suits your needs.

At a Glance:

  • Kylebooker Pack Adjustable Fly Fishing Vest – Best Overall
  • Allen Gallatin Ultra Light Fishing Vest – Best for Hot Weather
  • Gihuo Men’s Multi Pockets Fishing Vest – Best for Beginners
  • Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack – Best for Fly Fishing
  • Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack  – Most Storage
  • Master Sportsman 26 Pocket Fishing Vest – Best Value

The 6 Best Fishing Vests in 2020

1. Kylebooker Pack Adjustable Fly Fishing Vest– Best Overall

Kylebooker Pack Adjustable Fly Fishing Vest

Kylebooker sought to tick all the boxes when it comes to designing their Fly Fishing Vest. The vest comes with a total of 17 interior and exterior pockets that are securely closed with zippers. It still managed to retain a lightweight form factor that only weighs 23 ounces. This makes it comfortable to wear all day long without getting too heavy even after you pack it with all your fishing accessories.

This unisex fishing vest has a breathable mesh back which makes a huge difference, especially on hot fishing days. Though it only comes in one size, it offers adjustable shoulder and waist straps that allow you to tweak the vest for a better fit.

Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest comes with a rod holder strap, which proves to be convenient when you want to get your hands free and reach out for lures or clippers in your vest’s pockets. Also, the strap can make moving around much easier, as your rod is kept secure in place, and you don’t have to worry about where to put it when you’re on the move.

When it comes to style, Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest delivers a selection of colors to choose from. You can pick it in army green, khaki, or light gray. Some models are bundled with a water bladder, which is a nice addition to stay hydrated on your fishing trips.

Pros:

  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Versatile and suitable for different types of fishing
  • A dedicated fishing rod holder strap
  • Color options

Cons:

  • No foam pieces to hold the flies

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a well-rounded fishing vest that gets the job done, Kylebooker Fly Fishing Vest is the one for you. The included rod holder strap can change how you tackle different fishing scenarios and allows you to quickly reach out for your tools without worrying about your rod’s stability.

2. Allen Gallatin Ultra Light Fishing Vest – Best for Hot Weather

Allen Gallatin Ultra Light Fishing Vest

If you’re looking for a low-key, minimalist vest that you can forget you have it on, then look no more. Allen Gallatin Ultralight Fishing Vest managed to deliver a package that satisfies anglers who feel restrained by the conventional fishing vests’ design while still retaining its core functionality by offering a ton of space to store your equipment.

Even after you pack it to the full, you won’t feel that it’s dragging you down as the weight rests at the back of the neck. It comes with a padded neck strap that holds the vest in place and provides a cushion at the back of your neck to keep you comfortable.

The vest is perfect for fly fishing as it comes with two wide front pockets secured by zippers. Those can fit even the largest fly boxes.

Due to its open nature, it makes sense that the Allen Company went for a one size option that fits most people without any problems. The vest’s functionality, features, and open design, all share to offer the best package for hot weather.

Pros:

  • Open design
  • Suitable for hot weather
  • Padded neck strap

Cons:

  • Not waterproof

Bottom Line

Allen Gallatin Ultra Light Fishing Vest is your go-to option for extremely hot weathers thanks to its open nature. It’s designed for anglers who are looking for a more liberating form factor without sacrificing functionality.

3. Gihuo Men’s Multi Pockets Fishing Vest – Best for Beginners

Gihuo Men's Multi Pockets Fishing Vest

Gihuo took a different approach from the other entries on this list. They went for an old-school, basic design that is ideal for beginners and anglers who don’t usually like to clutter their pockets with a lot of accessories.

Gihuo Men’s Fishing Vest is made of a nylon outer shell and a polyester lining. The material choice makes it mildly waterproof for protection against morning dew and drizzle rain. The vest is quick to dry and surprisingly durable for its ultralight footprint.

One of the most overlooked aspects of a fishing vest is how easy it is to clean it. Gihuo made sure its vest is easy to look after as it’s machine-washable. It also offers a variety of pockets; some come with zippers, others use buttons for easy access.

When it comes to adjustability, the vest features drawstrings in the hem to adjust the fabric’s elasticity. You’d also be happy to hear that you can rock your newly purchased vest not only on your fishing trips but also it can double as a travel vest, a safari vest, and a hunting vest.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Machine-washable
  • Suitable for beginners
  • Versatile

Cons:

  • The sizing can be a little bit tricky
  • Not enough room for experienced anglers with more equipment

Bottom Line

Gihuo Lightweight Quick Dry Outdoor Multi Pockets Fishing Vest can be the best clutter-free option for beginners and anglers who prefer to carry the bare minimum accessories on them.

4. Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack – Best for Fly Fishing

Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack

If you’re all for a premium, heavy-duty vest that is primarily designed with fly fishing in mind, Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack is exactly what you’re looking for. It comes with 17 exterior and interior pockets that make it possible to pack your entire fly fishing kit.

Fly anglers will be surprised by how efficient the vest is in its space management. The vest features two zip-down fly benches with replaceable foam to accommodate for the flies. It also offers tool tabs, net sheath, and a D-ring where you can attach your clippers.

A nice addition that will make your long trips more convenient is the inclusion of a zippered back pouch. It’s perfect for stashing your lunch, water bottle, or raincoat.

Moreover, the two roomy vertical pockets can fit multiple fly boxes of different sizes. As you can see, you have plenty of room to organize all your equipment and be ready for whatever your next fly fishing trip throws your way.

Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack has an adjustable shoulder strap and a waist belt for custom fit and utmost comfort. With all its front and back pouches, the vest still managed to remain breathable thanks to its back mesh.

The signature Cyclepond fabric that makes up the main body of the vest has been recycled from commercial fishing nets, making it one of the most environmentally friendly vests on the market.

Pros:

  • Perfect for fly fishing
  • The inclusion of two zip-down fly benches
  • Environmentally friendly 

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Customers report that the vest can be too big

Bottom Line

Fishpond Gore Range Tech Pack checks all the boxes in every fly angler’s wish list. It offers plenty of room to fit your entire fly fishing gear and, at the same time, manages to keep everything simple without clutter.

5. Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack – Most Storage

Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack

Angalatech offers a unique fishing vest that doubles as a backpack. This makes it the perfect vest option for extended fishing trips that span a couple of days. It managed to combine the ease of reach and convenience of a fishing vest to the storage and functionality of a backpack.

The backpack allows you to keep all your stuff in the same place, so you don’t have to worry about losing a bag or a gearbox while you’re venturing at sea or on the bank of a river. It also comes with a built-in 1.5 liters water bladder to keep you hydrated without having to carry around extra bottles.

Although Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack might seem like a hassle to carry around, especially in hot weather, that is far from the truth. It managed to smartly incorporate breathable mesh that allows the free flow of air to keep you cool even on the hottest days.

It wouldn’t be a proper storage solution for adventurers without a rugged, durable build. Anglatech vest is made of heavy-duty ripstop nylon that resists wear and tear.

Pros:

  • Built-in water bladder
  • Rugged
  • Doubles as a backpack for maximum storage
  • Perfect for long fishing trips

Cons:

  • Some people might consider it bulky
  • Zippers are made of plastic

Bottom Line

If you’re one of the people who always look for the “one to rule them all” kind of products, you’d be satisfied with what you get here. Anglatech Fly Fishing Backpack offers tons of storage to keep you well prepared on your long fishing trips.

6. Master Sportsman 26 Pocket Fishing Vest – Best Value

Master Sportsman 26 Pocket Fishing Vest

If you keep running out of pockets on your current vest and you’re looking for an upgrade without breaking your wallet, what about getting a vest that comes with a whopping 26 pockets?

The vast number of pockets will help you organize your lures, hooks, and all other accessories in the neatest way possible. You can pack everything separately, which makes it a breeze to find what you’re looking for in no time.

Master Sportsman Pocket Fishing Vest is primarily made out of cotton with a polyester lining, which makes it breathable and lightweight. However, cotton can get dirty quickly, and you might have a hard time getting the stains out.

Since the vest packs an exceptional number of pouches, we can’t complain much that it’s oddly shorter than average fishing vests on the market. It remains somewhat high on your torso, and we’d love to see a longer version that can provide even larger room for your stuff. However, at this price point, we can’t complain.

At a budget entry price, Master Sportsman Vest managed to squeeze in some additional features that make it by far the best value for your money. It comes with a holder for your fishing rod and gives you the freedom to customize your setup by offering removable fly patches.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Comes with 26 large pockets
  • Removable fly patches
  • Breathable

Cons:

  • The cotton body can be hard to clean
  • Shorter than the average fishing vest

Bottom Line

Master Sportsman Pocket Fishing Vest managed to strike the magic formula of offering a well-though bunch of features at an affordable price. It’s suitable for anglers who have a lot of accessories to pack in its 26 pockets array.

How to Pick a Fishing Vest

Pockets

The selling feature of a fishing vest is, of course, its pockets. Yes, some vests have other bells and whistles under their sleeves, but if they don’t provide you with enough room to store all your stuff, then the other features fade in comparison.

The answer to how many pockets are enough is a matter of personal preference. Some vests come with pockets inside pockets, others have extra partitions and dividers. Some people might see this as unwanted cluttering, others will actually make use of the additional space and find it easier to keep everything well organized.

Your purchase decision can also be impacted by the type of fishing you do the most and your level of experience. For instance, fly fishing requires a variety of equipment that can be spread over many pouches. Advanced anglers are better at testing the water and making the most of every situation, that’s why they tend to carry a larger fishing kit.

So, we established that more is not always better. You have to assess your own needs, and start asking yourself what you will be using each pocket for before proceeding with your purchase.

Material

Fishing vests are designed first and foremost to be an accessible means of keeping all your fishing accessories within a hand’s reach. In order to achieve their purpose without a tradeoff in terms of comfort, they are usually made of fabric and mesh to maintain a lightweight form factor that doesn’t restrain your movement.

The material choice allows the vests to quickly dry when water is splashed all over them as you fight your catch. Depending on the climate and the nature of your fishing environment, you can consider vests that are mostly made of one of the two materials more than the other.

For example, you’d want to pick a vest made primarily of mesh if you’re fishing in a hot area. The extra breathability of the vest will be a true game-changer.

On the other hand, a vest that is made mostly out of fabric will come in handy in giving you better isolation in cold weather. You can take it a step further and get one lined with fleece. Those are cozy, but they are bulkier and take some of the space out of the vest’s pockets.

Size

Most of the fishing vests offer a universal fit employing the one size fits all strategy. Those vests can sometimes be too tight or too loose for some people. 

On the other hand, some vests offer more options in terms of sizing. We recommend that you pay close attention to the sizing guides provided by the vest’s manufacturer before finalizing your purchase decision, as the fit is by far one of the most common complaints people have with their newly purchased fishing vests.

Water Resistance

This is one of the features that are always a welcome addition, however, if it’s absent, it’s not a big deal. Water-resistant vests keep all your stuff dry, and this can be especially useful in offshore fishing with all the splashes of water and also on rainy days.

On the other hand, anglers who prefer off land fishing might not care too much about picking a water-resistant vest. Nevertheless, some vests come with a waterproof case to keep your phone and other electronics dry to be on the safe side in case of unexpected accidents. Those cases can be sold separately as well.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can Fishing Vests Be Used as Floatation Devices?

Not all of them and for a good reason. For a fishing vest to be buoyant, foam padding should be incorporated in the design which takes away from the storage space the vest offers. In most of the cases, you won’t need to sacrifice extra room for buoyancy.

If you’re fly fishing in shallow water with slow currents, or from the banks of a river, you won’t need your fishing vest to double as a floatation device. However, during kayak fishing, falling into the water could be dangerous and you can make use of a buoyant vest.

If a vest with flotation features is a big deal to you, make sure you carefully check the product’s description.

How Can I Clean My Fishing Vest?

The optimal way to clean your fishing vest is going to depend largely on what the vest is made of. If it’s made of nylon, it’s safe to say that you can machine wash it without any problems.

If it doesn’t have nylon, there’s always the risk that it might shrink with machine washing. In this case, it’s better to hand wash your vest in warm water.

Final Thoughts

Instead of fiddling around with your gearbox trying to find the right lure or hook, your fishing vest got you covered. It helps you save time and effort to concentrate on what matters the most, catching fish.

Before deciding on one vest or another, you must know your gear very well and make sure your choice is primarily centered around getting the vest that helps you organize and reach out for your gear in a more efficient manner.