Packing Hints For Kayak Camping

Kayak Camping

Your Guide to Planning, Packing and Gear

Now that you have the kayak of your dreams it’s time to get out and about with some riverside camping for a night or two. Proper planning and packing can be the difference between a good trip and a great one. With kayak camping minimalism rules. Always take only what is necessary. Planning is key too. Be sure you fully understand where you are going and what you will be doing.

The first thing to think about is your kayak and what accessories you will need. The bare essentials are as follows:

  • Spare Paddle
  • Paddle Leash
  • Inflatable PFD
  • First aid kit

Next think about what to take – this usually consists of:

One pair of shoes to get wet and one to keep dry, avoiding big hiking type boots.

A pack containing a small tent with sleeping bag and pillow. You may also want a portable stove and some plates and utensils.

One bag of clothing picked according to likely weather conditions, temperature and activities planned.

Food and water. Best to avoid heavy containers such as cans and glass. Also remove as much packaging as possible as you don’t want to be carrying the garbage after its use. A good idea is to plan and package your food into easily accessible lots. For example two bags of Day 1 main meals and a bag of Day 1 snacks. Some foods need waterproofed bagging while others such as fruit don’t need it.

Pack all your food and clothing into separate small bags the largest bag should be about the size of an AFL football. When choosing the type of bag, fully waterproof or just a plastic bag, always work on theory that you will capsize AND the heavens will open and pour gallons of rain down on you and your gear!

Packing the Yak

Now that you have your kayak, food, camping and clothing properly bagged up it’s time to pack your kayak. This is where your kayak’s storage layout becomes important. Big hatches with easy access makes life out on the water just that little bit more effortless and enjoyable.


  • balance your kayak
  • tie everything down
  • keep everything dry that needs to stay dry
  • pack things tightly to avoid rattling and movement

Balancing your kayak is your first priority closely followed by access and space utilization. Weight should be distributed evenly from bow to stern to maintain optimal paddling efficiency. Keep weight low and centred as much as possible.

The narrow ends of bow and stern are best for infrequently access items like tent, chair, trolley etc. If you are carrying a lot of equipment for a long camp feel around in these compartments for any available space to use.

As a general rule it is better to pack small heavy gear up the bow and bulkier gear at the stern and as you plan to use, that is early access bags not buried away. Water bags are great for filling up empty spaces and having enough fresh water is essential.

Ensure you have snacks and sunscreen in your easy access storage well.

Sun Protection

The sun and sunburn can ruin your whole trip. Don’t forget that the sun’s rays bounce straight off the water and up at you. We are not accustomed to protecting ourselves from sun rays that come UP from below! It’s not intuitive! But on a boat or kayak it must be considered. Better to go completely over-board (not literally) and get yourself a 50+ long sleeve shirt, 50+ long pants, and a cap with neck and face protection.

Everything should be packed securely to reduce movement and loss. The more room you have on your deck the more comfortable the ride so use available wells and cavity before storing on deck.

Finally make sure all hatches are secured and fitted properly and your ready for the water.

by Rory

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