Kayaking is an amazing way to get out on the water and enjoy nature from an angle that people don’t often get to see. One thing you quickly learn, however, is that while you are unlikely to be the only boat on the water, you are normally the smallest and lowest craft out there.

Staying visible to larger watercraft is essential to staying safe. The last thing you want is to find a powered boat bearing down on you because you are too low in the water to easily be seen.

Avoiding that kind of situation is exactly what a kayak flag is for. Normally mounted on a pole behind your seat, a kayak flag keeps you visible to other crafts on the waterways and helps to keep you safe. In this article, we will be looking at the different situations in which kayak flags are used and reviewing some of the best kayak flags on the market.

Best Kayak Flags For 2018

Best Kayak Safety Flag and Light: YakAttack VISIPole II

Best Kayak Visibility Flag for Fishing: YakAttack VISICarbon Pro

Best Kayak Pirate Flag: Forever Wave Jolly Roger Flag

Best Budget Safety Flag for Kayaks: Country Ent. Telescopic Safety Flag

Best Kayak Dive Flag: Premium Quality Dive Flag

Best Red Kayak Flag: Shoreline Marine Propel Safety Flag with Mount

Best Red Kayak Tow Flag: Fu Len Red Bungee Flag

When Do You Use a Kayak Flag?

As we’ve mentioned, most kayak flags are for keeping you visible when you are out on the water, offsetting the fact that kayaks can be difficult to spot from the raised deck of a larger craft. There are, however, a few different uses for specific kayak flags.

Fishing

Kayak fishing normally involves staying in one place, sitting very still for a long period of time, which can make a kayaker difficult to spot. A good fishing flag allows you to stay visible and warns others that you are fishing in this area, hopefully preventing them from splashing around and frightening off all the fish.

Diving

Kayaking is an excellent way to paddle your way out to a great diving spot. It’s even better if you are diving to see undersea wildlife, as there is no associated engine noise to scare away the animals. A diving flag lets other boats know that you are potentially underwater in the vicinity of your kayak.

By law, other boats out on the water are prohibited from coming within a 100-foot radius of your kayak. This gives you the space you need to resurface without fear of being struck by an errant propellor.

Towing

Perhaps the least obvious use of a flag on a kayak is while it is being towed by your car or truck. A red diamond shaped flag on a trailer that is being towed indicates a long load, letting other road users know that they should give your trailer a little extra space in order to maintain the proper driving distance.

Best Kayak Flags: Reviews

Our Pick

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Best Kayak Safety Flag and Light
YakAttack VISIPole II

The YakAttack VISISPole II combines a lofty 48" fiberglass pole with a top-mounted LED light, to give you 360-degree visibility and help keep you safe in any light conditions. If you happen to be out fishing and don’t need the extra visibility of the LED light, you can slide the flag over it, dimming it down so as not to spook your potential catch or attract annoying insects.

The LED itself is rated to last for 10,000-plus hours and will give you 100 hours of bright light running on three AA batteries.

Mounting the VISISPole II is simple and easy. Its large base is compatible with most kayak flag mounts, but if you do want to place it elsewhere it is compatible with YakAttack’s GearTrac or MightyMount systems.

If your flag happens to go for a surprise swim, don’t panic! The YakAttack VISISPole II’s base floats and its LED light is waterproof up to 1,000 feet.

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Best Kayak Visibility Flag for Fishing
YakAttack VISICarbon Pro

The YakAttack VISICarbon Pro is an excellent choice of kayaking flag for space conscious kayak anglers looking for a flag that can be folded away. Made with lightweight carbon fiber, the ultra-thin mast means you won’t be getting any particular wind drag while remaining ultra-visible. Just like with the YakAttack VISIPole II, the YakAttach VISICarbon Pro has 10,000 hours of lamp life and 100 hours of LED light with the use of three AA batteries that are included.

Using the Silent Snap flag attachment system means a flag on the YakAttack VISICarbon Pro can be easily removed in seconds and the whole unit folds down into itself. The LED light can also be blanketed with the flag to dim it, ideal for fishing at night.

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Best Kayak Pirate Flag
Forever Wave Jolly Roger Flag

More a declaration of your piratical intent than a real visibility flag, the Forever Wave Jolly Roger Flag comes with (imaginary) cannons, a scurvy crew of swarthy (imaginary) pirates, and the wish of a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Orlando Bloom (sold separately)*.

The Jolly Roger flag measures 12" x 18", so you won’t have any trouble staying visible to potential wave-going prey. However, you may find that a black flag becomes slightly less visible at night.

The Forever Wave Jolly Roger Flag does not come with a flagpole, which needs to purchased separately. On the plus side, the zip system that is used to mount the flag can also be used on car antennas, bimini tops, and the Black Pearl.

*Cardboard Orlando Bloom may or may not act just as well as the real Orlando Bloom.

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Best Budget Safety Flag for Kayaks
Country Ent. Telescopic Safety Flag

The Country Ent. Telescopic Safety Flag is ideal if you are looking for a flag to keep you visible but don’t want to splash out on any additional features.

Equipped with a spring-loaded mounting bracket, the stainless steel flagpole of The Country Ent. Telescopic Safety Flag extends to nice and visible 62 inches tall to make the best use of its hi-vis orange flag. This bright color will stand out against any shade of water you’re in.

While it doesn’t come with a light or an adjustable mounting system like some of the other flags on this list, The Country Ent. Telescopic Safety Flag can easily be removed from our kayak and attached to other vehicles, such as boats or bicycles.

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Best Kayak Dive Flag
Premium Quality Dive Flag

If you are out kayak diving, then the Premium Quality Dive Flag is essential to keeping you safe. As we've already mentioned, the distinctive white stripe on a red background indicates to others who are out on the water that you are diving, prohibiting them from coming within 100 feet. This helps you avoid the danger of being struck by other boats.

You will need your own flagpole to mount the Premium Quality Dive Flag as it is not supplied with one. Once you have your pole, you can easily attach this flag to with zip ties (two are included). If you are planning on diving outside of U.S. waters, it’s worth remembering that international diving flags are a white stripe on a blue background, so you will need to take one with you.

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Best Red Kayak Flag
Shoreline Marine Propel Safety Flag with Mount

The Shoreline Marine Propel Safety Flag with Mount offers a collapsible flag mount that can be universally attached to any kayak, and at a very reasonable price. The fitting itself needs to be drilled into your kayak, and if you want to avoid that you may be better off with the Country Ent. Telescopic Safety Flag.

It should be noted that the U.S. Coast Guard requires all recreational craft to have an orange flag to signal distress during the day and an electric S-O-S signal light for night. So if you are planning to do any sea kayaking, you will need to get yourself an orange flag in addition to the red one that comes with the mount.

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Best Red Kayak Tow Flag
Fu Len Red Bungee Flag

After a great day out on the water in your kayak with your kayak flag keeping you visible and safe, the last thing you want is to be the cause of an automotive accident on the way home. Thankfully, we’ve got another flag that can help you avoid that as well.

The Fu Len Red Bungee Flag attaches to the back of your trailer and indicates to other road users that you have a long load on board, something that isn’t immediately obvious when driving behind someone transporting a kayak.

Knowing that you’re carrying a long load means other drivers will give you a little more room. This means there is a less chance of your kayak ending up through someone else’s windshield.  

Staying Visible

A flag for your kayak isn’t the first thing you think about when you’re considering vital safety gear. You’re probably more concerned about your PDF or your helmet. That being said,

buying yourself one high-visibility flag can save you lot of trouble when it comes to fishing in, diving from, and towing your kayak.

And who doesn’t want a pirate flag for their favorite ‘yak?

About The Author

John is a professional copywriter, fencer, and paddlesports fanatic based in the UK. When he’s not out on the water, he can usually be found convincing new people to try kayaking, pretending to be Zorro or climbing what passes for mountains in England.