Preparing For Your Kayak Camping Trip


Kayak camping is a great way to spend a weekend outdoors. It gets you savoring the joy of kayaking as well as the relaxation and peacefulness of camping, giving you the best of two worlds. 

But as with all excursions involving spending time with Mother Nature, a kayak camping trip needs proper planning – know the different gear you need to bring, where to paddle, the right places to camp, and such things that will keep you safe and make your experience memorable. 

In this post, we have put together foolproof tips for choosing the appropriate kayak camping gear and a few more things that you can do to have an enjoyable outing. Let’s dive in!

Kayak Camping Trip: 5 Essential Gear Pieces To Ensure A Safe Expedition

If you are kayaking on calm, near-shore waters, you will not need piles and piles of gear. But if you are eyeing a faraway destination, our kayak camping gear list is a great way to make sure you are not leaving behind any essentials. Note that the equipment listed here is for flatwater trips; whitewater kayaking will require slightly different gear. 

1. Kayak 

Your yak is essentially one of the most important items of the day, so make sure to choose right. Kayaks come in different shapes and designs; which one you choose will depend on how and where you wish to use it. 

Also, depending on how you wish to transport your vessel, you will want to figure out whether you need an inflatable kayak that you can easily pack in a bag or a rigid one. 

Weight capacity is an important factor too especially if you are bringing a lot of gear. Make sure your boat can carry all your equipment without sinking or tipping over. 

2. Kayak Accessories 

  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD)

A PFD will help keep you afloat if your boat capsizes. Get one that is paddling-friendly and comfortable enough so you don’t mind wearing it all day. You may also consider one with a few pockets, as you may need these to store some of your essentials. 

  • Spray Skirt

A kayak spray skirt would be yet another important item in your kayak checklist especially if you will be navigating rough waters. It would be particularly useful during the colder months as it would help keep you warm.

  • Kayak paddle 

Any kayak paddle with a double blade will do when you are just starting. On a trip where your body will be put into serious fatigue, learning proper paddling techniques is more important than the type of paddle you bring; so take time to familiarize yourself with these to avoid putting too much pressure on your body. 

  • Compass 

Whether you are kayak camping in an area close to home or a faraway land, you need to always know where you are headed. A compass will be an excellent part of your kayak gear list, as it will give you a clear sense of direction so you can navigate the waters safely.  A good kayak compass should have straps and waterproofing. It should also mount easily on the deck. 

  • Dry Bags

Dry packs, as the name suggests, help keep things dry. That said, have all your essential items like sleeping bags, extra clothes, maps, etc. stored in a dry bag. Putting your gear in bags not only prevents it from getting soggy but also keeps everything bundled and organized nicely. 

If you just throw all your clothes, matches, water bottles, and food aimlessly into the kayak, everything will rattle around and you will have to take all your gear out to find what you what. If possible, bring multiple dry bags for the different items you have on board. Make sure to color-code them, say red for clothing, yellow for food, etc., for easier identification and re-packing. 

  • Snack Food 

The snacks you bring should be something that fuels you up and that will not melt. Pack unsalted nuts, goldfish, dried fruits, crackers, etc., and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. 

3. Sleeping Gear 

If you are planning an overnight or multi-day kayaking trip, think about where you will be spending the night. Apart from choosing a great campsite, make sure to bring a tent and other essential sleeping gear. A few things to think about when selecting your camping tent include ventilation, a built-in ground tarp, and a fly that extends down the entire wall of the tent, among others. 

A good sleeping bag is also a must, as you need to have a comforting, replenishing rest to get your body ready for the next day. Preferably, get one rated down to about ten to fifteen degrees below the expected lowest temperature. You may also want to consider a sleeping pad for extra warmth if you are adventuring an area where temperatures dip significantly at night. 

4. Clothing 

Entering the right clothes in your kayak camping checklist can mean the difference between a great day and one full of regrets. Clothes protect your body from elements and keep your body’s moisture and temperature levels regulated. 

The climate of the area you intend to explore, season, and physical activity all play a huge role in the choice of clothes you should wear throughout your kayaking venture. You should bring something comfortable and protective; that way, if an emergency arises and the only thing you can do is wait, at least you should be able to do so in comfortable apparel. 

  • Pants 

Depending on the weather you will be paddling in, you will have to decide whether to wear shorts or full-length pants. On land, pants will help protect your body against bugs and UV rays while shorts will make you look cooler. Experts, however, advise dressing for the water, not the weather. While at it, go for fabrics that wick off moisture like polyester; avoid cotton at all costs, as it is difficult to dry when it gets soggy. 

  • Shirts

Your torso will be making most of the layering from moisture-wicking undergarments to heat-sealing mid-layers to element-protecting outer layers. Whether you go for long or short sleeves, make sure your clothing is highly breathable. Synthetic fabrics are good and there are plenty of choices. There is also a host of techno fibers on the market today. Ask around and find out what works for other kayakers, but whatever you do, avoid garments made from cotton. 

  • Hats 

It does not matter what kind of weather you will be paddling in; headgear is a must-have in your kayaking trip checklist. When it’s hot, a sun hat will offer much-needed shade and keep you protected from the harmful UV rays. When the temperatures dip, a fleece cap will help keep you warm. Full head covering will also come in handy in bug-infested areas. 

  • Gloves 

Bring paddling gloves to protect your hands while on the water and provide warmth when on land. Consider packing a pair of work gloves too if you plan on doing some camp chores like building, processing firewood, etc. 

  • Shoes And Socks 

As with any other part of your body, your feet need to stay warm too, to have an enjoyable outdoor experience. For paddlers looking to keep their gear to a minimum, footwear that can be used both on-shore and on the water would be a huge advantage. 

Good water shoes should be flexible enough to keep your feet working comfortably in the cockpit and sturdy enough to walk on rocky beaches. On a trip like this, it would also be nice to carry a pair of hiking shoes for those adventurous forays beyond the campsite. 

Thin synthetic socks would go a long way in providing the warmth and comfort required for this trip too. Go for a pair that slips your wet foot easily into or out of an equally wet shoe. For the nighttime, pack a pair or two of wool socks; they will also double up as emergency mittens when it gets cold. 

5. First Aid Kit

We can’t wrap up our kayaking camping checklist without including a first aid kit. Whether you are vacationing in a nearby spot or somewhere far from home, never underestimate the effect this little piece of gear may have on the success of your trip. Bruises, cuts, and scraps can happen unexpectedly and you want to be able to contain these without aborting your outing. Just make sure all basic items like medication, creams, bandages, etc. are sealed in a waterproof bag to keep them dry at all times. 

More Tips For Ensuring An Unforgettable Kayak Camping Trip


Now that you know what to bring kayaking, let’s find out some of the things you should do to further make your experience a delightful one. 

Before You Go 

Do comprehensive research on where you intend to go. This will help you understand the exact equipment to bring and whether or not you will be hiring some of your gear on site. 

Besides, if you will be kayaking as a group, make sure all members, especially those who are new to kayaking, have polished their paddling skills. You can factor in a day or two of learning the techniques or get everyone together for a short pre-trip class.

Another important factor to consider is where to pitch your tent. Your best bet is to look for official campsites where your security is guaranteed. Also, check to see whether your chosen sport requires you to have a permit to set up your shelter. 

Moreover, be sure you are familiar with how each piece of your equipment works. You do not want to be stranded in the middle of nowhere with a GPS that you do not know how works. Neither do you want to start looking for someone to fix a minor problem in your kayak just because you do not know how to do it? Learn what you need to learn about your equipment beforehand to increase your chances of having a memorable trip. 

Finally yet importantly, tell someone where you intend to go, how long you will be gone, and at what time they should expect you back; even if you are taking a friend or group of kayakers with you. 

During The Trip

Paddling works a huge part of your upper body muscles, and these suck up a lot of energy from your body. So to avoid feeling exhausted and unwell, make sure to keep your body fueled up. Eat proper energy-giving foods and snacks and drink plenty of fluids throughout the day to help maintain the required body energy, keep muscles replenished, and reduce muscle pains and joins. 

Make safety an important part of your trip too. Wearing a life jacket or personal floatation device while on the water would be a great place to start. Also, avoid navigating sections of water that are beyond your experience level. However, do not be afraid to discover and explore new spots that may be hidden from the usual areas everyone else has been kayaking. 

Once you are done for the day, and ready to set up camp, bring your boat on-land, some distance away from the water body on which you have been kayaking. You do not want to wake up and find your boat and paddle have been washed away by waves in the night. You may also want to store your yak turned over so it can drain any water that may have splashed in while you were paddling. 

Glob Surf Overview 

Evidently, there is much more involved in kayak camping than in an individual kayaking or camping trip. But this also means you have much more enjoyment when the two activities are combined than when undertaking each separately. If you are planning on bringing your kayak on your next camping trip, the tips we have shared here would be a great starting point to ensure you are having a smooth, safe, and hassle-free adventure.

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Globo Surf
My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!