top of page

Lighting For After Dark

When it gets dark and you are on the water you need to be able to see, and people need to be able to see you.

Recreational lighting for after dark paddle and boat activities can be a bit confusing for the average Joe. Some bodies of water, if you are paddling, only require a 360 degree white light. I personally chose to have my SUP meet the standards for a boat. After a lot of searching for the perfect lighting set up I ended up with a very simple and inexpensive solution.

Red and green Boatepon lights, a waterproof DanForce headlamp and some waterproof LED work lights for good measure that I can clip on my SUP with a carabiner.

There are a lot of options out there and you are certainly not limited to what I chose. There are some very fancy LED lights out there that will have you glowing like you are a professional glow tour river guide if you want them. If you don't mind dropping some coin check out, If you are a kayaker or motor boat driver don't feel left out of this blog, just do an Amazon search and you will definitely find something. I am catering to SUPs, because it can more of a challenge to outfit an SUP since SO MUCH is geared towards kayaking and motorized boats.

If you are a first responder lighting is PARAMOUNT! I'm not going to get into scene lighting, rather I want to stick lights a rescue technician would be carrying on their person, such as on their helmet or PFD.

First let's discuss personal locator lights. They could save your life. Most often I see UST see-me 2.0 lights clipped to a PFD. Regardless of if you are out for rescue or out for recreation if something goes wrong and you get swept down river you are going to want to be rescued. If no one can see you due to bad weather or other adverse environmental factors that is a problem. The UST light is water activated and it is waterproof in up to one meter of water (you should be floating because of your PFD), it can not be activated by something such as rain or humidity. When submerged in water it will strobe 60 times a minute and can be visible up to 3.1 miles away. Battery life lasts up to 120 hours and the device has a manual on/off switch.

For more intense operations, open sea operations, or open water operations on large bodies of water you may want to visit where you can purchase not only a signaling device but devices that have location beacons built into them.

To provide light for your mission there is a multitude of options. Helmet lights, lights you can clip on to your MOLLE/ PFD and lights you can sling over your shoulder. To keep this as concise as possible I'm going to start by showing you a waterproof clip on your PFD light that was actually made for firefighters by Streamlight. It's IPX7 rated, functions as a right angle light and accepts a USB rechargeable li-ion battery or CR123A batteries. This is the Vantage 180X. The stainless steel clip is integrated with the light. This can also be mounted to a (firefighter) helmet.

Let's go back to UST for a minute. They make a great little inexpensive headlamp that runs off lithium watch batteries. This is called the UST Tight Light. It's small and light weight. It has 5 modes, including a RED LIGHT!!! This excites me because red light will preserve your night vision. That is why if you have ever driven by a police car at night and noticed the inside was lit up red while the officer was doing paperwork that is because the red light wont interfere with the officer's ability to see in the dark. It's tactical lighting. This UST head lamp is IPX6 rated for storm conditions and is only 30 lumens. Therefore if you do shine the white light in your victims face you won't be blinding them as badly as you would with some of the high lumen lamps that are out there on the market. Although, I'd probably keep this as a backup light.

Coast is a less talked about company that I've recently discovered and have a definite appreciation for. I don't know how this company flew under my radar until I was loaned out one of it's lights by a fellow first responder, but it did. They make stormproof lights to include both hand held flashlights and headlamps. Their headlamps also include a RED light!! Which again, is my big selling point. If it doesn't have a red light, I don't want it.

This is the Coast FL65 with the ZX350 kit (rechargeable battery). I absolutely love the multifuel options on some of the lights we have talked about on this blog. It is rated IPX4.

If you want more light, or just the extra security of redundancy you can have side mounted lights on your helmet rails (assuming you have helmet rails). Because those mounts might differ depending on what helmet you have purchased and what mounts you have this may be a good stopping point at this time for this particular blog. That doesn't mean we might not update it with options at a later time, provided there is an interest among viewers.

Hopefully you got a few good take away points from what we have provided in this blog.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page