Do You Need Lights on a Kayak at Night? – Make Your Adventure Safe

Doing things at night is usually more difficult and challenging than doing them during the day. The fact that natural light makes so many activities easier and possible means that we prefer spending time outside from the morning to the evening. That is a set amount of hours in a day where we must fit everything that we can.

Of course, not everything we do is dependent on natural light when done outside, but it is usually more optimal and fun. Sitting around and having fun with friends and family by the fire and barbequing for example is better at night. Walking around Las Vegas is more fun when the night sets.

However, when out in nature, the open wilderness, it is anything but fun and often both dangerous and scary.

The stakes are even higher when you do something that already has its own dangers at night. For example, and relevant to this article, paddling in a kayak. There are many reasons why one may find the reason to go kayaking and stay during the night.

It may even happen so early in the morning that you beat the dawn and get on the water before the first light of the day. Fishing, for example, needs to happen early in the day if it is to be optimal.

Staying Safe

sunset kayak

Staying longer and paddling into the night has a lot of benefits and it can be fun, but anyone who does it needs to remember that it is very dangerous. Therefore, proper safety equipment is in order. Some of the most essential gear you need is of course a life vest and a helmet. These are your go-to lifesavers in a dangerous situation if you capsize or fall over during the night.

Another set of clothes is a must in case you get wet, and something warm needs to be close by in the kayak because temperatures tend to get much lower on the water when the sun sets. It may rain so rain cannot hurt.

There are even portable heaters that easily fit inside a kayak while a spray skirt should always be ready and waiting for you to jump in. However, while all crucial for comfort and safety, there is a much more prevalent tool to remain safe in a kayak at night, light.

It Gets Dark Out There

One thing that people who do not usually leave the comfort of their city do not know is just how dark it can get away from a community. Without any light pollution to get in the way, true darkness sets in quickly and stays for longer. It is literally pitch black and without the moon to give some of its light, you are left to your own devices. Luckily, we have many devices that can help light the way and make every nighttime kayaker safer.

A Toch to Light the Way

kayak at night

First of all, you need a basic light that you will use to get a better idea of your surroundings and find your way in the water. For this, you can use a regular outdoor torch meant for camping and adventures. Modern touches are LED, their batteries last longer and they can light very far into the night. This is an absolute must. While you are at it, make sure it is waterproof or at least splash-proof.

A Body Light to Follow Your Movements


A lot of nighttime kayakers, especially the anglers and those more adventurous, prefer lights that can be in some way attached to the body. Usually, they pick the ones that go onto the helmet. They come with elastic strings and can easily be placed on a helmet and even on a bare head.

Other lamps can be attached to various strings on your life vest or regular clothes that go over the torso. Whatever you choose, it will help you because body lights follow your movements while your arms are free to do other things.

Dedicated Kayak Lighting

kayak at night

If you are serious about your kayaking and need to light your way in a near-professional manner, the best way to do so is to mount a kayak light. They come in various sizes and have different features, but what is the same across all of them is how much more capable they are when compared to smaller, weaker torches and attachable body lights.

Mountable kayak lights have special handles too and can usually turn 180 or even 360 degrees. They are also called searchlights, floodlights, spotlights, or reflectors. Having one will also help you help others who may lose their way or need other types of assistance.

Kayak Signal Lights

Signal lights, better known as marine lights, are crucial if you plan to paddle for longer periods of time. Both up and down the stream, your vessel needs to be lit a certain way for other marine traffic as well as the coast to know where you are going.

Marine lights signal which way you are going and they are green and light. Some can switch between the two while others come as a pair of two dedicated lights, one for the bow and the other for the stern.

Nautical law and marine traffic regulations dictate the use of these lights so that everyone remains safe. The red light is usually placed on the port (left) side of the vessel, while the green is for the starboard (right) side. They signal to the oncoming boats which side is closer to them and tell whether your kayak is going towards them or away from them.

Crack Lights Sticks and Flares


Last but not least, you should also have some light sticks that light up when cracked. These offer a lot of light instantly in an emergency and can be of great help when you need a sudden burst of bright light.

It will help you save batteries on your torches and other lights. Flares can be shot from a flare gun but also cracked in two and lit up. It is a good idea to keep a few light sticks and flares inside of your kayak’s water seal hatch at all times, just in case.

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