Kayak lights are great for some reasons. Many people kayak, and one of the most enjoyable things you can do with a kayak is to head out on the water at sunset or during nighttime. If you do decide to embark on a kayaking journey at a later time of day, you will need kayak lights. A kayak navigation light or kayak LED light will help prevent collisions between boats. Kayak lights are essential for ensuring safety as you’re on the water in the dark; you can alert others to your presence and location, and you can also shine light on other people or things in the water.
Generally, the United States Coast Guard provides rules that will guide you as you’re seeking the answer for how to light up your kayak. According to the Coast Guard, a kayak is a vessel less than 23 feet in length, and is classified as a vessel under oars. A vessel under oars may exhibit lights, and if you don’t have lights, you should at least have an electric torch or lighted lantern ready at hand, a “white light” that can be turned on and will be visible in the presence of other kayaks and oar-propelled vessels. However, this might not be enough to ensure your safety, and investing in kayak navigation lights may help.
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Before you pick out your kayak LED lights and embark on your kayaking journey, you should check with your local state about kayaking and boating requirements. Rules and regulations will vary depending on where you are, and some states recommend and enforce even stricter regulations than the Coast Guard. The exact rules are not enforced by the Coast Guard; they’re enforced by each individual state.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Kayak Lights
As you decide on the right lighting for you, there are certain aspects to lights you should take into account. These include:
- Following all rules and regulations
- Being alert and aware while on the water
- Consider your visibility in the water; minimum lighting requirements may not be enough to ensure your visibility. Thus, it’s always wise to exceed requirements
- Take into account environments and climate conditions, which can not only vary from day to day, but from hour to hour
- Avoid potential confusion; know where on your boat your lights should be installed and how to put them on beforehand
Keep in mind, most of all, that a lighting solution will not act as protection against collisions, injury, and visibility problems. Other vessels can obscure your lights or your boat. You must also consider that your own activity may obscure another boat, and put other lives in danger. For these reasons, it’s imperative that you remain constantly aware, alert, and vigil about other boats while you are kayaking. You should always take every precaution to ensure your safety, as well as the safety of other operators.
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Also, you should always take night vision into consideration. Some people assume that the brighter their light is, the safer they are. This is not true in most cases. Extremely bright lights, such as spot lights, can impair the night visions of other boat operators, which puts both them and you at the risk of a collision or other type of accident. You don’t want to blind other boaters, or impair your own night vision. High-intensity lights for night kayaking is not a good idea and is discouraged.
Types of Kayak Lights
There are many types of navigation kayak lights available for purchase. When you’re planning on being in waters that are restricted to oar-propelled vessels that are under 23 feet, there are two different types of lighting options that you should consider. Weigh these options against the climatic conditions on the night you plan to use your kayak, to pick the best one for you.
The two types are:
- A hand-held light. It’s required by the Coast Guard that you at least carry a hand-held light such as a battery-powered flashlight or lantern. These lights should be able to project a white light in a 360-degree arc. They should also be waterproof, so they don’t short out during operation; the worst thing is if your light doesn’t work while you’re in the middle of the water. You should also consider tethering your flashlight or torch, so it’s readily available and always within reach so you don’t have to search for it. Having a working flashlight or lantern will ensure that you are meeting the minimum requirements of the law.
- A mounted light. If you prefer to not have to rely on a simple flashlight, a great option is to mount a light on your kayak that will allow you to be visible at all times. Plus, it will constantly alert other boaters to your whereabouts. These lights can be easily attached to poles or other structures that are then mounted to the deck of your kayak. With these lights, you can go hands-free and don’t have to worry about searching for a light or keeping one close at hand. The mounted light will always be there, and will always be on.
Considering these factors will help you choose the best light for your kayak. The following are some of the best kayak lighting options currently on the market:
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- 48” long deployed, 14” collapsed
- LEDs that burn for 100 hours on three AA batteries
- The ability to float
- Carbon fiber tubing for stiffness
- Ultra-light weight
- SilentSlip foam that fits most flush mount and tubular rod holders
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With YakAttack’s Ready light, you have the ability to enhance your visibility both day and night as you kayak. The light is designed to meet the needs of both serious kayakers and recreational paddlers. Plus, it supports paddling with light weight, low drag, and portability with plenty of style. An ultra-thin mast and recognizable flag combine to offer excellent performance.
- Shock-proof LED lights that are indestructible; contains no filaments that may burn out or break as you bounce over waves
- 100,000 hours of service life so you never have to replace the bulb
- Uses 90% less energy than incandescent lights
- Fully buoyant
This LED portable navigation light attaches to the bow of your kayak via suction cup. It is ideal for nighttime travel that requires extended use. If you’re looking for an energy efficient light, this is the one for you. After all, the LED lamp uses one eighth the energy of comparable incandescent lamps, and extends battery life.
- Runs on 4 AA batteries
- Sealed heavy duty on/off switch
- LED light has 100,000 hours service life
- Uses 90% less energy than incandescent lighting
- Molded one piece white body construction
These portable navigation lights from Innovative Lighting are a great solution for people looking for quick and easy installation. Its suction cup mount adheres to most smooth and flat surfaces. The light features one LED with a clear lens.
- 3 light modes: solid brightness, strobe, and slow blink
- A silicone, water-resistant sleeve perfect for a marine environment
- Lifetime warranty
- Waterproof LED light
Bright Eyes has manufactured a set of LED silicone and portable boat lights that will attach securely to any spot on your boat. Easily install these around poles or any cylindrical object on your kayak to light the way.
- 2 Bright LED design
- Effective visibility of over 600 meters
- One year warranty
- Easy installation; flexible silicon body and double hook
- Three modes: flash, slow flash, and steady lighting
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Manufactured by Botepon, this compact LED light is perfect for kayaking and any other activity you perform at night. Its double hook and flexible body attaches to anything and doesn’t require any tools. With a long life and three flash modes, the light can clip onto anything to provide you with steady and safe lighting.
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Finding the Best Lights for Your Kayak
Night paddling and fishing in your kayak is one of the most enjoyable experiences of kayaking, especially during warm summer nights when you can watch the sunset. However, before you set out on these nighttime adventures, it’s crucial that you not only ensure your safety, but ensure that you are following rules and regulations with navigation kayak lights. These waterproof lights can either be hand-held or mounted. The above options are some of the best on the market.
While you’re on the water, it’s essential that you make sure you are not only being safe yourself, but are also ensuring the safety of other boaters around you. To keep night kayaking a safe and enjoyable experience, purchase one of these lights and make sure that you always have it with you. Those warm summer nights are tempting—and you can be safe as you enjoy them.