Alan is a veteran of the US Air Force, a master electrician, and a long-time hobby farmer.
While the law requires that you have certain items on your boat, it doesn't cover everything. As an avid boater, I have learned many lessons over the years. Time and time again I have found myself in my boat, out on the lake, wishing I had a tool that was miles away in my truck. Over the years I have come up with a 'must have' list of items that I always keep on board.
I have not included some obvious items that are required by law in an effort to deliver the best list possible. Anyone operating a boat should already have things like life jackets and fire extinguishers. I am also pretty sure all you boaters out there don't need me to tell you to pack a cooler or bring a fishing pole. No folks, this is a list of things you are going to be glad to have when the need arises.
10 Things You Must Have on Your Boat
- Flashlight or Headlamp
- Cell Phone
- Lake Map
- Tool Kit
- First Aid Kit
- Rain Suit or Pancho
- Small Tarp
- Survival Kit
- Extra Hat
Let's Break It Down
A nice long rope always comes in handy on a boat. A rope has tons of uses including emergency towing situations. A pretty good rope can be found at any big hardware store for less than 20 bucks.
2. Flashlight or Headlamp
You never know when you may find yourself in the dark. I have a rechargeable flashlight that is great, but I wouldn't trade it for my headlamp. You can usually get either one for 15 bucks or more.
3. Cell Phone
I think these days, chances are someone on the boat will have a cell phone. This one is important for one obvious reason, in case of an emergency. Most people already have a cell phone, so make sure you bring it along on the boat. I turn mine off so I am not disturbed, and store it in a zip lock bag so it can't get wet.
4. Lake Map
A map of the boating area you plan to use can save you a lot of headaches. Even if you just print out the area using an internet map service, these can be a great help. I like to print out maps using Google Maps, slide them into clear report covers, and tape the top closed with clear shipping tape. Using this method, I can make a lot of maps for very little cost per map.
5. Tool Kit
This is a must-have in many situations in life, and that doesn't change when you're on a boat. In fact, a boat can sometimes leave you stranded far away from civilization. A well prepared tool kit may save you a lot of paddling.
6. First Aid Kit
Even a small first aid kit is better than no first aid kit. You can make up your own or purchase a small kit for less than 10 bucks. I usually just throw some bandages, ointment, and alcohol wipes in a plastic baggie if I am in a rush.
Read More From Skyaboveus
7. Rain Suit or Poncho
A rainstorm can blow up quickly when you are out on the water. It is nice to have the option of staying dry, especially in cooler weather. I spent 20 bucks on a yellow rain suit at the home improvement store and it has been well worth the money. There are also rain ponchos available in a variety of price ranges. For years I made homemade ponchos with big garbage bags. They work great and only cost a few pennies.
8. Small Tarp
A small tarp can be used as an emergency shelter or blanket. A tarp is also great for protecting some of your gear from the rain. A small folded tarp doesn't take up much room and you can get one for about seven bucks.
9. Survival Kit
A survival kit may not seem like a must-have on an afternoon boat ride. A lot of folks tend to think of a survival kit as something you would only carry in the remote wilderness. A boat that won't crank sitting three miles from shore can be pretty remote. A survival kit contains a few basic items that can be invaluable in many scenarios. I like to make up my own, but a pretty good ready-made kit can be purchased for as little as 10 dollars.
10. Extra Hat
I have lost more hats while boating than I can even count. A hat can be a crucial piece of gear on a boat. There are not many shady spots on the lake, and a hat provides much-needed protection from the sun's rays. It may seem like a little thing, but if you lose your hat on a sunny day, you will be glad you brought along an extra.
Complete the List
While these are not all the things I bring along on my boat, these are the essentials. Everyone can probably think of a few other items that would be useful to add to their boat kit. Use this list as the foundation of a solid kit, and personal experience will lead you from there. I would love to hear some recommendations and ideas, as I am always looking to improve my boat kit.
One Way to Make a Survival Kit
Alan (author) from West Georgia on June 02, 2014:
Thanks Jackie, it is a good list of items to have in your car as well. I think it is important to always be prepared. Okay, I was a Boy Scout many, many years ago.
Thanks to you also, L Hadj. Hope you have a safe, well prepared summer.
L Hadj on June 02, 2014:
lots of good info to be used this summer
Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on June 01, 2014:
Great list; really not bad to have in a car too; unlike the rest of the world I often don't keep a cell phone on me but I try to keep one in the glove box; for you never know. I even keep rope... in case I buy something that won't fit in the car! lol