Boat Color

What is your opinion on the most easily seen color for a boat? I have yellow and orange boats, but I’ve heard that Robin Egg Blue is the best color for a kayak if you really want to be seen out on the water. Has anyone else heard this?

Psychedelic Grapefruit-Hot Pink Neon
with blue feathered boa trim,

is my personal favorite.

Blue & Green are the worst

– Last Updated: Jan-14-08 1:17 PM EST –

Yellow was #1 easiest to see on any water.

If you paddle with a group and let them get ahead of you this will become evident.

ps: the boa is optional and any color will work

Paddlin' on

My wife had
a CD kayak in what they called seafoam, similar to a robins egg and it was surprisingly very visable.

Teal very visible
Unless you are in the Caribbean where the water really is that color, or some places in Florida or way south on the west coast. While a straight dark blue is quite hard to see, the lighter blue-greens are quite visible on most darker grey/green/blue coastal waters. My old CD Squall in that color was visible from quite a distance.

That said, if I had to pick the most universal color in any conditions it’d be a light orange. As you get too light, like some of the really creamy yellows, they start looking a little too white from a distance so can blend in with whitecaps. Dark red is also a problem as dusk falls.

flourescent yellow green thigh high boot
with LED blinky light trim

"really want to be seen"
wear a flourescent orange highway vest and hunting cap.

I got a QCC with a yellow hull and light grey deck. I really don’t like looking at bright yellow all the time. That said I got a plastic Chatham in yellow.

Safety through visibility is only part of the picture.


– Last Updated: Jan-14-08 3:08 PM EST –

Why do you want to be seen? The drive to the launch ramp is far more dangerous, did you pick your automobile color based on visibility as well? Just wondering.. And putting things into perspective.. For me I wanted a light colored yack that wouldn’t heat up as much in the sun, and of course it had to be an "EARTH TONE" no lime green for me!! *L* active visibility is better then passive visibility.. when you chose to use it of course. deck glair can be a bear!!

Nix the blinky light

– Last Updated: Jan-14-08 3:14 PM EST –

The Coast Guard has declared that any flashing light on the water is a distress signal.

What color are a lot of the new fire trucks? Same color as some of the new highway worker safety vests. A lime-green day-glo type of material for very good visibility. A color close to that would probably be just as good most of the time on the water.

See what LeeG and Swedge have said below. Good words.

Edit: Hey LeeG, you had to be kidding, huh? :-)

I remember reading a story on-line
a few years ago. About a guy who looked out on the sea and saw two paddlers a few miles out. The next day he met up with his friend and discovered he had seen them. Only … there had been four of them! Somehow he only saw two paddlers–the ones in the mango and robin’s egg blue boats. Red at that distance disappeared completely.

I’m With You
My pfd and my hat can be as loud as an Alice Cooper concert and I won’t care 'cause I don’t have to look at 'em.

No way am I looking at




for any length of time.

I’ll take my chances.

is purely why I did my surf ski in mango yellow to red fade at the ends, with black flames on the bow and rear deck. Purely visibility, I say… :wink:

(Shot #102)

I’ve heard that Robin’s egg blue is very visible. In SA and Oz, many have taken to painting their paddle blades pink, for the same reasons. Seems the motion of the blades is most important. Of course, being supremely comfortable in one’s masculinity is crucial. I’m thinking robin’s egg blue and whoopsie pink, maybe with little bunnies or frolicking lambs? Color me embarrassed…

somewhere else I read
the comments of coast guard helecopter pilots. About how robin’s egg blue stood out vividly. Supposedly the only color not to occur in nature. Of course they were forgetting about robins’ eggs …

Da’ color is 'da
only reason I bought “The Bowler-mans” orange over yellow Greenlander Pro…

naw, just kidding - I had a better reason that I am not willing to share!!


yeah,yeah,I was kidding

I believe Nigel Foster

– Last Updated: Jan-14-08 11:32 PM EST –

And if you search Pnet under "kayak color", for Advice, you will see many threads such as this one:

I choose olive green
The kayak virtually disappears on local waters.

If I need to be seen, I’ll wave a flag or wear bright clothes or wave a white paddle around.

Your boat is the low in the water anyway, so naturally more hard to see if there’s any waves at all.

I hope I can get closer to the wildlife than a banana boat…


My experience
My experience has been that I can spot orange or traffic yellow decked boats in more conditions and greater distances than most other color boats.

In photos I’ve taken, kayaks that are orange/yellow decked seem more visible at distance than most other boats.

I also have SOLAS tape on my paddle shafts and towards the bow and stern of my boats.

I would not buy a boat for its color (except avoiding color I found repulsive), but when ordering new boats, I have ordered Traffic and Golden Yellow.

Teal or its equivalents do seem very visible in many conditions - at least on the Northeastern waters.

I’ve experimented with fishing floats,
relatively small objects six to 20 inches in length. From a kayak or canoe, they may appear similar in size as a kayak to someone in a 20 ft or so boat from a distance. Orange shows up poorly in heavy overcast or mild fog conditions, flourescent greenish yellow does well. In bright sunny conditions, orange shows up better. Guess I’ll have to spray paint some robins egg blue as they aren’t available commercially.

Over all, the paddle blades and clothing choices make more differences, they sit higher on the water. At night, a time in which I’m often on the water during the summer, white paddle blades are excellent for visibility.

Not that you shouldn’t pick a
color that is bright and easily-seen, but here’s some food for thought…

I worked with USCG aircrews in AK. They showed us a training film of a mock rescue at sea in which an individual in a day-glo orange mustang suit was almost invisible to the CG helicopter that was looking for him at standard search altitudes.

Now, a kayak is certainly bigger and will have more surface area than a person in the water, but the point of the class was that one should rely more on a combination of safety features - such as a color, lights, distress flares, and an EPIRB - than on just one thing.