30+ Best Kayak Accessories [Must-Have Gear For Every Paddler]

Picture of a man kayaking on a river, best kayak accessories featured image.

Short on time? Our top picks for the best kayak accessories are the Bending Branches Whisper Paddle, Kokatat Hustle PFD, and Well-Strong Waterproof First Aid Kit.

A detailed guide to the best kayak accessories for every paddler.

Having fun and being safe on the water starts with a good kayak, but it doesn’t end there. To get out on the water, you need kayak gear to go along with your boat. 

But how do you choose the right kayak accessory?

The kayaking world is so full of jargon and technical specs that figuring out the best kayaking accessories can take effort. 

Having spent a lot of time on the water myself, I thought it would be a good idea to put together a list of the best kayaking gear to help you through the confusion. 

Regardless of whether your giftee has a fishing kayak, recreational kayak, touring, sit-on-top, sit-inside, or inflatable, I’ve found cool kayak accessories for every category, including kayak accessories you didn’t know you needed. 

Click through to see the best kayak accessories.

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

Picture of a whitewater kayak and gear

#1 Kayak Paddle

Bending Branches Whisper Paddle

Possibly the best kayak accessory to improve your kayaking experience is a high-quality kayak paddle. 

People used to consider carbon fiber to be the best kayak paddle material. While a carbon fiber paddle is still a great choice, combinations of nylon and fiberglass offer a similarly lightweight option that’s more affordable. 

I love the Bending Branches Whisper Paddle, because it’s a highly-rated, well-designed kayak paddle. 

This two-piece fiberglass reinforced paddle has a balanced feel and is a great all-purpose kayak paddle.

#2 Kayak Life Jacket

Kokatat Hustle PFD Life Jacket

A personal flotation device, otherwise known as a life jacket or life vest, is one of the best kayak accessories for beginners because many newbies aren’t thinking of safety gear when they purchase a kayak. They’re thinking of fun! 

That said, the law requires a life jacket even on a calm lake or river, if the cubic feet per second (CFS) is above a certain level (which varies by jurisdiction).

I love the Kokatat Hustle PFD for several reasons. This kayak life jacket has a nice, wide, “overall” style bib that gives you plenty of space for arm movement. 

Second, this life jacket has a giant clamshell pocket in the front (perfect for a phone or snacks). Finally, I love the bright yellow color, which fellow paddlers can see from a distance. 

#3 Spray Skirt

Seals Sneak Spray Skirt - 2.2

A spray skirt fits over the torso of the kayaker and the coaming (aka “lip”) of the cockpit. A kayak spray skirt needs to suit the specific conditions, kayaker, and boat. 

Check out this How to Choose a Kayak Spray Skirt guide if you have more questions. 

A fantastic all-around, mid-weather spray skirt is the Seals Sneak Spray Skirt. This spray skirt is nylon, the best material for moderately cool weather. 

The shoulder straps help keep the tunnel up (aka, the part that goes over your torso) , and the mesh pockets drain water quickly. 

#4 Kayak Helmet

NRS Havoc Livery Kayak Helmet

A kayaking helmet is not only one of the best kayak accessories for whitewater kayakers but also essential safety gear, so set your giftee up with something nice!

I like the NRS Havoc Livery Kayak Helmet. Unlike other helmets, this one is specifically for whitewater kayaking. 

This ABS plastic helmet is unisex, one-size-fits-most, with an EVA foam liner that meets CE 1385 safety standards for whitewater. The helmet has six drainage ports to allow water out. 

Finally, this essential piece of kayak gear comes in a range of color choices.

#5 Kayak Anchor

Best Marine Folding Kayak Anchor Kit

Ok, there is, like, a whole science regarding kayak anchors. Ideally, the anchor will be suited to whatever substrate is at the bottom of your waterway. 

In general, you’d use kayak anchors for kayak fishing, so you can stay in one spot and not scare the fish. 

I like this Best Marine 3.5lb Folding Kayak Anchor Kit for several reasons. At 3.5lbs, this kit is *just* heavy enough to properly anchor the boat without adding unnecessary weight. 

This kit comes with 40 feet of marine rope. You need twice as much rope as the depth of the water, meaning this rope will suffice in up to 20 feet of water (which will cover a recreational kayak fishing trip.) 

Finally, the whole thing folds up and comes in a convenient carry bag. 

#6 Kayak Roof Rack

Thule Compass Kayak and SUP Carrier

I could write a whole article on kayak roof racks and kayak trailers. Oh wait, I already did! Check out our guide to the best kayak racks for trucks if you want more material on this topic. 

For a kayak rack that fits all rack systems with universal mounting hardware, the Thule Compass 4-in-1 Kayak/SUP Rack is an excellent choice. 

I like this rack because you can enjoy both kayaking and paddle boarding with it. This rack can fit two kayaks and two paddle boards and then folds down when you’re not using it. 

#7 Cooler

YETI Hopper Flip 8 Soft Cooler

Pretty much the only reason people kayak is to have fun, right? What facilitates enjoyment better than chilled beverages and snacks? 

The YETI Hopper Flip 8 Soft Cooler is the cooler that I use on the water, and it is fabulous. The Yeti Hopper has many loop straps to attach to your kayak, so you don’t have to worry about losing your drinks if you tip. 

The exterior of this cooler is impenetrable, and it’s made of DryHide, which is puncture, mildew, and UV resistant. I also like that this cooler has a shoulder strap, which makes it easy to carry. 

Looking for other options? These are our favorite alternatives to Yeti coolers.

#8 Kayak Cart

Suspenz DLX Airless Kayak Canoe Cart

A kayak cart is one of the best kayak accessories for petite, older, or solo kayakers. I’d also say it’s one of the best canoe accessories too. 

Y’all, kayaks and canoes can be heavy, and sometimes you have to walk a minute to get your yak in the water. Don’t let your giftee strain their back in the parking lot. 

Get them a kayak cart! The Suspenz DLX Airless Kayak/Canoe Cart is one of the best kayak carts you could get for them.

Simply strap your kayak on the cart and roll it to the water. The Suspenz fits most kayaks, comes with a kickstand for ease of loading/unloading, and folds down into a mesh bag when you’re done.


#9 Kayak Shoes

NRS Kicker Wetshoes

Kayak shoes are the best kayaking accessory for those who paddle near rocky shores. 

In most recreational settings, you can safely paddle in any footwear that protects your feet but if you want to step up your giftee’s paddle game, check out the NRS Kicker Wetshoes

These have everything you can want in a water shoe. They have rubber soles for traction plus plastic shims in the sole for protection from extra stabby rocks. 

They have 3-mm neoprene uppers, which dry quickly, and, to boot, the neoprene is non-petroleum based (go Earth!)

Looking for more options? Read our guide to the best water shoes for kayakers.

#10 Kayak Float Bags

NRS Standard Kayak Flotation

Kayak float bags are like an insurance policy on your yak and are particularly useful for sea kayaking. Float bags are simply inflatable bladders that fit in the bow and stern of the kayak. 

If water breaches the cockpit, the float bags not only limit the amount of space the water has to fill but also add buoyancy to the boat. 

I like these NRS Kayak Float Bags because they have a lifetime warranty and are made of heavy-duty urethane, which won’t pop or delaminate.  

#11 Kayak Gloves

NRS Boater's Gloves

Kayak gloves make one of the best kayak gifts for an avid kayaker because kayaking is demanding on the hands. 

Usually fingerless gloves that protect your hands from sun exposure, kayak gloves give you a good grip on your paddle. 

These NRS Boater gloves (for women) and (men) make an excellent accessory to your existing kayak gear.

These gloves have long wrists extending sun protection to your long-sleeved shirt. They have synthetic leather and silicone on the palms for a vice-like grip and ventilation holes in the palm so that your hands don’t get too sweaty under there. 

#12 Safety Whistle

Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle

A safety whistle is an essential piece of kayak gear for paddling at night, and during the day it’s still a good idea to have this piece of kayak gear. 

I like this Vargo Titanium Emergency Whistle because it can reach 100 decibels (yikes, that’s loud) and has a reflective lanyard. 

Plus, the titanium design will prevent it from breaking like plastic whistles. 

#13 Kayak Storage Rack

RAD Sportz Indoor Outdoor Freestanding Heavy Duty Kayak Storage Rack

When you have a hard-sided kayak, you must figure out how to store it long-term. Laying outside isn’t good for the kayak, and leaving it in a garage wastes space. 

Save space and get your giftee a kayak storage rack. I like the RAD Sportz Freestanding Heavy Duty Two Storage Kayak because it’s a freestanding rack, meaning there’s no hardware to install. 

This kayak rack can store two kayaks or two paddleboards. 

#14 Wetsuit

Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Chest-Zip

Wetsuits are excellent kayak gear additions, especially if you paddle in cold water or the open ocean. 

There are a million options when it comes to wet suits. You can get full-body suits, shorties (short sleeves, short pants), separate pants, and top set. And then within all those categories, there are multiple thickness options. 

I specifically like these REI wetsuits because REI’s return policy is very generous if they don’t fit your giftee. 

The Rip Curl Dawn Patrol Chest-Zip 4/3mm Full Wetsuit (women’s) and the O’Neill HyperFreak 4/3+ mm Chest-Zip Full Wetsuit (men’s). 

Each suit provides full body coverage and great warmth with 4mm thickness around the torso and 3mm thickness around the legs (hence the 4/3mm designation). 

#15 Drysuit

Kokatat Women's Hydrus Supernova Semi-Dry Paddling Suit

Dry suits are the right kayak accessories for kayaking in low water temperatures that turndeadly within minutes of submersion– think kayak fishing in British Columbia. 

Try the Kokatat Hydrus 2.5 SuperNova Semi-Dry Paddling Suit (men’s version here) with integrated Hydrus 3.0 socks. This suit is a bomber. 

The leg and arm cuffs have latex gaskets, making them totally waterproof, and this model has a “rear relief zipper” for bathroom breaks.

#16 Paddling Jacket

WindRider Waterproof Paddling Sailing Spray Top

A paddling jacket is waterproof paddling gear designed specifically for kayaking. It’s like a rain jacket with a sealed neck and wrists to keep the spray out. 

Paddling jackets can be pricey, but I like this WindRider Waterproof Paddling Sailing Spray Top because it’s affordable but highly rated. 

This jacket is waterproof with a zippered shoulder pocket and velcro wrists to ensure a tight seal. 

#17 Dry Bag

Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack

A dry bag is an essential piece of kayak gear, making it one of the best kayak accessories. Dry bags are so handy–I even use one on my paddle board to ensure my stuff is safe. 

Sea to Summit makes excellent, reliable dry bags in various sizes. The Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack (2L) is great for small items like a phone, and the Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag (20L) is perfect for extra layers. 

Each dry bag is uses waterproof material, with a top that folds down and buckles to keep your stuff dry. 

Looking for more options? Read our complete guide to the best dry bags for kayakers.

#18 Dry Box

Pelican Micro Case 1040 with Carabiner

A dry box is the best kayak accessory if you have something that needs to stay dry and un-crushed. A dry box is very helpful for kayak camping or fishing with electronics like personal locator beacons or fish finders. 

I’ve also seen people use big dry boxes to transport laptops (for scientific equipment). 

Pelican is a trusted name in dry boxes. The Pelican Micro Case 1040 with Carabiner is perfect for cell phones. 

If your giftee has lots of gear to store, try the Pelican 1120 Case with foam. 

#19 Kayak Bilge Pump

NRS Kayak Bilge Pump with Float

When water gets into a sit-inside kayak, you need a way to get the water out. A cheap way to do that is with a milk jug with the top cut off, but a bilge pump is smaller and more efficient. 

This NRS Kayak Bilge Pump is an excellent addition to your kayaking gear bag. 

This bilge pump doesn’t require a hose. Instead, the water shoots out the side nozzle.

 It pumps eight gallons of water a minute and is covered with bright yellow foam, making it easy to see and allowing it to float. 

#20 Scupper Plugs

Seattle Sports Scupper Plugs

Scupper plugs are one of my favorite sit-on-top kayak accessories; they’re cheap but also very handy. Scupper plugs fit inside the self-bailing drain holes on a sit-on-top kayak and help keep you drier. 

I like the design of these Seattle Sports Scupper Plugs because the tiered silicone allows them to fit into any size scupper hole. 

Another bonus of this design is the glow-in-the-dark material, which makes them easier to find in low light. 

#21 Water Filter

LifeStraw Peak Squeeze Water Filter System

A water filter is a perfect piece of kayak gear to add to your pile. Honestly, I don’t think you should make extended trips without one. 

I have tried so many water filters, and I really like the design of the LifeStraw Peak Squeeze Water Filter System. The flexible reservoir doesn’t take up too much kayak storage space but can still filter three liters of water per minute (that’s fast!). 

LifeStraw is an excellent name for water filters; their products remove everything you should be scared of, including microplastics and silt. 

#22 Inflatable Kayak Patch Kit

AquaPro Liquid Patch Waterproof Repair Kit

We own several inflatable kayaks and two stand-up paddleboards. They’re excellent if you want to save space, but we have had to patch at least one of our older kayaks. 

An AquaPro Liquid Patch Repair Kit makes a great stocking stuffer if your giftee has an inflatable kayak. 

The AquaPro Patch Kit is designed specifically for inflatable boats and rafts, and it works on various materials, including PVC, neoprene, vinyl, and polyester. 

This product is super easy to use on an inflatable kayak and dries in two hours.


#23 Personal Locator Beacon

Spot Gen 4 Satellite GPS Messenger

Personal Locator Beacons, or Spot Devices, are an essential kayak accessory for anyone with an adventurous spirit and a bad sense of direction (I bet you can think of someone in your life with that combination of characteristics). 

All joking aside, emergencies can happen to anyone, and a Spot Gen 4 device is one of the best ways to ensure your giftee gets help fast. 

The Spot is compact and uses satellites to track your location so you can signal for help in an emergency. These devices are very reliable and can be lifesaving for many folks in the backcountry. 

#24 Waterproof First Aid Kit

WELL-STRONG Waterproof First Aid Kit

A first aid kit should be part of everyone’s kayaking gear kit! 

An excellent first aid kit for kayaking, kayak fishing, or kayak camping should be waterproof and compact yet still have good supplies (haven’t we all seen useless first aid kits in our day?).

The Well-Strong Waterproof First Aid Kit easily meets the above criteria. This safety kit is packed into a two-liter dry bag with a roll top. The material is super durable, and you can easily clip the roll-top bag into a backpack.


#25 Padded Kayak Seat with Back Support

HLOGREE 1/2PCK Kayak Seats

A comfortable, ergonomic kayak seat is one of the best kayak accessories to add aftermarket because sometimes the seat that comes with the kayak isn’t comfortable. 

You can’t get up and stretch on most kayaks, so it crucial to make sure the seat is comfy. 

Enter the Hlogree 1/2Pck Kayak Seat. These seats can go over most existing kayak seats to add foamy comfort and back support. This seat has multiple straps to ensure it stays on any recreational kayak. 

These comfortable seats are UV-resistant neoprene, too, so they’ll stay dry and nice looking over time!

#26 Deck Light

Paddlers Supply Company LED Kayak Deck Light

A kayak deck light is a perfect accessory for anyone who enjoys kayak camping, sea kayaking, or kayaking at night. Having a powerful deck light is a requirement if you kayak at night. 

The Paddlers Supply Company LED Kayak Deck Light with a Suction Cup Base is perfect for night paddling. 

At night your light must be white and visible from two miles away, and this deck light does both. It uses three AA batteries and produces up to 100 hours of light. 

The suction cup base adheres to composite kayaks and some polyethylene hulls (aka, inflatable kayak).

#27 Cell Phone Dry Bag

Sea to Summit TPU Accessory Case

A cell phone dry bag was one of the first pieces of kayak gear I acquired after buying my boat. 

These storage bags are transparent and waterproof; in some cases, you can manipulate the screen through the plastic. 

I recommend the Sea to Summit TPU Accessory Case in Medium for all your high-touch electronics. I trust Sea to Summit with my life (err, my cell phone–same thing), and so should you. 

The medium-sized bag has a neck strap, and the TPU material is UV-resistant. 

#28 Sun shirt

REI Co-op Sahara Shade Hoodie

I can’t recommend sun shirts enough. I love love love all of mine because they make being outside so much more comfortable. 

You know that tired, fried feeling you get at the end of a sunny day? You don’t get that feeling with a sun shirt on. Sun shirts are fantastic pieces of kayak gear to have because you get sun exposure from every angle on a kayak. 

REI’s Sahara Shade Hoodie (women’s and men’s) has everything I like in a sun shirt. It has a hood and thumb loops to keep your hands covered. 

#29 Kayak Locking System

Suspenz Universal Kayak Locking System

Kayaks are high-price items, and no one wants to see theirs walk off. Get your giftee some peace of mind with a kayak locking system. 

The Suspenz Universal Kayak Locking System is a great choice. It comes in various sizes, and these 3/16’’ coil steel cables work with any padlock (sold separately). 

Note that the Suspenz System works to deter theft, *not* to secure your kayak to a roof rack.

#30 Deck Compass

Seattle Sports SeaRover Deck Compass

A deck compass is an instrumental piece of kayak gear and a great addition to a safety kit. Especially if your giftee likes to paddle open ocean or in confusing boundary waters, a deck compass will make a great gift. 

I like this Seattle Sports SeaRover Deck Compass because it has a rubber base to prevent it from sliding around in rough water. It comes with nylon straps that you can hook to deck rigging. 

Of course, if your kayak doesn’t have deck rigging, it still works if you hold it in the palm of your hand.

#31 Fish Finder

Lowrance Hook Reveal 5 Inch Fish Finders

If you’re looking for high-tech kayak fishing accessories, look no further. 

If your giftee enjoys kayak fishing, a fish finder makes an excellent gift. This device uses sonar to detect fish under the water and displays their locations on a screen. 

The Lowrance Hook Reveal 5-Inch Fish Finder with Transducer is a popular model with some customizable options. You can get the basic version or one of several versions with pre-loaded maps. 

The screen on the Lowrance Hook has excellent clarity in all levels of sunlight and automatically adjusts the sonar level needed, so you don’t have to fiddle with it. 

#32 Fishing Rod

Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod

You can’t have a fishing trip without a fishing rod.

A fishing rod may not be the first thing you think of when you think of kayak fishing accessories because most kayak anglers have the rod before they have the kayak. 

But if your giftee is looking to start a new hobby, or is an experienced angler in need of a new rod, check out the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Fishing Rod

This is a six-foot graphite and fiberglass fishing rod with a seven-year warranty and one-piece stainless steel guides. 

#33 Fishing Rod Holder

Yak Attack Omega Pro Universal Fishing Rod Holder

Rod holders ar must-have kayak accessories for fishing. Rod holders mount to the kayak’s deck, often on a gear track, and keep the rod in one place, hands-free. 

If your giftee has a motorized fishing kayak, chances are there are already a few rod holders mounted in place. But many kayak anglers like to use more than one rod at a time, so another holder won’t hurt. 

I like this Yak Attack Omega Pro Universal Fishing Rod Holder because Yak Attack is a trustworthy brand and because it holds any type of rod (including fly rods)

Note that you have to buy the gear track separately.

#34 Fishing Gear Crate

YakAttack BlackPak Pro Kayak Fishing Crate

A fishing gear crate is the last, but not least, of my recommendations for kayak fishing accessories. This kayak storage accessory holds boxes of lures and other fishing accessories. 

I like this Yak Attack BlackPak Pro Kayak Fishing Crate because it has plenty of room for a tackle and other accessories inside and includes three-rod holders on the outside. The rod holders have a tether system to keep them in place. 

The box has attachment points all around the outside so you can secure it to the kayak, and the box is easy to assemble. 

Note that a gear crate is also a helpful accessory for kayak camping. 

#35 Paddle Leash/Paddle Float

OCEANBROAD Feet Stretchable Paddle Strap

A paddle float and a paddle leash are both essential kayaking gear pieces, but each serves a different purpose. 

A leash attaches to your kayak or life vest with a carabiner and keeps the paddle from floating off. I like this Oceanbroad 5-8 ft Stretchable Paddle Strap. This strap has a simple design and reasonable price. 

A float attaches to your paddle to help you re-enter your kayak after a swim, so it’s an essential piece of kayak gear, especially for sea kayaking. 

Check out the NRS Sea Kayak Paddle Float. It fits any sized paddle and has two air chambers and reflective tape for better low-light visibility. 

#36 Safety Knife

NRS Pilot Knife

If your giftee likes to whitewater kayak, make sure they have an excellent safety knife. A safety knife has a blunt tip but can cut a rope in an emergency. 

Check out the NRS Pilot Knife. This is a lightweight, 4.9oz stainless steel blade with a nylon sheath. The blade has a serrated section and a smooth section with a little rope-cutting notch. 

This kayaking accessory has a safety sheath to go over the blade for transport. 

Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Kayak Gear

Yellow kayaks lie on wooden pier beside the lake

What to Look for in Kayak Gear


Regardless of what type of accessory it is, the top kayaking accessories will use high-quality materials. 

Neoprene is a common, high-quality material on wetsuits, kayak seats, and other accessories.


The best kayak accessories should be waterproof as they’ll almost certainly come in contact with spray from the kayak paddle or, as is often the case, submerge entirely. 

One caveat is that sometimes brand will use mesh so that water drains quickly. For example, mesh pockets on a life jacket. 

Neither style is wrong; just be aware that both exist. 


Ideally, your paddling gear should float too, but this won’t be the case for all types of equipment. Electronics like fish finders for kayak anglers and personal locator beacons (PLBs) don’t usually float. 

One feature I like for buoyant gear is *multiple air chambers.* When something has multiple air chambers, it’s still useful even if one chamber pops. 


Your kayak gear should fit you very comfortably. This certainly applies to your life vest, and you’ll want to consider how the life vest fits while you’re sitting and paddling. 

Be sure to get a kayak paddle that fits your height and won’t bump your knuckles while you paddle. 

Types of Kayak Gear

A woman paddling a green kayak on a river

You’ll need different types of gear depending on the type of kayak you have. I won’t list generic kayak gear like a life vest, first aid kit, or dry bag but will focus on the equipment you specifically need for each type of kayak. 

Sit-Inside Recreational Kayaks

Sit-inside kayaks are traditional kayaks. Besides sit-on-top kayaks, these are the most popular type of kayaks. 

  • Spray skirt
  • Wet suit (or dry suit)
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Kayak float bags

Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are the most popular recreational kayak. You would usually use them for short trips on calm water. 

  • Ergonomic kayak seat
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Sun shirt
  • Cooler
  • Scupper plugs

Touring Kayaks

Touring kayaks are also known as ocean kayaks or sea kayaks, and can go on multi-day trips on the open ocean.   

  • Helmet (especially for surf kayaks)
  • Bilge pump
  • Spray skirt
  • Tow line (kayak leash)
  • Paddle leash
  • Deck light (360-degree white light) 
  • Whistle (or air horn)
  • Paddle float

Whitewater Kayaks

Whitewater kayaks are for fast-moving rapids. 

  • Helmet
  • Throw bag
  • Safety knife
  • Tow line
  • Paddle leash

Fishing Kayaks

Fishing kayaks are for fishing from, often with stable designs and lots of space to attach fishing gear. These are my top kayak fishing accessories. 

  • Fishing-specific life vest (comes with excess pockets for bait, etc.)
  • Rod holders
  • Fishing rods
  • Gear crate
  • Fish finder
  • Cooler
  • Safety knife
  • Scupper plugs (depending on the kayak)
  • Bungee cords or carabiners

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the specific use of your inflatable kayak, you could need any of the accessories mentioned above, in addition to:

  • Patch kit

FAQs About Kayak Accessories

Sport kayaks on the lake shore

What accessories should I buy for my kayak?

The most crucial kayak accessories to have on hand include:

  • Life jackets for everyone on board
  • Paddle
  • Bailer or bilge pump
  • Whistle
  • Dry bag
  • Sunscreen or sun-protective clothing
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp
  • Snacks and water

What is the best way to attach accessories to a kayak?

The three best ways to attach accessories to a kayak are gear tracks, flush mounts, and deck mounts. Each has its pros and cons. 

A gear track is a long metal track that can accommodate a T-bolt attached to an accessory. Fishing kayaks often have pre-installed gear tracks, but you’d need to attach a gear track to most other kayak types. 

Gear tracks are best for small kayak accessories like action cameras, fish finders, rod holders, and fishing rods. 

Flush mounts are sturdier than gear tracks, but these require cutting a hole in the shell of the kayak. A flush mount sits level with the kayak shell, with the end of the fishing rod below the deck. 

A deck mount attaches to the kayak deck with (usually) four bolts and provides a study platform to connect an accessory. 

Note that many deck mounts are only compatible with their own accessories (not other brands). 

What should you not wear while kayaking?

Regardless of what you wear while kayaking, always wear your kayak life jacket over the top. 

If you’re paddling on salt water, avoid clothing with metal clasps or zippers, as the salt spray will rust them over time. 

The best advice is to dress for the water temperature (not the air temperature). 

That said, I advocate wearing sun-protective clothing at a minimum and avoiding clothes that will be heavy when wet. 

What do you need at night on a kayak?

If you’re into sea kayaking or multi-day kayaking, you’ll need to be prepared for nightfall. Some laws dictate that kayaks must have certain essential accessories on board at night. 

  • 360-degree white light attached to the deck that is visible from two miles away
  • A whistle or air horn that you can hear from one-half mile away. 

Another essential accessory on an ocean kayak at night is a warm or paddling jacket. 

What kind of shoes should you wear kayaking?

You can wear anything from old tennis shoes to sandals (Chacos, Tevas, etc.), water shoes with sticky soles, and neoprene wet suit booties. 

Each has its pros and cons. Choose an option that keeps your feet protected and comfortable.

Do kayak paddles make a difference?

Yes, yes, a thousand times, yes. I like to bargain hunt, but sometimes you get what you pay for. 

A quality paddle will be easier and more efficient, making your trip more enjoyable.

Conclusion: Our Pick for the Best Kayak Accessories

Picture of various kayak accessories on a dock

No one wants to buy more gear for more gear’s sake. You want an item that will be useful and stand out amongst the other accessories. 

If your giftee already has a good kayak, these are my top three accessories: 

Best Kayak Paddle

As I said at the top, getting your giftee the best kayak paddle for their size and boat is a wonderful way to improve their experience. 

Unlike cheap plastic kayak paddles, the lightweight Bending Branches Whisper Paddle is a highly adjustable and well-designed paddle that makes your trip easier.  

Kayak Life Vest

A kayak life jacket may not seem like the sexiest gift, but drowning is about the least sexy way to die, so…get your friend a kayak life vest if they don’t already have one. 

All the other gear is just icing on the cake.

The Kokatat Hustle PFD is a superb choice. This life jacket has plenty of space for arm movement, so you don’t chafe your pits while you paddle; plus, it’s bright yellow for visibility with a great big pocket on the front for personal items. 

First Aid Kit

My third top pick is a waterproof first aid kit. As I mentioned above, you can have all the other gear in the world, but when you need a first aid kit, there’s rarely a good substitute on board. 

I chose the Well-Strong Waterproof First Aid Kit because it’s waterproof, compact, and has proper first aid supplies. 


Author photo of Meredith Dennis, showing a blonde woman in a purple beanie grinning with trees and a vista in the background.

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in six states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!

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Hi, I'm Mimi! I'm an outdoorsy Californian who has spent over 28 years immersed in the incredible natural beauty that California has to offer. My goal is to inspire others to get out and find their next adventure in California. Whether it’s escaping to an alpine lake in the Sierras, finding peace among the giant redwoods, or road tripping down the PCH, there’s always more to explore in this beautiful state.


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