In this article, we’ve got all the information you need to decide on the optimal kayak size. Discuss kayak sizes like a pro!
Let’s be honest: anyone who says all you really need for a great day out on the water is a kayak probably isn’t having a great day.
I mean, come on, a kayak is just the beginning–you need a paddle to go anywhere, the law requires use of a lifejacket, you need water to stay hydrated while paddling, and…yeah, you get my point.
The best kayak accessories aren’t just nice to have–they’re a must-have in order to make the most of the time you spend on the water.
Whether you’re paddling a calm lake, a meandering river, gentle coastal waters, whitewater rapids, or the open ocean, a few accessories can make a huge difference in everything from safety to comfort to performance.
That’s why I’ve collected a complete list of all the kayaking gear you’ll need to make the most of your day (or days) out on the water.
By the end of this post, you’ll know everything you need to REALLY have a great day out on the water!
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A Complete List of All the Kayak Accessories You Will Need to Safely Paddle
Surprised to find PFD at the top of this list of kayaking accessories (instead of a paddle)?
Well, if you’ve read any of my articles on kayaking or paddleboarding, you know I’m a big proponent of safety. And when it comes to kayaking, nothing will keep you quite as safe as a kayak life jacket–a.k.a., a personal flotation device, or PFD.
My good buddy Tom has written up a whole article on how to choose the best kayak life jacket, which you can find here. It dives deep into all the factors you need to consider for finding a good jacket, such as:
- US Coast Guard rating
- Flotation (in pounds)
- Entry style
It’s absolutely worth the read if you want to find the best kayak life jacket.
Quick Recommendation: NRS Vista Lifejacket
This lifejacket is very budget-friendly, and a great starter PFD for anyone just putting together paddling gear. The fit and comfort are on par with any high-end PFD, though, and it’s beautifully lightweight. The malleable foam conforms to the shape of your body, and the jacket offers six adjustment points to help you make it fit just right.
The truth is that you can’t kayak without a paddle. If you take nothing else on board with you, you can still get out on the water. But without a kayak paddle to propel you forward, you’re at the mercy of the current (and that’s just plain dangerous!).
Paddles typically come in one of four materials:
- Carbon fiber, only used for the highest-end and priciest paddles. Lightweight, ultra-sturdy, and beautifully responsive, a carbon fiber paddle is a kayak accessory for expert-level paddlers.
- Fiberglass, used to craft stiff, light blades tough enough to handle open seas and whitewater. Prepare to pay a higher price than average, though.
- Plastic, great for sturdy, all-purpose paddles that can be adapted to your specific activity. The majority of budget and mid-tier paddles are made with plastic.
- Aluminum, typical used to craft the kayak paddle shafts, though some plastic heads may have aluminum at the core. It’s a lightweight, water-resistant material, and tends to be very budget-friendly.
You can take a deep dive into choosing the best paddles in our Best Budget Kayak Paddle article and learn everything you need to about how to get the best kayak paddle for your budget.
Quick Recommendation: Pelican Poseidon Paddle
This kayak paddle comes with an aluminum shaft and polypropylene (plastic) blades reinforced with fiberglass to add durability and stiffness. The result: a more responsive kayak paddle that will take you farther with less effort! It’s a paddle that strikes the perfect balance between budget-friendliness and reliability.
If there is one thing that terrifies me every time I’m out on a lake, river, or the ocean, it’s dropping my camera, smartphone, car keys, wallet, or some other critical item into the water. Or, almost just as bad, losing some important item to water damage.
That’s why a dry bag is an essential kayak accessory!
Dry bags provide watertight kayak storage to keep all your items safe and protected from the water. Even if you don’t have a watertight bulkhead or compartment, you can tuck the dry bag between your legs or secure it to the deck via the bungee cord, and it’ll ensure your items stay bone dry even if it’s raining, the wind is whipping the spray into your face, or you capsize.
Quick Recommendation: YETI Panga
This duffel bag-shaped dry bag offers 50 liters of storage space, enough for multiple changes of clothing, your shoes, and all your portable electronics and EDC items. Rather than a fold-top closure, it uses a waterproof zipper to allow for easy access while still ensuring the bag’s contents stay fully protected. The high-density nylon and TPU laminated “ThickSkin” shell is as sturdy as it gets–though the dry bag will add about 5 lbs. of weight to your paddling or fishing gear even when empty.
A spray skirt is a must-have for kayakers who want to spend more time paddling and less time drying off.
Spray skirts cover the deck of your sit inside kayaks, preventing water from seeping in. Whether you’re sea kayaking, river kayaking, or kayaking on a wind-whipped lake, a spray skirt is one of your best pieces of kayaking gear because it will keep the cockpit of your boat (and your lower body) dry.
If you want to learn more about how to find the right spray skirt (or spray deck) for your specific paddling, read our article on the Best Kayak Spray Skirts. It’ll walk you through all the critical features to look for, including:
- Proper material (nylon vs. neoprene)
- Tube size
- Deck compatibility with kayak models/brands
- Shoulder straps
- and more…
Quick Recommendation: Attwood 11776-5 Kayak Nylon Spray Skirt
This spray skirt is a budget-friendly kayak accessory that will be compatible with most of the major sit-in kayak brands. Made from 210-denier nylon, it’s incredibly tough and entirely water-resistant, with PVC used to seal the seams to add extra waterproofing. It’s easy to adjust to fit any cockpit and even comes with a mesh bag that makes for easy storage. For the price, you won’t find any better options!
According to most U.S. and Canadian regulations, you are required by law to carry at least one sound-producing device aboard your kayak in order to signal for help in case of an emergency. Whistles are the simplest–and cheapest–option to consider.
A whistle can clip to your kayak life vest or hang around your neck from a lanyard, always within easy reach if you need to signal for help. It’s an inexpensive kayaking accessory you’ll want to take on every one of your kayaking adventures, whether you’re paddling a lake, river, whitewater rapids, or the open sea.
The easier it is to draw attention to yourself in an emergency, the greater the likelihood you’ll be rescued!
Quick Recommendation: HEIMDALL Emergency Whistle
This little whistle comes on a lanyard that you can wear around your neck, but is built with an integrated clip that any avid kayaker can clip onto their life jacket. The non-brittle plastic is resilient and won’t break even with regular exposure to seawater (which weakens plastic). The pea-less design ensures the whistle will always blow at full volume (120 db), generating a sound that can be heard up to 1 mile away.
You’ve invested in a good kayak paddle that you know will hold up to years of use, only to lose it when you capsize and the paddle gets carried away? Not on our watch!
Paddle leashes are the perfect kayaking accessory to pair with your kayak paddles. Similar to the leashes you’ll secure to your ankle when paddle boarding to keep the paddle board from drifting away, a paddle leash will connect your kayak paddles to your kayak. That way, even if you capsize, you’ll never lose your paddle!
It’s one of the most inexpensive of the kayaking accessories, but one you’ll always be glad you sprung for.
(Note: Some even double as a paddle float, adding buoyancy to keep the paddle from sinking.)
Quick Recommendation: YYST Orange Paddle Leash
This stainless steel paddle leash is the piece of kayak gear you need. The sturdy metal leash will never break, and it’s rust-resistant. Just to add more protection against water and greater user comfort, it’s wrapped in a flexible plastic colored bright orange so you can instantly see it in the water (and it might even work as a paddle float!). One end features a carabiner that clips onto any D-ring or hook on your kayak, and the other end features a soft Velcro strap to attach to your paddle shaft. Once secured, you can head out onto the water away trusting your paddle will never float away.
A kayak bilge pump is an excellent addition to your kayaking gear, especially for beginner kayakers who are worried about possibly capsizing.
A bilge pump allows you to pump all the water out of your cockpit. They’re particularly useful if you tip or capsize–in fact, they’re pretty much the only thing that will empty out a cockpit that has been submerged and filled with water.
However, the kayak bilge pump will also come in handy if you’re paddling in very wet and windy conditions. Rain and sea/lake spray can steadily fill your kayak cockpit (unless you’re using a spray skirt), and having a pump on hand will ensure you can dry out the cockpit over and over again until the rain lets up or the spray dies down.
Quick Recommendation: SeaSense Hand Bilge Pump
This bilge pump is designed to self-prime so it’ll instantly start suctioning out the water once you get pumping. The long, slim body makes it easy to reach the front of the cockpit/between your feet, and the flexible hose ensures the water is always pumped overboard. The handle is designed for one-handed use, with a comfortable grip and easy-working action that will make the task of bailing water from your kayak a breeze.
Scupper plugs are one of those kayak accessories you never really notice or care about until they’re GONE. Only then do you realize just how important they are!
Scupper plugs are plugs specially crafted to fit into the scupper holes in the bottom of a sit on top kayaks (like your average fishing kayak, for example). These plugs can be inserted to keep water from seeping up through the scupper (drainage) holes onto the kayak deck, or can be removed to allow water to drain out from the deck.
Our article on the Best Scupper Plugs will take you through a full, in-depth explanation on how to use scupper plugs, as well as which are the best scupper plugs to buy.
Quick Recommendation: Sumind 8 Pieces Kayak Scupper Plug Kit
This 8-piece kit comes with enough scupper plugs to fit in your standard sit-on-top kayak with some to spare! The average fishing kayak has six holes, so the extra two in this kit will be on hand as a backup in case you lose one of the plugs or the watertight seal wears down with repeated use. Thanks to the lanyard built into the top of the plug, it’ll be beautifully easy to pull the plug without getting up from your seat (great for a lazy day of kayak fishing!).
An electric pump is one of the best cool kayak accessories you can use for an inflatable paddle board or inflatable kayak.
Most inflatable kayaks and paddle boards come with a hand or foot pump, but those can take forever to fill your vessel (especially a paddle board, which needs a lot more air pressure than inflatable kayaks).
But with an electric pump, you can sit back and let the motor do the inflating for you, no hassle or effort required. If you have multiple inflatable paddle boards or kayaks (for your whole family), it can make the task of inflating and deflating them all a whole lot faster.
Less time spent pumping up your kayaks/paddle boards means more time spent out on the water.
Quick Recommendation: Shark II Electric SUP Pump
The Shark II is designed to plug into your car’s 12V port and draw power straight from your battery to run the pump’s motor. The dual-stage action rapidly fills the SUP/kayak from flat, then kicks in to higher power once you start reaching higher PSI (air pressure). It’s capable of filling your SUPs/kayaks up to 20 PSI, and it’ll fill them in under 10 minutes. Game-changing for those lake or river days when you don’t want to spend forever working a hand or foot pump!
The one downside to using inflatable SUPs or kayaks is that they can sustain damage–for example, if you run aground on a rocky shoreline, collide with a barnacle-crusted dock, or crash into other vessels.
A patch kit is one of the best kayak accessories to keep on board your inflatable SUP or kayak. That way, you can slap a patch on to cover up the hole or leak, let it dry, and be back out on the water in minutes (or hours or days, depending on the patch kit).
Quick Recommendation: YIPINER 6 Pcs Boat Repair Kit
This repair kit comes with six PVC patches (roughly 6.5 x 4 inches of surface area) that will provide a sturdy repair to your inflatable SUPs or kayaks in a hurry.The patch will adhere to the area within just 1-3 minutes, and will be fully cured within 8 hours.
A float bag is a very cool piece of kayaking gear: it’s a bag that you put inside the kayak and then fill with air to provide greater safety and buoyancy in case you capsize or your cockpit fills with water.
It’s typically used for whitewater paddling, though some long-distance kayakers will use it as well. For whitewater kayaks, it keeps you afloat and helps you to recover in case you roll over.
Quick Recommendation: NRS Standard Kayak Flotation
Whitewater kayakers, these are the float bags for you. These bags are designed to fit in the stern compartment of your kayak, or even behind your seat. Built with an insanely tough urethane fabric, they’re puncture-proof, abrasion-resistant, and tough enough to survive being run over by a car (as you’ll see in this video).
Not all kayak seats are properly comfortable. There are some high-end kayak seats that will be comfortable for a full day of paddling, but most of the seats in the budget and mid-tier range of kayaks will be minimal and prone to causing leg numbness.
That’s where a kayak seat cushion comes in handy.
A cushion will provide a bit of padding beneath your butt and elevate your body so the blood flows downward into your legs, preventing numbness and soreness. It’s one of the cheapest kayaking accessories you can buy, but it can make a huge difference over a long day (or multiple days) of paddling.
Quick Recommendation: Klymit V Seat
This inflatable seat cushion is an amazing piece of kayak gear: it packs down beautifully small when not in use, but when filled with air, it’ll create an excellent cushion between your butt and the hard kayak seat to improve circulation and cradle your lower body.
The Best Kayaking Accessories for Paddler Comfort
Waterproof Paddling Jacket
A waterproof paddling jacket will be your best friend when paddling in cold and rainy weather.
Paddling jackets are built like rain jackets, but with more flexibility in the arms and shoulders to accommodate the movements of your paddling. Typically, they’re worn under your life jacket, so they use thinner, lighter-weight materials that won’t interfere with bulkier life jackets.
A good paddling jacket will not just keep you dry in the rain, but also stave off the cold (especially when paired with multiple base layers).
Quick Recommendation: NRS Men’s Riptide Paddling Jacket
This jacket is constructed specifically to withstanding any kayaking adventure and last for any long-haul kayaking trip, no matter how rainy or chilly it is. Built using tough HyproTex 2.5 fabric, it’s fully waterproof but still offers good breathability so you don’t overheat on a hot, humid day. Features like factory-taped seams, latex gaskets at the wrist, articulated hood, bungee cinches in the neck and hood, and overskirt hem all add to the waterproofing and reliability of this amazing piece of kayak gear.
Wetsuits are must-have kayak accessories when paddling in cold waters (anything below 65 F). They’ll keep you warm should you end up in the water, and are essential for staving off hypothermia.
Read our Complete Guide to the Best Kayaking Wetsuits to learn how to choose the right wetsuit, including:
- Entry System
- and more…
Quick Recommendation: O’Neill Men’s Epic 4/3mm Back Zip Full Wetsuit
This full-length wetsuit is ideal for cold-weather conditions and rough weather, and will shield you from the cold while keeping you comfortable all day long. Featuring 4/3mm-thick FluidFlex panels, blind-stitched and triple-glued seams, and sturdy neoprene, it’s a durable and long-lasting choice you can use for any cold water activity–from kayaking to surfing to diving.
If it’s really cold out, you’ll want a dry suit to keep you utterly dry.
Basically, it’s a waterproof suit that you wear over your clothes, keeping water out and your body heat in. Whether you’re sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, or just enjoying a trip down a freezing cold river, a good dry suit is a must-have.
Quick Recommendation: Kokatat Hydrus Swift Entry Drysuit
Made from Kokatat’s proprietary Hydrus membrane material, this full-body drysuit is as sturdy as it gets. It’s reinforced at the seat and knees and taped at the seams to protect against damage. This suit also features latex gaskets at the wrists and neck to maximize waterproofing.
A kayak helmet is one of the kayak accessories you’ll really only need in one situation: when whitewater paddling.
The helmet will protect your head against impacts should you collide with rocks or other obstacles.
It’s not necessary for a kayak trip down a lazy river or across a flatwater lake, though.
My good buddy Tom has a complete guide to choosing the right kayaking helmet here.
Quick Recommendation: WRSI Current Kayak Helmet
Thanks to the ABS plastic exterior, polyurethane sub-shell, and impact-resistant EVA foam liner, you can trust your precious skull is protected against collisions and crashes. Thanks to the built-in ventilation holes, your head will stay nicely cool in even the hottest weather.
Kayak Water Shoes
Kayak shoes aren’t a must-have, but they’re useful kayak accessories in a number of situations:
- You plan to walk along the shore/riverbank and want to protect your feet from sharp toes.
- You’re an aggressive paddler who pushes hard against the footrests.
- You want a single pair of shoes you can wear both in the kayak and on land.
- You tend to get cold feet.
I’ve written up a Guide to the Best Kayaking Shoes that will walk you through the selection process so you end up with the right shoes for your paddling style and activity.
Quick Recommendation: KEEN Men’s Newport H2 Sandal Water Shoe
Keen’s Newport Sandal has everything you want in a pair of kayaking shoes: a sturdy sole to cushion against impact, grippy traction even when wet, and a bungee cord-tightening upper that will keep your feet from sliding around (preventing blisters). They’re just an insanely comfortable and practical choice all-around.
Kayak gloves are some of the best kayak gear for anyone who A) wants to avoid blisters and calluses, and B) tends to paddle in cold weather. Not only will they shield your hand from friction, but they can provide excellent insulation against cold water, wind, and ambient temperatures.
Quick Recommendation: The Fishing Tree Fingerless Fishing Gloves
These are a more “summery” pair of kayaking gloves that will protect against blisters and improve your grip on the paddle, but may not be as well-suited to keep out the cold. However, they do feature UPF50+ sun protection to shield the backs of your hands from sunburns and reduce skin cancer risk.
If you’re going to spend long hours out in the sun, sunscreen is an absolute must-have. It’s crucial for protecting your skin from sunburn (which can contribute to dehydration, heatstroke, and discomfort) as well as reducing your risk of developing skin cancer (melanoma). It’s hands-down one of THE BEST kayak accessories to pack anywhere you go.
This sunscreen doesn’t just provide you protection from the sun, but it also protects sea animals from being poisoned/polluted by potent chemicals. It’s “coral safe/reef safe” sunscreen you can use even in places like Hawaii or Australia where chemical sunscreens are banned. The addition of Vitamin E and zinc will hydrate and nourish your skin while protecting it from the sun.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is absolutely essential for any kayaking trip.
In the first aid kit, you’ll usually find the basics for tending to any wound or abrasion:
- Medical tape
- Irrigation syringes
- Insect bite relief
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Splints and wraps to stabilize broken bones
- and more…
A smart kayaker will usually keep a waterproof first aid kit in their storage compartment or behind their seat, always within easy access should you need medical attention.
Quick Recommendation: Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight and Watertight .5 First Aid Kit
This waterproof first aid kit comes with 46 pieces–including wound closure strips, Moleskin bandages, bandages, wraps, medical tape, gauze, insect bite relief strips, antiseptic wipes, splinter pickers, and more–ensuring you have everything you need to stay safe on your paddling trip. It’s a first aid kit put together specifically for kayakers–meaning it’s the first aid kit for you!
Sunglasses are a must-have piece of kayak safety gear on any kayak fishing trip, river paddle, or ocean kayak journey. They’re necessary to shield you from not only the bright sunlight (which causes eye fatigue, draining your energy), but will protect your eyes from being degraded by UV radiation in the sunlight. And trust me, once you’re out on the water being hit by the sunlight reflected off the surface, you’re going to be glad you’ve got a good pair of sunglasses handy.
Quick Recommendation: Tifosi Optics Swick Sunglasses
These sunglasses make for the perfect kayak fishing accessories. They’re built insanely tough but are surprisingly affordable, so you won’t mind replacing them if/when they fall overboard while you’re fighting a big fish. The polycarbonate lens even features a scratch-resistant coating guaranteed to keep them in great shape for years of recreational kayak trips.
It’s not just recommended that you take water out paddling with you–it’s absolutely essential.
Remember: the average paddler can sweat anywhere from 0.5 to 2 liters per hour. Add all that up over the course of a few hours or even a multi-day trip, and dehydration is all but guaranteed if you don’t have at least some water aboard to replenish lost fluids. A water bottle is one of the best kayak accessories you can pack!
Quick Recommendation: SPECIAL MADE Collapsible Water Bottle
I love this bottle! When not in use, it collapses small enough to fit in any pocket or backpack, but it can store up to 20 ounces of liquid when filled. The bottle isn’t made with polluting plastic, but BPA-free food-grade silicone. It’s also leakproof and capable of withstanding temperatures as low as -50C and as high as 200C.
What’s a kayak fishing trip without a cooler? It’s one of the most important kayak fishing accessories because you need somewhere to store A) the fish you catch, and B) the drinks that make your day out on the water so much more fun.
Thankfully, most fishing kayaks (and even some inflatable kayak models) come with a place to store a cooler that’s close at hand without getting in your way when paddling.
Check out our list of the best kayak coolers for kayak anglers like you to pack on your next trip…
Quick Recommendation: YETI Hopper Flip 12 Portable Soft Cooler
This is the cooler to pack your drinks in–small enough to fit in any kayak but with space enough for up to 12 cans (plus the ice). It’s 100% leakproof and built with a very high-density exterior fabric that will be both UV- and puncture-resistant. The interior is lined with ColdCell insulation that will keep your drinks cold for hours on end.
I mean, what’s a day out on the water without some music (or, for me, an audiobook) to liven things up? A waterproof speaker is a game-changing accessory that will make any fishing, touring, racing, or recreational kayak trip a whole lot more fun!
Quick Recommendation: JBL Clip 4
All of JBL’s wireless speakers pack exceptional sound quality, and though this one is on the smaller side, it delivers huge sound. Bluetooth connectivity makes it easy to pair with any smartphone or tablet. Best of all, it’s IP67 waterproof and dustproof, so it’ll be at home on the water and on shore–perfect for your kayak camping trips.
An LED light is legally required if you want to paddle after dark, making it one of the best kayak accessories to pack for a multi-day trip. It’ll make you visible to passing boats and other paddlers, and can pinpoint your location should you need a rescue.
We’ve put together a list of all the best kayak LED lights around, as well as a user’s guide to help you find the right one for your specific needs…
Quick Recommendation: Kayalu Kayalite Portable Bright White Led Kayak Light
This light stands 18″ tall, tall enough that it’ll be visible even if placed directly behind you. The four-inch diameter base keeps it stable and upright, and you’ll find it’s beautifully easy to secure to the deck of your kayak thanks to the steel clip and tensioning cable. With 3 AA batteries, it can run for up to 200 hours.
Waterproof Phone Case
Most modern smartphones are built with some measure of waterproofing, but you should still consider getting a waterproof phone case that will guarantee your phone will survive even if you drop it in the water or it gets splashed as you paddle.
Quick Recommendation: LifeProof FRĒ SERIES
This case is built specifically for the iPhone 13 and 14, but Lifeproof makes cases for most recent iPhone and Android models. The tough polycarbonate material will withstand impacts and drops as well as water. You can even submerge it in 2 meters of water for up to 1 hour. Now that’s waterproof!
A safety knife is one piece of kayak safety gear you’ll rarely (if ever) need to use, but should you ever find yourself in need of one, you’ll be very glad you have it.
It’s handy to cut yourself free of obstacles, rigging lines, bungee cords, ropes, or even your own PFD in an emergency. Plus, they can be used when kayak camping or by a kayak fisherman to gut the fish they catch.
Quick Recommendation: NRS Pilot Knife
This knife is built specifically for paddlers; it’s sized to clip onto your PFD and be easily accessible in a hurry. The 420 HC stainless steel blade is rust-resistant and will holds its edge beautifully with only minimal maintenance required. The glass-reinforced polypropylene and TPR handle will stay securely in your grip even if your hands are wet.
Kayak Accessories to Transport and Store Your Watercraft
Trailers make transporting your kayak so easy. Just load the kayaks up, hitch the kayak trailer to your vehicle, and you’re ready to hit the road. For hauling your kayaks long distances (200+ miles), kayak trailers are a better choice than a roof-mounted kayak roof rack system.
Find out more in our Kayak Trailer article.
Quick Recommendation: Malone MicroSport Trailer with a Two Kayak Transport Package
Sized to fit two kayaks, this trailer is made with an ultra-sturdy steel alloy frame that will hold up to the bumps and jolts of the road.
A kayak cart will support most of the weight of your kayak on two wheels, leaving you with the easy job of wheeling it from your car to the water and back. To lighten your load, it’s a great addition to your kayaking gear.
Our Best Kayak Cart article will help you find the right cart for your kayak…
Quick Recommendation: RAILBLAZA Ctug Kayak Cart
Puncture-free wheels, high-grip rubber tread, an adjustable kickstand, reinforced composite construction, and thermos-bonded elastomeric hull pads all combine to make this the best kayak cart around!
Kayak Roof Rack System
Whether you’re transporting sea kayaks, fishing kayaks, whitewater kayaks, or recreational kayaks, a roof-mounted kayak rack will turn your vehicle into the perfect mobile solution to take your vessels anywhere you want.
See our article on the Best Roof Racks for Cars and SUVs for more in-depth information.
Quick Recommendation: YAKIMA JayLow
The standard J-cradle style of roof racks is very user-friendly, but these are actually designed to fold down flat so you won’t have to remove them to drive your vehicle into the garage.
Kayak Storage Rack
A kayak trailer or roof rack may be useful for hauling the kayaks to the river, lake, or ocean, but when you come home, you’ll need a kayak storage rack (either standalone outdoor or wall- or ceiling-mounted rack in your garage) as a place to store them safely out of the sun, rain, and elements. Our Best Kayak Storage Rack article has a lot more…
Quick Recommendation: RAD Sportz Kayak Storage Hooks
These hooks are designed to secure easily to your garage wall (anchored to the studs) and provide a convenient place to store your kayak. They even feature nylon straps and clips to lock the kayak in place once mounted.
A good locking system will ensure your kayak stays securely locked to your trailer, roof rack, or outdoor storage rack so no one can steal your expensive kayak if/when you have to leave it unattended. It’s an excellent solution for safer, smarter kayak storage!
Quick Recommendation: DocksLocks Anti-Theft Weatherproof Coiled Security Cable
This ultra-tough braided steel security cable is not only resilient against the weather (no rust or corrosion), but also against bolt-cutters and lock-picking. The vinyl coating also prevents the kayak itself from being scratched when locked in place.
Specialized Kayaking Accessories
Fishing Rod Holder
A good fishing rod holder is one of the best kayak accessories an angler can pack. When anchored to your kayak, they hold your fishing rods securely in place so you can fish while paddling, or even fish hands-free if you want to crack open a cold one or kick back and take a nap.
Quick Recommendation: RAILBLAZA Fishing Rod Holder R Kit
This fishing rod holder is compatible with RAILBLAZA’s Heavy Duty Starport mounts, offering a secure place to store your rod close at hand. Made from marine-grade, UV-resistant, fiberglass-reinforced plastic, it’s one of the toughest, most reliable rod holders around.
Gear tracks will allow you to secure devices like rod mounts, paddle holders, or electronics to your kayak, serving as a sturdy connection between the accessories and the kayak hull–effectively protecting the hull from damage.
Quick Recommendation: YakAttack GT175 Generation II GearTrac
This is compatible with all YakAttack accessories, some of the most popular on the market. The stainless steel hardware and sturdy aluminum track will be rust-resistant and long-lasting.
As you’ll see in our Kayak Anchors article, a kayak anchor will keep you anchored securely in place and prevent you from drifting (or drifting too far). Kayak anglers will find kayak anchors a very useful addition to their gear.
Quick Recommendation: Gradient Fitness Marine Anchor, 3.5 lb
This anchor folds up nice and small to fit in its pouch so it can be stored behind your seat or in your compartments, but when unfolded, the four flukes dig into the lake or river bottom. At 3.5 pounds, it’s perfect for anchoring one kayak.
A fish finder can be game-changing for anglers who are struggling to find a good spot to cast out their line. The digital device uses a sonar to scan the water and the bottom, making it easy to spot underwater structures and fish so you know the best places to drop bait.
Quick Recommendation: Garmin 010-02550-00 Striker
This full-color fish finder will make it a breeze to find fish in any river or lake, thanks to its GT20 transducer, CHIRP traditional sonar, and CHIRP ClearVü scanning sonar. You can use the integrated GPS to mark waypoints and ideal routes to reach your favorite spots.
When paddling in a group, a walkie talkie helps you will stay in communication with your fellow kayakers and abreast of each others’ movements.
See our Best Waterproof Walkie Talkie article for more info.
Quick Recommendation: Motorola T600 Talkabout Radio
This two-pack of waterproof walkie talkies will be perfect for a couple (or a couple of buddies) heading out for a day on the water. With access to 22 channels, a 35-mile range, and IP67 waterproofing, it’s a device built specifically for kayakers like you.
For those who venture way out into the unknown–across the Great Lakes, through enormous national parks, or into the open ocean–a satellite communicator ensures you can stay in touch even if you’re far out of cell or radio signal range.
Quick Recommendation: Garmin inReach Mini 2
This little device packs everything you need: two-way communication, interactive global SOS, TracBack routing, location and map sharing, digital compass, compatibility with Garmin Explore smartphone app, and up to 14 days of battery life.
For those who want to navigate complex river systems or who need to stay on-course when crossing vast bodies of water, a waterproof GPS is a must-have. It’ll make sure you–and your loved ones–know exactly where you are at all times.
Read our Best Kayak GPS Devices article for more…
Quick Recommendation: Garmin Montana 610t GPS
Through its 4-inch, full-color touchscreen, this device gives you access to GPS and GLONASS, hotfix satellite prediction, and access to Birdseye satellite imagery subscription. With it on your kayak, you’ll never get lost!
Kayak Rudder Kit
For those who want more control over their kayak’s steering and handling, adding a rudder (on top of existing skegs) may be the smart way to go. A good rudder can help you to stay on course even through strong currents, and will reduce the amount of zigzagging you do so you slice through the water as straight and accurately as possible.
Quick Recommendation: Borogo Kayak Rudder Kit
This rudder kit will let you mount a rudder on pretty much any recreational, fishing, touring, or sea kayak (though you’ll need to buy the foot control pedals separately). The nylon rudder and 304 stainless steel hardware are incredibly durable, capable of standing up to open water and fast-moving river use. Installation is a breeze, too!
Kayak Accessories FAQs:
Most U.S. states and Canadian provinces require you to have at least:
– Emergency whistle
– LED Light (if you’re kayaking at night)
The accessories I consider truly essential for safety and comfort are:
– Bilge pump
– Paddling jacket
– Seat cushion
– First aid kit
– Water bottle
– Water shoes
To add certain accessories–such as fishing rod holders or gear tracks–you’ll need to drill holes into your kayak. The good people at Paddle TV have a great video on how to safely drill holes in your kayak
The majority of the weight should be as close to the center of the boat (immediately around you) as possible. Keep the weight near the ends (bow and stern) of the kayak as minimal as possible to maintain stability and keep the kayak trimmed.
Keep the most important (and most used) items close at hand, even within reach, if possible. Items like water bottles, GPS, cell phone, fishing rods, walkie talkies, and speaker should be placed within the cockpit.
Other, less-used items–such as anything stored in your dry bag or your cooler–should be stored either behind you (in the compartment of a sit-inside kayak) or at your feet (in a sit-on-top kayak).