Kayak night light and Emergency flare recommendations

Hi guys,
Now that DST is over (why do we still have crappy non-DST time again?) and its dark at 5:00, I probably should get a couple lights for night kayaking. I’ve had a few different ‘waterproof lights’ over the years, but none have held up very well.

I need 2 types of lights:
1: a white running light. Either something that mounts to the deck or something that clips to your PFD.

2: an emergency SOS LED flare - looking for something that is impossible to break and deemed extremely reliable. This is what will save me if I’m lost at sea in the dark, so want it to work every time.

Prefer to spend less than $50 on either, but willing to pay if there is a clearly superior product, particularly for the emergency light. Can anyone recommend a waterproof light that has held up to use and abuse well?


I suggest you add a headlamp to you kit as well, if you don’t already have one. It is the only light that I carry that I typically use, and I am always using it when it gets dark. The four lights that I settled on and carry every trip are:

Headlamp: http://www.uwkinetics.com/products/3aaa-eled-vizion-z3-headlamp
Nighttime Navigation Light: http://www.ustbrands.com/product/see-me-1-0-led-light-orange/
Laser Flare: https://www.greatlandlaser.com/green-rescue-laser-flare/
Emergency Strobe: http://www.ustbrands.com/product/see-me-1-0-strobe/

For the mount on the deck lights, we have started using Luci lights on the night tours that I lead for a local outfitter. These are inflatable,waterproof, solar powered lights. We mount on back deck just by strapping to deck lines. Putting on back deck doesn’t blind the paddler.

If I am paddling solo or with friends a night,we normally carry lights but not actually turn them on unless needed to inform others of our location. Coast Guard requirement for kayaks and canoes is to have a white light on board which can be turned on in time to avoid a collision.

I second the Luci light, and
Orion Marine Locator Electronic SOS Beacon Kit. I also use a Black Diamond headlight.

The regs kept referring to a torch. My poly boat went up in black smoke.

Third the Luci lights. Also handy to have around the house when the power goes out. Mine are stashed on a window sill so they’re always charged.

I carry some small flares. The day night provide options. They can also be used for fire starters. But not for rookies. (apologies Rookie small letter rookies)

Good for you to consider safety. Suggest you check with your state’s DNR for local regulations / prohibitions for vessel lights and emergency signaling devices so that you are seen as a paddle craft and not sail or power. Headlamps are great for keeping your hands free.

I love the ACR firefly strobe https://amazon.com/acr-Firefly-Manual-Activation-Strobe/dp/B00JCB3NWA/ref=sr_1_1?s=sporting-goods&ie=UTF8&qid=1541691673&sr=1-1&keywords=acr+firefly+pro.

I keep it on the rear lash tab of my PFD. It puts out a bright white light (you can do constant or blinking or SOS pattern). I usually keep it on when I get back to the ramp and orient it such that it illuminates my kayak when I go get my truck as a way to make sure no one comes along to do an evening launch and runs over my boat. It also provides some light when I’m packing up.

I also carry a Pelican 1920 light in my PFD pocket, tethered to a Seattle Sports coil. https://amazon.com/Seattle-Sports-Coiled-Tether-4-Pack/dp/B00SLKJ9XA/ref=asc_df_B00SLKJ9XA/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=167124246852&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=16674491199312883051&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9052538&hvtargid=pla-309457333578&psc=1 https://amazon.com/gp/product/B005OLYVS2/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1. I like this little light so much, I now have one by my bed, in my truck, and with my camping gear.

It’s amazing how much illumination they are packing into little lights these days.

Blinking light is SOS so you can’t leave in on unless your in trouble.

I use arc lights. Strobe and non strobe. They’re cheap. Also headlamp Princeton Technology Apex. I use 4 rechargeable Duracell batteries.


Use one front and rear on deck.

I just bought a Luci light that’ll be used mostly for camping and household emergency light. Does it fully charge in 7 hrs? We do get plenty of bright sun here.

The Greatland rescue laser light I bought several years ago crapped out sometime while in storage. I put in a spare battery and it still doesn’t work, but the battery doesn’t show any expiration date so might be too old. The laser doesn’t have any corrosion in it, nor should it since it was never put in water.

It will fully charge in seven to eight hours in bright sunlight. Takes longer on cloudy days. I partially deflate mine and keep them on a windowsill which faces east. They’re always bright when I need them.

Most rescue folks operating at night these days are using NVGs when looking for people/boats/etc. I would think some IR signal capability would be a good idea since NVGs (based on experience) see IR stuff a whole lot better than visual light. Things that come to mind are IR strobes, chem sticks, or things like flares that produce heat.

Follow-up report:

The Greatland rescue laser works now. I put in a new battery touted as having a long shelf life.

I charged the Luci light for 6 hrs the first day and a couple more the next morning before turning the light on.

I had also recently replaced three dead headlamps (alkaline batteries leaked inside them) with two Black Diamond Spot and one Cosmos. The Cosmos was simple to figure out, but the Spots’ touch feature annoys me. I need to see if I can lock it out. Cosmos will do well for reading and in-camp use, but I like the brighter Spot beams for walking with. All three of these are supposedly immersable to shallow depths, but you are supposed to open the battery compartments and dry off everything after immersion. That doesn’t sound like a great choice for actually paddling with.

My Black Diamond has been used since 2012 it has been used in the rain, but hasn’t gone underwater yet. The head band stretched out, but I replaced it with one I saved from another headlamp that died. I don’t have experience with the newer models, but do like the beam, area light, and red light features of the light I have. I had a pezel fail from moisture then bought the black diamond.

I have the Black Diamond Spot and find the yellow spot in the center of the LED beam annoying and distracting. So much so I’ve reverted to my Pezel when I need bright light in a small area.

Since we’re on the subject of headlamps, does anyone know of a brand/model where the brightness and colour are remembered when turned off and restored on startup? I hate how most of them come on at full brightness even if they are turned of at the lowest setting.

The Black Diamond models I just bought remember their dimness setting if turned off at that setting. I like them for the dimmed red light, to preserve night vision. What I do NOT like is that touching the side of the light toggles it between dimmed and not dimmed. I still gotta sit down and learn how to lock that tap feature OFF.

The yellow/green spot in the beam center of the white light bothers a lot of people, judging from reviews. I can live with it. It is less noticeable in the Cosmos than in the Spot.

[Later edit:]

The lock feature locks the headlamp either on or off to prevent accidental powering. It does not lock out the Power Tap feature. I’ll just have to learn to avoid touching that spot on the side of the light.

The Luci light is still on, after 22 hrs and 20 min on dim, on one full charge. Room temp in the garage (50 to 52 degrees), with windows curtained so it is dark in there even during the day. Luci says one charge provides “up to 24 hrs” on dim. Looks like a keeper!

[Update from still later:]

The Luci light stayed on for a total of 26.5 hrs on dim before I shut it off to take advantage of charging it again in full sunlight. I don’t know how much longer it would have stayed lit, but it exceeded the manufacturer claim of “up to 24 hrs.” I think we will buy a second Luci, one for each building.

Good thoughts guys. Thanks