Good life jacket options for waterfowl hunting

Q. What are some good life jacket options for waterfowl hunting?

A. Without question, the best life jacket for waterfowl hunting is the one you will wear. The greatest danger a hunter faces on the water is drowning due to not wearing a life jacket. So, whether it’s an inflatable vest or belt pack, float coat or foam-filled vest, picking a style you’ll consistently wear is the most important consideration. Low-profile inflatable styles have become increasingly popular in recent years and are an excellent option for hunters who otherwise would not wear a life jacket.

However, late season waterfowl hunters face an even greater risk of drowning during the “cold water” months, when hypothermia and cold-water shock make survival without a life jacket much less likely. For that reason, a foam-filled life vest or float coat is the safest choice for late season hunters, as the foam provides some insulation against cold water should you fall in. Float coats are an especially convenient option: they are warm and waterproof, come in a variety of popular camouflage patterns, and eliminate the need to wear two outer layers (a jacket and life jacket).

Choosing a life jacket style that works for you, and wearing it every time you’re on the water, is not only a good choice — it’s the best choice you could have made. To learn more about life jacket options and requirements, visit


—Lisa Dugan, DNR recreation safety outreach coordinator


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