Safety Tips for Kayaking and Canoeing at Night (2022)

Safety Tips for Kayaking and Canoeing at Night (1)

Water activities like kayaking and canoeing may be a bit strenuous but they are undoubtedly fun. Although they are typically done during the daytime, it’s not uncommon to see people doing them at night.

This preference may seem odd, but kayaking or canoeing at night brings another level of thrill, which can be appealing for those who love extra challenges.

However, as exciting as it may seem, kayaking or even canoeing at night can be dangerous since the dark conditions pose several threats. Not to mention the hazards surrounding the waterbody.

That’s why it is imperative to prepare and follow the safety tips recommended for kayaking and canoeing at night. And if you don’t know what these tips are, stick around as we go through them one by one.

Is It Safe to Go Kayaking or Canoeing at Night?

It is generally considered unsafe to canoe at night.

First, the lack of natural light at night makes it hard for you and your team or friends to paddle on even the steadiest of waters.

Second, there are different sorts of dangers looming the water at night. These could range from aggressive creatures nearby or threats coming from strangers who happen to be just around the area.

Third, you can’t afford to stop paddling or have even minor damage in the canoe.

(Video) Top 5 Kayak Safety Rules for Beginners

Can You Go Kayaking in the Dark?

Yes, you can go kayaking at night when it’s dark, provided that you bring with you the necessary tools and equipment that will keep you safe.

Kayaking is already a demanding activity, and doing it at night can be risky. Nevertheless, it can still be worth it if you plan and ensure your protection against any danger.

What Are the Important Things to Remember to Be Safe in Kayaking or Canoeing at Night?

How exactly do you stay safe when kayaking or canoeing at night? To answer that question, here are some of the most important things you need to consider:

1. Be Familiar With Your Route

Going kayaking on an unfamiliar lake, sea, or river is unwise, especially at night. You have a higher chance of getting lost in the water.

Depending on the size of the water, you may have to spend hours stranded without immediate rescue. Therefore, if you must go canoeing or kayaking at night, choose a place you already know by heart.

That way, you save yourself from any emergency that won’t just spoil your fun but importantly put you in a difficult or life-threatening situation.

2. Check the Weather and Tides Ahead

It’s possible that your plans to go kayaking or canoeing at night can be hindered by the weather and tide level.

If a storm is brewing, just cancel your plans. That’s an obvious no. Nothing good comes out from defying the signs of nature. Likewise, if the tide is high, it may cause additional problems to your kayak or canoe.

On the other hand, if the weather and tides favor your plans, make sure that you are physically fit and have prepared the necessary materials you should have in your kayak or canoe.

(Video) Night Time Kayak Fishing Safety and Rigging Tips

3. Bring a Good Light Source

Having an excellent flashlight or artificial light source when kayaking or canoeing at night is probably the most important thing you need to secure.

Doing these activities in the dark has always been the issue rather than the time itself. Hence, using a reliable portable light maximizes your safety by at least two-fold.

But which light source should you have?

While traditional flashlights, helpful as they are, don’t really fit the bill when it comes to these types of activities. Nonetheless, you can consider the following portable flashlights instead.

FLEXIT Pocket Light

Need a bright and powerful light that can clip onto just about anything or can be magnetically attached to metal objects? Then the FLEXIT Pocket Light is just the right little guy for the job.

STKR Concepts’Pocket Light is great for outdoor adventures with its double hingle clip design you can clip it onto backpack straps, shirt pockets, you name it. In addition, with the option of 400 or 650 truelumens andand two differentlight arrays, you are sure to experience enhanced visibility on the waters.

Furthermore, theFLEXIT Pocket Lightcan be positioned in different ways as the name implies, it has a flexible light head so you can twist and bend it to shine the light in just the right spot.

(Video) Canoe or kayak - Top tips from Coastguards on staying safe

FLEXIT Headlamp Series

Another great option for lighting is a headlamp. Wearing the light source on your head will allow your hands to focus on paddling entirely.

However, some kayaking and canoeing enthusiasts are concerned that headlamps only provide unidirectional visibility.

But here’s the good news. The FLEXIT headlamp series designed a solution for this very problem. Instead of simply generating light for tunnel vision, FLEXIT headlamps have halo lighting that widens the floodlight angle. Hence, you can see from your peripheral vision.

4. Wear a Helmet or Hat

Considering it’s far more dangerous to go kayaking or canoeing at night, it only makes sense that you choose the proper attire and gear to protect you from potential injuries. With that, wearing a helmet or at least a hat can provide the necessary coverage for your head.

Quite a few bodies of water feature underwater rocks and the last thing you want is to smash your head into anything at night out on the water.

5. Wear Appropriate Footwear

Kayaking and canoeing require the proper footwear, especially when they are done at night. Going barefoot is a big no-no, and wearing an open-toe shoe can simply make you feel colder.

Go for water booties or water shoes. Not only will they keep your feet warm, but they also protect you from unseen objects on the shores or the underwater bed.

Water sandals may be good during the day, but they won’t suffice when you kayak or canoe at night. Always go for closed shoes with maximum coverage.

6. Make Sure You Have a Whistle with You

A whistle is a lifesaver in many types of scenarios. For example, suppose you went kayaking or canoeing at night, and unfortunately, you got stranded in the middle of the lake.

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A flashlight may not be enough to catch the attention of nearby rescuers. Hence, bring an emergency whistle to produce the warning sound that will secure your salvation.

Unlike an ordinary whistle, one of the perks of an emergency whistle is that you don’t need to blow on it with full force to generate a loud sound. Instead, you can do it with little effort and still produce loud and clear sounds.

7. Keep Your Personal Floatation Device Worn Securely

Floatation devices such as a life jacket are neglected from time to time.It can be easy to think: well, I’ll just throw it on if something bad happens...or I’ll zip it all the way on if I really need to. But, if something does go wrong you may not be able to.

So, when kayaking or canoeing is concerned, your life jacket should be properly worn, especially if the activities are done at night. By doing so, you can easily survive in the waters if your kayak or canoe gets damaged or flipped over.

8. Always Secure Your Dry Bag

Your dry bag contains items intended for emergencies, such as if you get stuck or lost in the area. Make sure you have the following dry bag content when kayaking or canoeing at night.

1. First aid kit

2. Food and Water

3. Multipurpose Tool

4. 2-way radio

5. Dry shirt and towel

6. ID card

7. Map

In a Nutshell

Sure, kayaking and canoeing at night add another layer of thrill, especially if you’re into water sports. However, it seems clear that doing these activities at night can be risky when it is dark and cold.

Hence, it is crucial to think about it and consider how your decision to kayak or go canoeing at night can affect your health and overall safety.

If you’re not physically fit to do so, consider an earlier time in the day where natural light is abundant.

But, if you are determined to do them at night, always make sure that you wear the right gear, prepare ahead of time, and keep with you the necessary items in case things go south.

(Video) Sea Kayak Safety - A general lesson on how to stay safe out on the sea

A portable light is an essential tool for kayaking and canoeing at night. It serves you best to bring waterproof light sources you can bring or wear with ease. Check out theportable light tools designed bySTKR Concepts for these activities.


Safety Tips for Kayaking and Canoeing at Night? ›

10 safety tips for night kayaking
  1. Buoyancy Aid. Always wear a buoyancy aid or life jacket. ...
  2. Be well practiced. One of the most important safety tips for night kayaking is to be well practiced. ...
  3. Expect anything. Expect the unexpected! ...
  4. Dress appropriately. ...
  5. Lights. ...
  6. Leave a plan. ...
  7. Go where you know. ...
  8. Check weather and tides.
Feb 26, 2020

When should you paddle a canoe at night? ›

To protect your own night vision as well as that of others vessel operators, especially if you are paddling in dark areas, we recommend a 360° "all-around" light unobstructed by any physical component of your kayak or canoe (i.e. taller than your seat back, crate, mounts, etc.)

What are the important things to remember to be safe in kayaking or canoeing? ›

How can you be safe in a kayak? ›

Canoe and Kayak Safety Tips and Warnings
  1. Get paddlesport instruction from a licensed or certified instructor.
  2. Obtain certified first aid and rescue training and carry first aid and rescue equipment.
  3. Always wear a nationally-approved personal flotation device.
  4. Always wear a helmet where appropriate.
Jan 8, 2017

Is it safe to kayak in the dark? ›

Kayaking is dangerous at night. Place a green light on your right side and red on your left (to indicate which direction you're moving). That will allow you to be seen by anyone who might be around—and keep you from getting run over.

What should a kayaker display at night to prevent collision? ›

Rowboats (kayakers and canoers) at night

When underway, the operator shall, from sunset to sunrise, display, if practical, sidelights and a sternlight, but if the operator cannot, he/she must have at hand, a flashlight or lighted lantern emitting a white light which must be lit in enough time to prevent a collision.

What are the safety rules for canoeing? ›

Load the canoe only when it is floating.
  1. Put on your life jacket before climbing into a canoe. ...
  2. Passenger loading order: Front first when getting in, rear first when getting out. ...
  3. When getting into a canoe or kayak right into the center and reach for the gunnels just in front of you.

How do you ride a kayak and canoe safely? ›

Always use common sense and follow all safety rules at all times.
  1. Be aware of weather conditions and water temperature. ...
  2. Invest in appropriate clothing for your climate. ...
  3. Beware of off-shore winds that make it difficult to return to shore.
  4. Always follow the boating rules of the area you're in.
Jul 12, 2016

What do you do if your kayak flips over? ›

How To Do a Wet Exit from a Kayak - YouTube

Can you get stuck in a kayak if it flips over? ›

When a kayak tips over upside down, you can get stuck. It can lead to your body becoming stressed, which can lead to panic, making it more difficult for you to get out of the situation. Check out these steps on how to flip a kayak over to prevent this from happening.

Is a canoe safer than a kayak? ›

So, Is A Kayak or Canoe Safer? A canoe is less likely to capsize than a kayak, so it may be safer to use if you're alone. Canoes are also safer for lake-based camping trips in the north as they can hold more gear to keep you warm in early spring or late fall.

Can kayaks be in the water at night? ›

The short answer is yes, it is legal to kayak at night.

Interestingly, the US Coast Guard doesn't have a dedicated section of its navigation rules that discusses nighttime boating. That's because anyone on the water should be prepared for any eventuality, regardless of the time of day.

Can you canoe in the dark? ›

This time we are discussing paddling at night – yes in the dark! As long as you follow some simple safety advice and use the right kit, you should never get into bother. The best thing is you'll pretty much have the water to yourself! Plus of course you get to experience something different out on the water.

Which of the following must you do when anchoring at night? ›

How to Anchor at Night
  1. Take full stock. Keep track of the tide, wind, traffic, and changing conditions. ...
  2. Post someone on watch. Supervision is necessary because, even with an anchor, the conditions can and will change.
  3. Check in regularly. ...
  4. Keep your lights on. ...
  5. Know the rules.

Where do you put lights on a kayak? ›

Installing White Lights on a kayak Part 2 - YouTube

What do two short blasts of a horn mean? ›

One short blast tells other boaters, “I intend to pass you on my port (left side).” Two short blasts tell other boaters, “I intend to pass you on my starboard (right) side.”

What is the golden rule of canoeing? ›

Golden Rules of Canoeing | How to Stay Safe on the Water - YouTube

What are the important points when canoeing? ›

Always wear your personal floatation device and helmet. Make sure you know about potential hazards in the proposed waterway. Seek local knowledge if paddling in a location for the first time, consider air and water temperature, currents, tides and wave action. Check weather conditions before you paddle.

What do I need to know before canoeing? ›

10 Essential Canoeing Tips
  • Paddle on opposite sides of the boat. ...
  • Paddle in synch with your partner. ...
  • Keep your paddle shaft vertical. ...
  • Wear your darn PFD. ...
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. ...
  • Know your limits. ...
  • Sunscreen in all the right places. ...
  • Practice getting back in your boat.
Aug 18, 2016

Do kayaks flip easily? ›

The short answer is no. Most kayaks—especially those built for new kayakers—are designed with stability in mind, so they're not likely to capsize for no reason. That said, kayaks can flip over if you lose your balance or paddle in very windy conditions.

What shoes do you wear kayaking? ›

A water bootie or water shoe is the ideal choice for kayaking. They will stay on your feet, keep out the rocks, and your feet will stay warm while kayaking. Water sandals with proper straps are also a good option, though you might have chilly feet if the weather is cool.

What are the dangers of kayaking? ›

What Are The Risks Of Kayaking – And How To Avoid Them
  • Drowning. ...
  • Hypothermia & Cold Water Shock. ...
  • Getting Lost (Especially At Sea) ...
  • Weirs & Low-Head Dams. ...
  • Drinking & Paddling. ...
  • Inexperience: Overstepping Your Ability. ...
  • Adverse Weather Conditions & Sun Exposure. ...
  • Capsizing.
May 25, 2022

How do you pee in a kayak? ›

How to Pee in Kayak info for Women - YouTube

Which is better sit in or sit-on kayak? ›

A sit-in kayak is better for cold or rough water and when you don't want to get wet. A sit-on-top kayak is better for beginners, summer and having fun. A sit-in kayak is optimal for touring, surf, and paddling long distance. While a sit-on kayak is better for learning, cooling off and getting in and out of your kayak.

Will a kayak sink if filled with water? ›

A kayak can sink when filled with water, particularly if the weight limit is exceeded. If a kayak accumulates more water inside, it gains more weight causing more of the vessel to submerge in the water.

How do you get out of a wet kayak? ›

Kayaking | How to Wet Exit || REI - YouTube

How do I keep my kayak from tipping? ›

How to Stop your Kayak from Flipping - Braces - YouTube

Can you get trapped under a kayak? ›

No,you will not get trapped in the Kayak.

A person sitting in a Kayak appears as though they would easily get stuck in it when it capsizes.

Do canoes flip easily? ›

Fun and easy to paddle, recreational canoes are perfect for flatwater paddling. Stable, easy to control and tough to flip over, they're ideal for birding, photography, fishing and general paddling.

Where should the heavier person sit in a canoe? ›

Sitting in the Stern (Back) of the Canoe

The back of the canoe is where the steering takes place. For this reason, the more experienced paddler, or more coordinated person, should be in the stern of the canoe. When there are only two canoeists, it is also better to have the heavier person in the back of the canoe.

Can you canoe in the dark? ›

This time we are discussing paddling at night – yes in the dark! As long as you follow some simple safety advice and use the right kit, you should never get into bother. The best thing is you'll pretty much have the water to yourself! Plus of course you get to experience something different out on the water.

Can you kayak at night in Ohio? ›

However, if taking a moonlight paddle on Lake Eerie, the Ohio DNR requires that a U.S. Coast Guard–approved distress signal for night use be carried onboard. The requirement can be fulfilled by carrying flares or an electric signalling device as simple as a blinking flashlight.

Can you kayak at night in New York? ›

Night Signals

Kayaks and canoes do not require VSD signals onboard, although it is strongly recommended by New York.

Can you kayak at night in Ontario? ›

Night Time Navigation Lights – Mandatory on all canoes/kayaks between sunset and sunrise. Acceptable options are a bright lantern with a white light or a waterproof bright flashlight.

Where do you put lights on a kayak? ›

Installing White Lights on a kayak Part 2 - YouTube

How do you put lights on a kayak? ›

Installing green lights on a Kayak - YouTube

How do you light a kayak? ›

Kayak Lights For Night Fishing - Rules and DIY Kayak Light Pole / Sidelights

Can kayaks be in the water at night? ›

The short answer is yes, it is legal to kayak at night.

Interestingly, the US Coast Guard doesn't have a dedicated section of its navigation rules that discusses nighttime boating. That's because anyone on the water should be prepared for any eventuality, regardless of the time of day.

Can you drink while kayaking in Ohio? ›

There are no special rules regarding alcohol use on Ohio lakes or rivers. The same laws apply on land and in the water.

Do I have to wear a life jacket in a kayak in Ohio? ›

All boats under 16 feet in length that are operating on Ohio's waters (including kayaks and canoes of any length) are required to carry one, Coast Guard approved, wearable life jacket or PFD for each passenger on board boat.


1. Must Have Paddling Safety Gear | How to Kayak or Canoe
2. Night Kayak Fishing Safety, Kayak Flairhawk Jigging Techniques and Tips
(JakeW KayakFishing)
3. Top 10 Tips for Canoeing & Kayaking Safely
(ACA | Canoe - Kayak - Raft - SUP - Rescue)
4. How to take your toddlers paddling
(Wisconsin Canoe Company)
5. Kayaking Safety Tips
6. 3-Night Remote Wilderness Canoe Trip in Argentina
(Eze Adventurer)

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