The Best Accessories for Your Kayak

An accessory for kayaking can make your time on the water more enjoyable, whether you’re looking for a way to carry your gear or a way to keep track of your location. We’ve spent more than 100 hours researching and testing accessories, and we’ve found the best kayak accessories for carrying gear, navigating on water, tracking your location, and staying safe.

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1 POUALAON Kayak Cooler Behind Seat9.4Check Price
2 Kayak Paddle Holder8.9Check Price
3 Botepon Kayak Navigation Lights8.5Check Price
4 Waldeal Women’s Kayak Hair Don’t Care Hat8.4Check Price
5 Anti Slip Kayak Seat Cushion8.3Check Price

How We Evaluated Each Product

We had a dozen top-end models to choose from, but we opted not to test anything priced above about $300. While kayaks in the $350 range can be very capable and comfortable, it seemed reasonable to assume that most people would eventually buy a vessel in the $250–$350 range.

The best boats for flat-water kayakers should be able to track well and glide easily with a load of 250 pounds or more. We also looked at boats designed for whitewater rapids and lots of maneuverability, but these are generally trickier to paddle, so we didn’t consider them for this guide.

As noted in our How To Choose The Right Kayak For You piece, many manufacturers offer a bewildering array of models. The best bet is to head to your local shop or try out several brands and types on flat water. Additionally, specialty shops (like eastbayoutfitters.com) tend to have the widest range of options available for testing on flat water.

We spent about two weeks living out of the kayaks, taking them everywhere from rivers and lakes in Portland and Seattle to Puget Sound’s San Juan Islands (which are riddled with narrow passages through rocky cliffs).

All the boats performed well enough that there were no big surprises, but some still stood out as clearly better choices than others.

POUALAON Kayak Cooler Behind Seat

9.4

 Mounting Dream TV Wall Mount

Here’s What We Have Found

For most people, the POUALAon’s price is a good value for a kayak cooler that’s sturdy and spacious, with a padded handle and a rod holder built in. It’s also the only model we tested that’s waterproof and leakproof (thanks to a fully taped liner, a zippered lid, and a fully taped outer material).

It’s made of relatively tough materials, and it has enough extra storage space to fill the needs of most people. This model is also the only one we tested that’s designed to fit multiple seat styles, with eight sturdy bungee cords that can be easily attached to the back of various kayak seats.

Across our testing and use, we’ve found this cooler to be the simplest and most reliable way to keep drinks and snacks cold and accessible while seated in a kayak.

If you don’t have a need for a built-in rod holder or you don’t plan to use your kayak for fishing, you can save a few bucks with this model. The POUALAon is also the only cooler we tested that’s big enough to hold a frozen turkey.

Kayak Paddle Holder

8.9

 Mounting Dream TV Wall Mount

Here’s What We Have Found

The SeaSense Paddle Gear Pro Gear Paddle Holder is the most secure way to hold a paddle in a kayak. The paddle sandwiching between two soft rubber rollers with proper clamping force will not scratch your paddle shaft, making paddle shaft access convenient and fast.

This paddle holder is suitable for most standard size paddle shafts on the market. The tightest point between the two rubber rollers is 1-1/16” and is specially designed to hold paddle shaft with 1” diameter.

The T-bolt for kayak paddle holder has a 1/2” wide head, meaning it can slides into all kayak tracks with 1/2” wide anchor slot and tighten. Installation does not require any tools and can be disassembled or combined with other accessories at any time.

Equipped with rubber pad allow paddle holder to be mounted more tightly on the track, the installation angle of paddle holder can be freely adjusted as needed to make the paddle parallel or vertical to the kayak. Be careful not to overstretch during installation.

The Gear Pro is the first choice for many kayak anglers, allowing you to hold the paddle easily and quickly without making too much noise to scare the fish away. The paddle holder’s height is also below 2.25”, so it should not hinder you either.

Botepon Kayak Navigation Lights

8.5

 Mounting Dream TV Wall Mount

Here’s What We Have Found

Botepon is a leading supplier of marine safety products in the US and Europe. Their navigation lights are sturdy and brighter than other products we tested. They’re also waterproof and come with a rechargeable battery that’s easy to swap and saves you money on batteries.

Although they have a less intuitive setup than other products we tested, they have a wider viewing angle and are brighter. They also come with a variety of accessories, including a flexible silicon strap, a removable mount base, and two different size rings.

These lights are great for kayakers, canoeists, and anyone else who enjoys nighttime boating or kayaking.

Waldeal Women’s Kayak Hair Don’t Care Hat

8.4

 Mounting Dream TV Wall Mount

Here’s What We Have Found

The Waldeal Women’s Kayak Hair Don’t Care Hat is our top pick because it has the best combination of comfort, functionality, and style among the hats we tested. The hat is comfortable and breathable, with a generously sized brim that shields the face and neck from the sun.

It’s also adjustable, so it will fit a wider range of head sizes and shapes. The inside is made of a soft, moisture-wicking fabric, and the hat is machine-washable.

We also like that it’s unstructured and lightweight, so it won’t weigh you down or get in the way during outdoor activities.

The Waldeal offers the best combination of comfort and functionality for a reasonable price. It looks great, too, so you can wear it whenever you want (and look extra stylish while you’re kayaking, hiking, or doing anything else outside).

Anti Slip Kayak Seat Cushion

8.3

 Mounting Dream TV Wall Mount

Here’s What We Have Found

The NRS Low-Cut Neoprene Kayak Seat Cushion is the most comfortable seat we’ve ever sat on. It’s soft and squishy, but the neoprene material adds an extra layer of anti-slip security.

This seat is a little thicker than our other picks, but we didn’t notice the difference between it and our thinner picks in terms of stability, and the added thickness is actually helpful in the winter because it adds a little extra cushioning and warmth.

The foam core of the NRS Low-Cut Neoprene Kayak Seat Cushion is also higher quality than that of our other picks, which is likely what makes it feel softer than the other models we tested.

And if it doesn’t float your boat, the seat comes with an attachment that allows you to securely strap it to the deck of your kayak.

Don’t Buy Before Considering These Factors

For this guide, we considered a wide range of accessories that enhance the kayaking experience. Here’s what we looked for:

Storage

We looked for storage options that could hold essentials such as keys, phones, snacks, and sunscreen but would still be compact enough to fit inside your kayak. Some bins attach directly to the kayak while others require an additional mounting system.

We preferred those bins that are compatible with deck mounts and offer multiple attachment points so you can set them up in different locations on the kayak depending on your needs.

Comfort

Comfort upgrades include seat pads (either fixed or adjustable) and backrests/lumbar support pads—essential items for any long-term kayaker. We considered only models that fit in non-molded seats.

Sun Protection

We looked at several types of hats and visors because they’re easy to wear under a spray skirt. We also considered polarized sunglasses and clip-on shades.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What to put in a kayak besides a person?

In a kayak, you can put a person, a dog, a cat, a fish, a plant, a rock, or pretty much anything you want!

2. What do you put in a kayak that won’t tip?

A kayak that won’t tip has a lot of weight in the bottom. This can be done by adding a lot of gear, or by having someone else in the kayak with you.

3. What do you take kayaking besides a life jacket?

You should take a paddle, a PFD, and a whistle.

4. Can you take a dog kayaking without a crate?

Yes, you can take a dog kayaking without a crate, but it is not recommended. Some dogs may be fine without a crate, but others may become anxious or restless. If your dog is not used to being in a kayak, it is best to use a crate to ensure their safety.

5. Is it OK to leave a dog alone in a car?

Leaving a dog in a hot car can be deadly. Dogs can’t sweat, so they can overheat quickly. On an 85-degree day, the temperature inside a car can reach 102 degrees in just 10 minutes.

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