Light Buttons

I was out for a few minutes this evening after work. It was cool but sunny and generally nice. It is starting to stay light a little longer and was still half light at 630 when I was taking out.

I read an artical recently about general kayaking equipment and it suggested light buttons. These were small LED lights about the size and shape of a wrist watch. They were waterproof and came in differant colors. I have looked a little bit but not seen them for sale anywhere. Ive been thinking that Id like to get a couple, maybe stick one on the back of my PFD for evening like tonight when I out after the sun goes down.

Has anyone seen these for sale?

Happy Paddling,


I f you want to be seen at night
There are many ways to do that.

There are lots of cheap little lights like the strobe flashers that bicycle riders use, and marine type of kayaking lights that are sold on the kayak fishing websites to choose from , but whatever you do , check with your local and state laws regarding boating at night, and do what is required or you may have to deal with a coast guard officer or a game warden in your face asking you for your ID and registration and what not !

button lights
What you may be looking for is The Guardian wearable LED, a waterproof dome light slightly larger than a quarter that has a clip attachment. It is available in white and colored lens and either constant on or flashing strobe. You can find it in Campmor among other places, currently at about $10.00 There are cheaper products but they may not be waterproof. Batteries are about $6 retail.

Guardian LED Lights
Believe you are referring to the Guardian LED lights. They are powered by two 2016 batteries (White), while the red lense uses two 2032 batteries. The white and red function with a blinkning mode or steady light. Other colors are green and yellow. Cost about $10.00 to $13.00 depending where one buys them. They are very rugged. Batteries last about 150 of use, longer for the blinking mode. Currently use four on my dog’s reflective vest for our long walks in the dark. Clearly spotted 1/4 mile away. Yes, waterproof to 10 meters.

Cheers, Mark

Falcon, yellow over white with Mud

I will take a look at the Guardian, that sounds like what I saw, thank you. I’ll also stop by a bike shop or two, great idea!

Yes, I have checked out the legal requirments for lights here in NC. The law states only that kayakers and canoes are required to have some sort of light if out after dark. A flash light has been suggested by several folks including a USCG officer I talked with. Several folks have put traditional running lights on their kayaks, some have used portable nav lights, a lot of folks use headlamps or just a light stick.

I carry a small flashlight in order to stay legal but I typically do not use it as it destroys my night vision. I know that a white light attached to my PFD on the back does not comply with the nav light requirements for boats in general but it certainly would provide some visability of me from astern and that is what I am after. If I get stopped and have to pay a ticket, then I get stopped and pay a ticket.

Happy Paddling,


Strobes are for emergencies ONLY!
DO NOT use strobes as running lights at night. That’s per Coast Guard regulation. One thing they really hate is false alarm calls and misuse of strobes lights is a common cause of them.

If you want something that’s more visible than a static light, some bike lights with a line of LEDs can be set to scan back and forth. That IS legal, according to our local Coasties. They emphasized that anything kayakers can do to increase our visibility - that is within the regulations and doesn’t cause false alarms - is fine with them. At least that’s the attitude of the people in charge of the New England area.

A headlamps works very well at night, since you can operate it and direct it without having to take your hand(s) off your paddle.

It’s generally best to avoid using red/green running lights, as they can give other boaters the impression that you’re a larger vessel than you are. It can also cause them to think you’re farther away than you are.

Thanks for the info on the Guardian, and a good second idea for its use. I let my dog walk me each morning before work and before first light. She could wear one of these lights also.

Happy Paddling,


Previous post
Here is a URL to my previous post regarding my experience with Guardian lights; I hope it is useful.

Unfortunately the URL as underlined didn’t include all of the address. If the “#379309” is added to the URL (perhaps via a copy and paste), the result will be a scroll down to my reply in that thread.

I Did The Cut And Paste
and was able to see your reply. Thanks for the input. I have found several places on the web which offer these at between 10 and 12 apiece. I believe I will order this evening.


“Feel Good” Lights
Mark said: “I carry a small flashlight in order to stay legal but I typically do not use it as it destroys my night vision. I know that a white light attached to my PFD on the back does not comply with the nav light requirements for boats in general but it certainly would provide some visability of me from astern and that is what I am after. If I get stopped and have to pay a ticket, then I get stopped and pay a ticket.”

I have one these little LED gizmos. They are utterly worthless for illuminating a paddler at night other than for the paddlers group management. The brightness is-well-quite dull off axis as LED is inherently a directional light source and the “optics” on this do not provide much in the way of distribution.

I’m not a fan of running lights or always on headlamps. Mr Nystrom hit it on the head when running lights are confusing to vessels approaching because you are lower than they are and appear farther away. Not only that, they screw up my night vision if I have to look at you. A glowstick on your back, likewise, is not going to run into interpretation problems as it is too dull to be made out at higher vessel speeds and visual perspectives, again, they are best utilized as group management tools. Always on headlamps rob you of your night vision, appear to strobe in any waves, thus initiating emergency calls, and screw up your group members night vision.

Think of the perspective of the larger vessel, if you will. If it’s a work boat or fish boat there is going to be some reflection of instrumentation on their windshield. If you are in or near a harbor they will no doubt be seeing the lights of civilizations large or small and you won’t even register. If the wind is humming in your ears it will conceal the engine until it is closer to you. Turn your head much more often than you think you need to. Your flashlight needs to be quickly accessible and easily turned on and sufficiently bright to instantly get the vessel’s attention.

Get familiar with nav rules on the coast guard website. You really need to be good with picking out what types of lighting are required for the different kinds of vessels. It pays to watch shipping very carefully as they can do “unexpected” things rather quickly. As unexpected as a kayaker out at night, or something that went bump in the night.

Augustus Dogmaticus


I Ordered Three
Well, even with the mixed reviews that these lights have received I ordered three. When I receive them I will take one out and give it a try. No reason I could not give one to a paddle partner and take a look from a hundred or two hundred feet astern and see for myself.

thanks again for the feedback,


One interesting comment by the CG…

– Last Updated: Feb-11-06 8:59 AM EST –

...was that if we wanted to make sure boats would stay away from us, carry blue lights. He noted that whenever he turned on his blue lights, all the boats in the area scattered. This commnent was slightly tongue-in-cheek, but he was serious about using blue lights, as they definitely stand out. The CG people we spoke with were very pragmatic about kayakers and visibility. However, it's possible that local harbomasters and other agencies might not take kindly to the use of blue lights, as they may see it as "impersontating an officer", so to speak. I haven't tried it and don't know anyone who has, so I can't say if it's a problem or not.

They also told us that although glow sticks do not satisfy CG regulations for lighting aren't very visible from the water, they are quite visible from the air and are useful as an addition to the mandated white light in SAR situations.

The Guardian lights come in blue and yellow in addition to white, red, and green. I had considered blue and yellow as colors which would not be confused with traditional running lights. I have ordered a yellow and two whites and plan to try them out when they arrive.

I guess I am guilty as posted. I am looking for a bit more visibility particularly from astern in order to feel better. I will continue to carry a small flashlight as standard gear.


Another use-
I bought some of these thinking of making up some “running lights”, but later thought different of it.

I have found a great use for the red one- It gets clipped onto my stern while cartopping. At night, it’s like having an extra tail lamp that ensures other drivers note the extra 4’ of boat hanging off the back of my truck.

Another member also came up with a great way to use the light to illuminate a deck compass.

Bad idea to illuminate your compass
with one of these as it will introduce variation to it via the electromagnetic fields of the batteries and the metal bits in the LED. I made one identical to hers a couple of years ago. The test is simple, place your compass in front of you without the LED anywhere near it and note the reading. Add your LED and watch the needle jump 25-35 degrees. Bad idea, shame on me for being silly back then. Use a small glowstick instead.

On the subject of blue. Buoyage is usually red, white or green and civilization lighting is kinda yellow-ish. Blue stands out really nicely.


I could see
the possibility, but I would imagine it varies between compasses and lights.

I pack my cookware bag in the front hatch right under the compass and have never had any issues. Lots of metal there.

If your cookware is aluminum or Ti…
…it won’t affect a compass. Ferrous metals will. Regardless, you might want to reconsider your packing system, as there’s no point in tempting fate.

Just ran the test again:
Add 1 LED to a compass and watch the needle jump. I tested 3 compasses a topo style Silva Ranger, a Suunto KB20 marine puck style and a strap on Suunto Orca.

They all bounced the needle 10-15 degrees. On a night paddle the Suunto Orca bounced a full 25 degrees, 10-15 on my desk. Battery strength seems to me to be the culprit. On a clean table top the Orca bounced less because it seems to be potted better. But it still bounced.

The lady on the blogwatch thing extolling the virtues of a battery driven plastic and metal thingy under her compass had not tested it very carefully before publicizing. On suspicion I emailed her and told her what to expect. She then tested it with a GPS (whose compass bearing accuracy is suspect, anyway compared to a good compass) and the thing is blowing out waves all over the place!

Known devices to screw with compasses are electronica and anything with ferrous metals. Basic nav courses teach that. Add a good ol carbon steel Buck knife to your cookset and see what happens!