Vanhunks Guide: 12 Most Important Kayak Accessories You Need

Canoeing in Florida

No matter where you paddle your kayak, you’re going to need the right kayak accessories to make your time on the water both enjoyable and safe. Being able to personalize your kayak with the best kayak accessories will allow you to get it to perform in ways you could only dream of. You need the best kayak accessories you can get!

Always remember that when it comes to kayak accessories, you need to think about the durability of the products. The fact that you will be spending most of the time in the water is reason enough to look for products that are going to stand the test of time. Depending on where you are kayaking, you will need to take into account if there’s saltwater too. Salt can take its toll on any equipment, and if salt sits on your kayak accessories, then it can begin to eat away at them. Buying accessories made from high-quality marine-grade materials will go a long way in your accessory lasting. Also always ensure you rinse your gear off with fresh water after being in saltwater. 

Kayak accessories are for additional storage, dry storage, health and safety, and of course transporting your kayak with ease are usually high on the priority list. But which kayak accessories are essential? Here is our list of kayak accessories on the market that you should seriously consider getting.

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1. Kayak Accessory Gear Tracks

These are a really neat option for adding some accessories to your kayak. Having a track system on the rails of your kayak is an awesome way to customize your boat with whatever you want to have on board. The beauty of a track system is you don’t have to mount any of your kayak accessories permanently, so you can swap out your gear depending on what you’re doing. There are tons of possibilities with mounted track systems. For the kayaker who wants a truly customized boat for their specific needs, there’s no better option than installing track systems and going from there. Check out Vanhunks kayak selection to see which of our kayaks come with accessory tracks already installed.

2. Floating Waterproof Dry Bag

You need to keep your essentials dry and safe while kayaking, and that is why you need a floating, waterproof dry bag. These incredibly durable heavy-duty dry bags allow you to take your gear on board with you without needing to stress about it getting ruined or wet. Great for kayaks without a lot of room, a 20-liter dry bag is the perfect size dry bag to use on a kayak. Make sure the dry bag you buy is 100% waterproof, sand proof, mud proof, and snow proof. A bonus of some dry bags is that if you partially fill the bag with air, you can watch as it floats through the water, still holding its integrity. 

kayak accessories

3. Kayak Dolly/Trolley

Sometimes a little help is needed getting your boat down to the water, especially when loaded for a long expedition of fishing. If some of your favorite places to paddle require you to carry your boat more than just a few yards to launch it, a kayak trolley can be a worthy investment. With the right cart, you can turn your grueling, sweaty portage into a nice easy stroll down to the water’s edge. Look for models that have a 150-pound weight limit, so even with all your gear and accessories loaded up on your boat, the trolley can handle the weight. It should have rubber bumpers on each arm to protect the hull, so no more dragging your kayak over the ground, reducing its lifespan. The tires should be three and a half inches wide so that they will roll fine over sand and gravel. This is an essential kayak accessory for any paddler. Check out Vanhunks’ kayak trolleys. We offer two options.

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4. Padded Wall Storage Sling

Having to store your kayak can be a pain, but with a padded wall sling system, it becomes easy. This kayak accessories storage unit is excellent because it is strong enough to hold your kayak and all your accessories. A safe set up should have two heavy-duty nylon straps wrapping your kayak and lifting it off the ground for ideal storage. The system allows you to not only safely store your kayak out of harm’s way but is great for space-saving in your garage or storage shed. 

5. Weatherproof Bluetooth Speaker

Who does not like to listen to their favorite music while paddling? That is why every kayak enthusiast needs a portable, weatherproof speaker that sounds great, even though it is small. You need to look at your options and choose a speaker that has excellent BlueTooth, is rugged and waterproof, has excellent sound, and of course, decent battery life. There’s a lot available on the market today for this kayak accessories genre, so make sure you test a few before you make up your mind on which one to buy. A speaker is better than headphones because you don’t want to lose your ambient hearing while paddling. Just imagine you not hearing that ferry coming up behind you. 

kayak accessories

6. Folding Anchor System

A folding anchor is a must-have for anglers and river paddlers. Great for keeping you in one place so you can fish with ease or stay still in a current. Your anchor should hold you steady in mud, sand, gravel, and rock, giving you peace of mind no matter what weather conditions you are in. We suggest an anchor that weighs around 3,5 pounds and should have at least 25-foot of marine-grade rope. Your anchor should be compact and fold up easily for storage and transport. If you are fishing off of your kayak, this is a must-have kayak accessory.

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7. Rechargeable LED Headlamp

No one should be paddling without any light in the dark. A good flashlight is always a must-have on any kayaking outing where you expect the sun to go down while you’re out. When the sun drops, you’ll require a reliable light source paddling back to land after a day on the water. Traditional lamps and torches are not ideal for paddling, so a headlamp is the best option, as they keep your hands free. They’re particularly useful for activities that constantly have your hands engaged. A rechargeable headlamp is a much better choice than battery-operated ones, as you don’t want to have to add to your load with packing loads of batteries. You could also get your self a small solar charger unit, which would be great for your headlamp, fish finder, GPRS and other devices. A good headlamp is a sound investment, so instead get a reliable, good quality model that is weatherproof and will last a long time. 

8. Lightweight Bilge Pump

Not an item most people think of when we talk about kayak accessories. Keep it near your feet or under your seat for quick access. A lightweight bilge pump is easy to use and an essential accessory for those paddling in any surf or wild waters. Most are made using bright colors, making them hard to miss. It is a potentially life-saving device. You want a lightweight model that is easy to use, small enough for storage, and sufficient at pumping. With this onboard your kayak, you will never have to worry about rough water again. 

kayak accessories

9. Kayak Paddle

This is one of the most overlooked, yet most important of kayak accessories. You use it the most and investing in a great paddle will make your time on the kayak so much better. It might seem a little excessive to spend over $50 on one paddle, but when you consider the fact that your paddle is the motor for your kayak, it’s worth owning a nice unit. There’s a massive difference between the comfortability and response of a cheap paddle when compared to an excellent high quality, lightweight paddle. You will never want to own a cheap paddle again after feeling the power and grace behind a good quality blade. You want a two-piece paddle with at least three blade offset angle options, so you can adjust it to stroke evenly or feather the blades if you prefer that style. Aluminum and Carbon blades are more expensive, but the lightweight and flex of these paddles make them worth the spend. You also want to make sure you choose a paddle with a comfy grip, even when wet, so you don’t need gloves to paddle. We also advise that you get a paddle leash and paddle holder for your kayak so that you cannot lose it. Trust us; having the right paddle is everything!

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10. Paddle Drip Rings

One thing that has annoyed paddlers since time immemorial is water drips going down your arms as you paddle. When you lift the paddle from the water, the water runs down the handle and to your hands. There is nothing more annoying than water getting into your sleeve and running up your arm. These rings will stop that from happening. Not the most important on our kayak accessories list, but they certainly make a huge difference for such a small accessory. 

kayak accessories

11. Personal Flotation Device

Even though kayaks don’t have a motor, the Coast Guard still deems a personal flotation device (PDF) a mandatory piece of equipment. Owning a PFD specifically suited for paddling is a good idea. Comfort is everything when you’re paddling and wearing a lousy PFD can take your attention off your experience while on the water. Always have an adequate PFD on board regardless of your swimming ability, and always wear a reflective life vest if paddling near boat traffic after dark. These days you can also get PFDs that actively support your lower back and improve your posture while paddling. This is an important investment for most paddlers; in fact, it’s one you have to make, so rather get a high-quality PFD that will improve your paddling experience. Also, PFDs are mandatory for any water vessel, and Coast Guard regulations insist you have one in easy reach on board at all times.

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12. Handheld GPS and Fishfinder

If you are going to spend the money on a GPS unit for your kayak, it may as well be a combination unit with a fish finder. Even if you’re not a fisherman, being able to see the topography of the seafloor, lake bottom or river bed can be seriously impressive. If you are a fisherman, you cannot be without it. If you are paddling on vast expanses of water, you should have a GPS onboard. This will ensure you always know where you are, allows you to mark specific locations and routes you have found and shows your friends and family your daily paddle distances. Your chosen unit should have a color display and expandable memory, barometric altimeter, three-axis compass, and a geocaching bundle. It should also have at least a 2.2-inch screen and a waterproof body. Most handheld units run off of two AA batteries and should last for a minimum of 20 hours on the batteries. (Always pack spare batteries in your dry bag, or you can get a rechargeable unit, and that solar charger will come in handy again.)

Conclusion

As this is a water sport, the best kayak accessories will come waterproof and even float where design has made it possible. Weight is an important consideration, so you will find that all accessories will focus on a lightweight design. All kayaks have a weight capacity, and finding accessories that keep you under this rating is key. These accessories can allow you to bring home the day’s catch, anchor for an afternoon on the lake or attach your gear to a leash to keep it close by.

Make sure you shop around and where possible, actually go look at the products you are going to buy and test them if possible. Buying online can be cheaper, but especially when it comes to essential accessories like paddles, you need to make sure they are the right size, weight, and length that suits you best. 

We hope this list helps you get the right accessories for your kayak and that you get out there and enjoy your time on the water.