Packing Your Kayak for Camping

four packed kayaks

Kayak-camping adventure offers you a feeling of freedom that you will surely enjoy.  Paddling down the river during the day and camping in the forest during the night is the best stress reliever ever. However, your first-time packing can be a little stressful.

But, it doesn’t have to be this way.

You might be wondering:

How will you fit all that extra items in the boat? The key is to pack your gear properly and plan your trip in advance. In this article, we will explain how to make a list of needed stuff, organize it and keep track of it.

Following this guide, you will quickly learn how packing a kayak for camping can be easy. And, you will enjoy this outdoor adventure and learn a lot from the nature.

As John Lubbock, English politician and scientist, wrote in his book: “Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

Without further ado, let’s dive in:

1. Learn How to Pack

For all the outdoors enthusiasts who love camping, bringing a kayak on this adventure is a great way to gain increased flexibility and strength. If you are planning on a multi-day trip, then you need to organize your gear properly. Camping in the night and kayaking in the day require a lot of extra stuff to bring.

The important thing is to pack light. Don’t load up with some unnecessary stuff. It may not be as restrictive as backpacking, but you will have to leave some gear behind.

Put the heaviest load behind your seat to provide better stability. Place the lighter and smaller stuff at the end of your kayak. Keep the flat items and tent poles along the hull of it.

Why is this important? It provides balance and stability to your boat. So, make sure that everything is placed centered and low from side to side.

For the safety, it is important to bring hypothermia and a first-aid kit. (source) Keep all of them in a dry sack. As for the clothing, here are some tips what to bring when going on this kind of adventure: synthetic base layers, swimsuits or shorts, hat, waterproof footwear and sandals, waterproof pants and jacket, dry synthetic clothes for sleeping, dry suit or wetsuit, socks, gloves, waterproof gloves, and sunglasses.

These are important essentials, but you can add some more stuff on this list based on your personal preference.

2. Use Dry Bags

Pay attention to the organization strategy. The best way is to pack your stuff into the dry bags. Use one for first-aid or safety, one for sleeping gear, one for clothing, then label them with the waterproof tape and a marker.

You can also use bags with different colors. This way you will know how your gear is organized. To know what is in each bag, create a checklist.

Put it in some place where you can easily find it. Make sure you check all your gear before you start the trip. Dry bags come in different weight, shapes, and sizes.

And for this trip, it is best to use smaller one. This way you will find your stuff easier and balance the weight of a kayak. You can also bring a high-capacity bag for all that items that aren’t packed in a small dry one.

This is a great way to transport your gear from your camp to your boat or reverse. Since there is a big chance that your gear gets wet, keep your most important stuff in a most secure bag. Don’t forget to squeeze all of the air from the bag, and get more space. When kayak camping any available space and every inch counts. That’s why it is important to organize your stuff properly and maximize the space.

different color dry bags

3. Make a Plan In Advance

When planning a kayak camping adventure there are some things you need to consider. For example, how far and long your trip will be, how large your group is, what type of water you are kayaking and what the weather is going to be like.

If you see that the weather is going to be rough, then you need to pack more supplies and heavier gear. But, the key is to go light. Kayak camping trip is very restrictive.

It requires discipline and choosing the important stuff that you need the most. Minimal packing is always a good idea.

4. Load the Boat Evenly

When loading your boat, you need to pay attention to two things: how to easily access your vital items and weight distribution. Before you start packing, you need to make sure to never surpass the maximum weight capacity of your boat.

Leave duplicate items and anything that is not vital. Place your stuff properly in the kayak. Not sure how to do that?

Don’t worry. Here are few tips that you can use for loading your boat. First-aid and hypothermia kit place near the cockpit.

Make sure to isolate fuel bottle and put them at the end of the stern or bow. Keep your compass away from all electronics. Behind your feet place large bags, so that they can’t get wet. Store GPS or a backup knife behind your seat.

Heavy gear also put behind the seat so you will be able kayaking easily and faster. Keep the bailing equipment within your reach. To fill up space, use the end of the bow and stern for tent poles.

In the empty spaces place the water bottles. The important thing is to keep everything secure. Clothing, hats, bottle, and snacks protect with the hatches.
Using ropes you can fasten spare paddles to the rear or front deck.


As you can see, with a good plan it is not that hard packing a kayak for camping. Just remember to pack light, bring a positive attitude and follow this easy guide and tips to learn how to organize your stuff properly.

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