Kayak camping can be a wonderful experience – you get to explore the open waters during the day and set up camp on a beautiful bank in the evening. If you want to make the most out of every trip, a standard recreational kayak won’t suffice – you need the best kayak for camping.

Compared to recreational models, camping kayaks offer an abundance of organized storage, a higher comfort level, and better overall performance in various conditions. In this article, our kayak for camping reviews take a look at all the best camping kayaks and discuss everything they can give you on your adventures on the ocean, lake, or river.

How To Choose A Kayak For Camping – Buying Guide


Whether you’re on a river or the open ocean, the stability is very important. This is largely determined by two things – hull design and whether the boat has chines and/or a tracking system underneath.

Generally speaking, a shorter but wider kayak is better for moving water, while longer and narrower models are better for kayak camping on the open water.


Depending on the shape of the hull, a camping kayak is going to be faster or slower in the water. Unfortunately, you can rarely get both stability and speed in a single kayak. A wider boat is more stable but creates a lot of drag that makes it slower. A narrower kayak glides smoother and faster, but might be too tippy for inexperienced kayakers.

Storage Options

To properly prepare for a kayak camping trip, you’ll need a kayak that has enough storage space on-board. Possible options include models with sealed hatches, bungee-corded areas, and storage tankwells. Additionally, many sit-in kayaks for camping can fit some of the gear inside the cockpit.

If you plan to go on multi-day camping trips, we advise that you look for a touring kayak with several hatches to accommodate all the gear you need.


Since you’re going to be away for long time periods, kayak becomes even more significant. In light of this, hardshells made of rotomolded HDPE are probably the best option for kayak camping because they are very difficult to damage. Of course, you can use inflatables too, but make sure to always bring a repair kit with you in case there is an accident.

Length Of Trip

Before choosing a kayak, you’ll need to consider if you’re mostly going to use it for overnight trips or multi-day tours. After doing this, you need to think about two aspects – the amount of usable storage and overall comfort.

A boat for multi-day camping needs to have more storage space for a larger amount of gear, and it also needs to be comfortable to use for longer time periods. Unfortunately, this can also raise the boat price significantly.

Place For Camping

Having a general plan for your camping trip and getting to know the campsite area is important. To give you an example, if you’re only ever going to make ground over bushes and sharp rocks, an inflatable kayak probably isn’t the best choice for that location.

While it’s not always possible to know what awaits us at the campsite, learning about the general properties of an area might help you make a better decision.

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Maximum Load

The maximum weight capacity can make a big difference when kayak camping. While you’re unlikely to surpass it on recreational trips, the gear you bring when camping can really burden the vessel.

For this reason, we advise that you get a model with a higher weight capacity, and always pay attention not to exceed it as this will make the boat unreliable.


This type of adventure often encompasses long paddling sessions, which can become very uncomfortable in the wrong kayak. A good camping kayak should be adapted for longer trips – it should be large enough, have a padded adjustable seat, adjustable footrests, and perhaps even thigh pads on the sides.


Talking about universal performance is very difficult because you can’t expect the same things from touring and whitewater kayaks. A stable and maneuverable river kayak will be very slow on open water, while a touring ocean kayak will be very unstable on moving water.

However, if you’re wondering about a particular model, it’s always a good idea to check the user reviews and read about first-hand experiences in various situations.



Q: Is Kayak Camping Safe?


Yes it is, as long as you follow the standard safety guidelines for kayaking. It’s important to know the limitations of your kayak as well as your own, and try not to get yourself into risky situations. Also, a life jacket and often a helmet are required when going kayak camping.

Q: What Are The Best Tips For Kayak Camping?


Preparing for a kayak camping trip is very similar to preparing for multi-day backpacking – you should make sure to keep things light and well-organized. Here are some tips that will make the process easier:

  • Try to make your camping gear as light as possible, as kayaks have weight capacity limits and the performance will be compromised if overloaded
  • Distribute the load evenly throughout the boat (bow, center, and stern) and try to put heavier items lower so the kayak doesn’t lose its stability
  • Using several smaller bags will make weight distribution easier and you’ll be able to find items quicker
  • Even if your kayak has dry storage space, it’s a good idea to use dry bags for electronics and sensitive gear as extra protection.

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Kayak camping can be very exciting, and it gets even better if you’re properly prepared. With camping kayaks from our list, you’ll be able to pack everything you need and set off on multi-day kayak camping trips with confidence. We hope that our reviews and buying guide answered all of your questions, so that you can get the right kayak for any adventure.

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