How To Kayak At Night


What’s so great about being on the water pad­dling your kayak at night? Zero crowds. That expan­sive, enor­mous feel­ing of the unknown. The stars shin­ing over­head. If you haven’t bust­ed out the kayak for a late-night pad­dle yet, do—but fol­low these tips to make sure it goes smoothly.

Make Your­self Seen
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.

Make Sure You Can See
Kayak­ing safe­ly is high­ly depen­dent upon being aware of your sur­round­ings, so pur­chase a qual­i­ty, water­proof head­lamp. Keep in mind that arti­fi­cial light­ing actu­al­ly hin­ders your night vision, so keep it off as often as pos­si­ble when kayak­ing. The head­lamp is best used to check nav­i­ga­tion and when stop­ping. Also, remem­ber that ambi­ent light can make things seem fur­ther away.

Learn Your Route
Plot out your route ahead of time and mem­o­rize it. Always try to keep track of your bear­ings because going off-course in the dark is incred­i­bly hard to cor­rect. At night you’ll lose sight of your pad­dle, the dis­tance will be hard­er to deter­mine and, if you’re on the ocean, waves might seem to come out of nowhere.

night Kayaking

Bring the Essen­tial Safe­ty Gear
Don’t for­get your dry bag. It’ll car­ry your essen­tials (ID, first aid, radio and dry clothes for starters) in case some­thing goes wrong and you end up in the water. At night you’ll also want to pack an emer­gency bea­con to alert oth­ers who might be far away. A whis­tle is great too.

Beware the Waves
This one is for ocean kayak­ers. If you’re star­ing direct­ly at a wave, you’re bound to mis­judge the size and posi­tion and pos­si­bly get rolled. Adjust by look­ing slight­ly off to the side, about 20 degrees off cen­ter. Your reti­na responds poor­ly to low light­ing but rod cells that are con­cen­trat­ed in the out­er edges adjust bet­ter to low lev­els at night, thus mak­ing it eas­i­er to see clear­er from a slight angle.

Have Fun, But Be Cautious
Assum­ing you can han­dle night kayak­ing the same way you would day is a tad unre­al­is­tic, a rook­ie mis­take. It’s a dif­fer­ent ani­mal. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. Be cau­tious and aware of your sur­round­ings and don’t goof off and get adven­tur­ous too much before you’ve test­ed the waters.