Basic Boating Gear List

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Basic Boating Gear List

Everyday on the water can vary and having the right gear for any situation is a must. Here's a basic kit to keep on board at all time to ensure you're covered for your day on the water and meeting all local safety regulations.

May 31, 2024
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Jim Isaac
Technical Sales Rep / Host of The Sportsman Experience

Every boater knows the feeling of getting out on the water and realizing you have left an important piece of gear for the day back on land. Somedays it is the bait net and others it might be that extra lifejacket for the last-minute guest. I cannot help with every situation but over the years of daily running boats I have produced my own list of standard must-have gear items. This is a list of items that I always leave on the boat to ensure a safe and successful day on the water.

1. Safety Gear

•Lifejackets – in an ideal situation, the number of lifejackets on your boat will match your capacity decal. If space prevents you from carrying that many, I like to carry at least two more lifejackets than the normal number of passengers on the boat. If you typically have four people on the boat, then carry six life jackets just in case you get a couple of extra guests on board. Most areas also mandate carrying a throwable device as well. Make sure the life jackets are accessible and easy to get to.

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•Dry Box- Get a good dry box to keep your flares, whistles, and documents in while storing on the boat. This will ensure they stay dry and in good shape when needed.

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•Fire Extinguisher – Check your local regulations and make sure to at least match your fire extinguisher to those requirements. Try to mount or store the fire extinguisher somewhere easy to access in case you need to use it and for normal maintenance checks.

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•EPIRB – If you are using your boat offshore at all, I would highly recommend keeping an EPIRB safety beacon on the boat. Even if you just keep a small PLB unit on the boat this is a huge aid to the coast guard if you ever get in a dire situation.

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•First Aid Kit – You never know what is going to happen while out on the water so even a basic first aid kit is better than not having one.

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•Extra Drain Plug & Livewell Plugs – there is no worse feeling than getting to the ramp and realizing your boat plug is not with the boat. The same goes for filling the baitwells and realizing the plugs are nowhere to be found. Keep a couple of these stashed somewhere on the boat in case of emergency and it will save the day.

•Water - Keeping a small case of water on the boat is never a bad idea.

2. Tools

•Generic Tool Kit - You do not necessarily need to have an entire tool chest on board, but some basic tools can save the day. Most hardware stores sell a small tool kit that has essential items like pliers, screwdrivers, and wrenches.

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•Filter Wrench – A filter wrench is something that you will not use every day but when I like to keep one on the boat just in case.

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•Knife - Wrapping a line around your prop can cause serious issues if not addressed. Without a knife to cut the line this can leave you dead in the water.

•Sealant and Tape – I keep a small tube of sealant and some tape (duct and electrical) on the boat for small on the go repairs.

3. Dock Lines and Fenders

•Having at least four dock lines on the boat at all times works out for me. This setup allows me to have at least one line on the bow and one on the stern. The other two lines can be used as spring lines or extras as needed.

Fenders will help with tying up to other boats at the sandbar or docking at a restaurant for lunch. The size of the fenders will depend on the boat but keeping two on the boat will serve the purpose.

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4. Cleaning Supplies

•Brush Handles – Nobody likes cleaning the boat by yourself so make sure you have an extra brush for your friend. I like to keep 2 Shurhold handles on the boat with a medium and soft brush head attachment. A chamois head attachment is also a must have to keep the boat dry and spot free.

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•Wash Mitt – A wash mit always makes the trip for all the delicate spots on the boat like the windshield and helm area.

•Wash & Wax Soap – Everyone has their own preference, just try to stay away from harsh chemicals unless necessary.

•Rope Handled Bucket - This will keep all your cleaning supplies together and out of the way when not in use.

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•Microfiber Rags – I use these things all the time, whether it is wiping down the windshield or just cleaning off my sunglasses.

There are obviously a ton of other things you can keep on the boat for everyday use, but these are just some that get me by day to day. Hopefully, these tips help keep your day on the water fun and successful.