Best Kayak Lights for Night Paddling – See & Be Seen With These Top 8 Kayak Lights

Making your way through the dim moonlight with nothing but the sound of paddles breaking the water’s surface to disturb the silence can be an otherworldly experience. There’s inherent tranquility to kayaking at night that will make you love paddling even more than you do now. 

However, it also carries a certain amount of risk. 

How will you let other boaters know you’re out there? How will you make yourself visible and avoid any unwanted – and often dangerous – encounters? 

Choosing the best kayak lights, that’s how. 

And luckily for you, I’ve done the legwork already! 

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In A Rush? The Winner After 39 Hours Of Research:

Kayalu Kayalite LED Kayak Light

Kayalu Kayalite LED Kayak Light

  • Our Rating: ★★★★★

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Why is it better?

  • High-visibility LED 360-degree navigation light with diffusion lens for paddling in low-light conditions 
  • Meets US Coast Guard’s requirements for all-around white lights 
  • Has an IPX8 waterproof rating and can handle deep-water submersion at up to 1000 feet 
  • Floats when it’s dropped overboard 
  • Tension cable mounting system ensures mounting versatility and minimizes chances of accidental detaching 
  • Soft EVA foam light base protects the kayak’s surface from scratches 
  • High-strength ABS construction with marine-grade components 
  • 3 AA batteries power the light for up to 100 hours 

Paddling In Low Light Conditions: Do You Need Lights On A Kayak At Night? 

Man in kayaking at night

Yes, you do need lights on a kayak at night – and there’s more than one reason why. 

Staying Safe Despite Reduced Visibility 

On-the-water sports aren’t without risk – even without the reduced visibility. 

Your eyes will have a hard time determining the size, position, and distance of objects on the water in low-light conditions. And your kayak won’t be that visible to others, either. 

That’s why the first – and arguably the most critical – reason to get kayak lights for night paddling is personal safety

Equipping your kayak with lights means you’ll: 

  • Be more aware of your surroundings
  • Remain visible to other boaters 
  • Avoid “close calls” and potential boating accidents 
  • Navigate the waters better
  • Be easier to find in case of an emergency 

Laws & Regulations Regarding Night Paddling 

Regulations may vary across the states, but in terms of federal boating laws, the US Coast Guard certainly has something to say on the matter: 

A vessel under oars may exhibit the lights prescribed in this Rule for sailing vessels, but if she does not, she shall exhibit an all-around white light or have ready at hand an electric torch or lighted lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision.” 

That would be the Rule 25 – Sailing Vessels Underway and Vessels Under Oars, as noted by the USCG regulations. And yes, it applies to all non-motorized “vessels under oars” less than 23 feet long, kayaks and canoes included. 

Convenience & Additional Uses

Another reason to use kayak lights – besides safety and law requirements, that is – is convenience

Your gear and supplies won’t be of much use if you struggle to find any of it in the dark. Kayak lights to the rescue! And if it’s a portable one, you could use it in other places – such as campsites – and shed a pound or two off your gear. 

Also, it could be useful if you’re going kayak fishing at night. Fish are attracted to light; you’d be silly not to use this to your advantage

How To Choose The Best Kayak Lights For Night Paddling 

kayak in front of a sunset, kayaks with the skyline of Helsinki in the background, sunset behind Espoo laguuni, golden hour sunset,

Now, let me share some tips that could smooth out the process of choosing the right kayak lights for your next paddling adventure. 

Types Of Kayak Lights: Would You Prefer Handheld Or Deck-Mounted? 

Handheld Kayak Lights 

Handheld lights – which, despite their name, often attach to your PFD or come in the form of headlamps – are noticeably smaller than their deck-mounting counterparts. 

Compact design that won’t get in the way as you paddle is the primary reason to opt for a handheld kayak light. 

They can’t compete with deck-mounted lights in terms of all-around visibility, but many newer models do come with built-in strobe functions for emergencies. 

Deck-Mounted Kayak Lights 

Stern-mounted steady-on LED white lights are strictly used for making your kayak more visible on the water. Ensuring 360-degree visibility is a top priority. Make sure it’s visible from any direction and not blocked by your body in any way. 

Be careful about using red-and-green navigation lights for kayaks that mount to the bow, as their use is governed by law

Other boats will maneuver based on the positioning of navigation lights; be sure you understand the rules. 

Mounting Options: Suction, Clamp-On, Screws & More 

Kayaking at night can get rough at times – which is why you want to go with a mounting solution that’s every bit as secure as it is easy to use

  • Suction Cups – These are the quickest and simplest mounting solution. You can place the lights anywhere on the kayak and adjust – or remove – them on the go. That said, suction-mounted kayak lights aren’t known for being secure or long-lasting. They’re easy to knock out of place and may lose their suction with time. 
  • Clamp-On Mounts – Clamp-on kayak lights “bite down” on the side of the hull, ensuring a reliable grip and secure mounting regardless of how rough the conditions get. The heavy-duty design comes with a trade-off, though. They’re less versatile and tend to be bulky, which could be an issue for long-distance paddling. 
  • Gear Track Mounts – Gear tracks are a secure and highly versatile way to customize your kayak’s outfitting, giving you the freedom to set up your accessories however you want. They do require drilling, but if you already have them installed, be sure to consider kayak lights for night fishing with track-based mounting hardware. 
  • Permanent Screw-Down Mounts – Screw-down mounting plates will be the most secure installation method. However, not everyone feels comfortable drilling holes in the kayak – and adjusting the light’s position won’t be an option. If you’re fine with a little DIY and permanent mounting, though, give it a go. 

Are Kayak Lights Waterproof? 

There’s no definitive answer to that question; quality and waterproofing seem to vary from one product to another. Then again, I’ve never seen – or used – kayak lighting systems that couldn’t survive a little bit of water from rain, waves, and full-blown capsizing. 

They’re designed to be used on the water, so it makes sense that they have a waterproof rating that allows for total submersion up to a certain depth. 

Most kayak lights meet these requirements and will remain functional after you fish them out of the water. Some, however, are merely water-resistant.

And even the waterproof ones are less likely to survive deep-water submersion. But unless you plan on following in Aleksander Doba’s footsteps and cross the Atlantic in your ‘yak, you’re probably covered. 

Additional Factors To Consider When Choosing Kayak Lights 

Here are a few more things worth noting: 

  • Compact and Lightweight Design – No matter how organized you are, onboard space will be an issue. Look for compact and lightweight lights that can be stored away when not in use. But try to make sure they are a US Coast Guard approved Nav light.
  • Marine-Grade Durability – Besides the waterproof rating, you should also check the actual construction and look for things like corrosion-resistant materials and a shatter-proof lens. 
  • Power Source and Battery Life – Most lighting available for kayaks will be battery-powered. Check whether the batteries are included, if they’re rechargeable, and how long they can keep the lights running. 

Best Kayak Lighting 2020 – Top 8 Kayak Light Kits Reviewed & Rated 

1. Railblaza Illuminate i360 LED Kayak Navigation Light

Railblaza Illuminate i360 LED Kayak Navigation Light

  • Best Gear Track Mount Kayak Light
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★

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Despite the super-light, 2.8-ounce design, the USCG-approved Railblaza Illuminate i360 all-around white LED light packs a serious punch. It has three settings – high and low-brightness and a flashing emergency mode – and ensures 360-degree of visibility at up to two nautical miles. 

Moreover, it has an IP67 waterproof rating, and, in case you drop in the water, it floats lens-up, too. 

You’re only getting the kayak light, which you could technically mount anywhere you want – if you have Railblaza’s mounting ports installed, that is. 

It fits the StarPort, SidePort, RailMount, and RIBPort, but other than that, compatibility is fairly limited. 

Technical Specs 

  • 360-degree white light 
  • Gear track mounting
  • IP67 waterproof rating 
  • Battery-powered 
  • 2.8 ounces 

Pros

  • USCG-approved all-around white light 
  • Three modes of operation 
  • Waterproof and floats lens side up 
  • Fits any Railblaza accessory mounts 
  • Super-lightweight design 
  • Provides excellent visibility 

Cons

  • You have to purchase the mounts and batteries separately
  • Limited compatibility makes installation more complicated 
  • A pricey option that only includes the light 

If your kayak’s already rigged with Railblaza’s accessory mounts, don’t hesitate to complete the outfitting with the matching Railblaza Illuminate i360 all-around white kayak light! 

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2. Kayalu Kayalite LED Kayak Light

Kayalu Kayalite LED Kayak Light

  • Overall Best Kayak Lights For Night Paddling
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★

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With this high-performance LED light, Kayalu raised the bar – and set new standards – for what night lights for kayaks should be. It outshines – pun intended – the competition in every way imaginable, starting with construction: 

Besides using marine-grade components – and keeping things light at 11 ounces – Kayalu Kayalite Kayak Light has an impressive IPX8 waterproof rating. It can survive deep-water submersion at 1000 feet, and yet if it happens to go overboard, it floats! 

Kayalu’s Kayalite also gets bonus points for the ingenious mounting system that utilizes an internal tension cable. It clips to existing D-rings, pad eyes, and other attachment points, overcoming “safety issues” seen in other deck light-mounting methods. 

Technical Specs 

  • 360-degree white light with diffusion lens
  • Tension cable mounting
  • IPX8 waterproof rating 
  • Battery-powered 
  • 11.04 ounces 

Pros

  • USCG-approved all-around white light
  • LED bulb rated for 10,000 hours 
  • Waterproof, deep-water submersible, and buoyant 
  • Internal tension cable and steel clip mounting system
  • EVA foam base protects the hull
  • Excellent battery life, with around 100 hours of use from the 3 AA batteries 

Cons

  • The light’s height is fixed and non-adjustable 
  • Additional hardware required if the kayak doesn’t feature eyelets 
  • Some might find it a bit pricey 

If I could recommend one unit for your ‘yak, it would be Kayalu Kayalite Kayak Light. It’s waterproof, loss-proof – and outperforms the competition in every other way imaginable! 

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3. GOODSMANN LED Marine Signal Stern Kayak Light

GOODSMANN LED Marine Signal Stern Kayak Light

  • Best Budget-Friendly Kayak Light 
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★

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For hard-to-beat versatility, go with the Goodsmann kayak light. It offers five different light settings suitable for any – and all – scenarios. 

You can switch between 3 LED light, 3 LED strobe, 360-degree steady-on, emergency strobe, and programmed SOS signal using the power button. Plus, the red and green filters transform it into kayak navigation light. 

Unfortunately, the steady-on light seems dim for a primary light source. 

Easy to install as it mounts to your ‘yak using a suction cup base, but since it’s not buoyant – or waterproof – I wouldn’t trust the suction mounts alone. Adding a lanyard would be a smart move. 

Technical Specs 

  • Five-mode kayak lights 
  • Suction cup mount 
  • Water-resistant 
  • Battery-powered
  • 7.04 ounces 

Pros

  • Versatile kayak light with five different LED light settings 
  • Suction cup ensures easy installation and adjustability
  • Features red light and green light filters 
  • Water-resistant construction

Cons

  • The suction cups could be better
  • The steady-on mode seems a bit dim 
  • Not waterproof and won’t float on the water
  • Doesn’t include batteries

Goodsmann kayak light’s five different settings give the competition a run for their money. It packs all the important lighting functions in one handy package!  Although its poor water resistance rating may have you looking for a more durable option. 

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4. Attwood 14192-7 Deck-Mount LED Light Kit

Attwood 14192-7 Deck-Mount LED Light Kit

  • Best Kayak Light Kit 
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★

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Attwood’s two-for-one complete kayak lighting kit includes one white LED light for the stern and one green-and-red LED bow light for navigation. 

Both lights feature shock-proof housing and shatter-proof polycarbonate lenses, with the rear light sitting on a height-adjustable pole. Fully extended, it measures 24 inches, which should keep far enough away not to affect your night vision. The electronics are sealed inside for water-resistance, but Attwood 14192-7 isn’t waterproof. 

Also, at 6.4 ounces for the entire lighting system, it’s lightweight, as well. 

Installation-wise, you have two options – using the provided adhesive pads or, for even more permanent mounting, screws. The latter means you’d have to drill holes in your kayak’s hull, though. 

Technical Specs 

  • White stern light and green-and-red bow light 
  • Adhesive and screw-down mounting
  • Water-resistant 
  • Battery-powered 
  • 6.4 ounces 

Pros

  • Full running lights – Includes stern and bow kayak lights 
  • A 24-inch height-adjustable pole 
  • Two permanent mounting options 
  • Shock-proof, water-resistant housing and shatter-proof lenses 
  • Excellent battery life 

Cons

  • Not completely waterproof, merely water-resistant 
  • Doesn’t float if dropped in the water 
  • Batteries are sold separately  LED
  • Installation might require drilling holes in the hull

Attwood 14192-7 is a permanent deck-mount lighting kit that allows you to fit your ‘yak with both bow and stern lights in one go. 

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5. YakAttack VISICarbon Pro Kayak Fishing Visibility Flag

5. YakAttack VISICarbon Pro Kayak Fishing Visibility Flag

  • Best High-Visibility Combo
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★

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YakAttack’s VISICarbon Pro is the most high-end kayak lighting on my list. Then again, it is a combination of a 360-degree white light and a high-visibility orange flag. 

Better yet, VISICarbon Pro is designed with carbon fiber tubing rather than plastic. It’s waterproof and features SilentSlip base foam that keeps it buoyant, too.

The 48-inch pole is durable yet super-thin and relatively lightweight. It collapses down to 14 inches and fits inside the flag, which also serves as a storage bag. 

Moreover, it’s compatible with YakAttack’s MightyMount, and most other gear track systems – and fits both tubular and flush-mount rod holders. 

Technical Specs 

  • 360-degree white light and visibility flag
  • Multiple deck-mounting options 
  • Waterproof 
  • Battery-powered by three AA batteries
  • 1.1 pounds 

Pros

  • Collapsible carbon fiber pole
  • Long LED bulb life – 10,000 hours plus 
  • The flag also serves as a storage bag  
  • Waterproof and buoyant 
  • Easy gear-track mounting 
  • Mighty Mount, hardware, and batteries included 

Cons

  • The most expensive option on my list
  • Prone to breaking at the base in high winds 
  • Might not be bright enough for foggy conditions 

High-quality collapsible design, 360-degree white light and bright-orange flag combo; if the YakAttack VISICarbon Pro doesn’t make your ‘yak visible, I don’t know what will!

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6. Botepon Marine Kayak Bow Lights

6. Botepon Marine Kayak Bow Lights

  • Best Kayak Navigation Lights
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★

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Next up is the Botepon light kit that includes two LED lights – green and red light – that can be used as your kayak’s navigation lights. 

The compact 1.6-ounce lights offer impressive features, starting with the flexible silicone body with double hooks for super-easy and highly versatile mounting options. 

Moreover, the one-touch switch design allows you to alternate between the three distinct modes – steady-on, flashing, and slow flashing lights. As for visibility, it’s not quite on par with other options but should remain visible at around 0.6 miles. 

Unfortunately, Botepon LED lights aren’t waterproof – or water-resistant, for that matter. 

Technical Specs 

  • Three-mode lights 
  • On-deck mounting 
  • Not waterproof 
  • Battery-powered
  • 1.6 ounces

Pros

  • Three different LED light modes with a one-touch switch 
  • Flexible silicone case 
  • Double hooks for easy installation 
  • Lightweight and portable 
  • Long battery life and included batteries

Cons

  • The lights aren’t waterproof or even water-resistant 
  • Relatively limited visibility compared to other options
  • Not to be used as a primary light source 

If you want easy-to-install and highly versatile kayak navigation lights, Botepon’s red and green three-mode LEDs could be a good – although not water-proof – choice. 

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7. Attwood 14191-7 Clamp-On Kayak Light

7. Attwood 14191-7 Clamp-On Kayak Light

  • Best Night Fishing Kayak Light
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★

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Does this look familiar? That’s because it boasts similar construction as the Attwood kayak light you saw earlier: 

Shock-proof composite housing, shatter-proof polycarbonate lens, and electronics sealed in for water resistance; it’s all there. Like the other Attwood kit, it’s a kit that includes a height-adjustable white LED stern light and red-and-green LED navigation lights for the bow.

The key difference between the two is mounting. This Attwood model features C-clamps, making installation easy. However, the clamps aren’t as sturdy and secure as expected. 

The camouflage design is a plus; it makes these suitable for fishing and duck-hunting kayaks. 

Technical Specs 

  • White stern light and red-and-green bow light 
  • Clamp mounts
  • Water-resistant 
  • Battery-powered 
  • 1.2 pounds 

Pros

  • Height-adjustable white stern light and a red-and-green bow light 
  • Shock-proof housing with sealed in electronics 
  • Shatter-proof polycarbonate lens 
  • C-clamp mounts for easy installation 

Cons

  • The three AAA batteries are sold separately 
  • It’s not a waterproof kayak light 
  • The clamp mounts don’t feel as rigid or secure as I expected

The camouflage design and secure clamp-on mounting make the Attwood 14191-7 one of the top night kayaking lights for fishing to add to your ‘yak. 

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8. UST See-Me 1.0 Waterproof LED Light for Emergency

8. UST See-Me 1.0 Waterproof LED Light for Emergency]

  • Best SOS Emergency Light 
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★

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The US Coast Guard requires emergency lights to deliver 360-degree visibility at distances of one nautical mile. UST See-Me 1.0 checks all the boxes – and then some: 

The tiny handheld emergency kayak light that, at 1.8 ounces, weighs next to nothing packs a 20-lumen LED, delivering 360-degree light visible for up to 3.4 miles. Plus, it has an IPX7 waterproof rating and handles submersion at one-meter depths. 

Strap it to your PFD and forget it’s there; you can turn it on by twisting the cap when needed. 

It runs on two AAA batteries – which are not included – but has no low-battery indicator. 

Technical Specs 

  • Steady-on 360-degree light 
  • Handheld 
  • IPX7 waterproof rating 
  • Battery-powered 
  • 1.8 ounces 

Pros

  • 360-degree visibility at up to 3.4 miles 
  • Waterproof IPX7 rating 
  • Twist On/Off controls 
  • Ultra-compact and feather-light design 
  • Hook-and-loop strap and a lanyard cord

Cons

  • AAA batteries not included
  • Can’t be used as a primary light source
  • No low-battery indicator 
  • Twisting the cap the wrong way ejects the batteries

The UST See-Me 1.0 straps to your PFD and does everything you need an SOS light to do while weighing next to nothing. And it’s US Coast Guard – approved!

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Best Kayak Lights for Night Paddling: Final Verdict 

women in canoe kayking at night with light

Stay aware of your surroundings, take extra precautions, do what you can to see and be seen, and remember that all-around white lights are required by law. 

These are the rules of night-time paddling. 

I know first-hand that picking the best kayak lights isn’t an easy task. 

But for my money, Kayalu Kayalite LED Kayak Light is as good as it gets. If you often find yourself paddling in low-light conditions, this 360-degree white light will be an invaluable addition to your kayak. 

It’s easy to use, impossible to lose, ensures exceptional on-the-water visibility, and handles deep-water submersion and knocks from the paddle like a champ. 

Ultimately, though, the best navigation light for  is the one that gets the job done and works for you!