Kayak Camping: All You Need to Know

An in-depth guide on kayak camping and how to perform this successfully. Kayak Camping: All You Need to Know thegearhunt.com

Man-KayakingFor those who enjoy kayak camping, there is nothing like it.  For those who go on camping trips already, the jump from simply camping to kayak camping should be an easy one. Why would you change one for the other you might ask? In this blog, we are going to answer that question and more.

Imagine for one second, a relaxing trip where you spend your days fishing, swimming, and just lazing the day away on the water underneath your kayak. Then, once the sun sets, you pull up on shore and secure your kayak at your chosen camping spot, then you spend the night, visiting with your friends or family cooking an appetizing meal and relaxing in front of a crackling fire, only to wake up the next morning and do it all over again.

However, camping and kayaking can be quite intimidating for a new person trying to get used to this new adventure. That’s why this blog will cover everything from beginner tips to safety tips, so you are ready, willing, and eager to take on kayak camping when the time comes. Of course, the first thing you need to know when thinking of kayak camping is exactly what it is. Ready to start out on our first kayak learning adventure. Then, without further ado, let’s go!

What is Kayak Camping?

This question may have an obvious answer to some, but it still bears talking about. Simply put, kayak camping is using your kayak to get you to the campsite that is your destination. It is basically a mixture of backpacking and using your car to get to the campsite, except you are getting there by water travel instead. One of the main benefits of kayak camping is you have much more storage capability in a kayak than you do a backpack, and it’s much easier to carry the things you need, or even want for your trip. Now, that you know what kayak camping is, let’s move into the other things you need to know for your first camping trip to be a roaring success.

Choosing Your Kayak

KayaksOf course, the very first thing you need to do before anything else is choosing the type of kayak you want to get you to your campsite. There are a couple of options out there for you to choose from. The choice of whether you want a whitewater kayak or a crossover kayak is up to you and should be decided on after you have done careful research into each one and the type of kayaking you are going to be participating in.

The type you choose is, of course, going to be determined by the type of water you will be kayaking in, river, lake, or ocean. Of course, you need to determine your budget as well. Everyone is looking for a deal, and that goes for choosing a kayak as well. Never, go out and buy the cheapest kayak you can find, as it could be unsafe to do so, but you don’t have to pay an arm, a leg, and give up your first born child either to find one that is high-quality and works well to suit your needs. One piece of advice that bears mentioning is to never purchase a kayak that doesn’t have one hatch, maybe two, at least. This is the best place to store gear that you will need during your camping trips, such as cookware for dinner and sleeping bags.


Plan Your Trip

It’s extremely important to plan your kayak camping trip with care. You should start off by figuring out exactly what route you are planning on taking to get to your campsite. As a beginning kayak camper, you should choose an easy route with an easy destination, so you can not only relax but learn the ropes as well. Consider what you want out of your camping trip and only stay for one or two nights. When you’re a beginner, that is the best option, until you are more seasoned and able to handle a longer camping trip.

Tips for Packing

When it comes to packing for your kayak camping trip, there are quite a few things that you should know, do, and consider. Read on below for a few things and trips.

Keep the Packing Light

This may be a no-brainer, but one thing to consider is that the heavier the gear you pack, the heavier your kayak is going to be, which means you and your partner are paddling that heavy load down the river, lake, or even ocean you are on. If you keep packing light, you will have much more fun, and have much less stress, as you paddle along to your campsite. There are two basic ways to ensure you’re packing light. One, everyone can pack their own lightweight gear or two, everyone can share. This includes things like cooking supplies, tents, and other necessary camping gear. If you split up the list, then everyone can bring what is on their list, and keep the packing as lightweight as possible.

Don’t Forget the Dry Bags

It has been said that a wide assortment of dry bags is a camper’s best friend, especially, when you are a kayak camper. The last thing you want is your gear taking a tumble into the lake or getting splashed with water or hit in a sudden rainstorm. It’s important to remember to use the dry bags the right way, or the water and moisture will get in any way, sort of defeating the purpose of taking them with you.

Use Your Hatches Wisely and Well

Remember, when we told you to make sure that your kayak had one, possibly two, hatches? Well, this is the point in the blog where those hatches come in handy. The more you can store in those hatches, the more room you will have on the kayak itself. It’s best to store the items that you don’t need in your hatches during the paddle.

Keep it Organized

Always, always stay organized during a paddle. You would be surprised at how many kayaks have been overturned, by someone moving back and forth, trying to find the gear they have misplaced. In order to not capsize your kayak, it’s advised that you keep items that you know you’re going to need during the paddle to your campsite within easy reach and exactly where you know they will need to be.

Distribute Weight Properly

It’s important for you to distribute your weight properly throughout the kayak to avoid having too much weight on one side. It’s best to store the heavier items in the lower portions of the kayak to be sure they don’t cause you to capsize the boat.

Necessary Items to Bring

There are some items that it is necessary to bring along with you on your kayak camping trip, and some that you are better off leaving at home. Read on below for a list of the necessary items, you should consider.

  • Shelter (tents, sleeping bags)
  • A water purification system
  • Camp stove or lighters, matches to light a fire
  • Food
  • First aid supplies
  • Knife
  • Soap
  • Toilet paper
  • A map

These are the things that you will want to take along with you, that will not only make your camping trip easier but will help you in case of an emergency as well.


There are also quite a few mistakes you will want to avoid when kayak camping and tips you should follow, including safety tips for kayaking itself. In the next section of our blog, we will go into some of those mistakes and safety tips as well.

Mistakes to Avoid

Mistake Number One: Not Staying in Touch with the Weather

Just as with any boat, when you are out on the water, you have got to keep updated on the weather. The mistakes that beginning kayakers (and some experienced ones) make is not keeping a watch out on the weather. For a kayaker that has worn himself out, getting caught in a storm can turn deadly. Getting caught in a storm on dry land is uncomfortable and an inconvenience, getting caught on the water in a storm can be deadly. Always keep ahead of the weather and get out of the water if you see any changes coming your way.

Mistake Number Two: Failing to Dress to get Wet

While you may have no intention of getting wet during your kayaking trip, things happen and you are out on the water after all. You don’t want to dress to look great when on a kayaking camping trip. Treat the trip as if you could get wet at any moment, especially if the air and water are cold. There are many articles online that will help you find suitable clothing for kayaking.

Mistake Number Three: Drinking and Kayaking

There are quite a few tips that should be no-brainers in this blog, but this one cannot be stressed enough. As with any type of activity on the water, drinking and kayaking just don’t mix. If you have to drink to have fun, then kayaking might not be the best choice of activity for you and your friends.

Now that you know the mistakes you should avoid when kayak camping, it’s time to look at some of the safety tips you should follow as well.

Know Your Own Limits

One of the first safety tips you should follow to the letter is knowing your own limits. While challenging yourself and getting stronger as a paddler is a great idea and a rewarding experience, you need to know your own strength and fitness levels. Just because your best friend can paddle for hours, doesn’t mean that you can do the same. Know your limits and stop when you need to.

Know the Limits of Your Kayak

Just like with other boats, no two kayaks are exactly the same. You need to know the limits of the kayak you are using. For instance, you don’t want to take a kayak that is meant for the river out into the ocean. Not if you don’t want to drown or be shark food that is. Respecting the limits of your kayak is key to having a fun, yet safe kayak camping trip.

Stay Visible

Being visible is extremely important when it comes to kayaking. The US Coast Guard has made it a law that you have to have a visible white light if you are kayaking at dusk or sunset so your kayak can be easily spotted by other boats. It’s also a good idea to have bright colors so your kayak can be spotted easily and for you to wear bright colors as well.

Have a Float Plan and Give it to a Friend

You can’t expect help to come if you get in trouble if no one knows where to look for you. That is why it’s so important to not only have a float plan but to give that plan to a friend. A well-developed float plan will have:

  • The route you plan to take
  • Where you will put in and pull out
  • The names of every person in your group
  • When you plan you leave and when you plan to return

In this way, if you don’t return at the expected time, your friend can send out a search party to find you, before you and your group come to any harm.Camping

This brings us to the end of our blog on everything you need to know about kayak camping from the safety tips to what to pack. Kayak camping can be a new and fun experience, as long as you do it the right way. Happy camping everyone! 


  1. Ack, How to Pack for Kayak Camping Trips
  2. Beyond the Tent, A Beginners Guide to Canoe and Kayak Camping
  3. Vibe, Kayak Camping Safety