8 Safety Items Every Kayaker Needs (That Fit In 1 Small Bag)
Here’s something that doesn’t get talked about enough:
Safety equipment for your kayak.
Sure, it’s not cool like a shiny new reel, but these items could save your life (and give you many more years of kayak fishing).
So in this video, I’m sharing the eight items I always have with me on my kayak to keep me safe.
Some are things I like to have for my own peace of mind, while others are items that you’re legally required to have on board.
See what these items are and why you need them in the video below!
Kayak Safety Equipment [VIDEO]
Below are the eight items I always bring on my kayak.
You should also check your local laws to see what else is required to have onboard, as the laws are different in every state.
8 Kayak Safety Items
Life jackets are required by law and could save your life if you go overboard.
There are two different life jackets I’ll have on board with me, depending on where I’m fishing.
If I’m fishing flats or lakes where it’s calm and I want to move freely, then I like to use an inflatable life jacket.
Some inflatable life jackets are manual, some are automatic, and some are both, but I prefer an automatic one.
And even within automatic life jackets, there are two different types:
I prefer the pressure-activated jackets, even though they cost a bit more, because you might splash the water-activated jackets in your kayak and accidentally activate them.
If I’m fishing in deeper, rough water, like off the beach or in an inlet, I prefer a standard foam life jacket, like the Magellan outdoors paddling life jacket.
Sound-producing devices, like a whistle or air horn, can help call attention to yourself if you get into trouble.
I prefer a whistle because it doesn’t expire or run out of air.
And I recommend keeping it attached to your body (around your neck or clipped to your belt or life jacket).
If you do happen to fall out and the current or wind takes your kayak away from you, you’ll want to have it on you.
A knife is another thing you want to keep on yourself (not just in a bag somewhere on your kayak).
On your kayak, you’ll have anchor line, fishing line, bungees, and other ropes around, and you really don’t want to get tangled in them if you accidentally flip.
In our recent kayak fishing podcast, Luke shared a story about having to rescue a guy who was stuck in the water for 20 minutes because his kayak flipped and his ankle was tied up in a rope.
It was November and he was freezing — don’t let that happen to you!
Always have a pocket knife or dive knife on you.
Even if you’re only planning on fishing during the day, you should still bring a headlamp.
The weather could turn bad, you could get stranded because of low tide, or you could find a school of fish and not want to leave.
All of these things are definitely possible and could cause you to stay out later than planned.
Headlamps can let you see what’s around you in the dark, as well as let other people see you.
Here’s what I have in my emergency kit:
- An Orion emergency kit
- First aid items
- Flex tape patches
The Orion emergency kit contains:
- An extra whistle
- A mirror to use the sun or your headlamp to signal where you are
- Signal flares
My first aid items include:
- Antibiotic cream
- Tylenol (or similar pain reliever)
The flex tape patches are surprisingly helpful for temporarily plugging a hole in your kayak in case something happens like you run over rocks or an oyster bed.
Manual Bilge Pump
If you get a hole in your kayak or accidentally leave a hatch open, you’ll be thankful you had a manual bilge pump on board.
Another option is to have a sponge to get the water out.
Waterproof Floating Radio
A radio can help you hear about weather updates and call for help if necessary.
Yes, we all carry cell phones, but you may end up out of range, the battery could die, you could drop it overboard…
Lots of things could go wrong if you’re solely relying on your cell phone.
I use the Cobra HH 350.
And here’s a tip: always be sure to keep the batteries for your phone and radio charged!
I like having a small claw anchor on board to help hold me in place in case of an emergency.
If you cut or injure yourself, you’ll definitely want an anchor so you can stop moving and patch yourself up.
2 Kayak Safety Tips
The items above will help you be prepared in case of an emergency, but here are two other tips that can also keep you safe:
Tip #1: Tell someone about your plans
Let someone know where you’re going, when you plan to get back, and if someone else is going with you.
If you don’t get back at a reasonable time, they can try to contact you or the people you’re with, or start looking for you.
Tip #2: Write your information on your kayak
Write your name, address, phone number, and emergency contact on the hull of your kayak where it’ll be visible.
In case your kayak floats off or an accident happens and your kayak is found, authorities will know who they’re looking for.
You can go to the Coast Guard’s website here to get a sticker for this.
This might seem like a lot, but they’re all little things and they easily fit into a medium-sized dry bag.
You can keep everything stored in there so when you leave home to go kayaking, you can just grab the bag (but be sure your radio batteries are charged!).
Hopefully, you won’t need to use these items and tips, but if you do, you’ll be glad you were prepared!
Have any additional safety tips or equipment?
Let me know down in the comments.
And please TAG or SHARE this with your kayak friends so we can all be safe out on the water!
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