boat tool kit.

Boat Tool Kit Essentials: 20 Best Boat Tools to Keep OnBoard

First things first - you need a boat tool kit. Sure, you probably think the last thing you'd want to do while you're out on the water would be to perform any repairs with finicky tools. Heck, no one wants to patch up their boat or perform maintenance when they're supposed to be having fun and enjoying. But you never really know when an accident might strike, and when it happens, you'll want to be prepared with at least the minimum necessary tools in your kit.

Here's the Top 20 Boat Tool Kit Must Haves

1. Mask and Snorkel


Assuming there was something wrong externally, and you'd have to go underwater to find the problem - how do you expect to see under there? The best boat tool kit should have mask and snorkel at the ready to give you a clear view of what's happening under the surface.

You can't perform repairs even with all the replacement parts, wrenches, and tools on your boat if you can't see. So if you're an angler with no intention to get in the water for your recreational trip, it wouldn't hurt to stuff a mask and snorkel into your tool kit.

We recommend the ZIPOUTE Snorkel Full Face Mask.

2. Flashlight


There are lots of spaces inside and outside your boat that might be a little tough to see even during daylight hours, like the engine compartment. So a flashlight becomes one of the essential tools. Floating, waterproof lights make the best tool for boating use. These buoyant marine lights stay afloat even when you drop them, so you won't have to grip your light as you inspect what's happening on your boat.

Other boat owners also like to carry a head lamp. This can be particularly helpful if you're alone on your boat and you need both of your hands to get the job done in poor lighting. Again, it doesn't hurt to find a marine light that floats when dropped in water.

Check out the Dorcy 55 Lumen Waterproof LED Flashlight or the BESTSUN Diving Headlamp.

3. Knife

pocket knife

Discarded nets, ropes, and even marine vegetation can get all tangled underneath your boat and mess up performance. You can carry a multi-tool or a small functional pocket knife with a rubber grip to make it easier to get rid of stringy mess or loosen knots that are a little too tight.

Most modern-day boat owners prefer the tactical folding marine pocket knife as their tool of choice for its easy use and safe storage. But if you were looking for something with a little more versatility, you can always opt for a multi-tool with an assortment of knife blades instead.

We like the USMC Marine Tactical Folding Pocket Knife and the 14-in-1 Multi-tool.

4. Tape

electrical tape

You're going to need an assortment of tape options in your tool box to address all of the many different issues you might encounter onboard. Electrical tape of course works best for wiring and other electrical components surrounding the engine. You can also get silicone rubber self fusing tape in case a fuel line or pipe snaps on board, or even if you need to repair your boats prop or filter.

For bigger leaks and cracks, it might be handy to have some heavy duty duct tape or waterproof patch and seal tape at the ready. Sometimes, slapping duct tape on a leak might be all you need to get to shore in one piece.

It's best to have the TradeGear Electrical Tape, X-Treme Silicone Rubber Tape and the Gorilla Waterproof Patch & Seal Tape in your marine tool kit.

5. Screwdrivers

best marine tool kit for boats

As one of the mainstay tools of the best marine tool kit for boats, a screwdriver set is something any boater should have within reach. For the most part, you'll need Phillips screwdrivers and flat head screwdrivers on board, but it doesn't hurt to pack along a few others. While you're at it, you might also want to consider adding some screws and nut and bolts into your kit.

Keep in mind though that you won't need a complete set of stainless steel screwdrivers, since your boat probably only has a few kinds of screws, nuts, and bolts onboard. Plus, a complete set might eat up way too much storage space in your tool box.

We like the CRAFTMAN Screwdriver Set.

6. Pliers


Just as the screwdrivers are a must-have for any boat tool kit, so too are the pliers. Again, there are a ton of different of kinds of pliers on the market. But the kinds you'll need most for repairs on boats include needle nose and wire pliers. Diagonal pliers or wire cutters can also come in handy where wires and engine cables might be involved.

Again, you can buy pliers as a set. But since we're trying to be practical by keeping just the essentials on deck, it might be helpful to skip the complete pliers set and just pack the ones mentioned above such as the needle nose and the wire pliers, unless you're getting a basic 4-piece set that includes just the necessities.

You should have either the YZWDTGS Needle Nose Pliers, SATA Slip-Joint Wire Pliers or the IRWIN Diagonal Pliers handy.

7. Ratchet and Socket

ratchet set for marine tool kit

Another staple in the tool kits of boaters across the country is the ratchet. Like many other tools, there are loads of different sizes for the ratchet, so it helps to be prepared. Check around your boat and read the manual to find out what specific ratchet head size might be most relevant for the nut sizes on your boat.

There are sets you can buy with varying adjustable head sizes that you can interchange over a single handle. Or you can opt for the graduated size that can be slightly more durable due to the limited moving and removable parts on each tool. Some options have wrenches on the opposite end for more versatility.

We recommend the DURATECH 3-Piece Ratchet Set with EVA Organizer.

8. Wrench

wrench set

How do you tighten a loose nut that makes a rattling sound in the engine compartment? Well, the wrench is a tool that can come in handy for that and a bunch of other boat and engine repairs that might happen while you're out on the water. Tightening loose fixtures on the go should be easy and problem free with the right wrench at your disposal.

Keep in mind that there are some wrench designs that have ratchet socket set on the butt end. This can be ideal if you're trying to save space in your toolbox and you want to buy wrenches that are a little more versatile. You can also opt for an adjustable wrench for a wider application.

We really like the DURATECH Stubby Combination Wrench Set with Pouch.

9. Spare Bulbs and Fuses

spare fuse

You never really know when you might bust a light, and when it happens, you're going to wish you had some spare bulbs at the ready. Inspect and count your lighting fixtures and buy spare bulbs for each one. West Marine is a brand that offers a range of bulbs and fuses. Make sure to pack the spare parts in waterproof storage to prevent any damage while they're tucked away in keeping.

Aside from spare bulbs, you can also carry along some spare West Marine DC and AC fuses for easy replacement. This should keep everything in working order, like your bilge pump, in case you bust a fuse while you're out on the water.

Check out the Littelfuse Fast Acting Midget Fuse.

10. Wooden Plugs

bass boat

If you're a good ol' fashioned boater on a good ol' fashioned bass boat, then holes in the hull can lead to potentially life threatening situations - especially if you're a little too far from the shoreline. Whether it's because a hull fitting has wiggled out of place, or because a hose head popped out of place, a wooden plug should be your best friend.

These conical shaped plugs are essential for anglers and are available in sets of varying sizes and provide an almost fool-proof solution for getting you out of a sticky situation. Hammering one into a hole should keep your boat afloat until you get back to the shore.

We like the Seachoice Emergency Wood Plugs.

11. Spark Plug

spare spark plug for boat tool kit

Just as you should have some spare spark plugs for your car, so too should they be present in your boat tool box. Spark plug failure is way too common in boat engines, and the issue can be a real doozy if you don't have a spare on hand. A busted spark plug will prevent your boat engine from starting all together.

Read your manual to find out what kind of spark plug will work best for your engine. Just like other spare electrical parts and wires, see to it that the plugs are kept safe and away from heat and direct sunlight during storage. Again, West Marine should have the right variety for your boat.

We recommend the E3 Spark Plug.

12. Hose Clamps and Cable Ties

hose clamp set and cable ties

You never know when tubes, pipes, wire, or fuel lines might come loose, so it helps to have a few hose clamps and cable ties ready. These simple tools let you secure all sorts of boat parts together, preventing leaks and allowing machines to continue to function at least until you get back to the dock.

Remember though that not just any cable ties and hose clamps will do. An assortment of hose clamp sizes made of stainless steel should guarantee a safe patch job until you get home. For the cable ties, choose heavy duty ties that won't easily snap.

We really like the TICONN 40Pcs Hose Clamp Set as well as the HMROPE Heavy Duty Cable Zip Ties.

13. Extra Lines

extra dock lines

You probably have an assortment of lines connected to your boat already, but you can never really go wrong with a few extra feet of spare marine line during a day of boating. Whether it's for tying up bumpers and fenders, or for adding to your anchor rode in unexpected conditions, it's always helpful to have extra rope on deck.

Again, heavy duty marine quality is always best. Make sure to store the rope properly bundled and off of the deck to prevent accidents onboard and to avoid getting it all tangled while stored.

Super handy to have the Sea Rock Marine Double Braided Dock Lines on board.

14. Emergency Survival Kit

best boat tool kit

Some damages just can't be fixed with the minimum items in your boat tool kit, and that's when you know that you'll need help from the outside. If you're stuck on a boat that's just can't be fixed with available tools, patch jobs, and basic repairs, then you should have an emergency survival kit at the ready while you wait for the emergency jet boat to arrive.

These kits come pre-bundled so you won't have to worry about what to add to the stash. They typically come with an emergency blanket, a whistle, a tactical flashlight, a compass, a set of tools, and even a saw.

We recommend the Outdoor Emergency Survival Kit from Just Guarded.

15. Battery Terminal Puller

battery terminal puller

There is a one hundred percent chance that boats will have battery problems at some point during use. When that happens, you'll want to be able to pull those battery terminals off with ease. But because time and constant use can make them stubborn, it helps to have a battery terminal puller.

These are pretty small and serve no other purpose than simply improving grip to remove the battery terminal. It's a pretty simple job, but you'll save tons of time and effort just having the nifty tool around.

Check out the Lisle Battery Terminal and Wiper Arm Puller.

16. Moisture Meter

moisture meter

Busted a tube or fuel line that's causing a leak, but can't quite find where it is? A marine moisture meter should be helpful. This digital tool can detect the source moisture within seconds after being turned on. If you've just performed a patch job, this should also tell you if there's any leak left.

Although they can cost quite a pretty penny, they do serve their purpose well on a boat. Power sources vary from model to model, with some requiring disposal batteries and others using rechargeable built in batteries.

We like the General Tools Pinless Moisture Meter.

17. Scissors or Cutter

What are tool kits without a pair of stainless steel scissors or a cutter? Whether it's for cutting up some tape, opening a plastic sealed replacement part, or just cutting through wires and other elements on your boat, a pair of scissors should be a no brainer. Again, average everyday stainless steel scissors might not suffice. The best choice for use on a boat would still be something a little more durable.

Heavy duty all-purpose scissors should offer just enough strength for those tough cutting jobs. But unless they're made of material that's resistant to corrosion, you might want to consider getting them dry after each use.

18. Gorilla Glue

gorilla glue

There will be times when you need a quick drying, waterproof, heavy duty adhesive that can survive the harsh conditions of the marine environment. Of all the brands out there, Gorilla Glue offers all of that thus providing the perfect essential for quick patch jobs while you're out at sea.

Gorilla Glue fixes all kinds of surfaces and provides great hold that might even suffice as a permanent fix for your engine, prop, filter, or other boat parts. But just make sure to seal and properly store the bottle after use to keep the mighty adhesive from making a mess.

We've found keeping the Gorilla Glue in the boat tool kit is very useful.

19. Telescoping Rod

telescoping rod

Preferably the kind that you can attach a mirror and a magnet to. In case something is a little out of reach like your prop, or if you drop a tool or any other item just out of your arm's length, a telescoping rod can be a major help.

Attaching a mirror to the end should help you see parts of your boat that might be out of your field of view. If you drop a tool - hopefully made of metal - into the water, a magnetic fixture on the end can make it easy to retrieve. If it's non-magnetic, you can always opt for a telescoping net.

We recommend the Pickup Grabber Telescopic Rod or the RESTCLOUD Telescoping Pole with Net.

20. Oil Absorbing Pads

Among the contents of your tools box, you need something to clean up a mess. If and when you bust a pipe or a line, you'll want to contain the spillage. Oil absorbent pads are highly absorbent specialized rags that can soak up all sorts of fluid and keep it from spreading.

This can be especially helpful if you're leaking a substance that you don't want to spread to other parts of your boat, for cleaning a filter, or if you're performing repairs on the bilge.

Always Ready

Life on a boat isn't always picture-perfect so it pays to be ready with the right tools for those moments when things don't go according to plan. Having a wrench, a screwdriver, fuses, and other tools within reach can make it possible to perform a minor repair or maintenance work while you're on the water. Keep these boat tool kit essentials within reach to patch up busted lines, fix wires, and otherwise get your boat functional and fine - at least until you get back to the dock.

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