6 Best Boat Accessories: Reviews and Buying Guide for 2020

When you’ve got a boat, you need to have cool stuff to go in it. The best boat accessories help keep you and your riders safe, bring opportunities for fun, and protect your boat and gear. Some of the best boat accessories are practical, and some are purely for entertainment.

When you are ready to add accessories to your boat, use our buying guide to help you fulfill the needs and wants that make your boat uniquely your own.

How to Choose the Best Boat Accessories?

If you have a limited budget, then you might have to stock your boat in stages. You will have to make choices regarding the accessories you buy first.

Safety First

As you look for boat accessories, consider the safety necessities first. For example, states have marine safety requirements regarding the minimum number of floatation devices. You can buy seat cushions or life jackets. If children are on your boat, you will need life jackets in their sizes, as well as in adult sizes.

There are other necessities boaters should have on board. People can get hurt while on the water, so a first aid kit is a must-have. Boaters also should have a safety kit with flares, duct tape, zip ties, and other useful items.

A fire extinguisher is another wise choice to have in your boat. The best boat accessories prepare you for the unexpected, like oars, goggles, and a VHF radio with weather channels.

Convenience Accessories

After you’ve loaded your boat with safety accessories, you should work on the convenience items. These are the boat accessories that turn stressful situations into easy ones. Small solar chargers can keep boat batteries from dying. Some people also invest in jump packs for the times when batteries unexpectedly drain.

If you expect to dock your boat somewhere, you will want items like fenders, lines, and an anchor. Fenders protect your boat from banging into the dock while the other items keep your boat from floating away.

Having a marine GPS device is also useful, especially if you are boating on large bodies of water that extend beyond the reach of your smartphone. A solar charger for your phone and GPS device is also useful, as GPS devices are no good if they won’t turn on. You can store these items in dry bags or boxes, as every boat needs to have at least one dry storage spot.

Communication Tools

When you are on a boat, you need to be able to communicate with the people on other boats around you. Communication tools designed explicitly for boats will fulfill safety needs. For example, having an air horn and SOS flags will let other boaters know if you need assistance.

The communication tools you need should reflect the type of boating you do. If you are on inland lakes where the shores are always in view, you won’t need the same type of gear that a boater who embarks in the ocean or out into the Great Lakes. Your communication tools should function even when wet.

Fun Stuff

Boating should be fun, which is why there are so many amazing accessories that bring joy. If you love to eat and drink on your boat, then you need a boat cooler and boat grill. If you prefer to use your boat for physical activities, then you might want an inflatable tube or a boat slide.

While many boats come with radios, you can always upgrade your sound system for added fun. If you love to fish, then you have plenty of accessories that make fishing a breeze.

Know the Installation Requirements

If you must install an accessory on your boat, check that it either fits your boat’s year, make, and model. Otherwise, it should have a universal installation choice. If those options aren’t clearly labeled, then you should not buy it. Some accessories, like GPS devices or boat grills, do not need to be installed, so you can buy what you like.

Best Boat Accessories Under $50

The best boat accessories help you increase your safety and enjoyment while on the open water. Many of the best boat accessories are necessities that all boaters should have.

Pack of Four Kent Type II Adult Life Jackets with Clear Storage Bag

For safety purposes, a set of four adult life jackets is a useful item to have aboard. This set includes four adult-sized foam-filled life jackets in a handy storage bag. The clear plastic storage bags let you store the life jackets in an easy-to-find location. It has a large strap handle and ventilation area to keep them smelling fresh.

The US Coast Guard approves these life jackets. They are the standard collared life jackets meant for mild waters like inland lakes and smooth rivers. Instead of having everyone grab a life jacket before getting aboard, all you have to do is grab the one bag, and you’re all set to go.

Pros:

  • Set of four life jackets
  • Convenient storage bag with handle
  • Approved by US Coast Guard
  • Compact storage bag is easy to stow
  • Affordable price

Cons:

  • All four life jackets are the same size
  • Recommended for calm waters
  • Foam-filled, not inflatable
  • Can be uncomfortable for larger adults
  • Not ideal for small children

Attwood 11828-1 Emergency 20-inch to 42-inch Telescoping Paddle, Orange

Depending on the type of boat you have, an emergency paddle could be helpful. This telescoping paddle by Attwood is easy to stow under a seat and retrieve if the engine fails. The paddle is bright orange, so it is easy for other boaters to see.

The paddle collapses down to 20 inches and extends to 42 inches. The shaft is aluminum, so it is durable and resistant to corrosion. The plastic blade is impact-resistant. The paddle only weighs 1.5 pounds. It also floats, just in case you drop it in the water. The oar locks at all lengths, so you can use it in a variety of situations.

Pros:

  • Packable
  • Telescoping with adjustable lengths
  • Durable handle and blade
  • Lightweight
  • Bright orange

Cons:

  • Can telescope fully into two pieces
  • Water can get into the shaft
  • Can be too light for some water conditions
  • Not powder-coated
  • Handle and paddle do not align properly at all lengths

Best Boat Accessories Under $100

Boat accessories come in a variety of prices. Usually the ones with electronic components or more complicated parts have a higher price. These are some of the best accessories under $100.

Uniden UM385 25 Watt Fixed Mount Marine Vhf Radio

If you use your boat on the open water, a VHF radio is a useful tool. You can use them to communicate with other boats and with people on the shore. This marine radio includes several international marine channels and a weather-alert system.

It has a compact design that measures 5 x 6.3 x 2.6 inches and weighs under four pounds, so it is easy to install in a convenient location. The marine radio is waterproof and includes several helpful buttons, including a distress button and one that sends your position. The controls are clearly labeled, and the LCD panel is bright enough to read in sunny conditions.

Pros:

  • Compact size
  • Easy-to-read LCD panel
  • Weather-alert system
  • Several international marine channels
  • Waterproof

Cons:

  • Requires an external battery
  • Occasional issues with speaker quality
  • Mic is plastic
  • Doesn’t automatically scan for channels
  • Occasional quality-control issues

Detmar 12-1106C Removable Rectangular Marine/RV Table

Everyone needs a spot to place their drinks when on a boat. If your boat needs an extra table, this Detmar Removable Table will fill the need. It includes the table top, leg, and hardware to install it. The table leg is 26-inches tall.

It is small enough to be convenient, but large enough for four cups and snacks. The ivory table top is easy to clean. If you need extra room for people, you can remove the table from the convenient mounting bracket.

Pros:

  • Compact
  • Four cup holders and room for snacks
  • Easy to install
  • Easy to remove
  • Includes necessary hardware

Cons:

  • Color is misleading
  • Plastic quality is questionable
  • Shallow cup holders
  • Cups do not stay in holders on choppy water

Best Boat Accessories in Class

There are some boat accessories that are better than the rest. These are some of the best on the market today.

Garmin GPSMAP 78S Marine GPS Navigator and World Wide Chartplotter

Garmin makes outstanding GPS devices, and this marine navigator is no exception. It has a 2.6” LCD that shows a base map with a 3-axis compass. It also has a barometric altimeter for safe sailing. This GPS device is designed for boating; if you drop it in the water, it will float.

This GPS device is purely for boating. It does not include a fishfinder, as not all boaters care about where the fish are. If you need more maps, this device has a spot for a microSD card. It has 1.7 MB memory. It has a 20-hour battery life and uses two AA-batteries. The GPS device works with Garmin Connect, too.

Pros:

  • Long battery life
  • Floats
  • 3-axis compass
  • microSD card
  • Barometric altimeter

Cons:

  • Small screen
  • No fishfinder
  • Not rechargeable
  • Small control buttons
  • Complicated menus

Sportsstuff Big Mable | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating

If you are looking for fun on a boat, a towable tube delivers. The Big Mable holds one or two people. This tube has two connecting points so that riders can have different experiences on the waves. The tube is covered with nylon to protect it from punctures. It also has a valve designed for quick inflation.

The Big Mable also has the Kwik-Connect rope connector, so you can get in the water and start having fun. It’s got comfortable pads for sitting or kneeling, and the cushioned walls keep the ride comfortable. Riders can hang on to the woven handles with knuckle guards. The tube has bright and bold colors so that other boaters can stay out of the way.

Pros:

  • Cushioned walls
  • Comfort pads for sitting or kneeling
  • Two connector points for varying rides
  • Quick-inflate system
  • Heavy-duty nylon cover

Cons:

  • Only holds two riders
  • No cushion between the riders
  • Weathers in the sun
  • Takes time to load and unload it in the boat
  • Heavy and cumbersome

Conclusion

When it comes to boat accessories, the best ones are the ones you need. So, if you are looking for safety accessories, life jackets and VHF radios are the best. However, if you already have safety gear, then you can add fun accessories like a Big Mable tube or a handheld, buoyant GPS.