Kayak Camping – Focus on what Matters Pt1

Kayak Camping Basics – What to consider when planning a trip.

By our very nature kayakers tend to love the outdoors, which means Kayak Camping is a logical next step for those wanting to fully experience it. While there are many different types of kayak camping, this article will focus on one of the more popular ones, – Multi Day River Trips. In the following weeks, we are going to address the 5 aspects of kayak camping you should prepare for: Shelter, Food, Hydration, Latrine Kit, Emergency preparedness. However, in this initial three part series, we are going to address the concepts that matter the most when in the planning stage.

Size Matters

If you’re like me when you go camping at the local state park, you take one of everything “just in case.” But when kayak camping, space is at a premium. Interior hull space is very limited, and stacking things on the kayak isn’t always an option.┬áIn terms of weight capacity and size restrictions, kayak camping falls squarely between traditional camping and backpacking, which means one thing…Size Matters.

Compression sacks:

One of the most useful tools you have in kayak camping is the compression sack. As you may be aware, they are most commonly used for compressing sleeping bags into a manageable size. In addition to that, you can also use them for clothing, toilet paper, towels, and your tent (fabric portion). By utilizing compression sacks in this way, you will greatly reduce the amount of space needed for storing them inside your kayak.

==> BackCountry has some great compression sacks at up to 40% off.


Dry Bag for Kayak CampingDry Bags

It’s very tempting to get the biggest dry bags you can find and just load them up. After all, if I can bring in all the groceries in a single trip, why can’t I carry all my gear up to the campsite in a single trip. The truth is, you probably can, but your first concern is how to get it to the campsite. The most challenging aspect of kayak camping is packing. While it may be counter-intuitive, smaller dry bags allow you to pack more by utilize all those small nooks and crannies inside your kayak. Not only that, but consider the size of the hatch openings on your kayak. There’s nothing worse than perfectly packing your 55L dry bag, only to realize it won’t go in the kayak.

In my experience, NRS has the best dry bags for the money, but the cheaper ones will work as well. Just don’t expect them to last as long.

Side Note: The larger dry bags are great for larger items that can’t be compressed, such as my River Bed Sleeping Pad. It’s big and firm…Great for my lower back. I drop it in a dry bag and strap it to the stern of the kayak with bungee cords.

Compact gear:Kayak camping accessories

When you’re choosing which gear you’re going to take with you, you’re going to run into a lot of choices. When possible, try to choose the gear that can be broken down. A great example of this would be the gear you use for gathering fire wood. You can take a hatchet (not a bad choice), you can take a machete (still not bad), or you can take a Pocket Chainsaw. Lightweight. Effective, Compact. Perfect for kayak camping.

You have to take the same approach Wal-Mart does. They know how much each inch of shelf space is worth, and they choose products accordingly. You need to pack as much value possible into each inch of dry storage.

Be sure to check back Friday for Part 2!

Before you go, tell us what gear you must have when kayak camping. (Leave comments here or on the social media post where you found the article.)


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2 Responses

  1. Tyler says:

    Have you considered swapping out your Coleman Stove for a JetBoil? You get more bang for the buck and it’s a smaller form factor size.

  2. Rick says:

    I agree with Tyler about the Jetboil. It is fast, compact and more efficient. It would be a better choice for the weight and space issues you face with kayak camping. If a kayak camper is using freeze dried meals the Jetboil is perfect for bringing water to a boil quickly.

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