11 Essential Items to Be Prepared When Boating

There is nothing—not one thing—worse than marking a boat day on the calendar for a month, packing the car, launching the pontoon boat in the lake, and hearing the engine sputter and stop.

Nobody wants boat trouble on the lake, but boats are finicky and can have many issues. The real question is how to be ready for problems that come up like this. I have had frustrating issues out on the boat plenty of times. Often you just have to find a way to fix problems as soon as they come up.

It is difficult knowing what you need to be ready for anything, but, after a while I learned that there are a few very basic items that can prevent about 90% of the problems you’ll encounter that could derail your boating trip.  Here they are…

11 Essential Items to Be Prepared When Boating

#1 – Portable Utility Battery

When you are out in the middle of a lake, you don’t have a wall outlet to plug your electronics into, such as a GPS or fishfinder. So, being able to charge it anywhere—like out on a toon—is invaluable. That is why I recommend a portable power bank. The one I recommend has two USB outlets, a DC power outlet, an LED light, and it can also jump car batteries. Click Here to see what it is selling for on Amazon.

However, seeing as some toons do not have an outlet to charge your phone, you may be simply wanting to charge your phone while you are spending the day on the lake. In this case, you may not a battery so powerful or big, you can also get smaller portable chargers that just charge via USB. These are almost always just used to charge cell phones or small devices, but the small size and much cheaper price makes them very versatile and easy to keep with you. I would also recommend a single or double USB portable charger like this Anker model.

Anker PowerCore+ Mini, 3350mAh Lipstick-Sized Portable Charger (Premium Aluminum Power Bank), One of The Most Compact External Batteries, Compatible with iPhone Xs/XR, Android Smartphones and More
  • The Anker Advantage: Join the 50 million+ powered by our leading technology.
  • High-Speed Charging: PowerIQ detects your device to deliver its fastest possible charge speed up to 1 amp. (Press the power button before charging your device.)
  • Ultra-Compact: Our original lipstick-shaped aluminum design (3.7 × 0.9 × 0.9in, 3oz). Recharges in 3-4 hours with a 1 amp adapter (not included) and the included Micro USB cable. 2 amp Input.
  • Backup Battery Life: Adds over one charge to an iPhone 6s or at least 80% to the Galaxy S6 and other high-power smartphones.
  • What You Get: Anker PowerCore+ mini portable charger, Micro USB cable, travel pouch, welcome guide, our fan-favorite 18-month warranty, and friendly customer service. Lightning cable for iPhone / iPad sold separately.

You could also go solar on your pontoon, and bring along a few portable solar panels.

#2 – Extra Prop and Prop Wrench

RITE-HITE Polymer Light-Weight Propeller Wrench - Bright Color, Easy to Use & Store and Lightweight
  • High-Strength polymer construction
  • Tightens 1 and 1/16" prop nuts
  • Fits Drain Plugs with 9/16" Square Heads
  • Bright Yellow Color To Keep From Getting Lost In Boat Compartments

You never know what could happen when you are out boating, this includes damaging a prop. It can be extremely difficult if a prop gives out mid-trip. So it could be very handy to have an extra prop stowed away for such situations. It is also helpful as you will always have your spare right with your boat. You won’t need to store it in the garage and have to find it again later.

When dealing with a malfunctioning prop, you are definitely going to want to be able to get something done. You may have to readjust, tighten, or remove the prop. In a crunch, you aren’t going to want to have to cancel your day due to a lack of tools. A floating prop wrench can also help you untangle grass, reeds, or other plants that tangle up on your boat.

#3 – Toiletries

It is always a good idea to be ready for personal emergencies. Guys and ladies alike. While you should always be personalizing your preparations, it is good to have items such as bandages, a good first aid kit, sunscreen, hand sanitizer and other such items.

#4 – Duct Tape or Electrical Tape

If you can’t fix something with duct tape, you aren’t using enough duct tape. Duct tape can be extremely helpful when in a pinch.

Duct Tape was originally invented by Johnson & Johnson’s Permacel division during WWII. The US Military wanted a strong, WATERPROOF tape that could keep moisture out of ammunition boxes. This is exactly the kind of resource you are going to want at your disposal on a pontoon.

Such a versatile and effective tool can be more helpful than most realize. If an item breaks, duct tape can usually keep it working long enough that you can have time to get it repaired. It is also helpful for repairing wear and tear on life jackets or your vinyl seats, a small rip can be disastrous if no taken care of.

#5 – Assorted Tools

Aside from a prop wrench, you may need a few more boat tools every now and then. Such tools might include a few screwdrivers or a wrench. While these obviously won’t fix major boat repairs, they could fix a few small tune-ups needed on board. If you find a loose screw or bolt somewhere, you will want to tighten it quickly. If it falls out, it can be a pain to find or replace.

#6 – Power Snacks

Despite assuming that you will bring snacks with you when you go boating each time, we are still human, and we still forget. Having a few granola bars or nonperishable snacks stowed away might come in handy if you don’t bring enough food or end up staying longer than you planned.

Just remember that sugary snacks will give you energy for a while, but you will also have an energy crash soon after that can leave you sleepy, hungry, cranky, and unable to concentrate. Healthier snacks will give you more energy throughout the day.

#7 – Water, Water, Water

Even if you are out of the sun, dehydration can be a serious danger. Also, if you are swimming around and playing in the water, your body is exerting energy and is perspiring. You won’t feel it as easily because most water you go boating on is much colder than our body temperature. This means that while you are cooling off in the water, your body is trying to keep up the internal body temperature so that you don’t get hypothermia. Because you feel cool in the water, you are tricked into thinking that you don’t need to drink.

The wind will also evaporate sweat off of your body, which also dulls your sense of water loss. In all actuality, you need water more than usual. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty. If you are thirsty, you actually are already dehydrated. Bring water with you when you go boating. Just in case you finish of that water, keep a few gallons of fresh water on board. Try to cycle the water out for fresh water every few weeks though.

#8 – Blanket and/or An Extra Jacket

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  • FROM CAMPING BACKPACKS TO WEEKENDS AT THE CABIN – Our large wool blanket is approximately 66" inches x 90" inches and weighs approximately 4 lbs. This is the perfect blanket when you need an extra layer of insulation. Great for camping, hiking, stargazing, backpacking, bushcrafting, boating, fishing, hunting or storing in the trunk of your car as a utility blanket for emergency preparedness. A durable wool blanket is an essential addition to your outdoor gear and equipment collection.
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This one isn’t so much a necessity as it is convenient. If you are out fishing early, it could get brisk. You may want to toss on that extra layer to keep warm.

Remember to check what the blanket is made of. Cotton will soak through quickly and will just be cold. Wool will still soak, but will keep you warm even if wet. A fleece blanket would do fine, but can get heavy when wet. If you get a lot of spray while boating, you may want to use a waterproofing spray like Scotchgard on your jacket, blanket, or even your shoes.

Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector, 1 Can/10-Ounces
  • Strong fabric protection repels spills for easier cleanup
  • Ideal for household items like upholstery, curtains, pillows, table linens, backpacks, luggage and more
  • Perfect for use on clothing like shirts, dresses, silk ties, suits, outerwear, canvas shoes and more
  • Simple, one-step application
  • Dries clear and odorless

#9 – Trash Bag

If you are eating granola bars or other packaged snacks, you don’t want to drop them on the ground in your boat. They could fly out and end up polluting the wonderful environment you are enjoying. Keep a bag on the boat to put trash in. Remember to have no trace left behind when you leave – this keeps nature clean for everyone else and for you when you go next. Trash Bags are also helpful for putting items in that you would like to keep dry. Extra changes of clothes, or an extra jacket could easily be stored in one.

#10 – Map or GPS

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No matter how much of a man you are, you may still need a map. Being able to see and know where you are is a good way to be safe. Maps of the water you are boating on also help you know where there may be no wake zones or speed limit zones. Not to mention that looking at a map could help you know where the fish might be if you are fishing.

While a paper map can always be helpful, there are many other options. You can also use other methods such as a GPS you put on your dash or even something as simple as an app for your phone.

#11 – Spotlight

Super Bright Spotlight, 6000 High Lumens Rechargeable Spot Lights Handheld Flashlight Boat Light with 9600mAh Battery Tripod and USB Output, IPX4 Waterproof
  • Extra Bright Flashlight - Bright with 18 watt L2 LED light & 6000 high lumens which works 2600 feet long distance. With six brightness settings of main light and side light: High, Low, Strobe and SOS. The spotlight is a fixed focus with a very bright center beam and a wider less bright outer beam. The light on the side of the light is a diffused light that is perfect for general lighting.
  • Rechargeable Spot Lights for Long Life - Up to 30 hours using time. IKAAMA spot light is made with a long-lasting, rechargeable 4.2 volt 18650 Lithium Ion battery with 9600mAh large storage power. Chargeable search light can be recharged through dc port, it also can serve as a power bank so your phone can charge.
  • Impact Resistant and Compact Search Light - The fuselage body of this powered handheld flashlight spotlight is made of durable aluminum alloy and high quality ABS to protect the spotlight from drops and bumps while in use. Measures just 8.2 inch long and 4.3 inch wide, weight about 1.5Ib, so it's also very easy to carry and hold while walking or hiking outdoors. Includes an adjustable tripod for hands-free use.
  • IPX4 Waterproof & Wide Use - It's IPX4 rain proof, but does not submersible. Our spotlight is perfect for camping, hiking, fishing, marine ,boat, sailing, hunting, night jogging, emergency, camp, walk the dog, rescue, car, repair and other outdoor activities.
  • Lifetime Warranty - We will provide 24-hour service to solve any quality problems for you.

Were you to find yourself still out on the water when it begins to get dark, you can find yourself blinded and lost. In the event that you do end up getting caught in that situation, you will want to have a good spotlight to get you back to the shore safely. While there are some spotlights you can attach to your boat, you can also get a large handheld one that can also work well.

Now obviously, there are more things that could be added to this list, based on where you live, what kind of boat you have, what you are boating for, and when you are out. You will have to modify this list. Feel free to add, remove, or change things on the list to suit what you need. If I missed something major, or if you have another helpful suggestion, comment about it. Everyone can benefit from more ideas.


  1. Taking a pontoon out to the lake would be a very exciting weekend activity. I like that pontoon boats can be towed behind your own personal vehicle. That is smart to come prepare to have a good time when spending the day on a pontoon.

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