boating essentials list

Complete Boating Essentials List – Do You Carry These Items?

Every good boater has a boating essentials list. It’s a list of items that they’ve learned to assemble over the years. The list got made from their first-hand experience, either from not having the item on them, or being glad, they did when the time came. These are items that they would never go out the water without.

There are two categories of essential items. In the first category, you have a list of safety items that you should carry, or are required for you to take with you by law. The second list of essential items is for leisure. Leisure items will help make your time out on the water more enjoyable.

Before we get too far into its list, here are two items that you should make sure you have on you.

1. Boating Paperwork

It’s essential to make sure that you have the proper paperwork on you such as a boating license and or boating registration. Be sure to check with the State or Provincial laws before hitting the water.

Check State boating laws here
Check Canadian Provincial boating laws here

2. Fishing License

Make sure you have a valid fishing license on you if you plan on casting out while you are out in your boat.

Get a fishing license online – the USA

List of Essential Items For Leisure

There are some items that you should never forget to bring with you that will help make your boating experience more enjoyable. I’ve completed a list of those items below so you can make sure to include them on your next outing.

3. Waterproof Bag

A thing that is not often on peoples radar is a waterproof bag.  A waterproof bag is a handy way to keep your items dry, such as clothes, electronics, paperwork, or anything else sensitive that you want to keep from getting wet.

Price: $18.97 – $35.95 Check the current price on Amazon

4. Waterproof Camera

You never know when that perfect photo opportunity will arise, or when you catch that biggest fish you’ve ever seen. You don’t want to lose out on the chance to take a picture and savor those moments.

Prices vary. Check the current pricing and availability on Amazon

5. Waterproof LED Rechargeable Spotlight

It might not be your intention to be out on the water after dark, but just in case you are it’s a good idea to have a good spotlight with you to help light up the water in front of you. It’s also a great tool to have in case someone falls in the water after dark.

Price: $23.34 – $48.66 Check the current price on Amazon

6. Lip Balm

Your lips can burn from the sun, and get chapped from the wind. On the water, you have both of those elements to deal with. When buying some lip balm, make sure to look for some with a high SPF. Your lips will thank you later for it.

Price: $4.12 – $11.91 Check the current price on Amazon

7. Sunscreen

There are not a lot of places to hide from the sun out on the water. For that reason, you should wear plenty of sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection and a high SPF. Even if it doesn’t feel like you are getting a lot of suns, you probably are.

Price: $9.81 Check the current price on Amazon

8. Towels

Towels are great for having on hand in case of a freak rainstorm, a passenger accidentally goes overboard, or someone spills their drink. Storing the towels in a waterproof bag or container will keep them dry until you need them.

Prices vary. Check the current pricing and availability on Amazon

9. Waterproof Binoculars

Not only are binoculars a handy tool to have with you in case of an emergency but they also come in handy when your boating in new areas with lots of exciting things to see. Binoculars are also helpful when you need to look ahead and see what’s coming up in front of you.

Price: $129.00 – $159.99 Check the current price on Amazon

10. Insect Repellent

Any fisherman will tell you that having insect repellent on hand is a lifesaver. Especially for those who like to head out early morning or stay out around sunset. There’s nothing more annoying then swatting and dodging mosquitoes while trying to fish or relax. Insect repellent is another one of those items you want to keep on board with or next to the first aid kit, so it’s always there when you need it.

Price: $16.99 Check the current price on Amazon

11. Snack Food

Taking a little waterproof container full of your favorite non-perishable snacks will be a sweet treat, during a long day. You can pack snacks such as; granola bars, protein bars, nuts, dry cereal,  chips, fruit snacks, crackers, etc.

12. Wide-brimmed Hat

That sun can be a scorcher. Having a wide-brimmed hat will help protect not only your head but your face and neck as well from getting burnt. Wide-brimmed hats are good for the kids to wear as well to keep them shaded better.

Prices vary. Check the current pricing and availability on Amazon

13. Change of Clothes

You never know when you’ll run into that rain cloud the weather network didn’t predict or get splashed by a huge wake all of a sudden. You can store a change of clothes in a zip lock bag or a specially designed waterproof bag. When you get wet unexpectedly, you’ll be happy you packed them.

14. Drinking Water

Having plenty of drinking water on board for everyone is an essential item to bring with you. Everyone should be drinking plenty of water while sitting around all day in the hot sun. It’s a great way to avoid dehydration. If you are bringing water in plastic bottles, you should store them out of the sun a cooler. Studies are showing that the plastic in water bottles can release antimony and bisphenol A (BPA) if exposed to heat over a long period.

15. Motion Sickness Pills

Everyone could fall victim to motion sickness at some time or another. A popular motion sickness pill on the market is called Dramamine, will treat the symptoms as they are happening. You can store a little package of these motion sickness pills in your first aid kit for safe keeping.

Price: $4.37 – $9.94 Check the current price on Amazon

16. Light Jacket or Sweater

Even on a hot sunny day, the wind could pick up and be a little chilly out on the water. Also as soon as when the sun begins to set you’ll notice a change in the temperature. It’s a good idea to keep a light jacket or a sweater stored away in a waterproof bag or container.

17. Rain Coat

Rain can pop up quickly out of nowhere on the water, and you should be prepared for it. Carrying a raincoat in your boat might come in handy more than once.

Prices vary. Check the current pricing and availability on Amazon

18. Sunglasses

You should keep a good pair of polarized sunglasses with UV protection in your boat. A lot of boaters I know have a second spare set in the ship at all times as a backup. Out on the water, the sun can be bright and cause a lot of glare off the water.

Prices vary. Check the current pricing and availability on Amazon

19. Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker

Streaming your favorite playlist from your phone is a great way to pass the time. Using a Bluetooth speaker will help save your boat’s battery as well.

Price: $17.99 – $20.99 Check the current price on Amazon

20. Hand Sanitizer or Disinfecting Wipes

If you’re going to be doing some fishing, then you’ll want to wipe and sanitize your hands after handling the bait or fish. You don’t want to go bite down into your sandwich and smell worms or stinky fish on your fingers.

Hand Sanitizer: Check the current price of on Amazon

Disinfecting Wipes: Check the current price of on Amazon

21. Trash Bags

Take a few trash bags with you when you go out. They can come in handy if your clothes get wet, then you’ll have a place to store the wet clothing. And of course, you should use them to gather garbage.

Prices vary. Check the current pricing and availability on Amazon

Essential Boat Safety Equipment List

Boat safety should be at the top of every list. Here are some items below that you don’t want to forget or be out on the water without them.

22. First Aid / Medical Kit

A first aid kit is something you should always have in your boat at all times. You can either buy a pre-made kit with everything in it or assemble one yourself at home.

Price: $26.49 Check the current price on Amazon

23. Fire Extinguisher

A fire extinguisher is another one of those items that you should always carry in your boat. Make sure the fire extinguisher you do have has not expired and if it has, you should either get it checked out by the fire department or replace it altogether. It’s said that 10 percent of all boat fires are caused by an engine overheating. If this happens, you want to be prepared for it.

24. Cell Phone or Marine Radio

Depending on where you are, you might not be within any cell phone towers to call for help if there’s an emergency. Make sure when traveling out to sea, or even in a lake way out in the wilderness, that you carry a marine radio with you. The emergency channel on a VHF marine radio is channel 16.

Marine Radio Price: $81.33 – $103.61 Check the current price on Amazon

25. Horn or Whistle

A horn or a whistle is one of those safety items that tend to get overlooked. They are great for getting some bodies attention or signaling for help. Every boat should have one on board.

Horn: Check the current price on Amazon

Whistle Price: $1.60 Check the current price on Amazon

26. Life Jackets

It should go without saying, that everyone on board should have a life jacket available to them. Kids must wear a child size life jacket that is fitted properly to them. If the life jacket is too big or not done up correctly, then the child or person wearing it could slip right out of it.

Prices vary. Check the current pricing and availability on Amazon

27. Personal Floatation Devices (PFD)

Make sure you have plenty of personal floatation devices for everyone on board. These items include; life jackets, lifebuoys, foam flotation boat cushions, etc. Not only will these devices help towards saving somebody’s life, but they are required by law.

Price: $29.95 Check the current price on Amazon

28. Visual Distress Signals

There are some different visual distress signal items available on Amazon that are essential to carry with you in the boat. Especially if you plan on going far out to sea or in the ocean, you’re going to want to make sure you have some of these items listed below with you.

Other Useful Boating Essentials to Think About

Here is a list of items that some people tend to overlook. These other useful items could help you in case your having problems with your boat, or they could help prevent future problems.

29. Dock Lines

Having good quality dock lines are essential to make sure your boat gets securely tightened to the docks. Having an extra line stored away on your boat could come in handy if one is damaged.

Price: $34.99 Check the current price on Amazon

30. Boat fenders or Bumpers

Using a boat fender or a bumper while docked, can help protect your boat from damage caused by your boat banging into the dock or other boats nearby.

Price: $8.55 – $129.99 Check the current price on Amazon

31. Fuel Stabilizer

Don’t take the chance in using untreated gasoline in the engine. An STA-BIL Fuel Stabilizer a product I hear a lot of people recommending.

Price: Check the current price on Amazon

32. Cleaning and Protection Products

Many people neglect to think about their seats and the effect the hot sun has on them all day. Keeping a bottle of 303 Marine Aerospace Protectant onboard is an excellent way to maintain the life in your seat vinyl. It also works nicely on finished leather, plastics, Plexiglas, rubber and carbon fiber.

Price: $14.83 – $27.72 Check the current price on Amazon

33. Gear Ties

Gear ties are suitable for hanging trash bags or sealing up a trash bag filled with garbage or wet clothing. If your radio antenna breaks off, gear ties are great for fixing that. There are really many different ways that gear ties could come in handy.

Price: $10.63 Check the current price on Amazon

34. Spare Trailer Lights and Fuses

It’s a good idea to carry some extra boat trailer lights, fuses and wiring just in case the main burns out. Being able to pop out a broken part and replace it with an inexpensive new one could come in real handy.

35. Spare Trailer Tire

You don’t want to leave your boat at the side of the road while you go for help. Carrying a spare tire for your trailer is one of those items you wish you never need, but you’re glad you have it when you do.

36. Extra Battery

Most boats have a spare battery already but if yours doesn’t then you might want to think about carrying a spare with you just in case. Sometimes you might only intend to stay out on the water for a couple of hours, but then before you know it, the suns going down and you’ve been running your trolling motor all afternoon. Having a spare battery could mean the difference between starting your boat, or not.

37. Jumper Cables

Jumper cables are essential because if your battery dies, you are going to need a jump from either another boat or close by vehicle.

Price: $9.99 – $16.95 Check the current price on Amazon