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What accessories should you take on the boat? This is the million-dollar question that many boaters ask at some point. The gear and accessories you have on your boat can elevate the whole experience on the water. 

It’s black and white when it comes to required gear, however, for recommended gear, it’s a bit more of a gray area. Different families may require or recommend accessories based off of their favorite boating activities. 

Not every boater enjoys the same activities. Some families enjoy watersports whereas others prefer to stick to cruising. The difference in preference will change some of the recommended accessories and gear.  

We’re here to help you understand the accessories that are important to have on your boat no matter how you choose to spend your time on your boat. Keep reading this article to learn about the required gear as well as recommended accessories for your boat. 

What Safety Accessories are Required or Recommended? 

This list could go on and on as different states have varying laws and requirements. This article will stick to the standard laws for all boaters. So, what are the things you don’t want to leave behind when heading out on the boat? 

Life Vests 

Most importantly, life vests. By law, you are required to have enough Coast Guard approved lifejackets on your boat for the number of people who are on your boat. To make it easier to remember, stow enough lifejackets for the capacity of your boat to avoid forgetting.  

Always be sure to have the appropriate size life vests for your guests. If you’re only boating with fellow adults, the lifevests should all be adult sizes. If you have children onboard, always be sure to have the correct number of child-sized life jackets.  

Throwable Flotation Device 

Along with lifejackets, you are required to have a throwable flotation device on board. A throwable can be thrown to someone in the water who is struggling to swim. This is another safety accessory that is important to keep onboard.  

Fire Extinguisher 

Another required safety accessory that you should always have on your boat is a fire extinguisher. Most boats come equipped with one. If your boat doesn’t come with a fire extinguisher, be sure to get one prior to heading out on the water.  

Now, let’s talk about some recommended rather than required safety gear. Whenever I head out on the boat for a day on the water, I make sure to have a first aid kit. This is important to have just in case someone injures themselves. They fit perfectly in glove boxes or under the seats so it can stay in your boat all season long.  

What Accessories should I have for Watersports? 

These are the accessories that some families may be able to live without. If you enjoy watersports you’ll want to have some specialized equipment on board. Which sport you focus on may alter this gear as well, though there are some consistencies.  

Let’s start with the obvious, the board or skis. If you’re planning on doing some watersports on the water, you’ll want to make sure you have the board or skis needed. Many boats have tower racks for wakeboards, surfboards, and foils so they are out of the way. As for skis, many boats have ski lockers that run down the center of the boat to store the skis in.  

Next, a rope. Each sport has a specialized rope associated with it. A ski rope is different than a surf rope and a wakeboard rope. Be sure to pack the correct rope for the activities that are on the agenda. 

Typically, if you are participating in watersports an orange life-jacket isn’t your first choice. Though they do work, they are not the most comfortable to wear while participating in a difficult water sport. Before you depart the dock, grab your favorite vest to bring along. It will make your time on the water more enjoyable.  

One final piece of equipment I would grab before leaving the dock is a screwdriver. You never know when a binding is going to come loose, or you simply want to adjust something. I like to keep a screwdriver in the glovebox all season just in case I decide to switch something up on the board.  

Other Boat Accessories 


Some accessories are not required but will make your time on the water more enjoyable. First off, I always recommend grabbing a towel for everyone on board, and maybe an extra or two. Whether you’re getting in the water or not, towels are great to have on the boat. You can knock down the pesky spider webs or clean up accidental spills. 

Cleaning supplies 

Along with towels that can be used for accidental spills, it also never hurts to have some cleaning supplies on your boat. One bottle of boat cleaner and a rag are great to keep on your boat. Especially since, no matter how hard you try to keep the boat clean, it will get dirt, pollen, leaves and whatever else on it. 

Bumpers and Docklines  

Another accessory you don’t want to forget about on your next boating adventure are fenders or bumpers. These are necessary if you plan on tying up with other boats or a dock. The fenders, or bumpers, will protect your boat from damage while tied up.  


Next, you’ll want to stow an anchor somewhere on your boat. You never know when you’ll need to drop an anchor in the water to keep your boat from going anywhere. Many boats have anchor storage to make it easy to keep on board for whenever you may need something.  


The last accessory recommended to keep on your boat is sunscreen. Oftentimes if you’re on the water, it’s a beautiful sunny day. The only thing that can ruin a great day like that is getting home hours later burnt from the sun. There is nothing worse than feeling burnt and uncomfortable for the next week, let alone how bad it is for your skin. Be sure to pack sunscreen on your boat to avoid this and enjoy your time on the boat.  

Don’t Forget Snacks and Drinks 

Finally, the most important things you won’t want to forget on your boat – snacks and drinks. Whenever you spend hours doing any kind of activity, especially in the hot summer sun, you’ll need some food and water to keep you going.  

We recommend bringing snacks along that aren’t going to make a mess. Sandwiches, granola bars, and chips are often perfect for long hours on the boat. You won’t want to bring things that are easily spillable, or they might make a mess all over your boat. 

As for drinks, water is a necessity. Always be sure to bring plenty of water on your boat to keep everyone hydrated for the duration of your trip. It doesn’t hurt to have Gatorade or something with electrolytes as well. These will help keep everyone happy for hours and hours on the water. 

Ready for a Lake Day 

Now that you understand what accessories and gear are required or recommended on your boat, it’s time to head to the lake. Always make a checklist before leaving the dock to make sure you don’t forget anything. It will make everyone’s experience more enjoyable. 

This is just a starting list of accessories to bring on your boat. You may come up with others that work great as well. Your days on the water will be fun and relaxing with the help of these accessories. For any questions, be sure to stop by or contact your local Action Water Sports. 


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