Walk into a boat accessories and supply store like West Marine, and you’ll be surrounded by aisle after aisle of awesome gear and gadgets for the upcoming boating season. So many, in fact, that it can be hard to choose which toys and goodies are must-haves and which are merely icing on your boating cake.
These top 15 boat accessories, however, stand out in the crowded 2021 marketplace as cool, useful items to bring aboard.
1. Taylor Made Super Gard Fenders
Whether you plan to raft up with some friends, tie up at a waterfront restaurant, or just protect that gleaming gel coat when you visit the fuel dock, having fenders aboard is a must (also, be sure to read Docking a Boat: Step-by-Step Guide for pro tips for stress-free docking).
Taylor Made Super Gard Fenders are available in a wide range of sizes and colors to match your specific boat, feature eyelets on both ends, and have easy-to-inflate valves.
2. Garmin GPSMAP 86sci inReach Handheld GPS
Whether you want a backup to your boat’s fixed navigational system or a portable GPS with full depth and navigation aid data, you’d think the GPSMAP 86sci would be a good pick. You’d be right, too, but there’s another component to this little handheld unit that makes it a must-have: it’s capable of inReach satellite texting via the Iridium satellite network.
Purchase the inReach subscription, and you’ll be able to send text messages straight from this handheld—and if need be, you'll also be able to send an SOS signal, anytime and anywhere.
3. West Marine Aluminum Boat Hook
Prevent those dangerously long reaches and off-balance grabs by keeping a West Marine Aluminum Boat Hook close at hand.
It telescopes from 4’5” out to 8’ (or 4’6” to 12’ for the longer version) so it’s easy to stow but extends your reach a long way. Plus the nylon head has a non-scratching tip, and if you drop it by accident there’s no worries because it floats.
4. Standard Horizon HX890NB Floating VHF/GPS
Having a backup communications device aboard is always a good idea, and with the Standard Horizon HX890NB you not only have a six-watt handheld VHF radio, you also get built-in GPS and basic navigational abilities like waypoint and route navigation functions.
This unit has a 66-channel WAAS GPS receiver, displays latitude and longitude on-screen, and thanks to the integrated GPS, it offers Digital Selective Calling functionality as well. These units are built to last too, with an IPX8 submersible waterproof rating and testing to military spec MIL-STD-810F standards.
5. Simrad GO9 XSE Fishfinder/Chartplotter Combo
If you need a new fishfinder/chartplotter aboard, it’s time to check out a Simrad GO9 XSE package.
Bundled with the Active Imaging three-in-one transducer (providing CHIRP fishfinder, side-scanning, and down-scanning views) and C-MAP Pro Discover digital charts, this all-in-one system will have you navigating to the hotspots and hooking up with the big ones in no time.
6. Rule Dry Bilge Pump
A bone-dry bilge a thing of dreams for most boaters, because the average bilge pump simply can’t get out that last bit of water. Rule’s new Dry Bilge Pump takes you a big step closer to moisture-free, because this pump clears out the bilge to 1/8th of an inch or less.
It’s self-priming to 9.5’, has a 360-degree rotating pump head for easy installation in any situation, and rids your boat’s bilge of four gallons of water per minute.
7. Moeller 6 Gallon Ultra6 Portable Fuel Tank
When you need to carry fuel to the boat, having a Moeller Portable Fuel Tank makes that task a whole lot easier. Of course it’s EPA/CARB compliant, and its uniquely designed for easy and stable storage, even in tight places.
Added bonus: this gas can is made in the USA.
8. West Marine Waterproof 3000-Lumen Rechargeable LED Spotlight
Be prepared when the sun goes down by having a West Marine Waterproof Spotlight aboard. This rechargeable gem lasts for up to three hours on high power, and over seven hours in SOS-mode.
When they say “waterproof” they mean it, and this spotlight not only meets IP67 specs (which means it can be submerged to about three feet for up to 30 minutes and still work), but it also floats.
9. Lifesling2 Overboard Rescue System
The Lifesling2 is more than just a floatation device with 21-pounds of buoyancy, it’s a true Overboard Rescue System consisting of a horseshoe buoy/rescue sling with 125’ of polypropylene line.
Unlike regular throwables, it can be towed to a crew member, and even used to hoist them aboard.
10. Orion Floating Locator Electronic SOS Beacon Kit
You need to outfit your boat with all the required safety gear, but you can take those old-style pyrotechnic flares off the list by instead getting an Orion Floating Locator Electronic SOS Beacon Kit.
Along with the waterproof floating electronic beacon (which can flash an SOS that’s visible for three nautical miles), the kit includes an orange distress flag for daytime signaling. With one of these kits and a fresh pair of D-cell batteries, you’ll never have to remember to replace those expired flares again.
11. West Marine Three Layer Water Carpet
What could be more relaxing than unrolling one of these floating foam mats, and lounging next to the boat? The Three Layer Water Carpet comes in three different sizes, the largest of which can support up to six adults and 900 pounds.
They’re outfitted with grommets so you can tie them off next to the boat and enjoy care-free fun afloat, and webbed cinch straps makes it easy to roll them back up and stow them away at the end of the day.
12. Elide Fire Extinguishing Ball - COMING SOON
Just like having a fire extinguisher on hand in your home, the same idea should be applied to your boat. You can boost your fire-suppression savvy by adding an Elide Fire Extinguishing Ball to your boat. Mounted in an engine room or cabin, if open flame touches a Fire Extinguishing Ball within three to five seconds it will activate and disburse a non-toxic dry chemical fire-fighting agent.
You can also remove a Fire Extinguishing Ball from its mount and throw or roll it into an open fire, to suppress those flames.
This product is coming soon, but in the meantime click here to explore similar products.
13. BlackTip Seven Piece Angler Fishing Kit
Avid anglers need reliable tools—and that's exactly what you'll get with the BlackTip Seven Piece Angler Fishing Kit. This kit comes with all the fishing tools you need contained in a zippered storage case. Open it up and you’ll find a bait knife, a fillet knife, marine shears, a de-hooker, fishing pliers with line cutters, and a tape measure.
The knife blades are made with Japanese 420J2 nonstick stainless-steel, all the tools have nonslip handles, and the shears even have a serrated edge you can use for scaling the fish before you fillet them.
14. West Marine 70-Quart Premium Marine Cooler
Fill this Premium Marine Cooler with ice, and it will last up to a whopping 10 days. At just under three feet long and a hair over a foot and a half wide, you’ll find 70-quarts of interior capacity inside its roto-molded polyethylene sides.
It’s also built with a serious eye to quality, including 316-grade stainless-steel hardware, a refrigerator-grade gasket, a tethered drain plug, and rope handles with grips. Plus, there’s a ruler embossed on the lid for measuring your catch.
15. Third Reef Foul Weather Gear
Boaters need to be prepared for sudden rain or flying spray, and there’s no better way to outfit your boat than with Third Reef foul weather gear. There are Third Reef bibs to pair with the jackets, both of which are 100-percent polyester, waterproof, and wind-resistant.
This foul weather gear is also reinforced at critical wear points, and has reflective patches added for extra safety in low-light situations.
What Other Boat Accessories Are On Your Wishlist for 2021?
Is there other boating gear that’s likely to catch your eye, the next time you find yourself meandering down the aisles of sealants, safety gear, and sailcloth? Of course there is.
We could expand this list to at least 150 accessories and barely scratch the surface of all the nautical knick-knacks we’d love to have. But this list of 15 top picks is a great place to start, and whichever ones you might choose to outfit your own boat with, will surely help you cruise into the 2021 boating season with a smile.
You May Also Like:
- Boat Essentials: What Supplies Do I Need for My Boat?
- Life Jackets, Vests & PFDs: How to Choose the Right Fit
- First-Time Boat Owners: 10 Tips to Get Started
- The Ultimate Boating Calendar for 2021
- Find the Right Boat for Your Lifestyle
Editor's Note: Promotional consideration for this article was paid by West Marine.