Having the correct gear and accessories is important for any boat owner. If you’re new to boating, you might not know what the must-have boating accessories to get.
I’ve gathered and researched the best accessories for any boat. It doesn’t matter if you have a pontoon, bowrider, or even a cruiser – anyone can benefit from the gear below.
Make sure to follow any state regulations for what you should have on your boat along with safety items!
1. Boat Throw Cushions and Boat Life Jackets
Probably the most important accessory to have on anything that floats is life jackets, throw cushions, and flotation safety gear.
Every person on a boat needs a life jacket. The best way to go about this is to buy the packs of life jackets like these*.
A good throw cushion* is a must-have too; many states require you to have a throw cushion on board.
2. Boat Towing Membership
If you’re on a lake or saltwater, you can get a local tow boating membership.
Trust me, it’s better to be a member of these companies because if you need a tow, and you’re not a member, it usually costs a good bit of money to use them.
This is one of those things that are smart to have, but may never get used much. When the time comes that you need them, even once, they’re worth every penny!
3. First Aid Kit and Safety Kit
Just in case someone gets hurt, you’ll need to be covered. Make sure you get a first aid kit with a bunch of supplies and one that has a good, solid case. I’m a fan of this first aid kit* because it has so many features to it.
There are not many safety kits for boats out there, so you will have to make your own. Here is a list of items you should consider placing in a safety kit.
Must Have Boat Accessories Safety Kit List
- Boat Flares
- Air Horn* and Whistle
- Boat VHF Radio*
- Trash Bags
- Boating Knife*
- Duct Tape
- Boating Goggles
- Zip Ties
- Spare T-Shirt and Gym Shorts
- Basic Tool Kit*
- Sunscreen and Bug Repellent
Place these items in a dry storage box and keep them on the boat. Some of these items have multiple use cases.
The trash bags work great for trash, of course, but also for storing wet clothing. The trash bag can also be used as a shade cover from the sun or rain, things happen, so it’s best to be prepared.
The duct tape and zip ties can be used to make a makeshift changing room with towels.
The knife is for …. well….. you always need a knife when on a boat.
The goggles are for the off chance you’ll need to go underwater to check on something. It’s a rare thing to happen, but you’ll thank me in the future.
For the flashlight, it’s important you don’t buy one that operates on batteries. Let’s be honest with ourselves and just assume we will never check the batteries on it until we really need it. So. buy the hand crank flashlights or ones that use something else to charge them.
Go out and buy the cheapest, or go to Goodwill and get some basic t-shirts and gym shorts. You never know when someone will need spare clothes and you’ll be a hero. Just go with big sizes to make sure everyone can be covered.
The flares and VHF radio are more for people who go in the ocean. If you’re on the lake, a regular tow service is all you really need. If you do get a VHF radio, make sure to keep it close and easy to access. Also, make sure to keep the battery charged or buy the radios that mount to the boat itself.
4. Boat Fire Extinguisher
If your boat did not come with a fire extinguisher, then you need to pick one up. Not just any fire extinguisher will do, you’ll need a marine fire extinguisher*.
A fire extinguisher for sure needs to be on everyone’s must-have boating accessories list.
Also, fire extinguishers expire, check the one on your boat often and replace it when it needs it.
5. Boat Paddle
You never know when you’ll need a paddle, but when you do, you’ll be glad you have one.
It’s best to get two folding paddles like this one* so that you’ll be covered, and they don’t take up too much space.
Having a folding paddle is one of the top accessories I recommend to jet ski owners, it’s just good to have around as it can be used for many things.
6. Solar Panel For Charging The Boat’s Battery
Having a solar panel like this one* is one of the best things you can buy for any boat or pontoon.
Batteries go flat or die when they are not used, and a solar panel battery charger will keep the battery alive for longer. A solar battery charger is for sure a must for anyone with a boat without dual batteries!
To keep the battery from overcharging, stick with solar chargers that have charge controllers.
A solar panel is no replacement for other battery chargers, especially since boat batteries are so big, but it does keep the battery from dying when you’re not using them.
7. Jump Pack For Boats
Talking about keeping a battery from going flat, a good jump pack is always a good idea to carry on your boat or truck. Nothing worse than going to the boat launch, and you back your boat in, and the battery is dead.
Or if you’re out on the water all day listening to music and when you’re ready to leave but find out that the battery is now dead. If you had a jump pack, you could jump the battery off.
I’ve since switched to a jump pack that uses super capacitors, like this one here*. I prefer this battery jumper because you don’t need to keep it charged, which a lot of us are bad at doing. This jumper only needs a little bit of juice from the dead battery to charge itself just enough to start an engine. Or you can use another boat or truck’s battery to charge this jumper instead of messing with jumper cables, which are hard to do in the water.
I know it sounds too good to be true, but it does work, as the video below shows. It works so well, I bought them for all my vehicles!
8. Boating Dock Line – Anchor – Fenders
Every boat needs dock line, fenders, and an anchor. What you buy depends on what size boat you have.
- Up to 24 feet, use 3/8″ diameter dock line
- Up to 35 feet, use 1/2″ diameter dock line
9. Dry Box
You’ll need a place to keep your phone and other items you don’t want to get wet; a dry box is the perfect option!
You can even get a dry bag like this one,* which works very well.
I use a dry bag as shown below, either way the items stay dry!
10. Boat GPS
Many of our phones have GPS built-in and can work fine for boats that ride on the lake. If you ride places where you can’t get a signal on your phone, then a marine GPS will be a great thing to get.
11. Phone Charger
Our phones have become a big part of our lives, and it’s no surprise that we’ll carry them on the boat. It’s important to have a 12-volt charger onboard your boat that can charge any phone.
I go a step further. I either have the jump starter with the built-in phone charger or I have a solar powered phone charger*. Your phone can be your GPS or a way to call for help, so it’s important that it stay charged. Many phones can even be used as a flashlight too! It’s very important that you have a way to charge your phone for emergencies.
12. Towable Tubes For Boats
There is nothing more fun than riding on a tube behind your new boat. There are so many options to pick when it comes to tubing.
You can’t go wrong, just make sure you have a 12-volt air pump* to inflate the tubes with. Many tool manufacturers even make blowers or inflators that can be used to inflate tubes! The best option are the 12-volt power ones so you don’t have to worry about charging batteries.
13. Boat Grill
I love going out on the Fourth of July and grilling on my boat.
Then, as the sun sets, I turn on my underwater lights and get ready for the fireworks to go off. I look forward to this every year, and it would not be the same if I did not have a grill.
14. Boat Cooler
Don’t forget the cooler!
You can’t have a cookout and enjoy the boat life without a cooler. Just make sure to have plenty of water in your cooler, the sun can really zap and dehydrate you if you’re not careful.
15. Floating Water Mat
On the lake, many boat owners are now carrying a floating water mat* for the kids to play on or for everyone to relax on.
Think of it as a large floating platform, an extension to your boat!
16. Dog Water Ramp
Don’t forget about your best friend. Boat ladders are not made for dogs, but you can buy a dog ramp that will fit docks*.
Let Me Know Your Favorite Must Have Boating Accessories!
Did we miss any accessories or tools? Please let us know in the comments below what we should add to our must-have boat accessories list!