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Everything You Need To Know About Kayak Lights

Kayak Lights

If you’ve been kayaking for a while, you’ll know by that there’s a certain thrill to kayaking at night or in the dark. It will be best if you practice caution when you’re kayaking in poorly lit areas. However, thanks to kayak lights, it has never been easier and safer to kayak at night. These lights instantly light up even the darkest of areas and ensure that you have optimum visibility. Here’s everything you need to know about kayak lights and how to use them.

Follow The Rules

First and foremost, you must know the rules of your waterways. The size of your kayak generally determines these rules. Some may say you need starboard and portlights, while others may recommend an all-around white light. You should consult a maritime safety board or your local coast guard for accurate information. If you’re unable to contact them, you can ask kayak operators or marine dealers about the rules in your area.

Torch Or Headlamp

If you’re going kayaking, you must carry a headlamp or waterproof handheld-torches. They not only help to light up your working area, but you can also use them as a directional light to make oncoming traffic visible and to prevent mishaps. Be careful not to blind other people in the water; the goal is to make them aware of your presence. Unless necessary, don’t use the strobe/distress mode unless your vessel is in danger or distress. You should resort to using these lights only in the case of emergencies.

With 150-lumen brightness, the Petzl Tikkina Headlamp is a simple and effective headlamp

Port Starboard Lights

Although it is not necessary, you can also consider attaching port and starboard lights to your kayak. If your craft has the space to support these lights, then attaching them may prove very useful. They will aid in letting other travelers know which direction you’re going.

The Vermont Port And Starboard Electric Lamps are durable and extremely bright

All Around White Light

While paddling, you must position all around white light behind and higher than you as a signal to other kayakers. Never place this light in your line of vision; it’ll hinder your night vision and may lead to collision and accidents. Also, make sure that your all-around white light meets safety requirements.

The YAK Power Super Bright LED Button light Kit is waterproof and intensely bright

Strobe Light

This type of kayak light is best for emergencies. The flashing white or red light shows other travelers that you’re in distress. You should mount your strobe light onto your PFD in a higher position like your chest or shoulder. You can tuck it into your PFD pocket on a lanyard and turn it on only if you need to. Most flashlights don’t float, so secure yours tightly.

The Promar Submersible LED Strobe Lights can attach to a life jacket or a PFD.

Cyalume Lights

Chemical light sticks or Cyalume lights will fit comfortably in your PFD pocket reserved for when you need them. They are effective lights and what makes them advantageous is that they won’t hamper your night vision. However, it can be hard to notice them from a distance. If you want to make them shine brighter, you can tie them to a string and swing it in a circular motion to enhance their visibility.

The Cyalume 9-42290 Chemical Light Sticks are affordable and powerful.

Spare Power

You should ensure that you have extra batteries for all of your lights. If you’re carrying a light source connected to your internal batteries, you must figure out a way of knowing exactly how much power is left. For kayaks, self-powered lights are easier and more convenient to use.

The NOCQUA P2 Spectrum Lighting is rechargeable and offers a great field of vision

Know Your Environment

You should also consider how your kayak lighting will look from the perspective of others. For instance, if there are lights on the land behind you, boat traffic will find it difficult to see your all-around lights. In such situations, you must carry a headlamp or flashlight to signal the other traveler if you feel like you’re in danger. On the other hand, if you’re kayaking close to other vessels, your directional lights may hamper the night vision of people near you. In this case, you must opt for a dimmer option.


If you’re a beginner, we do not recommend that you kayak at night. After gaining some experience, you can get more adventurous. We highly recommend asking experienced people around your area for kayak safety tips.

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