I’ve been gathering a list of the must-have boat accessories for a few months now.
Now is the time for me to share the list of accessories every boat owner should have. I’ll also add more gear in the future so be sure to check back.
This post is meant to cover just about every boat. Boats that range from jet boats, pontoons, inboard, outboard, and every boat between will enjoy this guide on the must-have accessories.
1. Solar Panel Charger For Your Boat
I’m going to start with the solar charger as I find it to be the most underrated boat accessory.
If you don’t drive your boat at least once a week, the battery will start to go bad. Wait a month or two, which is easy during the winter months, and you’ll find your boat battery dead.
The great thing about a solar charger is that it’s not meant to charge the battery beyond what a slow charger would deliver, but that is okay. What a solar charger does is keep your boat battery alive when you’re not using it.
Just flipping your battery switch to off is not good enough, you need something to stimulate the battery while you’re not using your boat. A solar charger will stimulate the battery, and the best part is that they’re super easy to set up. It doesn’t even need to be in direct sunlight to work; it just needs nothing covering it and some sunshine to get to it.
Since boat batteries are big, I suggest sticking to a 10-Watt solar charger. Even better if you can get one with a controller built into the solar charger like this one from Amazon (ad).
If you have power where you keep your boat than a charger like this one on Amazon (ad) will be a better fit.
2. Jump Pack
There is nothing worse than getting to the ramp to launch your boat, and the battery is dead.
Or if you’re floating around listening to music all day and go to fire up the engine but the battery is now dead.
A jump pack / jump stater (ad) is just a handy accessory to have on your boat. You never know if you’ll ever need it, but it’s nice to have one.
You’ll need a dock line to tie up your boat while in the water.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a spare dock line in case you need to tow another boat or using the rope in other ways.
You should be replacing the dock line every three years because the sun dries them out and breaks them.
You also need to get a dock line made for the size of your boat.
4. Fenders and Boat Bumpers
Fenders and also called bumpers are a must-have if you don’t want your boat to get dinged up while at the docks.
The fenders are rubber and go between your boat and the dock. The rubber guards on docks are not good enough at protecting your boat, so you’ll need a good set of fenders.
Don’t forget the fender whips, they’re the rope that holds the fender onto your boat.
I suggest getting a Fender Kit like this one here on Amazon (ad).
5. Life jackets and Flotation
Every person on the boat needs to have a life jacket.
So if you have eight people on your boat, you need eight life jackets stored somewhere.
The best thing to do is get as many life jackets as your boat is rated for people and keep them stored in the boat at all times.
You can also buy throw cushions, and many states allow this to be substituted for a life jacket.
You’ll want coast guard approved life jackets too.
I tend to stick to buying the life vest that comes in a bundle like this one here on Amazon (ad).
6. First Aid Kit
Accidents happen, and you don’t want to be without a basic first aid kit while on your boat.
You could get cut by a sharp rock or get a jellyfish sting. These things can happen on a boat, but having a first aid kit like this one here (ad) is a must-have! [Link]
7. Boating Kit
A boating kit is something you make that fits the needs of your boating style. This kit is something you can keep on the boat, but it is also easy to take back to the home.
I like to use a gym bag to hold all my items in my boating kit. To give you an idea, here is a list of what I keep in my boating kit.
- Spare clothing – Just in case someone needs them.
- A Spare Towel – There is always someone who forgets their towel.
- Zip Ties – Super handy in fixing something in a pinch.
- Knife – The most used tool I have on my boat. I’ve had to cut seaweed and ropes many of times.
- Flashlight – Get a couple of them as it makes docking easier at night when you have friends shining the light.
- Trash bags – There is always trash at the end of the day, or you need a place to put wet clothes.
- Extra Sunscreen – It’s a must-have gear on a boat to bring as everyone needs it.
8. Dry Bag
My dry bag is different than my boating kit.
The boating kit is more stationary, and the dry bag is what I keep my phone, wallet, and keys in.
If closed, a dry bag will float, as shown below.
This is the dry bags I like now are the ones on Amazon here (ad).
9. Fire Extinguisher For Your Boat
Hopefully, your boat came with a fire extinguisher, but in case it did not, or the one you have is over five years old, you need to get one.
I’ve had a couple of people tell me that if the boat is on fire, they’ll be in the water, but that is not a good answer. You need a fire extinguisher for the little fires that you can put out right away.
Keep in mind, fires on a boat are a big deal. Fiberglass, which every boat is made of, is flammable.
So you need to run your blower for a few minutes before firing up the engine or shutting the engine off or after getting gas. Read the warning labels and owner’s manual of your boat!
If the water police pull you over, it is something they check and will give a ticket if you don’t have one.
10. GPS For Your Boat
The GPS on your phone will not cut it in most places, though it’s good enough for small lakes.
I recommend getting a GPS for your boat. It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro and navigated these waters for years. Things change quickly during a storm, or something happens to you, and someone else needs to navigate the boat.
A GPS is a must-have accessory for any boat. I like to use this Marine GPS (ad).
11. Marine Radio
If you take your boat on the ocean, you’ll need some type of Marine Radio (ad).
This is if you need to contact the coast guard or other boaters for help.
12. Cut Resistant Gloves
If you do any fishing and cleaning of the fish getting a cut-resistant glove is a must.
No need to cut yourself when cleaning and prepping your catch.
13. Boat Cooler
It would not be a boat without a cooler.
The cooler that comes with your boat is not always that great. If you want your drinks to stay cool all day long, you need to get a cooler made for it.
I like to use the YETI Tundra 45 Cooler (ad).
Just make sure you have the room for the cooler on your boat.
14. Fire Alarm
If your boat has a cabin, then you’ll need a battery-powered fire alarm.
Any space that is enclosed or you sleep in will need a fire alarm of some kind.
I know most boats have a horn built-in, but I’ve seen many of them fail. They’re electrical, and salt water can make a fool of them, especially when you need them the most.
That is why I have several loud whistles (ad) on my boat.
A simple whistle is hard to break, and having several means one will work for sure.
You’ll use a whistle or horn to warn other boaters or get their attention if you’re stuck.
16. SOS Items
An SOS flag (ad) is a must for many regions of the world.
You hang this flag if you’re in distress and need help.
The best option if you ask me is the Sirius Signal C-1003 SOS LED Flare (ad).
It works as an LED Flare, which is huge if you need help on your boat. It also last longer than a regular flare. A LED Flare is for sure on the list of must-have boat accessories!
17. Boat Anchor
If you’re going to use your boat to it’s fullest, you’ll need an anchor.
It’s essential to get an anchor that fits your boat and the area where you anchor it.
If you need a general-purpose fluke anchor, this boat anchor (ad) is an excellent option.
18. The Dock Key
I met the guy who created The Dock Key at a boat show and I was very impressed with the idea.
It’s so simple yet an effective way to tie your boat to the dock.
Watch this video to see how smart this is…
If your boat doesn’t already have a compass, it would be nice to get one.
You don’t need anything fancy, but something simple and not battery powered is a must for a compass.
This is the kind of compass (ad) I recommend for your boat if you need something simple.
20. Fishing Rod Holders
If you do any fishing, you’ll need something to hold your fishing rods.
Check out these fishing rod holders on Amazon (ad).
21. Tow Boating Membership
I do know if you don’t have a membership to either, it will cost more than if you did have a membership to get towed.
Don’t forget to check with your boat insurance to see if they already have a towing package for you included. If they don’t ask them about adding something in the future.
22. Paddle For Your Boat
I’m not going to lie; a paddle is one of those must-have boating accessories that so many people ignore.
Yes, a boat is hard to paddle, but if it’s all you got, then it’s better than using your hands.
Sometimes you might not need to paddle but instead, use the paddle to get you unstuck.
It’s just smart to have a boat paddle, especially paddles that fold away easily like this one here (ad).
23. Towable Tubes
The best part of having a boat is all the watersports fun!
You need to get a towable tube for your boat.
Here are a few great options for tubes!
24. Grill For Your Boat
You can get grills for most boats (ad).
This takes the enjoyment of a boat to new levels when you can cookout.
25. Boat Flags
Whether you want to fly the American flag or a Dive Flag (ad) to let others know you have a diver under the water, a flag is a must-have for your boat.
You’ll need the flag holders along with whatever flag you get.
26. Boat Shoes
Usually, people wear flip flops or nothing at all when on a boat.
This is not ideal.
You’ll want a shoe that has excellent traction in the wet conditions and something that offers protection when getting in and off the boat, especially around rocky areas.
A good boat or water shoes are a must-have for any boat.
This is the style of water shoes I like to wear here on Amazon (ad).
27. Fish Finder
If you do any fishing, you’ll need a fish finder.
They’re not too hard to install yourself and well worth it if you do any fishing.
You’ll also need a trolling motor too (ad) if you plan on doing any fishing. It’s more involved to install but well worth it.
28. Boat Bimini Top
If your boat did not come with a bimini top, I highly suggest getting one.
Or if your boat only came with one you can most often add a second one, especially if you have a pontoon.
A bimini top keeps the sun off of you and is for sure a must need accessory for any boat. The sun can be a little too much, and if your boat doesn’t have a bimini top; you need one.
They’re not that hard to install, and you won’t regret getting one.
If you really want you can get a full enclosure for your pontoon boat as shown below.