Unlike public roads, public waters are not that well regulated. Indeed, there are some rules out there, but there are no lanes, traffic lights, you name it. And as unusual as it may seem, accidents do happen and can be quite dangerous, especially for someone who’s bad at swimming.
Finding the best kayak lights for your canoe or kayak is quite important, especially in certain environments. For example, you’ll be more visible in high traffic areas, but you’ll also increase safety standards when paddling at dusk or dawn.
These being said, how do you choose the right kayak lights for your boat, and what options do you have?
Short Answer: Best Kayak Lights
- Botepon Battery Operated Kayak Navigation Lights – Best for value for money
- GearLight S1 LED Safety Lights – Best for portability
- Amzonly Store 4pcs Navigation Lights for Boats – Best for a full package
- Boao Store 12 Pieces Navigation Lights – Best for families or groups
- Keing 10 Pack Waterproof Marine Boat LED Lights – Best for underwater use
- Short Answer: Best Kayak Lights
- Types of kayak lights
- Top 5 Kayak Lights Reviews
- Boao Store 12 Pieces Navigation Lights – Best for families or groups
- What factors to consider when choosing kayak lights
- How to install and use kayak lights for maximum efficiency
- Bottom line
Types of kayak lights
Lights can be split into more categories, but generally, kayak lights are categorized by their installation and mounting type.
From this point of view, there are handheld lights, which are more about versatility, as well as deck mounted lights, which are more convenient.
These lights are self explanatory, and they’re meant to be held. They’re relatively small and can be attached to yourself, such as your life jacket. They usually come with clips and can go anywhere. Their main role is to make you more visible.
Deck mounted lights
Deck-mounted lights go on to your kayak. They can be much larger and powerful, so they’re more suitable for open waters, rather than small rivers. They’re more convenient because they’re fixed onto the boat, so you don’t have to worry about them.
At the same time, they’re not as versatile since they can’t be too easily moved.
Obviously, kayak lights can be split into other categories, too, such as the type of light. Some of them use classic lights, while others rely on more powerful LED lights, which will obviously last longer.
Then, there are lights that can be enhanced with all kinds of features, such as intensity focus and different light patterns.
Some lights come with suction features. They’re ergonomic and super simple to install but not extremely secure. Track mounted lights are more secure, but they’re considered premium, and you need a track. They’ll never fall, though.
Clamps are also common, not to mention tension cables.
Top 5 Kayak Lights Reviews
Here are the best-rated kayak lights on the market, as well as the features you should expect.
Botepon Battery Operated Kayak Navigation Lights – Best for value for money
Best for value for money
- This is a full safety set for when you’re on the water, including two red lights, two white lights, and two green lights, as well as extra batteries and a safety whistle.
- The lights can be installed on a boat for safety at night or during low lighting conditions. They are based on LED technology and offer incredible brightness and visibility. Lights can be seen from more than half a mile away.
- Installation doesn’t require any experience. Lights feature a lightweight silicon body and two hooks that can attack rails or handles. Lights also have three different modes in terms of display. Obviously, they’re also waterproof.
- High waterproof rating
- Multiple colors
- Safety whistle included
- Lightweight silicone design
- Stretchy silicone can break if you stretch it too much
GearLight S1 LED Safety Lights – Best for portability
Best for portability
- This set is suitable for anything that needs lighting in low conditions. You can install them on your kayak, your dog, your bike, or even yourself if you like jogging in the dark or you’re walking on low lit roads. Extra batteries are also included in the package.
- They’re small and weigh less than an ounce. They’re about the size of a car key and can attach to anything. Visible from a few hundred feet away, their visibility increases on water due to its reflective nature.
- Other than that, there are three lighting modes, weather resistance, and a full package, including a mini screwdriver and four straps.
- Can be used for other purposes too
- Very simple to install
- Three operation modes
- Small and compact
- Replacing batteries is a bit challenging
Amzonly Store 4pcs Navigation Lights for Boats – Best Package Deal
Best Package Deal
- You can’t go wrong with these lights in terms of what the package includes. Apart from the lights, batteries, and extra batteries, you also get two waterproof bags, four elastic straps, and a small screwdriver to replace the batteries when needed.
- You have three colors, red, green, and white, for different purposes. They also have three modes, strobe, flash, and steady. They’re clearly water resistant and can be used for other purposes, too, from camping and boating to jogging and biking.
- The back of each light is fitted with a clip, meaning installation is fairly simple. Elastic wraps help with the installation of posts or poles.
- Everything you need in one package
- Three lighting modes
- Durable LED lighting
- Clip or strap installation
- Not incredibly bright, so not too powerful for open waters
Boao Store 12 Pieces Navigation Lights – Best for families or groups
- These are the best kayak lights if you want to fit them on more boats or go out with your entire family. There are 12 different pieces, way too much for just one person, but even so, it helps to have a few spare lights anyway. They come in red, green and white.
- There are three different light modes you can use, and each of them will last for over 150 hours on average. They can be hung anywhere with a very simple design, being quite versatile, but they may still move with the boat movements, so they’re not super steady.
- They have multiple attachment features, though, so it depends on how you install them. On average, they can provide over half a mile of visibility, especially on water.
- Big package
- Multiple installation modes
- Waterproof design
- LED durability
- Submerging them may cause irreversible damage
Keing 10 Pack Waterproof Marine Boat LED Lights – Best for underwater use
Best for Underwater Use
- There are 12 lights in this set, each of them rated at 1.5 watts and featuring an IP69 waterproof profile. They offer durable LED lighting, as well as an incredible lifetime. All lights come in the same color, usually green, but different packages give you different options, too.
- The 100% waterproof design means you can use them in rain and storms, not to mention getting them underwater. They have a solid anti-corrosion design, too, and they can be inserted in ¾ inch holes for installation.
- Given their capabilities, they can be used for a wide variety of applications, too.
- Submersible resistance
- Durable design
- Easy installation
- Good intensity
- Wires could be a bit thicker
What factors to consider when choosing kayak lights
There are quite a few things to take into consideration when looking for kayak lights.
What kind of kayak do you have, and what do you prefer in terms of installation? Would you like a handheld set? How about a deck mounted one? Even deck mounted lights can be categorized by the installation type, such as clamps or tension cables.
Your activities on water and how intense they are should help you make a better decision.
Different lights come with different standards. Many kayak lights are built similarly though. You’ll find plastic, which is quite resistant to water, as well as marine treated metallic builds. Both options are alright, but each of them has its pros and cons.
Plastic is lightweight and has excellent waterproofing features. Metallic lights are tougher and sturdier.
Kayak lights will obviously get splashed a lot, so water resistance is a serious consideration in the process. In fact, you need a waterproof set. The waterproof profile is given by the IP rating, and that’s what you need to pay attention to.
Of course, a few reviews should also give you some hints about how durable and water resistant certain lights are.
Size and weight
Sizing is a bit of an issue, and that’s where most people make mistakes. Bigger is not necessarily better because big lights can get in the way. Moreover, some of them can obstruct views, not to mention the installation, which is more difficult.
At the same time, if they’re too small, they’re useless because no one can see you from a long distance.
Ideally, you should get the biggest lights for the size of your kayak that won’t obstruct your movement or vision.
As for the weight, you’ll need to find a balance with the size. People opt for lighter versions because they won’t put too much strain on the kayak. They won’t slow you down either.
Power and operation
Solar lights represent a popular and modern choice, but they come with a drawback. While you’re less likely to go kayaking on a bad rainy day, a cloudy day may also reduce the charging capacity of their batteries.
From this point of view, most people choose kayak lights running with batteries. Built-in rechargeable batteries are not that convenient because you’ll have to uninstall the lights to charge them. Besides, what do you do if you run out of power on water?
Those running with batteries are more convenient because they can be easily replaced, which is likely to happen when you go on long trips.
Talking about batteries, the battery life is just as important when making a decision.
Finally, some of the best kayak lights out there allow lighting in more directions. A 360 degree display is ideal because you have some light inside the kayak too, not to mention being seen from all angles and directions.
How to install and use kayak lights for maximum efficiency
The installation depends on the design you purchase. Most lights are versatile and easy to go anywhere. What truly matters is the location you pick. Obviously, they need to go above the water, but keep them at a relatively low level, too. If they’re in your eyes, the glare will ruin your visibility.
An unwritten rule among navigators suggests installing red lights on the left, green lights on the right, and white lights at the back.
Different lights have different installation systems. You don’t usually require anything, since they come with clips, clamps, or hanging holes.
In terms of tips and tricks, make sure you always have some spare batteries with you and store them in a waterproof bag. You never know when batteries go, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. The last thing you want is to be stranded in the middle of water with no lights.
Those who use rechargeable batteries should fully recharge them before going out. Simply keep them in charge the night before going out. Store lights accordingly and give them a rinse first. Even if they’re resistant to corrosion, you want them to last even longer. Take the batteries out, too.
As for common sense, make sure you try out the lights before going out on water, especially if you go out during the day and you expect to come back at night.
Still undecided about kayak lights?
- Where do you put lights on a kayak?
Just make sure they’re not underwater, but not at eye level either, or they’ll ruin your visibility in the distance.
- Do you need nav lights on a kayak?
Normally, boats with no motors don’t require lights. However, based on where you live, you may be required to have at least one white light with a 360 degree range.
- What is the difference between anchor lights and nav lights?
Anchor lights are displayed when you’re anchored. Navigation lights are for when you move. Kayak requirements are lower when compared to motor boats, though.
Deciding on the best kayak lights obviously depends on what you need. At the same time, it’s just as important to consider what your kayak can take. Luckily, many kayak lights can be installed anywhere, including your own vest.
People these days choose versatility and convenience rather than the sturdiness of deck mounted lights, especially since they’re likely to use these lights for other activities, too. That explains their increasing popularity over the past few years.