Best Kayak Lights For Night Paddling (2020)

night kayak

Exploring the water in a kayak gives a sense of peace and serenity and doing so in the dusk or dawn, or even overnight, can really enhance the experience.  Wildlife is more likely to be active at these times, the weather is cooler, and the world is more quiet.

Safety is key when kayaking, especially in the dark.  Kayak lights are a fantastic solution for making sure you are seen by other boaters and so that you can see what you are doing. 

Read on to find a buyer’s guide for kayak lights with product reviews.  You can never be to careful on the water and it is always helpful to be able to see while kayaking in low-light.

Best Kayak Lights For The Money

Paddlers Supply Company LED Kayak Deck Light with Suction Cup Base Kayalu WaterTorch 360º Kayak Light Attwood 14192-7 Water-Resistant Deck Mount LED Navigation Light Kit
Paddlers Supply Company LED Kayak Deck Light Kayalu WaterTorch 360º Kayak Light Attwood 14192-7 Water-Resistant Deck Mount LED Navigation Light Kit
★ EDITOR’S PICK ★ ☆ BUDGET PICK ☆ DURABLE PICK
best overall pick best cheap kayak light best permanent kayak light
Buy at: REI Buy at: Amazon Buy at: Amazon

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Top Kayak Lights Reviewed

1. Paddlers Supply Company LED Kayak Deck Light with Suction Cup Base

With a suction cup base, this light is portable, removable, and will stick to composite and some polyethylene hulls.  The LED light is flare-style, which will be visible up to two miles away.  

Paddlers Supply Company LED Kayak Deck Light with Suction Cup Base

This unit includes a hook to be attached to the boat or to yourself as a personal safety light.  It runs on three AA batteries and should last for 100 hours on one set of batteries.

This light is waterproof and leak proof up to 1,000 feet.  It also includes a corrosion resistant case.  

Pros
  • The suction cup allows you to mount the light in different places on the boat as needed
  • Includes tether if the suction cup does pop off
  • Light can be seen up to two miles away
  • Light is leak proof, waterproof, and includes a corrosion resistant case
  • Easy to replace batteries.
Cons
  • Suction cup tends to fall off occasionally and will not stick to boats with a bumpy surface or that are not flat
  • Light tents to sink when it ends up in the water
  • Lanyard is not high quality and difficult to attach and detach

Takeaway

Overall, this kayak light offers sufficient brightness to be seen up to two miles away.  It sticks well under the right circumstances and does not take on water when submerged.

2. Kayalu WaterTorch 360º Kayak Light

The Kayalu WaterTorch 360° Kayak Light measures 12″ tall and is virtually crush-proof.  It can operate for 100 hours on three AA batteries.  

Kayalu WaterTorch 360° Kayak Light

This light is buoyant and waterproof and has a suction cup base.

It includes a white Lexan diffusion lens and can also be used as a hand held flashlight or as a great camping light.

Pros
  • Very bright light that can be seen up to two miles
  • Comes with an 18″ long marine tether 
  • The body of the light as well as the lens are nearly crush proof
  • Submersible up to 1,000 feet
Cons
  • Chamber can become hot if batteries are not making great contact
  • Although the light does claim buoyancy, it often does sink
  • This light is small, some find that their bodies block too much of the light

Takeaway

Overall the suction cup of this light appears strong as long as your boat meets the correct requirements.  It is also very sturdy and watertight, but is smaller than many other kayak lights on the market.  

3. Attwood 14192-7 Water-Resistant Deck Mount LED Navigation Light Kit

This light kit includes two lights, a red/green bow light and a white LED stern light.  Both can be mounted with adhesive or screws.

Attwood 14192-7 Water-Resistant Deck Mount LED Navigation Light Kit, Marine Gray Finish, One Size

The stern light comes with a telescoping pole, which extends up to 24″.  

All electronics are sealed in a shock-proof housing and the lens is shatterproof and made of polycarbonate.  The lights will run for over 150 hours on three AA batteries.  

Pros
  • Telescoping handle extends to up to 24″ so the body will not block the light
  • By utilizing the screws, the light can’t fall off the kayak
  • Bow and stern lights mean that your kayak will be seen in all directions
  • Solid construction
Cons
  • Adhesive may not be strong enough for textured boats
  • Does not come with tether
  • Parts will not float if dropped when assembling telescoping pole

Takeaway

This light is a great option if searching for a permanent mount kayak light.  It is durable and tall, reaching 24″ maximum, and the light will last for over 150 hours.

Why You Need Kayak Lights

Safety

Safety is the biggest reason to purchase kayak lights.  When kayaking during hours of low-light, kayak lights ensure that you can be seen.

It is important that you can be seen by other watercrafts to prevent collisions.  If something goes wrong on your journey, lights will also ensure that you will be seen and found in case of an emergency.

Navigating waters that are unfamiliar in low-light conditions can be confusing and it can be easy to get lost.  Kayak lights can help you to spot familiar landmarks on the shore, other kayakers in your group, or get the attention of another boat on the water.

State Laws

Some states require kayak lighting between sunset and sunrise.  Check the laws in your state to see what is required before you hit the water when there’s no light or low light situations.

Be aware that some states also require sounding devices, such as a whistle or horn to be used in case of distress.

Convenience and Multiple Uses

In addition to safety, kayak lights are convenient.  These lights can help you to grab a snack or drink while kayaking, or find other needed supplies.

If you are camping and kayaking, some kayak lights can also be utilized at your campsite.  This means less to pack.  

Keep in mind, that only portable kayak lights would be able to be used in other spots.  Permanent mounted kayak lights have to stay on the kayak.

How to Choose Kayak Lights

Confused by all the options out there and not sure which lights are the best option for you? Let us give you some tips.

Permanent Mount or Portable?

Kayak lights can be permanently mounted to the kayak or portable.  Portable options usually attach with a suction cup base.

This would be a great option for anyone hoping to use the light when camping or for other uses.

Just be sure that a unit with a suction cup base also comes with a tether.  The suction cup bases are pretty strong, but not foolproof.

Mounted lights may be attached with screws or an adhesive pad.  Using screws is the most secure way to attach a light.

Buoyant, Waterproof, and Submersible

In case the kayak light falls overboard or if your kayak tips, it is important that the light be buoyant and waterproof.  

Also take a look at the depth to which the light is submersible.

Energy Source and Run Time

Generally, kayak lights use batteries, most commonly, three AA alkaline batteries.  Consider purchasing rechargeable batteries to save on costs.  

Check potential run time when purchasing a kayak light.  Typical run times might be 100 or 150 hours.  

Always be sure to keep extra batteries with you in your kayak.

Type of Light

LED lights are the most popular for kayak lights.  The bulbs should last a long time.  

Some kayak lights come in a torch style, while others are not.  Check the specs to see how far the light will be able to be seen to see if that distance fits your needs.  

Think about if you would like to have both a bow and stern light, or just one light.  

Size

Portable lights are usually more compact, while most mounted lights have telescoping poles that are adjustable up to about 24″ high.  

Durability

Check ratings to compare brands and check on durability.  A few things to look for would be a shatter-proof lens, corrosion resistant case, and a crush-proof lens housing.

Other Things to Consider

Some lights can detach from the base.

Lights are available that also include a flag, useful for spotting your craft during daylight hours.

Rope lights and lighting strips are other types of kayak light to consider.

Mounting Tips for Kayak Lights

Having the lights for your kayak is only part of the battle. Now you’ve got to get them mounted so that your hands are free for paddling. You’ve got a few options here.

Suction Cup Portable Kayak Lights

  • Make sure the surface of the kayak is clean before attaching the kayak light.
  • Note that the surface needs to be smooth, not bumpy for a suction cup to stick properly.
  • Use some lube on the suction cup before pressing down, this makes the suction stronger.
  • Be sure to attach a tether to your kayak just in case the suction cup comes loose.

Permanent Mount Kayak Lights

  • If using the adhesive to attach the kayak lights, make sure the kayak is clean before application.
  • Tethers are also a good idea when using adhesive.
  • Follow instructions carefully when installing the screw mount option.  There is a particular order to follow.
  • If the area of the kayak is not flat where you hope to install the light, the screws are the best choice.

As you can see, adding lights to your kayak for low light situations and night time paddling adventures is actually pretty easy.

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