Must Have Boat Accessories

Must-Have Boat Accessories for a Great Day on the Water

You are ready for a spectacular adventure on your boat! The weather forecast is perfect, and whether you are chasing fish on your bass boat, taking a leisurely cruise on a pontoon boat, or going on a week-long excursion on your cabin cruiser, it’s GO time, right? Almost.

Do you have what you need for your next boating adventure? We have created the must-have boat accessories list that you will need (some are required by law), and others are designed to make your boating life so much easier.

We asked our boating experts and they shared their recommendations of what you need to equip your boat for a safe and enjoyable excursion. 

1. Anchor

Lewmar Fluke Boat Anchor Ready to ThrowLewmar Fluke Boat Anchor Ready to Throw

Boaters need an anchor or two onboard to enjoy swimming, fishing, or an overnight stay. Anchors are also helpful in the event of an emergency.

You’ll want to make sure the anchor you have onboard is designed for the size of your boat and works in the seabed conditions you will be boating in, eliminating any setting issues.

Check out our anchor collection.

2. Fenders

Hull Gard Boat FendersHull Gard Boat Fenders

 Another must-have accessory is boat fenders. They help protect your boat from docks and other boats when mooring or docking. There are a variety of fenders depending on your type and size of boat.

Fender adjusters are also a great accessory to have onboard, especially if you find yourself in a new docking area. You’ll want the ability to lengthen or shorten your boat fenders accordingly quickly.

Find top-performing fenders and accessories for your boat.

3. Tool Kit

Tool Box Full of ToolsTool Box Full of Tools

You will want to have a tool kit with you onboard if something needs to be adjusted, fixed, or tweaked. Your tool kit should include: 


  • Hammer
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Duct Tape
  • Flashlight
  • Allen Wrenches
  • Hose Clamp

Boaters also encourage including an extra rubber hose, a spare impeller (motor), and fuses, just in case.

4. Personal Flotation Devices

Personal Flotation Devices (known as PFDs) are required by law based on the size of your boat. PFDs are classified by types.  Make sure you are following the PFD requirements.

Check out our life ring collection as part of your PFD protocol.

5. First Aid Kit

First Aid Kit, Bandages and ScissorsFirst Aid Kit, Bandages and Scissors

While accidents can occur anywhere, it’s good to have an adequately- stocked first-aid kit at the ready. You’ll want to make sure that the kit includes essential items such as:


  • Aspirin/Pain Relievers
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Saline Solution
  • Fabric Tape
  • Adhesive Pads (large and small)
  • Instant Cold Pack
  • Disposable Gloves
  • Rubbing Alcohol/Alcohol Wipes
  • Cotton Swabs

6. Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers on your boat are a legal requirement, depending on the size of your boat, there are rules on fire extinguishers that you should know.

Being prepared for an emergency on your boat is good practice.

7. Dock Lines

Black and White Dock Lines CoiledBlack and White Dock Lines Coiled

Dock lines, also known as docking or mooring lines, allow you to land, or more correctly, safely dock. You will need the appropriate line type and length for your boat to secure a safe docking experience.

One pollster shared, “You can never have enough lines.”

Equip your boat with our dock lines and line adjusters.

8. Depth Finder & Fish Finder

A fish finder can serve as a depth finder since that is one of the features of finding fish. Boaters can now discover where the fish are biting and determine their depth with one device! This is actually a two-in-one must-have accessory.

9. Cooler

Adventure Pro Cooler by LippertAdventure Pro Cooler by Lippert

Another must-have on your boat is a cooler. It’s a great way to transport food and beverages onto your boat and doesn’t take up precious and limited counter space, should your boat have a galley.

You’ll want to have it stocked with enough ice to keep your refreshing drinks and any food chilled, especially in the hot sun.

10. Waterway Navigation

Knowing the conditions of where you will be boating is important. Our experienced boaters suggested that having waterway navigation (either digital or paper) is a good idea, especially if you’re heading into unfamiliar waters.

As you would imagine, digital charts are replacing paper ones since they are much easier to use and can be updated quickly and easily with waterway changes. Many boaters have this digital device mounted on the boat’s dash at the helm to easily view the chart while underway.

Speaking of navigation, it is always good to know the navigation rules. Just like the rules of the road, there are rules in boating. Read up on them from the Boat U.S. Foundation.

11. Ship-to-Shore Radio

The ability to communicate quickly and effectively is important, especially if you find yourself in a boating emergency, or need to warn others about potential danger.

12. Sunscreen

Mom Putting Sunscreen on KidMom Putting Sunscreen on Kid

Protection from the sun’s UV rays is important on or off the boat. Make sure you have enough sunscreen for your passengers and reapply every three to four hours to get the maximum benefits.

For more information on sunscreen, read our Sun Safety Tips for Boating blog.

13. Boat Hook

Accurately described as something you don’t know you need on your boat until you need one, a boat hook is ideal for grabbing dock lines. It is a versatile tool and can be used to fend off a dock, place a loop over a piling and even retrieve a gear bag.

14. Visual Distress Signals

Distress signals are required by law to be on boats. These signals serve to communicate visually with other boaters during the day and night. The Boat U.S. Foundation details what types of visual distress signals are required on various waterways and are based on the size and type of your boat.

These distress signals are broken down further into:

a.    Pyrotechnic: Typically flares

b.   Non-Pyrotechnic: Flags and lights

The use of either pyrotechnic or non-pyrotechnic signals varies depending on the time of day and night.

Check out the Boat U.S. Foundation guidelines on visual distress signals to discover what your boat needs.

Shop our collection of visual distress signals here.

15. Navigation Sounds

Boat Horns for Navigation SoundsBoat Horns for Navigation Sounds

Another requirement for recreational boating is navigation sounds onboard. Like visual distress signals, according to the Boat U.S. Foundation, there are requirements based on:

  • The length of your boat
  • When and how to sound off
  • What constitutes a navigation sound
  • The length of the blasts
  • What the blasts mean.

These sounds are yet another form of communication on the waterways and are part of marine etiquette. You’ll want to become familiar with the details of navigation sounds.

We have what you need to be heard on the water - check out our air horns and accessories.

16. Steps

Dock Steps by Boat at SunsetDock Steps by Boat at Sunset

Our boat experts suggest having a step stool or small ladder onboard. A small set of steps works well and allows access to hard-to-reach areas for storage or maintenance.

17. Seatow

Seatow is a membership-based subscription that provides 24/7 priority water assistance for private boats, charters, and commercial boats. Think of it as the AAA of the water; you hope you’ll never need it, but if you do, it’s available.

You now have a comprehensive list of items you should have on your boat. Enjoy your next adventure with these must-have accessories.

These photographs, recommendations, and approximations are intended for demonstration purposes only and do not reflect the specifications of any particular watercraft or boating product. Always consult the manufacturer’s Owner’s Manual.