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The Best Kayak Accessories for a Safe and Enjoyable Trip

If you’re like most people, you probably think of kayaking as a fun and relaxing way to enjoy the outdoors. However, to make sure your trip is safe and enjoyable, you need to outfit your kayak with the right accessories.

This blog post will discuss some of the best kayak accessories on the market today.

There are many different kayaking accessories available, so it can be tough to know which ones you need. However, there are a few essential accessories that every kayaker should have and some stuff that’s just plain cool.

Kayak Paddle

Obviously, a kayak paddle is one of the most essential kayak accessories, along with a life jacket. You can’t go very far without a paddle.

A kayak paddle is one of the most critical pieces of equipment you can have. It’s responsible for propelling you through the water, so choosing a good one is important. When choosing a kayak paddle, things to consider are the length, weight, and material.

A good kayak paddle is lightweight and easy to use. It should also be made from a durable material that can withstand the elements. If you’re looking for a quality kayak paddle, I highly recommend the Aqua-Bound Sting Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle.

AQUA BOUND Sting Ray Hybrid 2-Piece Kayak Paddle, White FG Blade/Posi-Lok Carbon Shaft, 250 cmPin

I love the Sting Ray because it’s light, has an angle adjustment, and handles very well. In addition, the carbon shaft is exceptionally light, which takes a load off each swing of the blade.

>>View at Amazon<<

>>View at REI<<

Check out our roundup post for the best kayak paddles for more great options.

Kayak Life Jacket

A kayak life jacket, or Personal Flotation Device (PFD), is the most essential piece of gear that you should never go paddling without.

There are a few different types of PFDs on the market, but I prefer a Type III vest for recreational kayaking. It’s not too bulky, provides plenty of buoyancy, and has a comfortable fit.

I like the Onyx MoveVent Dynamic life jacket for many reasons. It’s available in various sizes, very comfortable to wear, and has a lot of handy features, like a large front pocket (with a whistle), mesh paneling for ventilation, and reflective material for improved visibility.

Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Vest, Aqua, XL/2XLPin

You can read more about the different types of kayak life jackets in my best kayak life jacket roundup.

And remember: even if you’re an experienced paddler, it’s always a good idea to wear a PFD with you – just in case something goes wrong.

Check your local regulations as the rules vary. For example, some locales require you to wear a life jacket at all times, and others just require you have a life vest on board.

Kayak Rod Holder

If you plan on fishing from your kayak, you’re going to need a kayak rod holder. This is one of those kayak fishing accessories that is a must-have if you are a casual or hardcore angler. When you find your favorite fishing spot, you need to be ready to go.

There are many different types of kayak rod holders available. However, the YAKATTACK Omega Rod Holder is one of my favorites. It’s easy to install, adjustable, and has a wide opening to accommodate most rod sizes.

YakAttack Omega Rod Holder with LockNLoad Track Mount (Track Sold Separately)Pin

It also has a handy little release button that makes removing your rod quick and easy – even when you’re wearing gloves.

In my comprehensive guide, you can read more about kayak fishing and the best kayak fishing rod holders.

Scupper Plugs

Kayak scupper plugs are essential if you want to keep your kayak dry while paddling. They plug up the holes in your kayak’s hull, which are designed to allow water to drain out.

It sounds a little counterintuitive. Why would you use kayak drain plugs if water is designed to drain out? For one, if you are kayaking in cold weather and don’t want cold water splashing up through the bottom of your kayak.

There are many different types of kayak scupper plugs available. These Lixada plugs are universal and should work for most applications.

Lixada 4PCS Best Universal Kayak Scupper Plug Kit Kayak Scupper Plug Kit Canoe Drain Holes Stopper BungPin

They’re made from durable rubber and are easy to install and remove. They also come in various colors, so you can match them with your kayak’s color scheme.

Kayak Storage Rack

Storing a kayak can be a major pain in the rear, and it’s something many people overlook. Kayaks are heavy and awkward to lift and store, so storing a kayak can be a daunting task.

If you have limited storage space or just want to make storing your kayak a little easier, then you’re going to need a kayak storage rack.

There are many kayak storage racks available, including ceiling mount, wall mount, and free-standing. I prefer the Best Marine kayak storage rack. I use it in my garage to store my Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120.

Best Marine Kayak Storage Rack. 2 Wall Mount Hooks for Kayaks, SUP Paddle Board & Surfboard. Kayak Hanger Racks & Straps. Indoor/Outdoor Cradles for Garage. Kayak Accessories with 100lb CapacityPin

You can install it in your shed, garage, or outside on a fence post. It’s easy to install, has padded cradles with a tie-down strap, and can accommodate most kayak sizes.

A kayak storage rack is one of the most overlooked and best kayaking accessories you can own. You can read more about kayak racks and find out which ones are the best in my kayak racks roundup.

Dry Bag

A dry bag is an essential piece of kayaking gear if you want to keep your belongings safe and dry while paddling. There are many different sizes and types of dry bags available, so you can choose one that best suits your needs.

I love the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag because it’s big enough to fit all of my gear, but it’s still compact and easy to carry.

Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag, Ultra-Durable Roll-Top Dry Storage, 13 Liter, YellowPin

The Big River dry pack is available in various sizes has a Hypalon roll-top closure and a very solid buckle to keep everything nice and secure.

It is made from durable waterproof materials and has lash loops and D-rings so you can strap that sucker down to your boat.

You can read more about waterproof dry bags and find out which ones are the best in my best dry bags roundup post.

Kayak Anchor

If you want to fish or just relax and take in the scenery, then you’re going to need a kayak anchor. This is one of those accessories that are just really convenient to have and can make your trip a lot more enjoyable.

There are many different kayak anchors available, but I prefer the Best Marine kayak anchor. It’s easy to use, includes 40 feet of rope, and weighs just 3.5 pounds.

Best Marine Kayak Anchor | 3.5lb Folding Anchor with 40ft Marine Rope & Storage Bag | Premium Anchors for PWC, Jet Ski, SUP Paddleboard, Canoe & Fishing | Accessories for Trolley Kit Equipment & GearPin

It also comes with a handy carrying case, so you can take it with you wherever you go.

You can read more about the best kayak anchor and determine which one is the best option for you.

Kayak Seat

When you are paddling a kayak, you spend a lot of time sitting which can cause your butt and lower back to get seriously cramped.

One of the best kayaking accessories you can add is a comfortable kayak seat. You’re going to be spending a lot of time sitting in your kayak, so you want a seat that’s comfortable and supports your back. Trust me, as a guy with back problems, your body thank you.

A good kayak seat should be made from breathable material that doesn’t get too hot in the sun. It should also have some padding for added comfort. If you have a sit-on-top kayak, you can add an adjustable height seat so you can get the right level of back support.

Check out our roundup of the best kayak seats for an option that works well for your setup. Many of the seats in the article will fit a variety of recreational kayaks.

Kayak Roof Rack

Transporting your kayak from home to the water is not always the easiest thing to do. To be honest, many people are excited to buy a kayak but don’t think about the process of getting the boat to the water.

If you have more than one kayak, or if you just want to make transporting your kayak a little easier, then you’re going to need a kayak roof rack.

YAKIMA - JayLow, J-Style Fold Down Rooftop Kayak Carrier, 2 Boat CapacityPin

There are many different types of kayak racks available. I use the Yakima JayLow kayak rack. I have been using this for a while now, and I absolutely love it. You can read my complete review.

The Yakima JayLow roof rack is easy to install; it’s adjustable and can accommodate most kayak sizes. It can hold one kayak up to 80 pounds or two kayaks for a total of 110 pounds.

>>View at Amazon<<

>>View at REI<<

It also folds down when not in use, so you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space when you park your car in the garage.

A kayak roof rack is one of the best kayaking accessories that you might not be thinking of.

Whistle

A whistle is a small but essential piece of safety gear that every kayaker should have. If you find yourself in an emergency situation, a whistle can help attract attention and get you the help you need.

I like the LuxoGear Emergency Whistles because it’s small but loud, and it has a lanyard that you can attach to your wrist, life jacket, or wear around your neck.

LuxoGear Emergency Whistles with Lanyard Safety Whistle Survival Shrill Loud Blast for Kayak Life Vest Jacket Boating Fishing Boat Camping Hiking Hunting Rescue Signaling Kids Lifeguard Plastic 2 PackPin

A whistle is one of those little things you might not think about but can make a huge difference in kayaking safety.

Kayak Cart

If you want to make transporting your kayak a little easier, then you’re going to need a kayak cart. Getting your kayak from your car to the water is not always easy, especially if you do the heavy lifting yourself.

Make your life a little easier (and keep your back happy) and invest in a quality kayak cart to do the heavy lifting for you.

There are many different kayak carts available, but I prefer the C-Tug Kayak Cart. You can read my complete C-Tug kayak cart review.

It’s easy to assemble, lightweight and has large wheels that can easily navigate over rough terrain including mud, sand, and gravel.

RAILBLAZA C-Tug Kayak Cart with Puncture Free Kayak Wheels Ctug Canoe Trolley CartPin

C-Tug breaks down and can fit in a large hatch on your kayak. It’s also easy to store, so you don’t have to worry about it taking up too much space in your garage.

There are a lot of kayak carts available. If the C-Tug isn’t your speed, then you can check out our comprehensive kayak cart guide.

Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is important, especially when you’re out on the water kayaking. Make sure you always have a water bottle with you to keep yourself hydrated and refreshed.

I like the CamelBak Eddy Water Bottle because it has a straw that makes drinking while kayaking super easy. Okay, if you get my drift, we are definitely not advocating drinking and kayaking. Only drinking water while kayaking (LOL).

CamelBak eddy+ BPA Free Water Bottle, 25 oz, Charcoal, .75LPin

The water bottle also has a loop that you can attach to your kayak, so you don’t have to worry about it floating away if you happen to tip over.

Dry Box

When your cell phone gets wet, you are supposed to put it in a bowl of rice, right? Well, unless you carry a bag of rice in your kayak, that’s really not an option when you are paddling.

Think of all the other electronics you keep with you on a kayak, including a GPS, fishfinder, extra batteries, etc. You need a safe and secure place to keep all of this valuable gear nice and dry.

A dry box is a great kayak accessory to have because it keeps your things safe and dry. You can put important things in there, like your phone or your camera, and you don’t have to worry about them getting wet.

I use a small Pelican dry box for my phone, car keys, and wallet. There are much larger dry boxes like this model from Flambeau.

Flambeau Outdoors 1409 Marine Dry Box, 14', OrangePin

Some dry boxes even have extra space for you to put other things like food.

Sure, you can keep some gear in a dry bag, but that’s better suited for soft, packable items like clothing or towels.

Kayak Crate

A kayak crate is a great way to store your gear (fishing accessories) and keep it organized on your kayak. It keeps everything accessible, which is especially helpful if you have a lot of gear.

Flambeau Outdoors 455TKP Tuff Krate - PremiumPin

Kayak crates are great for kayak fishing gear because you can attach rod holders to the crate and keep all your gear in the rear tankwell behind the seat.

Honestly, you can use any old milk crate, and there are some custom crates available. For example, YakAttack makes a crate, and Wilderness Systems, depending on your setup.

I like the Flambeau Outdoors 455TKP Tuff Krate (pictured above) because it’s durable, has an easy-open top, fits most kayaks, and comes with built-in rod holders.

Kayak Trailer

If you are fortunate enough to live close to the water, own a pickup, or already have an expensive kayak roof rack, then consider yourself set. If not, then you might just need a kayak trailer.

A kayak trailer allows you to quickly load and unload your kayak by yourself, and it also protects your kayak from getting damaged while you’re driving. This is also a great way to haul multiple kayaks at once.

I like the Malone Auto Racks MicroSport Trailer because it’s lightweight, has an easy loading height, and comes with built-in Malon J style kayak cradles. You can carry up to 4 kayaks on this bad boy.

Malone Auto Racks MicroSport Trailer Kayak Transport Package with 4 Malone J-Pro2 Kayak CarriersPin

If you are seriously in the market for a kayak trailer, make sure your vehicle is set up with hitch wiring, and the trailer has the hauling capacity you need.

You can read more about kayak trailers and find out which ones are the best in my kayak trailers roundup.

Kayaking Gloves

Kayaking gloves are certainly not a must-have. They are not as crucial as a paddle or life jacket. But if you’re going to be doing any serious kayaking, gloves are sure nice to have. 

After all, kayaking gloves separate the palms of your hands from the paddle.

They’ll protect your hands from blisters, sunburn, and cuts, and they’ll also keep them warm on those cold days out on the water. What more can you ask for, right?

I recommend the NRS Hydroskin Gloves because they’re tough, have an excellent grip, and are touchscreen-compatible, so you can use your phone without taking them off.

Nrs Men's Hydroskin Gloves Gray Heather (M)Pin

When wearing kayaking gloves, you need to perform some simple tasks like touching a screen, so these are a great, functional option.

If these aren’t quite your style, check out my best kayaking gloves roundup for other great options.

Kayak Cooler

A kayak cooler is a great way to keep your food and drinks cold while you’re out on the water. It’s also a nice place to store your bait if you’re fishing.

I like the IceMule Pro Cooler because it’s durable, waterproof, and has a lot of storage space. It also comes with backpack straps so you can easily carry it to and from your kayak.

The IceMule fits nice and secure under bungee storage, and you can get to your food and drinks without having to stop and unload everything from your kayak.

The IceMule Pro Cooler is also an excellent option for paddleboarding due to its portability.

The CreekKooler Floating insulated cooler is another great option. It seems a little gimmicky because it’s a floating cooler, but believe me, it works. It’s perfect for keeping food and drinks cold, and you can tow it behind your kayak so it doesn’t take up valuable room on your ‘yak.

CreekKooler - Outdoor Floating Cooler - 30 QuartPin

The floating insulated cooler comes with cup holders to keep your frosty beverage while you are paddling, or relaxing.

You can read more about kayak coolers and determine which ones are the best in my kayak coolers roundup.

GearTracs

GearTracs are a great way to organize your gear while you’re on the water. They keep everything within reach and make it easy to find what you need.

I like the YakAttack GearTrac because it’s versatile, has a lot of attachment points, and is easy to install.

Yak Attack GTSL90 GearTrac Light/Medium Duty, Black - GTSL90-BK08Pin

Just note that if your kayak doesn’t already have gear tracks installed, you will need to install them, which means drilling holes in your kayak. Honestly, it’s not a big deal, I have done it many times, but it can be intimidating at first.

GearTracs are great for an extra rod holder, a fishfinder, GPS, or other accessories that you see fit. You can even mount a cup holder or your action camera for all those photo ops!

Kayak GPS

A kayak GPS is a great way to stay on track while you’re out on the water. It can also be used as a navigation tool if you get lost. A handheld GPS navigator lets you get lost without actually getting lost.

I like the Garmin Striker 4 because it’s rugged, includes a sonar transducer, and lets you create and store your own maps. So you can find all of those pesky fish in search of the big one.

Garmin 010-01550-00 Striker 4 with Transducer, 3.5' GPS Fishfinder with Chirp Traditional TransducerPin

The Striker 4 has a 3.5″ color screen, which is compact yet super readable and user-friendly. Best of all, it has an IPX7 rating which means it’s waterproof and can withstand accidental submersion in water.

You can read more about kayak GPS and find out which ones are the best in my kayak GPS roundup.

Kayak Lights

If you’re going to be kayaking at night or in low light conditions, you’re going to need some lights. In addition, lights are often required in local areas, so it’s a good idea to know this before you head out paddling under the stars.

Typically you need a red and green combo on the bow and a white light on the stern. However, sometimes all you need is a bright white light on the rear of your kayak.

I am a fan of the YakAttack VISICarbon Pro for a stern light because it’s bright, has a long battery life, and is easy to use. The VISICarbon stands about 4 feet when deployed and comes with a flag that is excellent for low light or foggy conditions to help other boats see you on the water.

Yak Attack Visicarbon Pro Mighty Mount and Geartrac Ready Light - CPMPin

Innovative Lighting has an LED bow light with a suction cup for easy attachment for the front of your yak. Suction cups mean you don’t have to drill any holes in your precious kayak.

This light has combined red and green, so it should work well for night kayaking.

There are a lot of kayak lights available, and for more great options, check out more lighting options in my kayak light post.

Air Pump and Repair Kit

For those who use an inflatable kayak, an air pump and a repair kit are some of the best kayaking accessories when you are paddling.

I have had to use my repair kit on more than one occasion, and let me tell you, it’s a lot better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.

If your inflatable doesn’t come with a pump, I recommend an electric pump to do the heavy lifting for you. Then, you can take a small foot pump with you in your kayak. This one is easy to use and will get the job done quickly.

As for repair kits, I like the SEA DOG WATER SPORTS. It comes with everything you need to make a quick fix on the river or lake.

Sunscreen

When you spend time in the great outdoors, you need to protect yourself from the sun. Sunscreen is a must, especially when kayaking. You’re out on the open water, and the sun can really do a number on your skin.

Although sunblock isn’t necessarily classified as a “kayak accessory,” it’s something that you should always have with you when paddling.

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion | Vegan and Reef Friendly (Octinoxate & Oxybenzone Free) Broad Spectrum Moisturizing UVA/UVB Sunscreen with Vitamin E | 8 ozPin

Sun Bum Original SPF 50 is an excellent option. It goes on quickly. It’s vegan and reef-friendly, and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes. An added bonus, this little bottle only weighs .6 pounds, so the bottle doesn’t take up much room when you are paddling.

Kayaking Shoes

You see people wearing all kinds of things when paddling a kayak. I love the guy that paddles in jeans with no shirt on. Don’t be that guy.

You need to have the right equipment, and paddling shoes are a must-have kayak accessory when you are on the water. Don’t get caught with tennis shoes that fill up with water and never dry out when they get wet.

Flip flops and slides are tricky because your feet can slip right out of them when transporting your kayak to and from the water.

ALEADER Men's Stylish Quick Drying Water Shoes Gray 11 D(M) USPin

Kayaking shoes are another great accessory to have when you’re on the water. They help protect your feet from getting blisters and keep you comfortable when paddling.

A good pair of kayaking shoes will have a quick-drying material and good drainage. They should also have a good grip, so you don’t slip when getting in and out of your kayak.

Aleader has both men’s and women’s shoes that are comfortable, have an excellent grip, are easy to get on and off, and dry very quickly.

Check out my kayaking shoe post for more information on choosing the best kayaking shoes.

Kayak Bilge Pump

I hate water sloshing around in my kayak. Not only that, but all that extra water adds weight, making it harder to control your boat. 

A bilge pump is a crucial kayak accessory that you might not realize you need until it’s too late.

When your kayak fills up with water, you’re going to want a bilge pump to help get the water out. It’s not a lot of fun trying to paddle with a kayak that is full of water.

Seattle Sports Paddler's Bilge Hand Pump for Kayaks and Small Boats

Unless you are using a sponge or have an empty bucket onboard, you need an easy way to get water out of your ‘yak.

I have often wished I had a small, hand-operated bilge pump on board. If you take a big wave over the bow or are just kayaking in steady rain, it’s important to get that water out of your kayak.

This paddler’s bilge pump from Seattle Sports might just be your next best friend on the water.

Kayak Paddle Leash

Ever heard that saying “up a creek without a paddle” means you are in a bad situation. The last thing you want to do when kayaking is to lose your paddle.

If you’ve ever lost a paddle while kayaking, you know how important it is to have a paddle leash. It’s not fun having to swim to shore or retrieve your paddle, especially if the water is rough and/or cold.

A paddle leash is an essential piece of kayaking safety gear. It’s a simple strap that attaches to your kayak and your paddle. This way, if you do lose your paddle, it won’t float away.

Campingandkayaking Made in The USA. Paddle/Rod/Gear Leash Now with Cinch Lock, 3 Black Leashes and 1 Carabiner. Built to Last.Pin

There are many different types of paddle leashes available on the market. I like those with a quick-release system, so I can quickly detach my leash from my kayak if I need to.

The best kayak paddle leash is the Campingandkayaking paddle leash. It’s a simple, lightweight leash that is easy to use and store.

You can attach the leash to your paddle, or a fishing pole, neither of which you want going overboard.

First Aid Kit

Last but certainly not least, a first-aid kit is an important accessory for any outdoor activity, and kayaking is no exception. You never know when you might need it, so it’s best to be prepared.

A good first-aid kit should include bandages, antiseptic wipes, sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape, scissors, tweezers, and a pain reliever.

You can buy first-aid kits specifically for kayakers, or you can put together your own kit. I like to have a small kit that I can easily fit in my backpack.

Let’s hope you never need to use your first aid kit, but man, it would sure be a bummer to need it and not have it.

This WELL-STRONG Waterproof First Aid Kit is a great option. Not only is it waterproof, but it comes with a variety of supplies to help you in any emergency.

WELL-STRONG Waterproof First Aid Kit Roll Top Boat Emergency Kit with Buckles for Fishing Kayaking Boating Swimming Camping Rafting Beach RedPin

It has a rolltop closure like many dry bags, it’s lightweight, easy to carry, and comes equipped with many great supplies.

Conclusion

The best kayak accessories are those that help keep you safe and comfortable while on the water. Depending on your needs, you might need all of this stuff or have some of it already.

No matter what, it’s important to be prepared for any situation that might arise while kayaking. So, the next time you hit the water, make sure to bring along these essential accessories.

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About the author
Steve
Steve is the owner of Paddle About, a blog that's all about helping people get out and enjoy nature. He loves to kayak, camp, hike and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not out exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.