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Safety Tips for Kayaking and Canoeing at Night

July 22, 2022

two people canoeing at night on a lake. Dark scene just lit by the moon.

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.

 

kayak pulled up on shore with a STKR headlamp sitting on it

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. 

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.

 

Fishing kayak pulled up on the shore with a STKR BAMFF Tactical flashlight posing on it

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.

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.

 

white studio image of the FLEXIT Pocket Light in two different poses

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 true lumens and and two different light arrays, you are sure to experience enhanced visibility on the waters. 

Furthermore, the FLEXIT Pocket Light can 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.

 

white studio shot of a FLEXIT Headlamp 6.5 Pro from STKR Concepts

 

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.

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

 

male arms paddling with a kayak paddle. lake scene in background.

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.

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 the portable light tools designed by STKR Concepts for these activities. 


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