Waterproof retroreflective tape

I’d like to buy this to put on the shear line of my kayak and on my vehicle bumpers. Who sells it?

Picked mine
up at West Marine, a chain store. They sell it by the foot in 3" widths.

auto parts store
auto parts stores or wally world is where you can find cheap reflective bumper tape that is waterproof and comes in white/red/striped

I’ve used SOLAS-grade marine reflective tape from a couple of sources, including West Marine and Great River Outfitters. It’s lasted on my paddle blades for years.

Here’s another source – I put some on a boat this fall, and it’s bright, but I’ve got no long-term experience with it yet.


I just bought some today at Walmart.

In the good old days…
Necky used to put it on their sots, I see they don’t any longer… times change…

That’s the stuff
I wanted something that would hold up to prolonged and repeated water exposure, plus “retro” reflective instead of the regular kind of reflective.

Thanks for the info…I’ll go check out color options.

sign shop
ask at a sign shop that makes vinyl signs. You might be able to get a color that matches your boat but will still reflect the light at night.

I knew what retroreflectivity was,
but this thread prompted me to learn a little more about it. I had thought that it required miniature prisms, but just learned from a website that it can also work with tiny spheres.

For anyone who may not know what it is–it’s a surface coating of miniature optical elements which do not bounce light in the usual way. Normally if light strikes a surface at an angle, it leaves the surface at the same angle. A retroreflective surface, however, bounces the light within the surface several times so that it automatically returns towards the same direction it came from.

It was apparently developed by 3M and first used in traffic signs–it explains why they “light up” at night when hit by headlights. A highly polished mirror, by contrast, would not light up at all–it would reflect all the light up and away from the sigh, and would therefore look black.

By coincidence, my wife just bought a set of different prism shapes. We’ve been having fun playing with them. Can’t wait to try pointing my laser rescue flare through them to see how the light travels.


retroreflective tape

– Last Updated: Mar-19-04 8:09 AM EST –

i ordered from reflectivedecals.com
it has been on my yak for one year and no problems so far. different widths and colors available. the color (yellow) happens to be exactly the color of my boat so it only shows up when it's supposed to. also lots of fun reflective decals at decalzone.com

I tried the Identi-Tape Flourescent Gaffer tape on my paddle. Came off almost immediately.

I wonder how well it would work on a paddle. The problem with the paddle is immersion and being dragged through the water.

4.5"x4.5" patches
the pricey stuff in the package works great on paddles,it comes four patches to a package,it’s ridiculously expensive at West Marine $14,at Boaters World its $10. The 2" wide reflective tape with little hexagons is cheaper but doesn’t hold up as well. I put a 3/4" strip of it below the sheer of a 18’ wood kayak where it was protected by a protruding rubrail. At night it stood out incredibly,you could be 200yds from it and it would stand out like a sign,not many things have 18’ reflective strips so the shape contributes to the visibility.

On paddles

Don’t know about this vendor, but this is the stuff I’ve had on my fiberglass paddle blades for at least two years with no sign of peeling. Just keep it away from the edges of the paddle(or places on the hull) where it’s likely to get scraped.

Water and retroreflectivity

– Last Updated: Mar-19-04 9:32 AM EST –

Wetting a surface dramatically reduces retroreflectivity, as light will reflect off the water surface before reaching the reflective elements underneath. That's why retroreflective highway lines and markings virtually disappear when it's raining hard enough to keep them wet. The most effective ones will be those that are oriented nealy vertical, which reduces the reflectance angle of the surface and allows the water to run off.

A paddle might still reflect decently, since only a very thin layer of water will stick to it and the blades are nearly vertical in use (especially if the paddle isn't feathered). Waxing the reflective areas to discourage water adhesion would likely help, but you'd probably have to do it pretty often.

Do you know what gaffer’s tape is?
It’s meant to be used in a video/photo studio, not a marine environment.

Anyway, the tape I am looking for is Reflexite, which IS marine grade.

Shearline location should work
If that is under water, I have other problems besides being seen!

reflexite, I’ve seen the samples and

– Last Updated: Mar-20-04 9:08 PM EST –

done way too much research.

Reflexite rocks. Upside is, it does not wet out too badly (like Nystrom is talking about) and uses prisms rather than spheres. Its thick (but heavy) plastic front coating makes for the anti wet out properties. Prisms are much more powerful reflectors than spheres. Dont be fooled by identitapes color chart though, the flourescent colors are not that bright, except for the orange. I've seen samples and would go for the orange if daytime visibility is a factor.

Downside is reflexite flourescent tapes are heavy compared to other tapes. Also the prisms only light up from a narrow range of illumination: light source close to eyes, angle closer to perpendicular, but spheres have a much wider angle. If you are within the proper angles, the prisms could be seen from much further away. I spent some time working with reflexite on an order for some folks in my favorite paddling club. The identitape prices are good. As good as we could get from reflexite direct by ordering 50 foot rolls.

I will find out if identitape sells reflexite manufactured tape. If so, I will order up some of the orange for my paddle (daytime and nighttime visibility) and white for the boat, all engineering grade. The orange offers far more daytime visibility than the yellow whch looks rather ugly and dull, (the orange is orange, but bright) I have a 50 foot roll of the ugly yellow glad to ship bits of it out for the brothers and sisters who e-mail me. I have little use for it. A few feet to each please

My friend Nystrom (hey don't blame him; I'm hard to get rid of) is right about wetting out of the reflective surface itself. If you feel the surface of a retroreflective street sign you will see that it is rough, what you are feeling are the reflector elements themselves, so when they get wetted out the water greatly diminishes the reflection. like a water drop on a lens ruins the focus. Rember a light passses straight through a lens, it refracts at the lens air interface and will refract differently at a lens water interface. Since the surface of a street sign is rough, water sticks to it easily so I'm lost in Maine at night in the rain.

Thanks for the links Angstrom, and the question Pikabike!

Good paddling to you!

Paddling with a headlight at night behind someone with taped blades, the tape was very bright while everything else – including the white blades and hull – was a dark blur. Wet reflective tape is still a lot better than no tape at all.