Before going kayaking, touring, or fishing, be sure to plan ahead. Selecting the right equipment can and will make your outing on the water much more comfortable, though choosing the appropriate equipment can inevitably save your life. Items mandated by the United States Coast Guard for operation of a vessel under oars include:

  • Personal Flotation Devices (PFD)
  • Sound Producing Device
  • Visual Distress Signal (between sunset and sunrise and periods of reduced visibility)
  • Navigational Lights (between sunset and sunrise and periods of reduced visibility)

These items meet only the minimum requirements of the United States Coast Guard, and should not be the only equipment carried on board while operating a kayak in open water. Additional recommended items to consider are listed below. Your own list may include additional items that are specific to your activity and locale.


  • VHF Radio
  • Cell Phone
  • Radio (w/weather band)


  • Charts
  • GPS
  • Compass

Signaling Devices

  • Flashlight
  • Flares
  • Dye marker
  • Smoke
  • Signal Mirror
  • Reflective Tape
  • Flag
  • Air Horn
  • Whistle

Vessel Accessories

  • Internal Flotation
  • Spare Paddle
  • Paddle Float
  • Paddle Leash
  • Bilge Pump
  • Sponge
  • Dry Bags
  • Gear Leashes
  • Bow line
  • Anchor
  • Drift Chute


  • First Aid Kit
  • Dried Food
  • Water
  • Sun Screen
  • Long sleeve shirt
  • Hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Extra Clothing
  • Foot Protection
  • Towels


  • Filed Float Plan
  • Weather Forecast
  • Sonar/Fish Finder
  • Survival Knife
  • Pliers
  • Multipurpose tool
  • Duck tape
  • Zip ties
  • Rope
  • Rags
  • Batteries
  • Shackles/D-rings

For more information about boating safety, please visit