Kayakers, especially those new to paddling, concern themselves heavily with capsizing but not nearly as much with protecting themselves from a collision.

There are state-specific regulations when it comes to paddling at night; here in Texas, it’s required to exhibit at least one light visible from 360 degrees from sunset to sunrise. 

It’s obvious that when it’s dark, you need light. But what about ensuring daytime visibility? There are no requirements for day paddling… but laws aside, taking the necessary precautions to avoid getting hit by vessels bigger and faster than yours is just the smart thing to do.

Here are unique steps you can take that shouldn’t be overlooked to make your presence known on the water during the day:

Buy a flag!

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YakAttack flags come in a variety of themes (the Jolly Roger pirate is my personal favorite, but the least practical in terms of visibility). They’re an affordable option, easy to spot and made out of long-lasting material.

We also carry the Railblaza flag, which is smaller in size and only comes in one design (orange) but the advantage to this option is that the pole is included in the package. 


Be intentional with colors – your PFD, paddle and even apparel!

Since your kayak is very low to the water and thus not as visible to boaters, stressing over the color of it isn’t nearly as important as taking the time to think about the colors of your PFD and the paddle you choose. It’s these accessories that are much more likely to be noticed at water level! Generally speaking, brighter colors like orange and red increase visibility the most on calm water during the daylight.

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Your PFD is the most striking thing on you (and hopefully it IS on you at all times). The Harmony Kickback II is just one of many options, but it’s a great choice because it also has reflective trim for night visibility; you can browse our comprehensive selection of life jackets here.

When it comes to apparel, you don’t necessarily need to be decked out in orange if you already have an orange PFD and paddle. The key thing to remember when it comes to getting dressed with your safety in mind is that it all depends on where you’re going, so take the time to consider your surroundings and contrast to your environment!  If you’re paddling through a forested area, ditch the camo. But if you’re paddling in an area with lots of limestone around, sporting darker apparel would be just fine.


Bring a whistle to use in emergency situations!

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What constitutes an emergency situation? Well, I’d hope you never experience this panic-inducing state. But if you see a boat heading straight-on at you at too close of a distance for you to move out of the way, blow the whistle and wave your paddle. Remember to tether the whistle to your PFD for easy access so you’re not scrambling to find it if need be.

We strongly recommend following these tips whether you’re out on the ocean or on a lake, wherever boats roam among you. Safe paddling!

– Larisa


  1. Nice topic, it’s always good to see safety articles on kayak blogs. However, I would draw your attention to the latest studies regarding on-water visibility which have found that lime green, robins-egg blue, and bright yellow are the most visible colors for all light situations and against various background water colors. Orange and red are much further down the list since they start to disappear as visibility decreases – at dawn and dusk or the clouds roll in. Also, moving paddles are much more likely to be seen by another boat, from shore or from overhead than either your low-floating boat or your clothing, especially if you yourself are submerged in the water. Adding reflective patches to your paddle blades (and perhaps also to your boat) is therefore a great safety tip for both daytime and nighttime visibility.

    1. Hey, that’s a good question! All the flags mentioned in the blog are pretty flexible and will bend but they’re not collapsible. So in an extreme situation where you flipped and got the flag pinned by rocks, it’s possible it would break off at the base, yes!

      Hope that helped!