If you’re partial to kayaking early in the morning before the sun has fully risen or late into the night then having a light on your kayak is essential not only for seeing where all your stuff is on your yak but also it’s absolutely vital for safety reasons to ensure you’re fully visible by larger vessels and people can find you in case of an emergency.
In this post, we review some of the models that we think are the best kayak lights in 2020.
Quick Answer: The Best Lights For Kayaking
How to Choose Kayak Lights: A Guide For Buyers
Before we cover what we think are the best lights for kayaks, we’ll first take a look at some of the different types of lights and their features in our buying guide.
Types of Lights
When it comes to lights that are suitable for kayaks, there are two kinds: Handheld and Deck mounted. Each have their pros and their cons which we’ll take a look at now.
Handheld Kayak Lights
The first type are handheld kayak lights. These are a lot smaller and as their name suggests can be held in your hand. Despite being easy to move around and place where you want, they often come with a clip to attach them to your kayak, canoe or some can even be attached to your life jacket.
The main purpose of handheld lights is to help you see where you’re going (as opposed to deck mounted lights which help other people see where you are). Ideally you need both types for safety purposes.
The advantage of using handheld kayak lights is that they’re versatile and can be moved around easily. They’re also often very lightweight and compact meaning you can transport and store them with ease, plus they won’t get in the way of your paddle when you’re out on the water.
The second type to look at are deck mounted kayak lights, which, as their name suggests, mount on to the deck of your kayak. They come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, plus a whole host of different ways to attach to your kayak (we’ll take a look at the different mounting options next).
The main reason that you’ll use deck mounted lights on your kayak is that they other boats and vessels will be able to see you and will help you stay safe out on the water.
You can get a stern mounted light that will shine light in every direction. Using this type you’ll get 360 degree visibility as opposed to the handheld ones which will shine where you point them. Just make sure you don’t obstruct the light and have it high enough, especially if you set your anchor down for a spot of fishing.
You can also get navigation lights which are the red and green lights you’ve probably seen when at watercraft at night. These are usually mounted to the bow of boats to help other people see where you are.
If you’re out for a paddle at night in the pitch black, the last thing you want is to lose your light overboard. It can happen very easily if you don’t mount you light correctly. There are a few different options when it comes to mounting your light to your kayak. Let’s take a look at some of them now.
Suction Cup Mounts
Suction mounting lights are one of the simplest ways of attaching a light to your kayak. They’re lightweight, easy to set up, moveable and very affordable making them a good option for those on a budget.
There are some downsides however, the primary one being that they aren’t the most secure. Overtime they will lose their suction and they’ll struggle to remain secure on certain surfaces. They can also knocked off quite easily so make su
Clamp mounted lights are one of the most secure types of lights to use on a kayak. As their name suggested they fix on with a clamp which ensures they’re very likely to stay in place and not fall off, even with knocks or more extreme conditions out on the water.
The one downside is their weight. Clamp mount lights will probably be heavier due to the materials used in their construction. But if you’re okay with that then they’re definitely recommended.
Some brands of kayak light are manufactured with an internal tension cable for mounting on to your kayak. These cables are often made out of strong steel and can conveniently clip on to one of the eyelets/D-rings/pad eyes on your kayak to keep them very secure.
This method is another very secure option and is highly unlikely to come off. But, due to how securely they’re attached, they’re more likely to break if you collide with a low bridge or obstacle out on the water.
Some higher end kayaks have built in tracks to their user to attach gear. They’re often used to attach fishing related accessories but some kayak lights are made with an option to attach to these gear tracks too.
They’re very easy to set up and take down when not in use. And, as you’d expect, using a track mount like this is very secure way of ensuring your kayak lights don’t come loose and fall in.
It goes without say, your kayak light should be 100% waterproof. All the lights we are covering in our reviews later in this article are, but if you’re using a head torch or a DIY kayak light then only use it if it’s completely water proof.
Another thing to think about is how waterproof is it. Not all kayak lights are created equally when it comes to their resistance to water. Most lights manufactured to be used on boats will be able to withstand being submerged down to at least one meter in depth. But, some of the higher end models will be able to take being submerged a lot more.
Hopefully you won’t need to be trying to recover your light from the water, but it can also help in very heavy rain to keep it functioning. The last thing you want when out on the water in complete darkness is for your light to break.
For more information, check out this article on IP waterproof rating system (Ingress Protection) which covers the different ratings for how waterproof different products are.
Kayak Light Brands
There are a number of reputable brands that are making good quality kayak lights. The main players to look out for are Kayalu, YakAttack, Attwood and Paddler’s Supply. There are a lot of others though as boating is a very big industry.
FAQs About Kayak Lights
Why do you need Lights for your Kayak?
Kayaking lights are an essential piece of safety equipment if you’re kayaking at night. Not only will they help you see where you’re going and avoid obstacles in the water you can’t see, more importantly they’ll help other, larger and faster moving watercraft see you in the water. They’ll also help others quickly find where you are in the event of an emergency
Is it the Law to use a Light When Kayaking at Night?
Depending on where you live, it might be the law to have lights on your kayak when paddling at night. It varies from state to state so we’d recommend looking up your state’s laws before venturing out on the water in low light.
Can you Make your own Kayak Lights?
Theoretically you could, but we wouldn’t recommend it. Lights made specifically for kayaking have a number of features that you won’t be able to recreate from things you’ll find around the house. The waterproof materials, bright LED lights that can be seen from miles away not to mention the mounts designed specifically to attach to kayaks mean it’s worth spending the money to get one.
What are Kayak Lights Powered by?
All the kayak lights we’ve come across are powered by batteries. This is for safety reasons as you’ll be using them in and around water. Most lights use either 2 – 4 AA or AAA batteries which can last anywhere from 24 – 160 hours before needing to be replaced.
Best Rated Kayak Light Reviews
Now that we’ve covered some of the questions and different features about kayak lights we’ll move on to our list of what we think are the best lights for kayaking along with our reviews.
#1. YakAttack VISICarbon Pro 360
- Enhances your visibility day or night.
- SilentSlip foam fits most flush mount and tubular rod holders.
- 48" long deployed, 14" collapsed (collapsed unit stores inside flag).
In at number 1, is The YakAttack VISICarbon Pro 360 which is an LED kayak light that is also a flag for extra visibility when kayaking at night. Designed with carbon fiber for extra strength and stiffness it’s one of most durable lights you can get while also remaining ultra lightweight.
The light is an LED that’s powered by three AA batteries (included) that will power the light for up to 100 hours. But, the bulb itself has a lifetime of up to 10,000 hours… That’s over 416 days of constant use!
It’s really easy to attach to your kayak and works with most gear mount tracks. This is one of the most stables ways to attach a light to your kayak to ensure it doesn’t slip off mid paddle.
The flagpole extends up to 48″ so that other vessels will be able to see you from further away. But, it also packs down to only 14″ so won’t take up much storage space when you’re not using it.
All in all, a very good product, at a reasonable price that’ll help to keep you safe and visible when kayaking at night or twilight. Check it out below.
#2. Paddlers Supply Company LED Kayak Deck Light
Number 2 in our list of top kayak lights is the Paddler’s Supply Company LED kayak deck light. This is a waterproof and corrossion resistant high powered LED light that’s a popular option with kayakers looking an a lightweight, easy to set up light to mount on their yaks.
It uses a suction cup mounting system that sticks to the hull of your kayak. It’s best suited for kayaks with a completely smooth hull. While we don’t usually like this method of attachment it’s very powerful. Not only that, it also has a cable attachment lanyard that you can fix to a D-ring or even your PFD for added security.
The light is powered by 3 x AA batteries which come included with your purchase. They’ll power the light for up to 100 hours before they need replacing which is good. The bulb is very bright too and is visible up to 2 miles away on a clear night.
#3. Kayalu Kayalite Kayak Light
- High-performance portable navigation light, for kayak, SOT, SUP, canoe, dinghy, inflatable, scull.
- Bright White 2-LED with white titanium-infused diffusion lens, 100 hours on 3 AA alkaline batteries (included).
- Buoyant, deep water submersible (IPX8 rated), waterproof to 1000 feet (300 m).
The 1st of two lights in our round up from Boston based kayak lighting brand Kayalu who know a thing or two about lights is the Kayalite kayak light which is one of the most popular options for navigation lights in the US.
Like you’d expect from one of the market leaders, the Kayalite runs for over 100 hours on only 3 AA batteries (which are included). As well as being long lasting, the light casing is highly durable, waterproof up to 1000 feet and buoyant so if it does fall in it won’t break (or sink).
The Kayalu Kayalite is very easy to attach on to your kayak too and can be fastened onto one of your kayak’s eyelets. You can then fasten it with the steel clip and nylon coated bungee for security.
The only downside about it is that you can’t adjust the height, but other than that it’s a fantastic light that we don’t hesitate to recommend.
#4. Attwood 14191-7 Clamp-On Light
- Clamp-on LED light kit
- Sealed electronics, built to last in harsh conditions
- Sealed, Shock-Proof Composite housing
The Attwood Clamp On Light Kit is another light worth take a look at. Although the title suggest that it’s portable, we’d probably say it’s better suited to being more of a permanent light for your kayak. It mounts using two strong steel C clamps that are super easy to install and can be moved around between you kayaks or to different positions depending on what your prefer.
It’s a lighting kit, which means you’ll get the familiar red/green navigation lights to fix to the bow of your boat, but you’ll also get a light for your stern which is a bright LED white light. Both of them are powered with 3xAAA batteries (not included) but will last for up to 150 hours before needing to be replaced or recharged.
It’s a well constructed, shock-proof, affordable kit that will suit a whole host of different kayaks and won’t come loose in rough environments. Attwood are also a well respected brand that have been designing quality accessories for over 100 years so you can buy with confidence.
#5. Kayalu WaterTorch 360° Kayak Light
- Portable 360-Degree Bright White LED Kayak Deck Light and Handheld Submersible Torch with Suction Cup Base
- Buoyant and waterproof (IPX8 rated), submersible to 1000 feet (300 m).
- Rugged body and lens housing is virtually crush-proof, capable of withstanding direct impact
If you’re looking for a bright, low cost, strong and durable kayak light then the US made, Kayalu WaterTourch 360 is another serious contender. It’s mounted on a pole that sits 18″ on top of your kayak and has on top an LED light that’s incredibly bright and is visible from over 2 miles away.
It’s also completely waterproof and water resistant up to 1000 feet so can withstand not only splashes but incase you do tip over it won’t effect it at all (just make sure you strap it to one of your D rings so you don’t lose it overboard).
It’s very low maintenance and runs on only three AA batteries and will last for over 100 hours. Plus, the LED bulb is rated to last an incredible 10,000 hours before needing to be replaced. Put another way, if you were to use it for 3 hours a day, everyday, it would last for over 9 years. A no brainer if you’re looking for the best light for a kayak.
#6. Attwood 14192-7 Kayak Light Kit
- Kit includes: red/green LED bow light, white LED stern light, mounts, telescoping pole, hardware
- 2 convenient mounting options: screw down or use included adhesive pad
- Sealed electronics in a shock-proof housing and a shatter-proof polycarbonate lens
Up next we have another good option for lighting up your kayak, the Attwood 14192-7. It’s a complete kayak lighting kit that contains a pole mounted LED light to put on the stern of your kayak, but, it also comes with with two red/green LED bow lights as well.
Built with waterproof casing to prevent them getting wet, each of the three lights in this kit is designed with polycarbonate lenses to ensure maximum durability even in the harshest environments.
The LED, pole mounted light which can be extended up to 24″ high to ensure maximum visibility, takes 3 AAA batteries and will last for over 150 hours of use before needing new ones. You also have the choice of mounting it permanently with the provided screw and mount or by using the adhesive VHB tape provided depending on what surface you’re attaching them too.
#7. Shoreline Marine Portable Clamp on Light Kit
- Features bi-color and all-round navigation lights
- Can be used on both the stern and bow
- Provides for easy installation
Next we’ll take a look at the Shoreline Marine Portable Clamp on LED Light kit. It’s another kayak light that mounts on using a clamp style fitting. It’s another light kit so features two lights, one red, and one white, so you can have lights at the bow and stern of your kayak to ensure maximum visibility.
Like all the other lights we’ve looked at, it’s powered using AAA batteries (three that are not included) and customers report that it’ll last for 3 hours of bright light but another 21 hours of dimmer light before you need to replace the batteries.
Easy to install, water resistant and inexpensive, this kayak light kit from Shoreline Marine is well deserving of a place in our kayak light reviews and is worth a look when choosing which one to buy.
#8. Innovative Lighting Inc. Led Stern Light
- Molded One Piece White Body Construction
- Uses 90% Less Energy than Incandescent
- Sealed Heavy Duty On/Off Switch
Another good kayak light to check out is this LED stern light from Innovative lighting Inc who have been manufacturing marine lighting for over 25 years. It’s highly portable and very simple designed light that uses suction to attach to your kayak, canoe or boat.
The powerful and bright LED bulb is rated to last over 100,000 hours before needing to be replaced and it only takes 4 AA batteries to power it.
The one downside to this light is the way it attaches to your kayak. It uses a suction cup that can sometimes come loose on some surfaces. But if it does fall in, the light is fully waterproof and floats. We recommend attaching a line to it just incase it does go overboard though.
All in all, it’s a simple, highly portable (weighing only 11 ounces) and cost effective light that is worth checking out.
#9. Botepon Marine Boat Bow Red and Green Navigation Lights
- ONE YEAR WARRANTY: Buy with confidence, our product provide 1 YEAR WARRANTY from date of purchase.
- APPLICATION: Best idea for boat or kayak navigation lights, emergency lights, backup lights. These Lights can make your boat or...
- SUPER BRIGHT: With 2 Bright LED design the safety light can make an effective visibility of over 0.6 mile, which ensures your...
One type of light we haven’t looked at so far are these red and green navigation lights from Botepon. These lights are super bright LED lights that are visible up to over 0.6 miles to ensure you’re visible out on the water.
They have three modes that allow you to switch them between being on constantly, or fast and slow flashing depending on which you want. Not only are they highly versatile, they’re also very long lasting and each one will last for over 160 hours of use before needing to replace the low cost CR2032 batteries.
We love how easy they are to install and can be clipped on almost anywhere. They also come with a one year warranty, get very good reviews and are very inexpensive.
#10. UST See-Me 1.0 Emergency Kayak Light
- DIMENSIONS: 20 Lumen Steady-On - 4.95” L x 1.0” W and weighs 1.8 oz. with (2) AAA batteries (not included)
- RELIABLE: Unbreakable LED bulb provides light for up to 17 hours and never needs to be replaced
- DURABLE: Waterproof IPX7 which protects against water immersion up to 1 meter
And last, but not least we have the UST See-Me 1.0 emergency kayak light. This little handheld kayak light is less than 5″ long and weighs only 1.8 ounces. It’s designed to be attached to your life vest and used in emergencies. It’s so small you’ll barely notice you’re wearing it.
But, despite it’s compact size, it’s fitted with a 20-Lumen LED bulb powered by 2 x AAA batteries (not included) to ensure you’ll be able to attract attention if you get into trouble when out on the water. To give you an idea of its strength, on a clear night you’ll be visible up to 3.4 miles away.
The bulb does only last 17 hours, but this is the sort of light that you hopefully won’t be using very often so will last for a long time.
A good little light, that’s compact, lightweight, strong and is also water resistant up to 1 meter. A great light for any night time paddler to have in their kit.
Conclusion: Which One is Best?
So that about wraps it up for the our guide to kayak lights. We hope it’s helped ‘illuminate’ (sorry) you on what you need to look for when buying a light for your kayak.
If you’re still undecided, we’d recommend going for the YakAttack VISICarbon Pro. The high quality, bright LED light that lasts for over 10,000 hours, the strong and durable carbon fiber flag pole along with the mounting system all point to it being the best light on the market. Couple that with the hundreds of 5 star reviews and we can safely recommend it without hesitation. Check the price and read more reviews by clicking the button below.