Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit – Full Review And How to Make it Effective!

Last year I bought a Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit for when out paddling in my canoe.  Through my emergency management work and boating needs assessment, here is what you get and what I think of it. 

What is the Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit?

The Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit is a small craft boating emergency kit sold by Fox 40, famous for its great emergency whistles.  The kit is aimed at small craft users such as kayaks, canoes, and potentially small powered-craft.  You need to check your local boating regulations to ensure this kit meets your Transport Canada, US Coast Guard or other local minimum boating safety requirements.  You get the container (bailing bucket), the 15m floating rope, a cheap flashlight, a good Fox 40 whistle, and a reflective sunlight signaling surface under the lid.  Each craft must have its own safety kit.  The kit is a good starting point, but you must add a quality waterproof LED flashlight, and ideally other items to fulfill your crisis needs.  You need to think beyond just meeting your minimum legal needs and think preparedness.

Know Your Local Legal Boating Regulations

There are many elements that go into what legal requirements you must meet for your boating. Do your research and remember that the requirements can change from year to year.  

Canada, the United States, or your country have safety equipment regulations for small craft boating and there are differences of watercraft, human-powered vs motorized, the length of the craft, distance from shore, …  Check out the Transport Canada website, the US Coast Guard, or the national boating safety websites of the country where you will be boating. 

Both sites have some amazing material and get to know that material as it is in your interest, be it how you behave on the water but also the requirements you need to follow because you can get ticketed and those tickets can be very expensive!

The Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit (although I added the green carabiner)

What do you get in a Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit?  

Well not a huge amount but I feel it is a great way to get the ball rolling and get started on your kit preparedness and having what you need.  The most important thing is what YOU need, when you need it.  Sure, you can meet the letter of the law if you get stopped and checked by boating police, for example, but if you don’t have what you need for your potential crises, your crisis could become an unnecessary disaster or a serious emergency.

Let’s open up this kit.  Here is what you get:

The Container is also a Bailing Bucket

The outer orange container is made of hard plastic and has a screw top lid.  I do not consider this container to be waterproof but it does close pretty well.  There is not a lot of extra space in the container beyond the contents included.  I with it was a bit bigger to allow for adding more items of one’s choice.

One of this needs this container meets is that of also being a bailing bucket.  Bailing is the action of scooping water out of a small craft.  Waves, spray, paddling droplets of water or small leaks can put water into your small craft.  This container is used to scoop (bail) out that water.  Keep in mind that it is a small container and it will take you a long time to scoop lots of water out of a canoe if there is a lot of water or a leak letting in a fair bit of water. 

If you flip your canoe or kayak and have access to land, try to first remove as much water as possible from your boat before you start bailing. 

A Cheap Flashlight

This is the biggest of disappointment in the kit. 

Yes, you get a “flashlight”, but it is a total piece of junk and it is an old-school technology incandescent-bulb flashlight.  You also need to supply the required two AA batteries.  I do not understand why they would not increase the kit price by a couple of dollars if it could mean a decent grade of long-lasting LED flashlight.

Every review of this kit highlights how junky this flashlight is and that totally lets down the overall kit.  Fox 40, if you are reading this, please, please include a descent quality LED flashlight!

Why is it junky?  The thing is flimsy, it does not even seem like the seal on the flashlight would really hold, the lighting power is almost non-existent with two new AA batteries, etc…  

I give them credit for at least having a strap on the flashlight. 

Remember that regardless of the flashlight, always have spare batteries in a watertight container.

A Fox 40 Emergency Whistle

In my opinion, Fox 40 is one of the best whistle makers out there, and while the kit includes one of their great whistles, why cheapen the kit by not even putting a ring on the whistle or a cord and carabiner?   Therefore, plan to put a ring, cord and carabiner on the whistle so you will not lose the whistle during a crisis. 

I highly recommend that each person always have a Fox 40 type whistle attached to their lifejacket.  And always wear your life jacket!

It is important to understand your emergency whistle so take a few minutes to understand the importance and uses of these whistles: my easy guide to emergency whistles.

Garbage flashlight but excellent whistle. Make sure you put a ring, cord and carabiner on the whistle.

15m Floating Rope and Float

You get a yellow 15-meter (50ft) braided nylon rope and with a float.  This is to be used as tow-line or for helping rescue someone.  As a rescue line, I would recommend having a quality throw bag in your craft.

The 15m/50ft braided rope and float.

Reflective Signalling Device

The underside of the container lid is reflective could work to a degree as a sunlight reflecting signaling device.

That’s it.  So that’s what you get in a kit. 

Looking to buy emergency items, here are some examples:
Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit:
Fox 40 Paddlers Safety Pack:
Fox 40 SUP Safety Kit:
Solid compact compass:
Solid but bulkier compass:
Rescue Throw Bag for boating:
Emergency Telescoping Paddle:
Hand Pump for pumping water out of boat, canoe or kayak:
Dry bag and Phone Case combo:
Waist-belt dry pouch:
Dry Box in safety orange:
Twin pack of Emergency Whistles:
Emergency whistles 12-pack:
Small craft anchor:
Paddle float:
Waterproof First Aid Kit:
*These are affiliate links. I get a small commission at no cost to you.

How to Improve the Fox 40 Boating Kit?

Let’s start with this Fox 40 Boating Kit and take it beyond just meeting legal requirements and make it more suitable to your emergency needs.  What do you need to have in this kit to get you out of a pickle?  Consider a second container such as a drybag for your other items as this container is pretty small.  Here are some suggestions for a few things that could fit into this container:

Carabiner:  There is a cord on this container so put a carabiner on that as soon as you get it.  Make sure that you can attach this container to your boat in case you overturn your kayak or canoe.  What good is it if this floats away?  If you need to, get a longer string/cord to ensure can attach it to your boat.
Good quality waterproof LED flashlight and spare batteries in a waterproof container
• Quality comp
• Multi-tool like a Leatherman
Mylar reflective emergency blanket: at least one
• Lighter
• Ziplock baggies (to protect items from water damage)
• List of emergency contacts

My Impressions of the Fox 40 Boater’s Kit?

I think this basic kit is a good way to get started and the most important thing is getting started.  Get on your way to boating preparedness in thinking, assessing, and planning for your needs.

Educate your Fellow Boaters About the Kit Contents

Take a moment to discuss the contents of this kit and your desired emergency procedures with those you boat with.  Each craft must have its own safety kit.  Do not forget all the other emergency equipment items that you could have that could save your life or get you out of a bind or whatever it is. 

Think About the Needs for Each Outing

Make sure that you have what you need for the circumstances every time you go out on the water, such as the:
• number of people
• abilities of the people in your in your craft
• water temperature
• air temperature
• boating conditions and potential ranges of conditions
• daylight remaining
• your various legal requirements
• what else can you think of in your research and experiences?

I’m not really saying pack a huge duffle bag kit but if you have a smartly equipped kit that is ready to go, you just grab that each time and perhaps add to it if the circumstances are beyond what is in your kit.

This fella was going for an urban waterway paddle, very different from a wilderness location. But each craft still requires its minimum safety equipment per Transport Canada regulations.

Should you build your own Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit?

Absolutely, go for it.  That is an option.  In my opinion, the $12-$20 spent on this kit gets you a basic kit that is known to coast guard or other water officials if you are stopped.  Do make sure it meets your needs or you’ve added what’s needed for it to meet and exceed your legal needs.  Do remember than I feel there are two aspects to your kit: meeting your legal needs and having something capable of meeting your actual needs.

How Do I Use my Fox 40 Boater’s Kit? 

I leave an old canoe at a wilderness location here in Canada.  Since I do not use it very often, I would not want to leave anything with the canoe.  What I like about a ready-packed kit is that if I will be at this location, I can grab my sunglasses, hat, favorite paddle, life jacket, and I’ve got my (augmented) Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit emergency kit always packed.  Done.  Done for a canoe ride in that area and meeting my legal/safety needs.  At least I have these things that help me meet the minimum requirement. 

I can also bring also bring this kit with me if invited to go paddling with friends using their boats.

Your Four Types of Kits for Boating

To help you think about your needs when out boating, break it down in terms of four kit needs.  Remember that the nature of boating is that your gear needs protection from the elements, water sloshing around in the bottom of your canoe/kayak, spray, and for use in smaller craft at risk of tipping.  Dry bags come in different sizes.

  1. Basic supplies for the outing: Clothing, food, water, sun cream, extra clothing, phone, extra battery pack, …
  2. First aid kit: A solid compact first aid kit can help address many types of minor to mid-level medical emergencies. 
  3. Emergency kit: general emergencies like broken things, weather, survival, duct tape, zip ties, flares(?), mylar reflective blanket for each person, …
  4. Emergency boater kit: Having an augmented Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit can be what helps your craft meet the local boating laws regulations and meet your emergency needs.
Wilderness locations mean that you need far more preparedness than just the legal minimums for your emergency kit. Think through your needs and solutions.

Wilderness Trips Requires Far More Safety Kit!

Wilderness boating still requires this kit but you will likely need more robust items, answers to more complicated emergency situations, and redundancies (spares). These legal minimums are in hopes of you having certain bits of kit but use that as a starting point.

Conclusion: Yes, buy a Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit and improve it!

The Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kits is a handy and cheap starting point for building your small craft emergency kit.  Be smart.  Know your craft and location’s legal safety item minimums and then greatly exceed those minimums to be equipped for your potential boating emergencies.  And, please, add in a quality waterproof LED flashlight!  Be safe and be boating smart.  When you head out for paddle or ride in your canoe, kayak, or small motor boat, put on your lifejacket, grab your augmented Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit, and remember your other emergency items.

Looking to Buy Boating Emergency Items:

Please ensure that your legally required items are approved for your craft, your use, and your location. 

Fox 40 Boat Essentials Kit:
Fox 40 Paddlers Safety Pack:
Fox 40 SUP Safety Kit:
Solid compact compass:
Solid but bulkier compass:
Rescue Throw Bag for boating:
Emergency Telescoping Paddle:
Hand Pump for pumping water out of boat, canoe or kayak:
Dry bag and Phone Case combo:
Waist-belt dry pouch:
Dry Box in safety orange:
Twin pack of Emergency Whistles:
Emergency whistles 12-pack:
Small craft anchor:
Paddle float:
Waterproof First Aid Kit:
*These are affiliate links. I get a small commission at no cost to you.

Be safe when you are having fun.

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