What Are Kayak Lights & What Type Of Lights To Use In A Kayak?

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: December 6, 2022
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Kayak lights work by either illuminating from the bottom, aiding the vision beneath the water level, or lighting the rear and front of the kayak for safety vision. Regardless of the purpose of kayaking, whether for fishing, or environmental exploration to sporting activity, you cannot ignore the role of kayak lights as they work in aiding safe movement in the water.

Key Takeaways

  • Kayak lights are important, especially if you are planning to go for dawn, dusk, and night paddling
  • Putting lights also ensures you can go to the waters irrespective of the weather conditions
  • If you are planning to install light to your kayak then you have to use bright lights that are visible from 360 degrees to prevent any collision with other vessels
  • You can use portable underwater light because it will enhance paddling and clear vision, and makes it more secure during navigation while on a kayak

What Lights Are Required On A Kayak?

You need to install in your kayak stern light, sidelights, and at least one bright light as required by the state laws. All these lights should be on whenever the kayak is not docked at night. The recommended bright light should be visible from 360 degrees to prevent any collision with other vessels. 

You should, therefore, be keen to pick the ideal lights for your vessel as required by boating laws and regulations. When paddling at night, you need to have single white light to signal your position to other kayakers. Ensure your lights are waterproof and always have full batteries at the start with spares to save you in emergencies. 

Here are some of the light ideas you can use on your boat:

Navigation Lights For Kayaks

When operating a kayak on the water, you have to adhere to the safety measures, as stated by the authorities governing water activities. One way of doing this is by having navigation lights to ensure your safety and that of the others who are motoring, sailing, or fishing at night. 

The local and international authorities highly advocate for these navigation lights. You can either go for portable kayak lights like hand-free lights or LED neck lights such as Quaarrow Hands-free LED Neck light which is known to work well in the waters. 

Underwater Lights

Kayaking is not limited to only daylights for vision and movement across the lakes seas and rivers. Underwater lights provide light from the bottom of the boat. It reveals a lot of beautiful features from under within a reasonably visible distance. The portable underwater light also enhances paddling, and clear vision, and makes it more secure during navigation while on a kayak.

Strobe Lights

If you like kayaking at night, you should always ensure you have strobe lights on your boat that are useful in case of an emergency. Typically a strobe is equipment that produces regular flashlights that help signal distress to other boaters on the water. Red flashing light is a good one to use as they are the most visible from a distance. 

The best way to put the strobe light in your kayak is to mount on onto a PFD in a high position like your chest or shoulder, or you can tuck it into a PFD pocket. When you are in trouble with water and need help turning it on, it will send a signal to other boaters or your friends whom you kayak together. 

Apart from using strobes during emergency cases, ensure you inform your friends about such kind of activity at night. Also, notify them of the time you will be kayaking so that they can check on you in case anything bad happens. 

If you are going with friends, make sure you are not far away from one another. For your safety, avoid night fishing or kayaking if the condition is not stable as usual or if you are a learner. This is because even if you turn on your strobe lights during those conditions, getting help might take longer. 

Kayaks Fishing Light

Unlike the other lights, yak fishing ones are specifically engineered for angling. This doesn’t help carter for recreational activities as the devices are specially made to make the anglers visible from other boaters and not from the prey.  Kayak fishing lights thus enhance efficiency while ensuring the safety of the fishermen when angling at night.  

Here are some of the illumination devices you need while kayak fishing:

Head Lamps Lighting

Headlamps are highly recommendable for night fishing, as you will be loading and unloading your boat most of the time.  When tying knots or trying to get clear visibility in the water, a headlamp will be of much help to you. Look for a headlamp with more than eighty lumens range for night fishing. The high-end headlamps give you the option of choosing different colors of your choice. 

Lights For Attracting Fish

Yes, light can be used to attract fish when angling at night. There are numerous LED lights coming in a variety of colors to choose from. We know you might be wondering how? Well, as you know, green lights attract more bugs, and in return, they attract more bait. And by lure swarming your illumination device, the predatory fish will come after them! 

The baitfish will then attract the large fish, and here you go, and there is your catch without struggling much! A good example is the Green Magnet Fishing Light which is suitable for both fresh and saltwater environments. To add to that, you can even use it for ice fishing.

Hands-Free Lights

These are the lights that ensure your hands are free for you to rig your rods in the darkness or other activities. You can clip on your fishing vest or shirt pocket while others can be hung around the neck. Most come with 100 lumens making them so powerful and useful while fishing. 

A great example is a protected pocket workbrite led flashlight for clipping, and a Quarrow hand-free led neck lightly.

Best Kayaks Lights For Night Paddling

You might be paddling and realize that you need to go a bit longer till late at night to finish your adventure. In this situation kayak has a special paddling light designed specifically for night paddling: Some of the highly-rated lights for paddling include:

Kayalu Kayalite Kayak Light

This is a highly rated paddling light with a boast of 100 hours of time with a few AA batteries making it more reliable. Meaning it can’t fail you during your adventure. Kayalite is easy to use, and it provides real strength with its mounting architectural design to outdo all its competitors as long as the durability is put in place.

Yak Attack VISIpole II

This has a feature of the flag-like design which makes sure that one is visible under all sorts of weather, either daytime or night hours. The light itself is in a more appropriate position of 360 degrees, ensuring visibility. They are more suited and reliable for big traffic, especially with the feature that prevents you from blocking.   

Kayalu WaterTorch360degee Kayak Light

Water Torch uses LED technology for lighting and provides a runtime of around 100 hours. It is smaller compared to Kayalite and possesses most of the kayalite’s features; hence it is termed to be of the same family as that Kayalite.

Innovative Lighting LED White Case Stern Light

These are small kayak LED devices that are very portable, and thus occupy a small space either in your bag or in a vessel. They are recommended for small watercraft due to their portability.  The major disadvantage is its size which can be blocked easily; hence you need to mount it in a more visible position.

Can I Make My Homemade Lights For Night Paddling?

With advanced technology, everything can be done through DIY, and kayak lights are not an exception. The vessels under seven meters in length require to be installed with white light only to prevent a collision. So, this gives you a chance to construct your homemade lights customized to one’s heart desires. 

Do check out with your local boating authorities to make sure you are complying with their laws. The most important thing while kayaking at night is to be visible to other vessels for the safety of everyone in the water.

Kayak Lights DIY

How To Know If You Need A Kayak Light

You need a kayak light when paddling at night or during gloomy weather. Illumination ensures your safety and that of others as one can be able to be spotted, thus preventing a collision. Strobes also come in handy during both daytime and at night as it is a way of asking for help in emergencies.

In most cases, kayaking is an activity done in the daytime, be it a kayaking sport, adventure, or tour. Many prefer to go to the waters in warm weather. With this, most kayakers fail to find the need to have a kayak light. However, some people like to spend their leisure at night and during summer. Hence it is recommended to fit the illumination devices on a kayak to suit the varying needs of paddlers. 

You should also check on the regulating rules on the kayak lights in your state. Some laws require that kayaks be mounted with lights regardless of whether you will be paddling during the daytime or at night.  Furthermore, the weather conditions of an area you plan to kayak should guide you on whether the lighting is needed or not. 

For instance, winter conditions are characterized by low vision; hence it’s highly recommended to have illumination devices on your kayak to enhance vision and prevent accidents.

Is It Illegal To Kayak At Night?

According to the laws of many states, kayaking at night is not an illegal activity. This is as long as you put into consideration all the requirements and rules needed. One of the requirements is mounting different types of kayak lights and wearing visible clothes when paddling in the dark. This ensures the safety of all kayakers. 

The laws are put across to ensure there is sanity while kayaking at night and any other time of the day. Some minor rules that might be neglected by the boater are carrying the spotlight. Kayakers should ensure that the warnings/channels are marked with unlit buoys covered with bright surfaces to make them visible and enhance safety measures while paddling at night.

Note that kayaking at night is a far more hectic thing than driving a vehicle in the dark. At first, there are no particular marked routes on water bodies like in the case of roads. On the other hand, there is no braking for kayaks while on water. With the speed of the boat, depending on the boater who chooses how fast to move with no light, you need to use your senses to make the right decisions at a considerable pace.

Boaters have to be extra keen on observing the movement of water and weather variations at night. This requires that the navigator develop certain skills to be able to determine the changes that occur at night while kayaking. Good night vision, in particular, is more key to checking on the obstacles in front and wave directions. As the darkness approaches the sea, the sound becomes more important as you have to hear resonances from other boats that are approaching.

In boating sense of touch is also an important element during navigation. One needs to be familiar with the craft to reach your target without necessarily looking at them. Changing gears and powering the boat should not be a problem if one is planning to kayak at night. 

Laws and rules should also be at one’s figure tips while running the boat at night. There are different lighting rules for vessels under 16 feet in length, over 26, and larger ones. Laws also guide the boaters to operate the vessels at a reasonable speed to avoid accidents while in the water.

Final Word

Kayak lights are the major sense of safety during kayaking, thus making it a necessity for all. Choosing one must not only go deeper into evaluating the best device that fits the vessel but serves all the purposes as required by the law. 

Illumination devices are useful when kayaking at night and during the day when weather conditions change. Thus, regardless of the time of kayaking, putting the lights on your vessel remains a valuable thing that brings you safety and flexibility in the waters!


  • https://www.kayalu.com/secure_server/kayalu/k/kayalite-portable-LED-kayak-light-boat-light-deck-anchor-stern-light.php
  • https://www.yakattack.us/visipole-ii-geartrac-ready-includes-flag-and-mighty-mount-v2fm-fpg-mmh/
  • https://www.kayalu.com/secure_server/kayalu/k/R25_USCG_Rule_25_kayak_light_canoe_paddling_at_night_waterproof_flashlight.php

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