kayak color

what is a good kayak color for slow rivers and creeks ( min motor boats) are bright colors usually for ocean or motor boat areas? i want to maximize wildlife encounters

Animals have some color-blindness
Before you decide that a bright color that would keep you safe from motor boats will discourage wildlife, check out the range of colors that the animals you will encounter can see. You may find that reflective tape on a paddle is more of an issue than a really bright boat.

if it’s composite
get a white hull.

Yellow is the color that shows up best at sea and on the water in general. White is a good second choice. They show up if a boat get capsized and submerged. Imagine trying to find a dark green boat in a river.


– Last Updated: Sep-25-12 1:33 AM EST –

The paddle is the most important
A friend of mine and I did a test. A bunch of us went out paddling and he stood on the shore as we returned. He said that since the kayaks were so low in the water, their color didn’t make a lot of difference. If he looked really close he could see the difference but it wasn’t that obvious.

But, he said that bright paddle blades helped much more.

Your mileage may vary.

agree with paddle maters more

– Last Updated: Sep-20-12 10:30 PM EST –

I do a lot of wildlife photography from a kayak. Started off using a typical euro paddle first with yellow then orange blades. Recently made a greenland paddle, immediately noticed I was able to approach much closer to wildlife, the difference was amazing. I think the lower angle you typically use with greenland paddles also accounted for some of the difference too.

You can get camo drapery designed
for duck hunting. Would need to be cut down for a rec kayak. Or just tie dried grass and weeds on your decks.

When I go looking…
for wildlife encounters, the key seems to be to be the first boat in the group, or going solo, paddling quietly. It’s suprising the animal that gets you the view. I think sound and movement would trump color in priority.

We have had discussions in our group over which color dragonflies prefer to land on, but I’m still in the belief that texture, rather than color, is what they will stick to on the deck.

Happy hunting,


Wildlife will see you no matter what

– Last Updated: Sep-21-12 11:31 PM EST –

You can't make the overhead motion of a double-blade paddle be anything other than a gigantic warning flag. Even a person with bad eyes can see that motion a mile away, so you won't fool birds or mammals into thinking you are not there. The main things affecting how close you can paddle to wildlife are the animal's own degree of tolerance for your presence, and the degree to which you can make your approach seem calm and non-threatening. As someone already pointed out, being the first in your group to come into view is a plus, since it's usually only a matter of time (usually not long) before even a tolerant animal "has had enough". Now, being parked and waiting can be a whole other situation when it comes to choice in colors, as any duck hunter can tell you. In that case, neutral colors can sometimes be an advantage - at least it is for "educated" ducks flying overhead - so perhaps it's true for other birds as well. For mammals, don't worry about anything but motion. Color is of only minor importance. A canoer with a good Indian stroke can sometimes get closer to a deer than any kayaker ever could. They still see you coming, but a boat that moves in a steady drift with "no moving parts" is less obtrusive than one that's accompanied by a pair of waving flags.

I have observed the same thing.
paddles are moving and easily seen,esp. if not black.

The reason
many states require hunters to wear at least some orange clothing is it’s the most visible.Before these laws came along many hunters wore red plaid for safety.While paddling or hunting to my eyes orange is the most visible followed by red.


– Last Updated: Sep-22-12 9:22 AM EST –

Get red [like raw meat] if you want to maximize contact with gators & bobcats.

Use hunting scents too if you want to have intimate contact with a moose!

No, I think red is more visible
I know this thread is all about non-visible colors, but in our tests red was the most visible color for spotting a kayak far out on the water. Yellow was 2nd best. White was a distant 3rd because it could not be picked out if there were whitecaps on the waves.

Electric Chicken
The “electric chicken” color combination puts

chartreuse on one side, directly against or next

to it’s exact opposite color - violet.

The color chartreuse is the color precisely

halfway between green and yellow.

The Purkinje Effect describes the way our eyes

(humans) interpret light with the use of rods and cones.

The cones do not function as efficiently in dim light,

so red objects appear to be black.

How other animals use their rod and cones

  • appears to still be a bit of a mystery

If you REALLY want to approach wildlife (and have your hands free to boot) you should get a Hobie yak with Mirage Drive. I’m always amazed at how lots of normally wary critters simply don’t alert on me as I approach – unless I wave my hands. Mt Pro Angler is dune (light grey) color and is by no means low to the water, yet it seems as though I’m invisible, probably because the drive is silent and the only visible things moving are my legs.

One drawback of that boat
Those boats can’t go where a lot of us view wildlife. Around here, that boat would work fine on deep water of lakes but not in the shallows due to weeds. And when traveling on rivers and sloughs, no matter how big they are, there will always be lots of places too shallow for that drive system, as well as submerged logs. Those are usually the same places where sneaking up on wildlife becomes an issue too.

How about Robbin-egg blue
From elsewhere:

“Yet it’s the unlikely “robin-egg blue” that surprises most paddlers. Because it contrasts sharply against most sea kayaking backgrounds it too is highly visible.”

I recall reading that on a few different sites where someone might have actually done research. I’m too lazy to look for it now but I’m sure the research is out there. At least it is safe to assume that someone doesn’t think that red and yellow are the most visible colors. It’s probably because of how the eye takes in different frequencies of light and how blues are seen as brighter for what is really the same luminescence. Or something like that.

Get a camo boat. Camo always looks cool.


Electric Chicken
Sounds like the name of a new funky dance

Shallows and the Mirage Drive
It’s true that you can’t use a full pedal stroke in water less than about 18" deep, but you can “flutter” the fins while holding them horizontal and still manage about half speed in eight inches or so depths.

I’ll agree with the weeds and submerged objects observation, though. I also wouldn’t take mine down a river without some degree of trepidation unless I pinned the fins and used the paddle. Then I’d be no different than a regular kayak, of course.