Kayak camping gear advise

I’m an owner since this past September of a Current Designs Storm kayak, and am now looking at outfitting it for some 1 or 2 night camping trips (and probably longer in the future). I live in southern Southeast Alaska, where we have lots of trees, lots of hills, and lots of rain, with low temps right now in the 40’s and lows in the summer in the 40’s - 50’s

I’ve been debating between getting a Hennessy Hammock or a good 3 season tent, but after emailing Hennessy I think I’ve decided on the following, and would like some feedback.

Hennessy Hammock Explorer Deluxe or Safari (I like the Safari because it has a much larger fly and is only $10 more, but it’s currently backordered), with a Big Agnes 15 degree sythetic sleeping bag, and a big agnes insulated air core mattress which slides into a pocket on the bag. HH recommended this as it will provide some bottom insulation without having to hang anything under the hammock, and since it fits in a pouch on the bag, the bag can’t slide off.

Also looking at getting a MSR canister camp stove, a small stainless cookset, and an assortment of drybags (a couple of long tapered ones and a collection of small bags for food and other items), a large tarp for other uses, a bunch of rope, a folding saw, and other misc items. Does this sound good for my environment? Any other recommendations? Thanks in advance!

Brian Short


– Last Updated: Mar-24-06 11:29 PM EST –

I did a month-long kayak camping trip in SE AK and remember trying to wash, rub, grind off some kind of sticky goo on the bottom of my shoes. Then I looked under the tarp I used as a ground cloth...mashed slug! Ugh.

The hammock would eliminate the sluggy ground cloth problem.

But I'm thinking that getting up to pee in the middle of the night (yeah, I know, there isn't much night in mid-summer) and trying to get secure footing in all that moss, skunk cabbage, devil's club, and decaying deadfall could be especially dicey from a hammock. Have you thought about this aspect?

Also, the mosquitoes stayed in the trees...the beach only had no-see-ums, except for a couple of places with black flies, and during the heat wave when the horseflies came out to torture us. Being able to pitch a tent out of the trees has its advantages.

The Storm will have plenty of room for a couple-nights trip, and more. The tapered dry bags are a MUST for Storm and Squall, if you want to make good use of space for a longer trip.

Enjoy! I am jealous of your paddling opportunities. In fact, I am returning to AK this summer, this time bringing my husband (it'll be his first trip to AK).

Tent or hammock/ liquid fuel or butane
You’ll have to decide what works best for you. These things get debated on here from time to time.

I might recommend a water filter/purifier if you’re paddling with fresh water nearby. It could reduce the amount of water needed to be brought as well as serve as an emergency backup in case you have to stay longer than planned. Of course you’ll have your stove and can boil and that works in a pinch too. But filtered water tastes better than boiled.

I know
A lot of people are huge fans of the hammock, but I don’t use them for a number of reasons, my back being the most important. I’m not sure if I’d use one in Alaska either, depending the coastal area/camp spots.

Your MSR stove choice is a good one, but I would reconsider the cannister. For one, I’ve noticed in cold environments, the cannisters are not too reliable. Trying to stick the cold cannister down your pants on a cold morning to warm the thing up is not how I’d like to start off my paddling day! Also, I’m not a big fan of the disposal once they’re finished.

I have a MSR dragonfly and it’s awesome for all types of cooking. It’s multifuel, efficient and idiot proof, even if you had to complete a field repair if the stove malfunctioned for any reason.


40-degree nights are not cold
Canisters work fine in temps down to at least freezing.

SE AK summer nights just aren’t cold.

No, I wouldn’t say 40 degree nights are cold, but I would say you can bet on some near freezing temps in those areas of Alaska in the middle of the night. I’ve had temps dip into the upper 30’s at night, in the middle of the summer in many places (well south of Alaska) and I’ve experienced cannisters failing, regularly. Sometimes failing to ignite until they were warmed.

I find that to be a little bothersome, especially when I want to get up early and break camp, moving on. I don’t like fiddling with a stove. Liquid has never given me a problem, in cold temps or at altitude.

You may like them, but I guess we all have our differences. Like I mentioned, I also don’t like contributing to more waste in a landfill if I can avoid it.

I have to agree with pikabike when it comes to camping in southeast Alaska. I know that the people who use them really like the hammocks but they are a poor choice for southeast Alaska. The beaches are the best place to camp alot of the times and just getting into the forest can be an ordeal in itself. By only having a Hammock you are going to limit where you are able to camp and you do not want that limitation. With a tent when you are socked in for days because of bad weather you at least have a small place to move around in.

Southeast Alaska being a temperate rainforest you rarely have temps in the 30’s in the summer months so the use of a cannister stove is not a problem. I also have a problem with filling landfills up with those used cannisters so I also use a MSR dragonfly. I like the ease of use of those cannister stoves but would never use one on a extended trip.

You are living in a seakayakers paradise so by all means get out there and enjoy it. It will not be long before you may want to take week or longer trips in that fantastic part of the planet

Ya know
I guess I’m not familiar with that area of Alaska in the summer and those warm temps. But I know I’ve faced some freak stretches of very cold nights in the middle of the summer where those cannisters have caused me problems…so I vowed never to bring them again. On some of those trips, I wasn’t the only one experiencing those problems…

That’s all I’m trying to say. The other nice thing about the liquid is the multifuel options. If you run into problems on the trip somewhere, you can burn virtually anything in them; auto, diesel, aviation and kerosene…

I like the versatility.

Another argument for liquid versus
canisters is the cost of fuel on a longer trip. I have both types but use the liquid because I can buy a gallon of gas for $4 while a canister costs the same. If it’s cold and rainy and I boil a lot of water for hot drinks and cook fancier meals, I can use one in two days.

Not relevant to the poster’s area

– Last Updated: Mar-26-06 2:54 PM EST –

Repeat: it's unlikely to get much below 40 deg. summer nights along the coast where bdshort is describing (Ketchikan area). The question about canisters in cold weather simply does not apply for this use.

No doubt if he were asking about the interior that would be different. But he is not.

Who cares what your preference, or mine, is? The fact is, it does not get that cold in summer in the environment HE is asking about. He can choose to use canisters without fear of poor performance.

Focusing on latitude alone doesn't work for figuring coldness of nights. Summer nights in CO mountains are frequently in the 30s despite being much farther south than either AK or your MI. Yet in SE AK, we did not even get one night down to freezing in the month we were there. Most nights were in the 50s, and a few stayed at 60. I know because I brought a thermometer.

Liquid or canister
I wonder if anyone has figured out how many cannisters of fuel it would take to match a gallon of liquid fuel. Obviously there are alot of variables but I think it would take alot of those cannisters at 3 or 4 dollars a shot to match a four dollar gallon of white gas.

My vote.
Definitely a tent.

I’m always looking to update my equipment with something more practical.

Some people do like the hammocks, and I’m sure they have a practical use in some places, and/or situations. I don’t believe however they are versatile enough in most areas, and situations, or for most paddlers. I considered getting a couple of these myself a few years ago. After alot of research, and giving it much consideration I decided against the idea.

I camp on the windward side of islands, and on beaches, and along shorelines out next to the water alot of times, as far away from the trees as necessary in order to stay away from the majority of bugs, (as someone else mentioned above). The hammock would force you to camp in the trees where the bugs are many times much thicker. You may even be forced to go farther into the woods to locate a prime location for a hammock. There might even be some places you want/need to camp that will not allow a hammock.

After having a very large dead limb fall right next to my tent a couple of years ago during a storm, I don’t have to tell you that this was a large consideration for me as well. Especially since a person could possibly be moving the trees enough with the hammock to increase the odds of such an incident. Then you have issues with lightening storms. Some have different opinions about this, but I prefer to stay as far away from trees as possible when the lightening is bad. Although you may have plentiful trees where you’ll be camping, many times very thick brush will present a pretty significant hurdle for hanging a hammock, not to mention factors like having to find a place with the needed distance between trees, etc…

It is my opinion that there’s just too many limitations with using a hammock. You also will not be able to turn to sleep on your side, or get comfortable if your position is not comfortable for whatever reason etc… as you would in a tent. Doesn’t seem like a big deal to some, but what if you injure your back, or shoulder while paddling? Will you be comfortable sleeping in virtually the same position all night in a hammock then? You also won’t be able to do many other things as you would in a tent such as moving around when forced to stay inside due to very bad weather which was also mentioned above.

Even on clear nights/days people like to cook, or bring some of their gear, clothes, etc… inside with them. There are many other issues to consider as well. If you can find the space for both the tent, and hammock, you might just take the hammock along as an option. Just a thought.

Liquid fuel stove.

Most of the reasons for this have already been discussed here as well. Simply put, I find fuel stoves more versatile, practical, reliable, and I’d even venture to say even safer than canister stoves.

With all your other gear my advice is when camping from a kayak is to think/buy/pack like a backpacker as much as you’re situation will allow.

Good Luck! Splash

Which tent?
Any recommendations on tents in the 200 range? If I decide to go the tent route… and I’m leaning that way right now… I’d rather have a 2 person over a solo tent just for the main reason of having some room to move around and bring gear inside.

MSR, Maramot, Northface, and Mountain Hardware are all good places to start.

I have a Mountain Hardware 2 person tent that was right around $250. I’ve been in some horrible weather and it stood up nicely.

Avoid any cannister stove that doesn’t have a refillable cannister. We don’t need the landfill.

Multifuel stoves are just plain better. They work better in colder temps. You can always find fuel.

Go for the hammock. Speer makes an even better hammock/sleeping bag combination. The big issue with hammocks is the insulation underneath you.

In a perfect world, I would have a hammock and a solid winter tent. No more 3 season tents that are too hot in the summer or too cold on the shoulder seasons. In the hot weather all you really need is something to keep the rain off you.

Diffenetly go with a 2 man tent in the 35 to 40 square foot size. There are alot of tents out there so a little research is a good idea. All the brands that Razor mentioned are good quality tents that will give you years of service if taken care of. You might have to pay more than 200 dollars for what you want but the old saying that you get what you pay for applies with tents.

I have always liked the free standing models that are easy to move if you need too. I also think that the tents with flys are better than the single wall tents for the wet enviornment that you are in.

Watch the online retailers as they have some pretty good deals sometimes

You verified the temps on you thermometer…way to go.

Sorry,it seemed like I insulted your intelligence with my comment. If you would have scrolled down before you responded, you would have noticed I admitted I wasn’t familiar with that area and I was inaccurate in that regard.

BTW, when did I mention MI? Did you get that off of my profile and make an assumption?

Furthermore, irregardless of temperature considerations, most people will agree that cannisters are not up to speed with the reliability found in liquid fuel stoves. IMO, cannisters suck. So I guess we disagree.

Also, temps do not have to be at or below freezing to cause a cannister stove to malfunction.

As mentioned, it’s ignorant to use cannisters and throw them away when you can buy a refillable container that can be reused for a lifetime.

tents, stoves
I’m going to go with a multi-fuel stove, I’ve decided that much!

I sure wish I knew someone with a hammock so I could try one out (Hennessy or otherwise). The main thing making me lean towards a tent is I like a bit of room. There are plenty of trees here so I think finding a place to set a hammock up wouldn’t be a problem, and while there isn’t a LOT of flat ground here, I would think there would always be a spot of flat ground near most beaches with enough room for a small tent.


Check the latest Backpacker Magazine
It’s not exactly what you asked for, but they have a quiz in the issue. One of the questions is “What quantities of liquid fuel and what size of canister” would it take to cook “heartily” for two people on a three-day backpacking trip.

The answer is one pint of liquid fuel, or a 500ml canister. One pint is slightly less than 500ml, not exactly an earth-shattering difference.

I do think the COST difference might be the more important factor. Which is why for a long trip, the liquid fuel makes more sense. But for the short trips the original poster asked about, it might not matter.

They always have lots of tents in a range of sizes, at decent prices.

You do not need a mountaineering tent designed for extreme wind and winter temperatures, any more than you need a 0-deg. sleeping bag. What you are considering would fall into the huge assortment referred to as 3-season tents. It is definitely possible to keep your price no more than $200 and get a good tent.

Sierra Designs makes some nice convertible tents (3-season to 4-season use), but I think those cost more than $200.

I agree with the comment about double-walled vs. single-walled tents. Condensation might be bad on the latter. Also, many tents have mainly mesh for their walls and ceilings, meaning that the fly is the sole means of keeping rain out.

Buy and use a ground cloth or “footprint” with the tent. It’ll prolong the life of the waterproof coating on the tent floor.

I used a solo tent (Eureka Mountain Pass XT-1) on the AK trip and on a solo trip I did last year. The tent worked well and still is in like-new condition, but I regret not having bought the 2-person version, which packs almost as small and costs only a little more.

I also own a Mountain Hardware Hammerhead 2 tent, which cost $215 on sale. It’s a nice tent, but the packed size is too big for me to take on a kayak trip. This will not be an issue with your Storm, though.