Exploring water bodies and fishing on a kayak is fun. It is also a great way of working your body muscles outdoors. However, you can only get the best experience if you have the right kayak accessories to ensure your safety and enhance the efficiency of your on-water activities.
If you are an avid kayaker and don’t know the right accessories to carry with you, I have got you covered. As an experienced kayaker, I saw it noble to share an ultimate list of kayak accessories you need to make your kayaking a breeze. Read on.
Personal Safety Accessories
As the name suggests, these are the kayak accessories you need to ensure your safety in the water. When kayaking, you may never know when the sea will get stormy. Or when the white water currents turn over your kayak. And if you paddle/fish on a tranquil water body, you may never know when your kayak will be knocked down or punctured. That’s why I recommend the following safety accessories to bail yourself out should the worst happen while on or out of the water.
1. Life Jacket
A life jacket or personal floatation device is essential to keep you afloat should your kayak overturn from strong currents or kayaking mishaps. In other words, the PFD is designed to give you an easy time to board back to your kayak or to keep you buoyant until you are rescued.
A good life jacket should fit you snugly while giving enough room for the free movement of the hands around the armpits for efficient paddle strokes. In addition, its length should extend not beyond the belly button so that it doesn’t ride over your neck when you sit on the kayak.
You can even get a PFD for your four-legged friend to help them stay buoyant when the worst happens. The good thing about the best dog PFDs is that they feature a handle at the back, which you can use to get the animal back on board.
Note: PFDs are lightweight and suitable for all types of water. So, you should always wear them regardless of where you are kayaking.
2. Bilge Pump
A bilge pimp is a unique portable pump that helps rid excess water off your kayak should you encounter rapids or capsize. It is ideal for longer kayaking trips, or when you know you may spend long hours on the water, and the chances of crossing rapids are high.
The beauty of these bilge pumps is that they can pump out all water that may remain in the cockpit and the storage hatches, relieving you from the burden of turning your vessel upside down.
When shopping for a Bilge Pump, choose a size that matches your kayak size. If you must go for the bigger options, make sure your choice isn’t too heavy to weigh down your vessel.
Another consideration to factor in when choosing a bilge pump is its power source. I strongly advocate for automatic bilge pumps as they clear the water independently as you concentrate on paddling.
Finally, I recommend you go for a bilge pump that can float, as this will maximize the chances of recovery should it go off leash and dive into the water.
3. Flashlight, Flares, or, Other Light
Though I don’t advocate paddling at night, there are times when darkness catches you in the middle of your journey. If you are caught in the situation, a flashlight can help you navigate your waterways to get to the shore safely.
Additionally, having flares or emergency lights on board can help if you need help or any rescue during your voyage at night.
When shopping for the lights, you’ll come across navigation and signaling lights. It’s important to note that the two lights work differently, and installing both can be the wisest decision you can make.
4. First Aid Kit
Accidents can happen anywhere: at home, on your way to the kayaking site, or while on the water. If you are a victim of a kayak accident and have a first aid kit by your side, it can help you get relief from any injuries as you wait for further examination and treatment.
Though buying a pre-packaged first aid kit can help, I usually advocate for a custom-packed first aid kit at home. Examples of items you can include in your kit include:
Wound care items like dressings, bandages, band-aids, gauze pads, and medical and duct tapes.
Cleansers for thorough cleaning of the scrapes and cuts in the outdoors, especially after splashing through bacteria-infested waters. I prefer packing, presoaked iodine pads due to their ease of use, packaging, and solubility of iodine in water to form an iodine bath, even if in a pinch.
Medicine to treat or relieve you from any health conditions you might develop in the outdoors. Don’t know the right medication? Ask your doctor to prescribe the right medication to take with you on an extended kayaking trip. Please note that the list should include skin creams.
Splints, for giving you or your fellow kayaker relief on significant injuries like broken fingers, toes, legs, arms, etc. Be sure to pack heavy-duty bandages to hold the splints in place.
Tools like scissors for cutting the bandages, pins for securing the bandages and slings, blankets for keeping warm, and a dry carrier bag for storing the kit and its contents.
5. Spare Paddle
Like many other kayakers, you might think the idea of carrying an extra paddle is an odd one. But, suppose you are caught in a rapid or ocean storm, capsize and lose the hold of your paddle as you attempt to get back on board, and it’s swept away by the currents. In that case, a spare paddle would help you safely get back to shore.
When shopping for a paddle, it’s good to pick one that will enhance your efficiency in the water. Below are the factors to consider to make the best buy:
The Paddle Length
Choosing the right size paddle would give you an easy time when paddling. You can achieve it by considering your height and the kayak width.
Lightweight paddles like the ones made from materials like carbon fiber enhance your performance on the water. They come at a high price, though.
The Blade Size and Shape
You may find long and thinner blades or short and wide blades when shopping for paddles. The former is ideal for fast and long-distance kayaking, while the latter is ideal for moderate speeds and short distances.
6. Float Bags
Float bags refer to inflatable bags with a tube attached to the side. They are designed to be fitted in the space behind the seats of most sit-in kayaks. The idea is to fill the kayak’s empty spaces with air to enhance its buoyancy and prevent the entry of water into the confined areas of the kayak should it capsize.
In other words, the float bags maintain the kayak’s buoyancy, allowing you enough time to paddle to safety or call for help.
Harmony Bow Flotation Bag is an excellent example of a kayak floatation bag. It features a twist valve on the inflation hose for sealing the hose after inflation.
When paddling on white water, the chances of hitting on a rock, tree trunk, or any other immovable obstacles on the waterway are high. That said, it is advisable to cover your head with a helmet to prevent or reduce the degree of injury that may happen to your head in case the worst happens.
On the same note, ensure that you wear a helmet designed for kayaking. I’m usually fond of full-face kayaking helmets because they cushion my jaws and the nether regions of my face from injury. Their only drawback is their inability to dry well after capsizing.
Have different preferences? Then you can try between the full cut and half cut helmet options. The full-cut helmets will cover your head and the ears, but not the lower face, while the half-cut option will cover the portion of the head above the ears. It offers the least protection from injury.
The helmets are made from various materials, including ABS plastic, carbon fiber, and fiberglass. Whatever the type or material you pick, make sure it fits you comfortably to avoid minor discomforts while battling down the rapids.
A whistle can be a lifesaver when you are in a threatening situation while on the water. All you need is to blow loud enough to reach your fellow kayakers, boaters, or anyone else. For best results, invest in a high-quality emergency whistle to be heard amidst noise or at the farthest distance possible.
The simplest way to get the whistle is by copying the whistle designs that most of the anglers and fellow kayakers in your area are using.
It would help if you also familiarized yourself with the whistle code in the area to be in a position to communicate effectively using the tool.
According to the international whistle code:
- Three whistle blasts mean ‘I need help.’
- Two whistle blasts mean, ‘come to me.’
- And one whistle blast means,’ where are you.’
However, the above code may not apply in your area, and it may be safe to adapt to what the ‘Romans’ in the area do.
If you love angling from a kayak, this section will take you through accessories you should take to a fishing site. They include:
9. Anchor Trolley system
The anchor trolley system comes in handy when you want to stay put on one fishing spot on the water without the need for paddling back and forth. The system features two pulleys, a rope, and a ring. To anchor your kayak, attach the rope to the ring and run it through the pulleys.
Once done installing the rope to the side of your kayak, attach it to an anchor and then use the rope to slide the kayak back and forth as required. Seems complex? Here is a video on anchoring your kayak using the anchor trolley system.
10. Fishing Net
A fishing net is a piece of open-meshed material that anglers use to catch fish from a kayak or boat. They come in different designs and sizes to fit the needs of other anglers. Your choice of the fishing net will depend on:
The Targeted Size of Fish
The size of your net will depend on the target size of the fish. For instance, you need a larger net to capture larger fish and vice versa. If you intend to net trophy brown trout, you would need a larger net than you would if you were looking for a smaller bass from a stream.
Flotation of the Net
If you are fishing on a shallow river with currents, then a floatable fishing net would be the most ideal.
11. Fish Finder
A fish finder is a sonar device that detects and displays areas with the largest schools of fish in the sea or any other water body. Essentially, the device sends pulses of sound waves into the water and then estimates the time and the frequency at which they have reflected the surface to determine the amount and the size of fish beneath. Though not always accurate, it maximizes your chances of trapping more fish.
Some fish finders can even track and predict the weather changes.
12. Paddle Holder
Let’s face it — you can’t angle and paddle simultaneously. For best results, you need to place your paddle in a safe and accessible place to concentrate on your angling. This is where a paddle holder comes in.
If you are an inexperienced angler and don’t know the best paddle holder to invest in, I recommend you to go for my favorite, paddle holders by YakAttach. I love this baby because it is lightweight and easy to install. In addition, the holder is durable, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee.
13. Fishing Clothing
Cold water splashes and cold breeze from the ocean are inevitable. You should get fishing clothing to protect yourself from the cold and other elements.
A good fishing clothing should be weatherproof and flexible. It should also be lightweight to avoid weighing down the kayak. Over and above that, your fishing clothing shouldn’t be too bright, lest you want to scare away the fish.
The FROGG TOGGS Men’s Classic All-Sport Waterproof Breathable Suit is a perfect example of the fishing clothing I’m talking about.
14. Kayak Seat Back
How often have you cut your kayak fishing trip short due to back pain and strains? If the number is too high, perhaps your kayak seat has worn out, or it is poorly designed. One way to avoid back discomfort is upgrading your kayak seat with a seat back. A well-padded seat back will cushion your back from the hard frame of your seat to give you a comfortable time on the kayak.
If your kayak seat isn’t comfortable enough and you are thinking of getting a pad, it is advisable to measure the size of your seat to pick a pad that covers the edges of your kayak seat completely. The pad should also be lightweight to avoid additional weight on the kayak.
15. Drift Sock
Suppose your fish finder has just found a new hotspot, and your anchor system cannot help overcome the huge waves due to the intense sea depth. In that case, you need a drift sock to reduce the effects of the strong currents and stabilize the kayak at the targeted fishing spot.
Have difficulties finding one? The 42 Inch Drift Sock By Moocy will have you covered. One advantage of this sock is that it stores swiftly without taking much space. Its PVC construction material is also durable and lightweight, allowing easy carriage to the fishing spots. The sock works best when connected to a line and a floater, sold separately.
16. Fishing Knife
When fishing, you may find yourself in a situation that doesn’t allow you to fight your catch and the safest thing you can do is to let go of the fish. In that case, a fishing knife can become handy, cutting off the bait line.
I remember I had to let go of a large bass when sharks started feasting on it before I drew it to my kayak. Thanks to my KastKing Fillet Knife and Bait Knife.
A fishing knife can also come in handy for cleaning, cutting, and removing the bones from the fish. However, most of them are razor-sharp and should be kept in safe storage to avoid accidents.
These are the items you need to ferry your kayak and other accessories to and from kayaking grounds easily. They include:
17. Kayak Cart/ Trolley
A kayak cart is specialized equipment designed to help you transport and store your kayak. They feature two wheels fixed to an axle and a system for securing the kayak to the cart for efficient transportation.
When looking for a kayak cart in the market, it’s essential to find out whether there are cart designs that are tailored for your kayak before landing any available option. On the same note, you should choose the kayak wheels based on the terrain you intend to use. More specifically, large tires would be ideal for sandy landscapes like beaches, while the regular tires would perfect for hardened and greasy terrains.
An excellent example of kayak carts is the ABN Universal Kayak Carrier for kayaks and canoes.
18. Roof Racks
In an ideal world, kayakers would live by the kayaking sites: rivers, oceans, and lakes, so they would push their vessels into the water whenever they want. In other words, there would be no tiresome driving to the kayaking sites.
Unfortunately, this is never the case in the real world. And avid kayakers must take their vessels to the water using their vehicles. If your car doesn’t have a carrier, then a roof rack might offer you an ultimate solution for your transportation needs.
Roof racks can be grouped into temporary, J-racks, saddle, and stackers rack types. The temporary options like the Universal Soft Roof Rack Pads for Kayak might be ideal if your car doesn’t have rails.
Need something permanent? Then you can go for J-racks or any other option stated above.
Kayak Storage Accessories
After using the kayak in the water, it is advisable to clean and store it in safe storage. While it is recommended to keep it indoors, the following accessories can provide equally safe storage for a kayak.
19. Kayak Cover
If you have limited indoor space and decide to keep your kayak in a garage, a kayak cover will help protect the vessel from dust, sun, and other elements. For maximum protection, get a heavy-duty cover and mount it with portable stands to prevent it from contacting the kayak directly.
20. Kayak Storage Racks
Onboard Storage Accessories
Onboard storage accessories refer to items that help you amp the storage space in your kayak. These options may include:
21. Storage Caddies
A storage caddy refers to any accessory that attaches to the part of your kayak, say, the seat, deck, etc., to add up the storage options. Examples may include hooks, rails, and other storage attachments.
22. Cooler Boxes
If your kayaking trip will take a day or more, you’ll have to take food supplies with you to recharge along the voyage. Cooler boxes come in handy to help maintain the freshness of your foods and drinks.