Light for Kayak

I want to go out at night and think I should have a light. Will be on a calm lake. What do the experienced recommend? Thank you. Betsy.

Get a headlamp
Headlamps are the best… on the forehead at the ready, most good ones are dimable to conserve battery life and are L.E.D. bulbs, or combination of L.E.D.'s and say Zenon or Halogen bulbs, used for high intensity distance viewing. L.E.D.'s rarely fail or burn out (100,000 hour lifespans or better reported) and are very easy on batteries, resuling in long burn times. I also often use a bike seat style L.E.D. flasher set on steady burn located near the rear grab handle for a tail (stern) light.

2nd the headlamp
Non-powered boats like canoes and kayaks are not required to have a light on at all times, but are generally required to have a light they can shine to alert others to their presence when needed (I think this is a US rule, but maybe it is a state to state thing).

When I have been out after dark, I prefer to not have any lights on - after your eyes acclimate, you can see a lot. I do carry an LED headlamp (like a Petzl).

Anything BUT a strobe Light
will work. A plain ol’ flashlight will work just as well as long as you’re able to signal someone you’re on the water.

Me, for night paddling, I have an “rescue light” clipped to the back of my PFD and turn it on. It gives off a steady white light which can be seen a long ways off. Cost was about $9.00 at a local marine supply store a couple years ago.

Any day on the water is a great day,


White Light, Deck Mount

– Last Updated: May-29-07 7:22 AM EST –

You can get these things at most marine stores, or online. White light, waterproof, with a suction cup mount on one end that'll stick onto your deck. (I think they'll work with either a plastic or composite surface, but worth confirming.) They are good for other boats seeing you because they are much less blind from behind than a headlamp, and light the take-out spot nicely.

Caution - since they are white lights they attract bugs more than a yellow one would. You may want to have something yellow for a vest-mounted light.

Also, get reflective tape, like Solas tape, also available at marine stores or online, and place it around each end of your shaft by the blade. Anything coming up on you with a light will see the flashing and movement.

PS - Watch the strobe thing - strictly speaking, in many states that's supposed to indicate that you need to be rescued. If you have local boaters who respond particularly strongly you could end up having to say thank but no thanks a lot.

We use two lights
A white head light, and then a second red blinking

light attached to the back of our PFD’s.

You can get the red blnking ones for a bike real cheap at Wally world, and they are programmable to either stay onor flash in various sequencees.



California required equipment

– Last Updated: May-29-07 5:53 PM EST –

An excerpt for the lazy:

"Sailing Vessels and Vessels Under Oar: A sailing vessel operating under power
of sail only must exhibit sidelights and a sternlight (Figure 3). A sailing vessel
of less than 23 feet (7 meters) in length must, IF PRACTICABLE, exhibit sidelights
and a sternlight or a lighted lantern showing a white light which must be
exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision (Figure 4). A sailing vessel
operating under machinery power only, or under power and sails, is considered a
power-driven vessel, and must display the proper lights for a powerboat (Figure 5).

A vessel under oars may: a) display those lights prescribed for sailing vessels,
or b) have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white
light which must be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision
(Figure 6)."

'nuff said.

Be a minimalist if you want. But, to be
safer at night, get a 360 light and mount it at a height above your head, or on top of your head if you can.

save your night vision
Paddle with lights that don’t mess up your night vision. a glo stick (Walmart or fishing departments atsporting goods stores) or a red light hanging from the stern of your boat, and another light hanging from the back of your helmet or pfd.That way if you wet exit or are separated from your boat you still have a light.

Have another white light ready to turn on in the event of a rescue . If you can have a red light to read a chart with, that’s good. Make sure your lights are waterproof, not just water resistant. Dive shops & on-line stores are a good place to look.

Thank You
Wow! That is a lot of info. I guess it would have saved many of you a lot of time if I said in my initial post a calm, private lake. No CG rules, etc. Thanks for all the good ideas. Betsy.

River Rock lantern
This little LED lantern:

has been very popular with kayak fishermen, who typically mount them on a short vertical pole just behind the cockpit. This is the old model, there’s a newer one that uses 3 batteries, is slightly smaller, and is reported to have even better light output. Look for them in Target stores, with the other flashlights (not in the sporting goods section).

A white light behind you up on a pole
isn’t going to have much impact on night vision. The lights don’t put out much light and you can place the light as far back as possible to reduce the glare. The white light is the appropriate one to use, not one of the glow stick colors.

Lights for kayak
The law requires you to carry at least a white flashlight to be shown in the general direction of an oncoming boat. It does not have to be on all the time, just shown to approaching craft. (Don’t shine in his eyes.)

A better solution is a combination red/green light on the bow and a white light near the stern.

Don’t use a blinking red light, since it will identify you to other boaters as a buoy. On the water, all lights have a specific meaning. The red/green/white lights allow other craft to tell what direction you are headed. Strobe lights are used for emergency purposes. Strobe lights of specific colors could identify you as a surfaced submarine, a hovercraft, ect.

When a steady white light is seen by a boater, it signifies that he is approaching another boat from the rear, or is approaching a boat that is anchored for the night. In either case, he is supposed to go around it.

"calm private lake"
would be the same as driving your car on a calm private road,your car has lighting that is defined by regulations. What is it you want to do? See, be seen, etc.

Practically speaking a light will not prevent collision as the regs are spelled…“carry a white torch to shine in time to prevent collision”,

the wording misrepresents the utility and purpose of lights for tiny boats as the technology of affordable, bright, submersible (for rollable kayaks) and bright red/green/white running lights is a recent technnology so the minimum of a white light to shine in time reflects the technological limitations of running lights on human powered craft going back generations.

if there’s boat traffic and you are going to be amongst boat traffic then get actual running lights, if you can’t then carry that white light and stay out of any traffic because the white light will not prevent a collision.

Regulations do vary from state to state,
the light to shine is not acceptable in some places. It must be a light on and viewable at night from all directions, a 360 light, and must be white.

Here’s More Detail

– Last Updated: May-30-07 4:17 PM EST –

Love all the responses regarding a light. Here is the "rest of the story". O.K. I live on a 57 acre private lake where I put my kayak in from the back yard and go out for about an hour and enjoy the ducks, geese, birds, quiet, full moon, etc. I try to leave about an hour before it is completely dark. But, with the full moon I want to go out at night. I will probably be the only one out there, but want to alert another boat if I see one. At any one time (at the very most on a weekend day) there might be 5 patio boats out there. Each time I go out I feel truly blessed. There are three little islands where waterfowl nest. There are different fingers of water and three big fountains I can cool off under. As you can see, nothing too challenging. This might seem boring to most of you, but it so good for the soul and I love it. This forum helped me pick the right Kayak and now the "white light". You're the greatest. Betsy.

Glow stick are uselss for this
They are only bright enough for kayakers together in a group to see - and they meet absolutely no regs.

“Red” gives specific info - Port side. Using in the ways you describe sends bad info to other traffic.

Please, don’t feed the Salty!

I’m guessing a goose
won’t run you down

bohemia - That has crossed my mind. But I could do damage with this paddle. Betsy.

Rule 25