Kayak Camping: Packing List and Tips for a Successful Trip

Kayak Camping: Packing List and Tips for a Successful Trip

Combining kayaking and camping in one adventure is a fantastic way to enjoy the best of both. Imagine yourself on an all day paddling adventure, then finding a tranquil spot by the water, setting up a tent and chilling by the bonfire under the stars. After waking up to the fresh morning air and enjoying a fire-brewed coffee, you’ll hop on your kayak to start it all over again. Sounds idyllic, right? It is! However, please be aware that the success of any kayak camping expedition relies on careful planning. That’s why this article includes useful tips on how to pack for a kayak camping trip, to ensure you’ll have a great experience. Check it out if you are ready to take your kayaking journey to the next level.

Tips to plan your kayak camping trip:

As in any wilderness expedition, the main rule is “Safety first!”. So, let's start with a few basic safety rules.

Kayak camping safety tips: 

  • Plan your route

If it is your first kayak camping experience, it’s highly recommended to start with a shorter route and only one overnight camping stay. This will allow you to “test the waters” and will give you enough time to set up the camping spot during daylight. It would be ideal if you could join experienced kayak campers if you are new to this type of adventure. Or if that’s not possible, ask them to share with you relevant know-how on kayak camping. 

Once you select the campsite (and it would be wise to have a backup option in case your first choice won’t be available) share this information with someone, so that in case things don’t go according to the plan and you don’t return on time, they can contact emergency services. 

  • Make sure your kayak is in perfect working condition
  • As your kayak is literally your life raft during a kayak camping trip, it’s essential to have a careful check before to make sure it doesn't have any damages, cracks or other malfunctions which could get you stranded in a remote spot in the wilderness.

  • Check the weather forecast
  • It’s essential to check the weather forecast before packing, to make sure you bring with you the right gear. Also, in the morning when you head out paddling it’s a good idea to double check the forecast, to confirm the conditions are ideal for a kayak camping trip. Of course, weather is unpredictable, that’s why one of the basic safety rules is to pack and prepare for all weather conditions, meaning you need to have sun-protective kayak gear but also extra layers or cold weather kayaking gear in case it gets colder or wet.

    With the basic safety rules covered, we are now getting into more practical aspects of how to pack for kayak camping.

    Tips on how to pack a kayak for camping:

    • Pack light

    Keep in mind that when you go camping with the kayak all your gear needs to fit into the small boat or raft interior. So, you need to pack only the essentials: lightweight, minimalist and compact gear. Dry Bags are essential to keep all your belongings protected from getting wet. It's more practical to have a few smaller dry bags, they’ll fit much easier in the shape of most kayaks. Go for a sit-on-top kayak, which is more suitable for kayak camping, you’ll have more storage space than in sit-in kayaks.

    • Consider the kayak’s load capacity 

    Check the load capacity of the kayak you are going to use. Make sure the total weight (of the gear you’re packing and your weight) is under the kayak’s load capacity, otherwise you’ll have a hard time paddling or turning the kayak.

    It’s important to balance the weight evenly on the kayak’s storage compartments. Make sure one side or end isn’t loaded more than the other. If the weight is not evenly distributed, it won’t float properly on the water surface. Go for a test paddle close to home to test all your gear before you set out for camping.

    • Use a packing checklist

    Last but not least, use a packing checklist and double check it while packing for your kayak camping trip. Here is our suggested packing checklist. Feel free to adapt it to your specific needs.

    Kayak Camping Packing checklist

    Kayak & Safety

    • Kayak 
    • Paddle with leash
    • Spare paddle
    • PFD life jacket
    • Deck Compass
    • Maps, Charts, Guidebook
    • Kayak repair kit 
    • First aid kit
    • Survival kit (bailout bag)
    • Survival knife 
    • Waterproof matches 
    • Waterproof Headlamp with spare batteries



    • Tent with extra pegs
    • Sleeping bag
    • Sleeping mat

    Kitchen and food

    • Food (packed in dry bags): lunch, snacks (stored in an easily accessible compartment) tinned meat, frozen meat, vegetables, nuts, ready-to-eat meals
    • Camping Stove with fuel and lighters
    • Compact cooking and dining utensils kit
    • Kitchen Knife
    • Can opener
    • Coffee Filter
    • Coffee & tea
    • Salt and pepper
    • Cooler
    • Reusable water bottle
    • Water
    • Water filter
    • Matches, Lighter


    • Insect Repellent
    • Candle Lantern
    • Waterproof Notepad & Pen
    • Dry Bags
    • Litter bags
    • Sunscreen, UV Lip Balm
    • Small Towel
    • Latrine Kit: Trowel, Toilet Paper, Hand Sanitizer


    Paddling Clothing


    Camping clothing


    Now with all the information you need for your next kayak camping trip, you’re ready to explore the wilderness like a true adventurer - with Vaikobi by your side!

    Have fun! Stay safe and enjoy the ride!

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