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Kayak Modification And Upgrade Ideas – Our TOP PICKS

Mark Armstrong
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Whether you have a basic kayak or a more advanced yak with extra features, there may be some things that you want that your craft just doesn’t have. But no matter what type of yak you have, there’s usually always room for customization.

We’ve made a list of some of the most popular kayak mods so you can take inspiration to customize your own vessel to give it that personal touch you’ve always wanted.

Top 21 Mods For Your Kayak

1: Camera Mount

GoPro Suction CupPin

Having a camera with you when you’re on the water can be a great way of capturing images and videos of your paddling adventures. But having somewhere safe to put your camera while you’re paddling can be essential if you don’t want to lose it.

A camera mount, such as this GoPro Suction Cup, can be securely attached to your vessel and can keep a hold of your GoPro while your hands are busy paddling or while you’re reeling in that big fish. 

A suction cup mount is designed to fit onto a flat surface, which means you can stick it to your yak without the need for any other hardware. So it can be an easy and removable modification.

> Our guide to camera mounts

Video: GoPro Suction Cup on a Kayak

2: Anchor System

3.5lb Folding Grapnel Boat Anchor Kit + 40 FT Marine RopePin

If you’re on the water and you want to stop at your favorite fishing hole or you’ve spotted some wildlife you want to take a picture of, it can be difficult to hold your position in moving water while your hands are full.

An anchor can help you stay in same location and help to prevent you floating away with the current or wind. Anchors designed for kayaks, like this one from Best Marine & Outdoors, are compact and can often fold for added convenience. So they shouldn’t take up much space in your vessel.

You could even make your own anchor system for ease of use. Anchor poles are also used.

Video: Kayak Anchor Trolley System

3: Watertight Storage

Outdoor Products Watertight BoxPin

Not all yaks will have the benefit of built-in watertight storage but it can be easy to add your own. Watertight boxes can be a great addition to your kayak.

These ones from Outdoor Products can be ideal because you can choose either large or small, depending on what you want to keep in them, and they even come with a tether with a keychain clip. So you can secure it to an eyelet or clip on your boat.

This means you can safely store your snacks, keys, phone or fishing accessories and keep them as close as you need them.

What about tackle boxes?

4: Fishing Crate

Yakattack 12x16x11 BlackPak Kayak Fishing CratePin

fishing crate can be an essential part of a successful kayak fishing trip. Maybe your yak doesn’t have rod holders or maybe you want to add a couple more. A fishing crate can be a great place to hold rods as well as other fishing gear.

Video: How to Make a Super Simple Kayak Fishing Milk Crate

It can be easy to make your own using a milk crate and some PVC pipes. But if a DIY milk crate option isn’t for you, you can also buy a kayak fishing crate that comes with rod holders and enough storage for your fishing tackle.

5: Seat Upgrade

Leader Accessories Deluxe Kayak Seat Boat SeatPin

Some basic recreational yaks may lack a comfortable seat. But if you plan to spend a while on the water, a comfy seat can be a good investment. A good seat can help to support your back and cushion your behind, which can mean you’re able to stay on the water longer.

Choosing a seat with a seatback can be a good idea for added comfort, like this Leader one, as it is designed to work with both sit-insides and sit-on-tops, as long as your yak has somewhere to attach the straps.

More on kayak seats

6: Outriggers

Deep Water Float (Pack of 2)Pin

If you find that your vessel can be a little tippy in some water conditions, or if you plan on standing up to fish, you may want to consider adding outriggers.

Outriggers can help to create more stability by transferring some of the weight out to the sides. This means, even in a narrow vessel, you could end up with a pretty stable platform, which should be difficult to tip over.

It can be easy to make your own outriggers using floats, such as these, and connecting them to PVC pipes. This can be a great way to customize your vessel and give you that added stability that you might need for standing and fishing.

DIY outriggers (kayaks)

Video: DIY Kayak Outriggers (No Drilling Into Kayak)

7: Gear Tracks

YakAttack Geartrac SpectralitePin

While many dedicated fishing yaks will likely have gear tracks already installed, a lot of basic recreational ones may not. Gear tracks, like these from YakAttack, can be a great way to allow you to add a whole bunch of other accessories, from rod holders and lights to camera mounts and fish finders.

By adding gear tracks you can accessorize and customize your craft more easily without requiring separate mounting points to be drilled into your vessel for each additional accessory. Accessories can simply be mounted into the gear tracks.

There are several brands available and many accessories are compatible with a range of gear tracks.

8: Trolling Motor

Newport Vessels Kayak Series 55lb ThrustPin

Adding an electric trolling motor to your kayak can give you the extra power you need to get to your fishing hole fast. It can also let you troll for fish more easily than if you were paddling, as you can maintain a consistent speed and free up your hands for fishing tasks.

This Newport Vessels 55lb thrust motor is designed specifically for kayaks and can be ideal for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. It also features five forward and three reverse speeds and a 24 inch height adjustable shaft to suit various kayaks and canoes.

An electric motor can be one of the best kayak modifications if you’re a keen kayak angler looking for increased speed and power, with the added benefit of hands free fishing.

9: Deck Compass

Seattle Sports Sea Rover Deck CompassPin

No matter where you’re heading, a compass can be a useful addition to any kayak, helping you to find your way back to camp or back to the dock. But it can be particularly useful in areas where the cell reception isn’t great, or is non-existent.

This Seattle Sports Deck Compass can be an excellent kayak mod for all types of kayaks. It benefits from large markings to make it easier to read from your seat and is crafted to be tough and durable to stand up to harsh marine conditions.

This one features a quick attach base plate with webbing straps and buckles, allowing you to mount it to just about anything on your kayak, such as your deck, dry bags or deck rigging. It can also be easily removed if you want to take it with you on a hike.

10: Bungee Cords

Kayak Deck Rigging KitPin

Adding bungee cords can improve your kayak’s storage capabilities and give you more security. This can be one of the most useful kayak modifications and can usually work with most recreational and fishing kayaks, letting you secure and tie down your gear to your boat.

This deck rigging kit comes with just about everything you need to install a bungee storage system on your kayak, including pad eyes, J-hooks, cord hooks, rubber nuts and stainless steel screws. It also comes with 10 feet of marine grade bungee cord to let you customize your storage on either a sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak.

11: Fish Finder

LUCKY Portable Fish Finder Pin

If you plan to do some kayak fishing a fish finder can be your best friend. There are several options to choose from, including whether you want it to be portable or not. Some will require you to have a separate battery on board your kayak.

Others, like this Lucky one, feature a rechargeable lithium battery so this can be a lighter way to find fish and can be better if you don’t have anywhere to store a larger battery on your vessel.

The Lucky fish finder benefits from a 2.4 inch color screen and can tell you the size of the fish, depth and temperature of the water, and the contours of the underwater landscapes.

Our guide to fish finders

12: Spare Kayak Paddle

Werner Skagit 4-Piece PaddlePin

If the thought of being stranded in the middle of a cold lake overnight sends shivers down your spine, then having a spare paddle on your kayak probably seems like an excellent idea.

When it comes to choosing a spare paddle, you might want to think about the available storage space on your boat. A four piece paddle can be ideal as a spare as it can usually fit inside a hatch or in one of your gear bags.

This Werner Skagit is a four-piece kayak paddle that’s made from lightweight fiberglass with medium, low-angle dihedral blades and adjustable feathering angles. 

Guide to kayak paddles

13: Deck Padding

Adding deck pads to your kayak can be beneficial for more than one reason. Firstly, padding can help to minimize noise from the deck, so that you don’t scare the fish away. Secondly, they can act as non-slip traction pads if you decide to stand up to fish.

If you plan to take your dog along, deck pads can also be useful in providing comfort for your dog to stand, sit or lie down.

This Castaway Customs SeaDek is made from EVA foam and is self adhesive for easy installation. It can also be cut to the shape and size you need and comes in a variety of colors.

> How to modify a kayak for a dog

14: Water Bottle Holder

Yakuzzi Kayak Drink/Cup HolderPin

Being able to easily access your beverage can be important on long kayaking trips, so that you can stay hydrated and refueled. A great modification you can make to almost any kayak is to add a holder for a cup or water bottle. If you have accessory rails, you can usually find a product that’s compatible for easy installation.

For sit-inside kayaks, this Yakuzzi drink holder can be ideal, as it’s designed to clip on to the rim of your cockpit, so that your drink is within easy reach. It’s also designed to clip onto the side of a canoe, and could also work with sit-on-top kayaks that have something to clip it to, such as side carry handles.

15: Fishing Rod Holders

Scotty #280-GR Baitcaster Spinning Rod HolderPin

Adding a rod holder to your kayak can turn your average recreational kayak into a fish catching machine. And if you want to catch a lot of fish, you’ll probably agree that you can never have too many rods.

If you have accessory tracks already on your kayak, you’ll probably find there are several options to let you install an additional rod holder or two without having to drill into your boat.

This Scotty rod holder is designed to be mounted directly to your kayak, so you will have to drill holes in your boat for this one. A nice feature of this rod holder is that it can hold both spinning and baitcasting rods for added versatility. 

16: Kayak GPS

Garmin GPSMAP 78scPin

Having a GPS device can be useful for all types of outdoor activities, not just kayaking. But for paddling trips in the wilderness, a GPS can be one of the best kayak upgrades in terms of safety and technology. It can also be great for kayak anglers and anyone who loves a good gadget.

The Garmin GPSMAP 78SC can be a great choice for paddling because it’s portable, waterproof and it’s designed to float. So if you drop it, you should be able to retrieve it. It also has built-in coastal charts and you can mark routes and waypoints, and share them with other devices. It takes 2 AA batteries which are included.

17: Kayak Lights


If you plan to do any paddling at night then a light on your kayak is essential and generally the law in most places. A light can allow you to be seen by other boaters to avoid a collision. While in most cases, a flashlight can often suffice, it can be safer to have a permanent light on your vessel to increase your visibility.

The Kayalu Kayalite can be a good choice for most kayaks, as it doesn’t require any drilling or permanent installation and is made in the USA. This portable light can be attached to pad eyes or any eyelet on your deck using the steel clip and bungee cable on the light. This means you can easily remove it for storage.

It features a bright white LED light that lasts up to 100 hours on the included 3 AA batteries. It also floats and is waterproof. 

More kayak navigation lights

18: Kayak Battery

Mighty Max Battery 12V 35AH Pin

If you plan to power gadgets while paddling, a battery can be an essential accessory. There are various batteries that are designed for marine use and can be great for powering trolling motors, fish finders or GPS, and even keeping your phone charged.

There are plenty of AGM batteries out there that can be great for kayaks, including this Mighty Max one.

This 12 volt 35 Ah kayak battery measures just 7.76 by 5.12 by 7.01 inches so it’s compact for fitting on your kayak. It also weighs just 23 pounds and is designed to power a trolling motor.

The best fish finder batteries

19: Sun Shade

Hobie Bimini SunshadePin

Sometimes kayaking can expose you to the elements a little too much. That’s where a sun shade could come in handy. A bimini shade can be a versatile modification, as it can usually work in both sunshine and rain, protecting you no matter what the weather – so you can stay on the water longer.

This Hobie bimini shade is designed to be compatible with Hobie kayaks. It features a three-point system to hold the shade in place over your kayak, with a mast at the front (mount is not included). It also benefits from having a rigid support beam across the center of the shade, providing increased protection from rain and UV rays.

The Hobie shade may not work with other kayak brands.

20: Paddle Leash

Sea to Summit Paddle KeeperPin

A paddle leash can be one of the most essential modifications you can get for your kayak. In the event that you let go of your paddle, a leash can make sure that your paddle remains attached to your kayak and doesn’t float away – no more nightmares about being stuck in the middle of a lake without a paddle.

This Sea to Summit paddle keeper is designed to be compatible with most kayak paddles and can fit shafts between 1.1 to 1.25 inches (28-32mm). A great feature of this one is that the accordion lightweight nylon webbing is designed to be tangle-free. Its bright green color also means it’s highly visible for added safety on the water.

21: Dry Bags

SealLine Big Fork Dry Pack - 30 LitersPin

dry bag can be an easy and instant kayak modification that can be great for any type of kayak. It could be even more useful on recreational kayaks that don’t already have any dry storage, as this can provide you with somewhere to keep your gear safe and dry while you’re on the water.

A bonus of a waterproof bag is that you can take it with you to your campsite or use it on another vessel. You could also have a few in different sizes to customize your storage and fit your space.

This 30 liter SealLine Big Fork dry bag can be an ideal size for holding clothing and food for an overnight trip. A great feature of this one is the comfy backpack straps and the bungees on the front for stuffing extra gear.

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Modifying your kayak can be fun and can let you create your ideal vessel. There are many ways in which you can customize your yak, as you will have seen.

A lot of the kayak mods out there are down to personal preference so not all mods will suit all people. But that’s the beauty of customization – whatever you do to your kayak can be suited to you. So you can create your own perfect boat.

No matter what type of of yak you have, you will usually find some way to modify it but remember to think about the installation process and if any of the work you do might affect your yak’s performance (or indeed its warranty).

Have you modified your yak? Let us know about it. And remember to share this to inspire others.

7 Popular Kayak Modification & Upgrades Ideas - Pinterest ImagePin

3 thoughts on “Kayak Modification And Upgrade Ideas – Our TOP PICKS”

  1. I modded a pellican sentinel100x with very minimal breach mounting.
    55 lb troller and anchor trolly for starters. Wheel mounts pushpole deck and outriggers. It will catch all the fish if you’re not careful.

  2. The best diy I added to my 10′ sit on top fishing kayak was a fishing net. Getting the bigger fish landed without it was a problem and I lost my share. The anchor I added was a good choice too.


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