Kayak Camping Tips


Kayak camping can be some of the most peaceful times but can easily go terribly wrong if you are not prepared properly. Kayak camping is what the name states, a combination of traditional camping and kayaking except that you have the freedom of camping at new locations every night if you wanted. Also, you can find those “secret” spots that can’t be found when backpacking. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, kayaks have way more storage space than you would have if backpacking. So, you will not have to ration your gear to ensure you can carry it all like you would if you were backpacking. If you are a beginner paddler then read our guide “How to Kayak” before you embark on your kayak camping trip.

Planning Your Upcoming Excursion

Before you can start packing for your kayak camping trip there are a few things you need to determine first.

Choosing Your Camp Location

This an extremely important decision and it alone could make or break your camping trip. Nothing is worse than finding a campsite but then you discover there are tons of dangerous wildlife or insects, you have no shelter from high winds, or you pitched your tent on a slope. That is why before we go over what to pack, we are going to provide a guide on how to choose a campsite.

The first thing you will need to determine is how level the land is that you will be setting camp up at. When determining where you will sleep, you need to ensure the grounds are level so you avoid sliding around, however, a little tilt is acceptable but ensure you sleep with your head at the highest end. This is also important in case of rain. You do not want to be at the bottom of a slope when it rains because water will flow down into your campsite.

Secondly, you need to determine the different types of shade that will be needed. This does not just mean shade from the sun but also shade from the wind. On hot days you will want to find trees with plenty of leaf coverage to protect you from the heat just be the tree does not have falling limbs. During the morning/early afternoon is when you most likely will be kayaking so you will want to ensure you find a tree that provides plenty of afternoon shade.

When it comes to wind, a small breeze can be your friend. It can blow away campfire smoke, however, strong winds could ruin your camping trip. To avoid strong winds, you will want asset up your campsite by a stable boulder or by a hill (if you checked that no rain is in the broadcast).

What To Pack For Your Kayak Camping Trip

When planning a kayak camping trip one of the hardest decisions is deciding what to pack and what to leave. Besides the essential PFD, this decision has a lot to do with how much space you have in your kayak for your gear but you also need to keep in mind the maximum weight capacity your kayak can hold when packing. The more it weighs the harder it is to control and move around the kayak. There are three things you need to think about when packing your kayak when you’re going camping.

  1. What equipment is necessary for survival.
  2. What equipment is necessary for comfort.
  3. Equipment I don’t need but do want with me.

When you have the above list in mind you can pack your kayak this way, items in section one all get packed, items in section two mostly get packed, and items in number three only get packed depending on the kayak. We would recommend you create a list of items so you can easily determine which criteria each piece of equipment falls under.

Packing A Kayak For Camping


It is important that you keep in mind what your kayak’s maximum weight capacity is when choosing which pieces of equipment, you can pack. Also, you want to see what type of storage space your kayak has. This is where having a checklist comes in handy because you do not want to start packing then realize you do not have enough room and have to restart. To keep my equipment safe from the weather I prefer to pack equipment inside dry bags. This helps keep your gear dry but also gives you a way to organize your gear. The way we like to organize our dry bags is by packing our sleeping gear in one bag, clothing into one bag, cooking and eating equipment in another bag, etc.

Game Plan Your Kayak Camping Trip

You now have your camping location picked out and your kayak packed with your equipment but there are a couple more things you must determine before you go out on your kayak camping trip. The first thing you need to determine is what the weather will be. You not only need to see if rain is in the forecast but as we stated earlier you need to determine what the wind conditions are going to be. You do not want to be caught off guard and not have the right equipment that is needed whether it is protecting you from the rain or guarding you against the wind.

One more thing is to determine the specific route that you want to take to your camping location. While out on the water it is very easy to get lost. You want to make sure you can identify certain terrains to give you markers to follow on your route returning to shore. When planning your route you also need to determine the tides and currents that you are going to run into.


Kayak camping can be a relaxing and peaceful time in nature but you need to make sure that you are completely prepared before going out into the wild. Before you embark on your journey you need to determine your camp location, determine what you want to pack for your kayak camping trip, the best way to pack your kayak, and game plan for your trip. Following this guide will give you the necessary steps you need to take to ensure you are prepared for your camping trip and have an enjoyable time.

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