In order to really enjoy kayaking and have the best experience out on the water, you have to bring along the right kayak accessories with you.
Not all kayak accessories are necessary for every kayaker, however. The gear you need will vary depending on the type of boat you use, and the type of kayaking you’re doing.
Today, I’ll share with you my list of the best kayak accessories, broken down by type, and take a look at the must-haves as well as those added extras that are just nice to have on board.
I’ll share with you some tips on how to decide exactly which kayak accessories you may want to consider for your adventures and which you can do without. Let’s dive in!
Your Essential Gear
Let’s start off with your essential gear. Whether you are sea kayaking, paddle boarding, are a seasoned kayaker or are just getting started, these are the accessories that you absolutely have to have on board.
1. Kayak Life Vest
Not only is a life vest a great accessory to include as part of your kayaking gear, but it’s also the law. A majority of the waterways throughout the nation have rules and regulations about kayaking with a life vest.
Even beyond the law, having a kayak life vest can literally be a life saving piece of gear. Unlike traditional bulky life vests, there are a variety of sleek and comfortable kayaking life vests to opt for.
In the kayaking world, a kayak life jacket is commonly referred to as a personal flotation device, or PFD. The best types of PFDs are the ones that offer optimal comfort and superior safety. A kayak life jacket like the Onyx MoveVent Curve Paddle Sports Life Vest is a great option to go with.
A really good life vest should have supreme ventilation through a mesh lower back construction. The mesh construction allows you to stay cool even on days that are sunny or humid.
A great kayak life jacket should also be comfortable with enough padding on the front and back. If you’re an avid kayaker, you might also want to opt for a life jacket that sits higher on the chest. This way, you won’t have to deal with the discomfort of your life jacket hitting against your kayak’s seat. Check out our article on how to pick the right life jacket for your kayaking adventures.
2. Waterproof Spray Jacket
A spray jacket can be super helpful If you are someone who tends to kayak in colder conditions. As someone who is always cold, my spray jacket is perhaps my favorite piece of kayaking gear because even on cool days, it keeps me cozy the way a sweater would without collecting too much heat.
A spray jacket works much like a dry suit, in that it keeps you dry and retains your body heat. Unlike a full body dry suit, however, a spray jacket is a parka that you pull on over your clothes.
I recommend the WindRider Waterproof Paddling Sailing Spray Top – it’s a great option to go with because it is lightweight and provides a really comfortable fit. You’ll get the benefits of a waterproof jacket so even if you get splashed by water, you’ll still stay snug and dry.
Like many high quality spray jackets, you’ll find a drawstring bungee cord to help you get a snug fit around the waist. There are also zippered pockets for you to securely store smaller items like keys, a wallet, or even snacks.
My favorite part of a great quality spray jacket is the neck coverage. This gives you a cozy fit much like a turtleneck would. If you kayak in colder conditions, making sure your neck is covered is something that often gets forgotten until you’re way out in the water.
It’s important to have protection for your skin when you’re out on the water, especially when it’s hot and the sun is shining. Opt for a broad spectrum sunscreen that offers full coverage, and choose a waterproof option if you plan on getting in and out of the water.
A great sunscreen option for kayakers who enjoy jumping into the water for a cool down is the all natural water resistant SPF 50 sunscreen from Reef Repair. This sun block is not only good for your skin, but it’s safe for the environment too. Unlike other leading brands, the all-natural formula of Reef Repair is not damaging to coral and marine life.
If you don’t like the rough texture that most sunscreens offer, then you might want to try out Aveeno Protect Broad Spectrum SPF 60. This sunscreen offers a really smooth formula that feels like lotion when you apply it. It doesn’t leave a chalky or rough texture or residue behind. Instead, it feels like a moisturizer that actively hydrates and replenishes your skin.
While Aveeno protect is my go to sunscreen whenever I go out kayaking, it’s not necessarily one that I would recommend using if you are going to be diving in the water. Instead, opt for this sunscreen if you typically stay in your kayak and want to avoid that icky feeling that traditional sunscreen provides.
If you’re going to be kayaking for long hours, then make sure to reapply your sunscreen regularly. In addition to sunscreen, it’s helpful to have a brimmed hat or a baseball cap to protect your skin further. It’s also helpful to wear long sleeve clothing to minimize sun exposure.
4. Water Bottle
As with any sport or outdoor adventure, it’s important to stay hydrated. Having a water bottle like that can help you stay cool and hydrated throughout your day.
A great water bottle to consider is the Coldest Water Bottle Insulated Hydro Mug. Iron Flask Sports Water Bottle. Its quality construction will keep your drink nice and cool through its vacuum insulated stainless steel build. Even on a hot summer day, you can look forward to a cool drink.
It’s also an ideal water bottle if you are someone who enjoys going out for long kayaking adventures. It has a capacity of 64 ounces, nearly triple your standard water bottle.
Depending on how long you’re going out will determine how much water you should bring along. However, the larger your water bottle, the better, especially on hot summer days.
You should always be prepared for anything when you go out kayaking. That’s why it’s important to have the right safety gear with you. Here are some kayak accessories you should consider no matter your skill level, experience, or kayak type.
5. Kayak Bilge Pump
Every kayak safety kit should include a bilge pump. You will sometimes hear these bilge pumps referred to as manual hand pumps. The purpose of a bilge pump is to expel any water that gets inside of your boat. If your kayak capsizes, and you flip it back over, it will be filled with water. The easiest way to remove this water is by using a bilge pump.
A simple unit like the Better Boat Bilge Pump is ideal for smaller sized kayaks and canoes. A pump like this is helpful for expelling water after a flip and for preparing your boat in case you sustain a puncture and need to do a repair.
Regardless of the brand, these pumps all work the same. Insert the bilge pump in your kayak, pump the water using the manual handle, and remove as much of the collected water as you can.
6. First Aid Kit
One of the most important kayak safety accessories is a basic first aid kit. Your kayaking first aid kit should include all the essentials that you need to patch up an injury. This includes Band-Aids, gauze, a bandage wrap, and a disinfectant or antibacterial spray or lotion.
There are first aid kits that are specifically tailored for kayaking, however any first aid kit will work. Keep your first aid kit stored in your kayak’s storage compartment. It’s best to have it stored in a compartment that is waterproof. If you don’t have one, then shop for a waterproof first aid kit like this compact first aid kit.
You can also keep it safe in a dry bag that you bring along with you on your kayaking adventure.
7. Kayak Helmet
A kayaking helmet can be an important accessory to bring with you on an outdoor adventure. This is especially the case if you’re going white water rafting or doing other types of extreme water activities. A verstitle water helmet like the Tontron Adult Kayaking Helmet is a great universal one to consider.
If you know you’re going to be hitting rough waves, a helmet can keep you safe in case your kayak tips over. A kayaking helmet is also essential if you’re kayaking in an area where there are a lot of sharp rocks.
For light touring and relaxing kayaking excursions on a calm lake or pond, a helmet may not be necessary. However, for recreational activities that require added safety precautions, you should bring along a kayaking helmet. It’s also a good idea to use any river or ocean kayaking adventures.
8. Waterproof Patch and Seal Tape
Another helpful safety item to bring along is waterproof patch and seal tape. Inflatable kayaks are not immune to punctures. And while really well built inflatable boats can withstand the possibility of a puncture, you should be ready in case you have to deal with one.
Having a waterproof patching option like the Gorilla 101895 Waterproof Patch & Seal Tape can help you fix up a puncture temporarily while you’re out on the water. After applying the patching tape, you’ll be able to safely paddle back to shore in order for you to perform a more permanent repair.
Even small unexpected air leaks like pinhole punctures can easily be remedied using some waterproof patch and seal tape. By having one on board at all times with you, you can easily avoid what can quickly turn into an emergency situation.
9. Kayak Anchor
A kayak anchor is a must if you are going on a fishing trip. It’s also helpful if you want to dock your boat in a body of water and relax. Because you are on a kayak, you’ll want to shop for an anchor that can fold up, won’t take up much room, and is sturdy so that it does the job.
A kayak anchor like this one from Best Marin can be a good choice to go with if you want something easy or simple. It can stow away easily on the back deck of your kayak or even against a side chamber. You can also check out our list of the best kayak anchors for more options as well.
Kayak Accessories for Added Comfort
Now that you have the essentials, it’s time to add in some comfort items. Here are some of the best kayak accessories that will make your kayaking experience a more comfortable one.
10. Kayaking Gloves
Any avid kayaker will tell you that kayaking gloves should be a necessary part of your kayaking gear. Whether you’re out kayaking on a hot summer’s day or a crisp fall afternoon, it’s important to keep your hands protected.
A tight grip on your paddle, splashing water, temperature, and just overall exposure to the elements are all factors that can damage your hands. Gloves help to protect you from the elements, UV rays from the sun, and other damaging environmental factors.
Also, if you’re someone who has clammy hands, or prone to sweaty palms, then gloves can help you have a better grip.
It’s during excursions on cold days that you’ll really want to have kayaking gloves. Gloves can help keep your fingers warm so you don’t have to deal with dry and chaffed skin or numb fingers. A pair like the KastKing Sol Armis Sun Gloves are a great pair to consider because of the protection they offer and the quality grip you will get.
When you’re shopping around for kayaking gloves, narrow down your needs so that you can find a fit that is perfect for you. If you’d like a solid pair of gloves to use during the summer months, then shop for a pair made out of Spandex or Lycra. If you live in a much cooler climate, then a pair of neoprene gloves will better suit you.
11. Kayaking Shoes
Kayaking shoes can be helpful for individuals who have a hybrid kayak like a standup paddleboard combo. Kayaking shoes can give you a really good grip on your boat’s floor. For stand up paddleboards this grip is essential for keeping balance.
Kayak fishermen may also find kayaking shoes to be helpful. If your boat allows you to stand up and fish, then these shoes can offer you an added level of support for keeping your balance and reeling in your catch.
Another reason to consider kayaking shoes is if you were someone who routinely jumps into the water as you kayak. Water shoes will keep your feet protected from any rough water bottoms or debris that could cut your feet up. Other activities like white water rafting may require kayak shoes as well to help you keep your grip.
The best type of kayaking shoes are the ones that offer full coverage and a tight fit. The YALOX Water Shoes are a great pair of breathable, flexible, and well fitted kayaking shoes.
12. Dry Bag
It’s a tricky decision to make when you’re faced with bringing on board essential items like a phone, watch, or your electronic keys. If you’re not careful, you can risk getting them water damaged. Even worse, if you tip over, you risk losing these items in the water.
One of the best ways to avoid this issue is by using a dry bag. A dry bag is a rollup bag made out of a reinforced waterproof material. Dry bags have a drawstring closure on the top, can float, and they keep your belongings inside secure and safe while you’re out on the water.
A dry bag like the Enthusiast Gear Dry Bag Cooler is a fantastic dry bag option because of its versatility. While it works as a superb compartment to store your most vulnerable items, it also functions as a portable cooler too.
This dry bag offers superb insulation. It offers 15 liters of storage and is a great place to store extra water and snacks that need to stay cool. The superb construction also allows you to store ice for up to 12 hours. For long adventures, this dry bag can be a lifesaver when used as a cooler.
If you routinely kayak in cooler conditions or live in a part of the county where the water stays below 70 degrees or cooler, then you may want to consider a kayaking wetsuit.
A kayaking wetsuit is an essential accessory to have on hand if you are someone who spends a lot of time in the water. A quality wetsuit like the Kokatat NeoZip Long John Neoprene Wetsuit can help you trap your body’s heat so that you stay warm even in cold weather.
Wetsuits are typically made out of a foam neoprene fabric. They are really tight fitting because they are supposed to hug your body. Typically, you’ll only wear a bathing suit underneath a wetsuit. The material of the suit is what helps you retain your body heat.
A suit like the Kokatat NeoZip offers nearly total protection. But there are different styles of wetsuit that allow you to tailor the level of exposure and warmth you want.
If you want total coverage, there are full body wetsuits that cover everything but your hands and feet. For more minimal coverage, you can opt for a suit that covers your torso and feet.
Wetsuits are great accessories if you are someone who hops in and out of the water when you kayak. If you accidentally tip over or enjoy activities where you are going to get wet like white water rafting, then your wetsuit will keep you protected from the cold elements.
14. Kayaking Dry Suit
Unlike a kayaking wetsuit, a kayaking dry suit is incredibly loose fitting. Kayaking dry suits are intended to keep you dry when you’re out kayaking. Even if you fall into the water, you will still remain dry.
Drysuits are really unique in that the suit itself is not what keeps you warm, it’s the clothing that you wear underneath this suit that helps you retain heat. Dry suits are made out of a waterproof material that is also breathable.
Because they are waterproof, no water enters inside the suit. Likewise, as your body sweats because of the heat you generate, the breathable material will keep you from collecting pools of sweat, even on hot or humid days.
Dry suits like the Kokatat Legacy Gore-Tex Pro feature a high quality material known as Gore-Tex. This waterproof shell is durable, resistant to the elements including harmful UV rays, and keeps you dry without worry.
Cool Kayak Accessories
If you want to amp up your kayaking experience, consider these other accessories designed specifically for enhancing performance, comfort, and overall experience while kayaking.
15. Lightweight Kayak Paddle
If the kayak paddle that your inflatable kayak came with is a little too bulky, heavy or cumbersome for you, then you can always swap it out. Opting for a lightweight carbon fiber kayak paddle is great for those who want to amp up their performance.
Intermediate and experienced kayakers looking for a quality lightweight substitute may want to consider the AQUA BOUND Manta Ray Carbon Kayak Paddle. It’s sleek, lightweight, and durable. The blades are made out of a carbon abX resin that is stronger than glass reinforced blades. Plus, it has a nice grip for kayaking both with and without gloves.
A lightweight kayak paddle serves especially well for kayakers who have a touring or recreational kayak. Thanks to the lightweight construction, you don’t have to work as hard when you’re lifting your paddle in and out of the water. It will create less strain on your arms, allowing you to enjoy the water for longer.
If you want to practice gaining more speed as you kayak, then picking out the right kayak paddle is important. Look for one that fits both you and your kayak, is easy to assemble, and is lightweight yet strong.
16. Removable Spray Skirt
If you own a sit-in kayak, then you know that your adventures can turn rather wet pretty quickly. You don’t have to end up soaked after a kayaking excursion. That’s what makes a removable spray skirt one of the best kayak accessories to invest in.
A removable spray skirt is a cockpit covering that keeps you dry as you kayak. In traditional inflatable kayaks, spray skirts can be attached on the bow and stern of the kayak and offer a moderate amount of protection.
With a sit in kayak, your spray skirt will offer you absolute protection so that no water goes inside your kayak. This leaves you virtually dry from the waist down no matter the kayaking conditions you are in.
The Seals Sneak Zippered Kayak Spray Skirt is one of the best full coverage removable spray skirts to invest in. Unlike other sprays that secure you at the waist, the Seals Sneak features a higher coverage, just underneath your breast bone.
This spray skirt also offers a quality built neoprene waist band and removable suspenders if you want that additional support. This model comes in several size options so that you can find the best fit for you and your kayak.
17. Trolling Motor
If you are a kayak fisherman, then one of the best kayak accessories to consider is a trolling motor. A trolling motor is a unit that consists of a motor, propellers, and a control. There are electric trolling motors and manual pedal powered trolling motors.
Both will allow you to navigate your waters smoothly and quietly without disturbing your bait underneath.
There are a variety of trolling motors you can opt for, but you’ll need to consider the size of your kayak and how you want to install your motor. Many kayaks, especially ones that have an area in the cockpit for a foot control, do best with manual pedal propelled motors.
However, if you’re a kayak fisherman who prefers to stand when they cast and reel in their line, then an electric motor installed on your boat’s transom might be a better fit.
The Newport Vessels Kayak Series Electric Trolling Motor is a great option to go with if you want a motor that’s powerful, durable, and quiet. It features a fiberglass, aluminum, and plastic construction that can withstand harsh conditions including saltwater.
And because it’s a transom mounted motor, you can install it on a variety of kayaks, both hardshell and inflatable. Learn more about trolling motors and find the right fit for your kayak.
18. Scupper Plugs
If you have a sit on top kayak with self bailing holes then you’re going to need scupper plugs. Some hard shelled sit on top kayaks feature these holes as a way to help with your boat’s structural integrity. Also, if you ocean kayak in choppy waters or like to kayak in rough rapids, these holes work as a way to keep water from collecting onto your kayak.
There will be times where you’ll want to cover up these holes. Some kayaks will come with their own scupper plugs that you can use, but if your kayak doesn’t you’re going to need to buy some.
Scupper plugs like this 8 Pieces Universal Kayak Scupper Plug Kit are perfect for keeping you relatively dry for when you take your kayak out. The best types of scupper plugs are either rubberized or made out of silicone so that you can easily slide them in and out.
If you have an inflatable kayak that has self bailing holes, these plugs may also work for you thanks to their tapered construction.
19. Dry Box
A dry box works much the same as a dry bag does. The only difference is that a dry box is just that, a box. Unlike a dry bag, a dry box is typically installed in the back of your kayak. If you have a stand up paddle board and kayak hybrid like the Bote Lono Aero, then a dry box will take the place of where a cooler would be set up.
On wider, sit in kayaks, you can install a smaller sized dry box like the Plano Shallow Dry Box on your stern using your bungee cords.
Use your dry box to store and keep cool drinks and snacks. It’s also the best place to store items that are vulnerable to water damage including your phone, wallet, or keys.
20. Kayak Float Bag
Float bags like the NRS Kayak Float Bag are another one of the best kayak accessories to have on hand. While you can use them in both hardshell and inflatable kayaks, they’re primarily designed for hard shells.
These bags work to fill up the open space that is left unoccupied when you go out kayaking. Usually, this is the cockpit and any space in the stern. The purpose of the float bag is to give your boat added support and buoyancy so that it floats in the event of an emergency.
Storage and Maintenance
Some of the best kayak accessories to shop for are the ones that will extend the life of your kayak. Here are some of my must haves when it comes to kayak storage.
21. Kayak Storage Rack
Having a storage rack at home is a necessary kayak accessory if you have hardshell kayaks and nowhere to put them. The RAD Sportz Deluxe Freestanding Kayak Storage Rack allows you to use wall space to store your kayaks horizontally. This keeps them off of the floor and out of the way.
A kayak rack is also great for inflatable boats too. As someone who takes their inflatable out regularly, I like storing my inflatable hung up. Not only does it make it easier for me to get my kayak out on the water because it’s also inflated, but by storing it inflated, my kayak is less susceptible to damage.
22. Kayak Car Roof Rack
A car roof rack is an essential kayak accessory if you have a hard shell kayak. For standard sized, one seater kayaks, a roof rack like the TMS J-Bar Rack is a great option to go with. This versatile roof rack allows you to tack on two kayaks and transport them wherever you’d like to launch from.
Adjustable roof racks are great for kayakers who do not have a truck or SUV that comes equipped with a roof rack. They are also much safer than foam blocks that you can install in place of a roof rack. Click here to learn more about transporting your kayak the proper and safe way.
23. Kayak Storage Tarp
A kayak storage tarp is great for protecting your kayak for both permanent and temporary storage. If you have a hard shell, you should also consider covering it up for storage, especially if you store it outdoors. With inflatables, it’s best to store them nearly fully inflated as this helps them maintain their durability.
If you’re going to store your boat inflated, then covering it up with a tarp will help protect your boat’s outer layer. It’s especially important to cover up your kayak if you’re going to be keeping it stored outdoors for a day or so. When stored outdoors, the outer protective layer of an inflatable boat can be susceptible to damage thanks to the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The iiSPORT Kayak Cover is a great kayak tarp to go with because it will provide full coverage over the top and sides of your kayak.
Kayak Accessories FAQ:
What accessories should I buy for my kayak?
Safety gear, a good paddle and a means to transport and store your gear should be at the top of your list of the best kayaking accessories. As a bare minimum, your kayak should have life jackets on board for you and any fellow paddlers – and you should make sure that you opt for a good kayak that’s fit for the type of kayaking you are doing.
Kayak paddles can vary in their quality and design – you should opt for a carbon fiber paddle wherever possible. This is the best kayak paddle for whitewater kayaks, for example. This is due to the fact that carbon fiber paddles are tough and durable, but still lightweight.
How do you accessorize a kayak?
Accessorizing your kayak really depends on how you intend to use it. For example, if you’re an avid kayak fisherman, then you’ll likely rely heavily on kayak fishing accessories. If you purchase a dedicated fishing kayak, then it’s likely your boat will come with some kayak fishing accessories included.
However, this doesn’t mean you have to opt for a fishing kayak specifically. You could always add on specific kayak fishing accessories to build your own personalized setup.
Aside from the obvious things like fishing rods or a kayak seat that’s comfortable to sit stationery in for fishing, kayak anglers can also benefit from add-ons like a removable rod rack, extra rod holders, and a tackle box that is small enough to fit in the kayak’s storage compartment space or cockpit.
Are kayak accessories compatible with all brands?
Most kayak accessories will be compatible with almost all inflatable and hard shell kayaks, no matter the brand. To get the best fit, however, it can help you to shop for kayak accessories within your kayak’s brand.
Popular kayaking brands like Bote have a phenomenal line of kayaking accessories that complement every kayak and paddle board in their lineup. If you want to add more gear to your kayak but need to save space, be sure to check the kayak deck dimensions, and then match that up with the dimensions of the accessories (or the storage bags you’ll keep them in) before you buy.
If you opt to purchase everything from the same brand – this can make the process a lot easier.
What do I need for the first time kayaking?
If you are a first time kayak or, some essential kayaking accessories might include a sturdy paddle, a paddle leash or paddle float, a safety kit, a life vest, and kayak gear specific to the type of kayaking you want to do.
For example, if you are going white water rafting, then a helmet is a must. If you’re going on long treks, then accessories that offer ample storage are worth considering.
I hope my list of the best kayak accessories to consider has helped you rethink how you kayak and what you might want to bring on board with you.
There are many accessories for you to choose from, but that doesn’t mean you have to have them all. Start by considering what type of kayaking you do and what other gear can help you start kayaking with confidence, and enjoy your sessions more. This will allow you to narrow down other accessories that you may have not considered before.
What is some of your favorite gear to take out with you when you kayak? Be sure to share with me in the comments section below!