Kayak Camping

We are planning a week long trip this fall, I have never been kayak camping and would welcoe any tips those who do kayak camp can give me especially on what to leave behind and what to take, any info on freeze dried food, how to pack all the gear up, and load the baot correctly, THANKS

where going and what type of boat?
Where are you going? Temps (important for determining how well food will last)? Fresh water available for filtering? How far are you paddling each day? Any portages (these are generally not normal for kayak camping).

What type of boat are you using (important for knowing how much space you may have)?

If you have ever backpacked, you will find kayak camping pretty easy. Lots more space and weight carrying capacity available. But if you have only car camped, you may find it hard.

To keep the kayak stable and maneuverable, pack heavier items closer to the cockpit and low in the boat.

Lots of little dry bags
Pack a big canvas bag on top of lots of little dry bags. It is much easier to load a boat with smaller bags than fewer big bulky ones. Coated nylon or lightweight plastic best. Stiff plastic bags get harder to distribute.

Tent poles and water bladders along the bottom of the boat. Stuff/compression sacs for soft stuff like sleeping bags.

That’s most of it.

where to start

– Last Updated: Mar-01-14 8:39 AM EST –

First practice packing at home. Your launch on your trip is not the time to do a first pack. You need to know ahead of time where to put things quickly and efficiently. Once you have done your practice pack, draw a diagram of where everything went. Try to avoid packing anything on top of the deck of your kayak.

Go on the premise that if an item can get wet it will. Ergo dry bags for things that dislike being wet like sleeping bags, mats clothes, the stove etc.

As we have no idea where you are going we don't know if you need to carry water or a toilet.

There are plenty of sources for freeze dried food. Though I dehydrate my own for the most part I often supplement with Mountain House, Pack It Gourmet or Hawk Vittles.

You may need compression sacks to get gear through your hatches.. and more importantly out.

There is lots more to consider but first lets find out from you what boat you are using and where you are paddling in terms of salt vs freshwater and human waste disposal possibilities.

Here are a few generic suggestions
Without knowing the answers to questions already asked.

http://www.trailcooking.com/ Has a lot of good options for homemade freezer bag meals. I have posted others that should be archived here or email me.

Take the gear you plan to take on the trip for an overnighter before, that’ll help to plan packing, insure it all works together and let you balance the boat.

Then allowing for more food etc draw a diagram of your boat, show red bag, first aid kit, dry clothes here, blue bag lunches under front hatch, tent here etc. so you can find stuff and load consistently every time. I usually put this, emergency numbers and frequencies and my menu on the back of one of my charts on deck.



Absolute MUST on a river trip
a fishing pole. The first and only multi-day kayaking trip I went on was on the upper Susquehenna River in northern PA. Put in early AM Saturday morning and by the time we stopped to camp for the night, we had 7 smallies for dinner. We camped on a small uninhabited island in the middle of the river - HIGHLY recommend doing this if you have the chance. No worries for animals, driftwood everywhere so no issues collecting firewood.

Be sure to bring back-up food in case you are unlucky on the fishing front - mountain house freeze dried foods always worked for my crew. My personal favorites are sweet and sour chicken and beef stew. They also make a breakfast skillet with eggs, cheese and sausage - goes great in a soft flour tortilla as a breakfast wrap.

see you on the water…

OP really needs to come back and answer
I have been on some very different trips over the years. Usually took the same sleeping bag that compresses pretty small, a back packing tent and backpacking cook set. Everything else varied widely depending on the boat and the trip. I disagree with the advice to get lots of small dry bags; I found that the form fitting large ones allowed me to pack more things easier and were less prone to leaking because they were never jammed into nooks and crevices that didn’t fit them exactly. The boat makers do charge a premium for the ones specific to certain boats but if your budget allows it, I recommend getting them.

that you plan to take.

Then look it over and ask yourself, "Do i really need this for THIS trip?

Then when you got it down to the essentials, ask, “can I replace this with something lighter and smaller?”

Think like a backpacker.

Just because my Dirago CAN haul 172# of gear plus me, does not mean I SHOULD haul all that junk.

We are going for a week to Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park in Late Sept or Early Oct… Fresh water lake is at the campground, paddling is an hour to the car from the site, so once we are settled we paddle at leisure.

I have a sit on to 13’ and have lots of experience car camping, but not camping by boiat so it willl be a new experience. Im use to having all my gear in my little trailer right at the site, so this will all be very new for me. After loading everything into the boats we have a one hour paddle to the site, then we unload set camp and everything after that is just recreational paddling as we will be at the same site for about 5 days. Good info, Thanks and sorry for the delay in responding, Im not online often…I woudl rather be outside.

how often will you do it again?
Given that description, if this is not likely to be something you do a lot, I would be really tempted to risk using a couple of large plastic bins strapped on the SOT to ferry the stuff over and back. I might even tether a cheap raft or borrowed canoe. Sounds like the odds of a capsize or big waves would be very near zero on the way over and if that happened you would be less than an hour from the car. If you are going to start cruse camping, where you take the stuff with you all day and move each day, then I would look into all the suggestions. Just ferrying stuff over a short distance to set up a base camp is a very different thing.

When i camp i tow an inflatable canoe with lots of gear. Works great – been doing it for years. Just know that it’s slow going in a head wind. I am able to haul chairs, shade structures, music, firewood, etc.

Contact Headwaters
Headwaters is the local pro paddle shop in Redding. Terry and Joe are a great resource for info about the area you’re heading to.

As for packing, practice. When you do you’ll be surprised how small you have to break things down to get them “down the hatch”.

Have fun.

Thanks to everyone for replying. I have more experience in car camping, and have a utility trailer where I can pack everything and what I need is within easy reach, I do have a second SOT which I could tow behind me and I have a hammock system I could use instead of a tent, reducing weight and awkward bulkiness. I will take the excellent advise and go to a closer fresh water lake where I can practice loading and unloading to see how the boat reacts and to see what I can live with and without. Thanks to everyone who replied.

a hammock alternative
If you are considering a hammock system, then I assume you are going to sleep solo and aren’t prone to claustrophobia. Look into the CampRite Insect Protection System also. Despite the weird name, with it’s included rain fly it’s a tent. A very small free standing tent that you can set up on top of most cots. I have a low profile breakdown cot that will fit inside. Of course, just a bag or bag and pad is an option of soft ground. Anyway, it is very light.

SOT 13
If you’re using a relatively short, sit on top boat you’re limited by what you can fit in dry bags and strapped between your feet or behind your back. Whether you’re staying out one night or two weeks, really the only difference is your food and water.

You’ll need a basic range of clothing based on the expected weather, your sleep system (bag, tent or hammock) and your kitchen gear. There are a million options for food either fresh or freeze dried.

Unless you have a really small camp chair or pad, your camp mattress can double as a seat. I’m assuming you’re not bringing a two burner coleman stove, so you’ll need a compact cooking system. I bring my hammock which usually doubles as a seat around camp. A tarp or tarp system is nice to cover your kitchen area if it is raining, and your group has a place to gather vs. huddling in tents.

Forget the tub idea, that just sounds awkward and definately not waterproof. I can’t imagine dragging another boat behind, what a PITA even in minimal wind.

Dry bags, dry bags, and more dry …

– Last Updated: Mar-26-14 9:12 AM EST –

I won't go into how to pack a SOT, since I don't know, but put each of your days paddling clothes into separate zip lock baggies. Then with one corner of the plastic zipper open a tad, while pressing down on the baggie, roll it as tight as you can and then while holding it pressed zip it completely.
Do this to any of the clothes you are taking and any thing alse that has to stay dry.
Then put the above into good quality dry bags. We use a separate one for paddling stuff. Another for shore clothes, Another for our food, etc, etc.
If you have never used a dry bag; after you have your items in it, do a couple of lose folds at the top, and then squish it down tight to get the air out. then tighten the folds, and do a couple more. You will be amazed at all the stuff you can fit in one if you do it right. -Just don't squish your food or cooking stuff so much that you hear snap, crackle and pop!
Then label each of the dry bags on the outside using some duct tape, so you know exactly what is in each. This eliminates a lot of cussing when you are looking for something.
Tether all the dry bags and anything else you have, trying to keep the yak as trim as you can, (balanced front to rear and side to side).
Do a practice pack prior to the trip. This also eliminates lots of cusing on trip morning

Good luck and have fun

jack L

did you read his itinerary??
On hour of paddling across flat water to unpack at a base site for several days. Plastic tubs are not a good solution for true kayak camping, but for shuttling gear a short distance and then storing it at camp for days they work fine. Towing another craft behind? Again, not for true kayak camping but not that bad for the single flat water crossing. Get a little more context before you belittle other answers. It may be that because other posters took the time to read before replying, their answers do make some sense.

More to an SOT
Have you ever really looked at a SOT? I have a 11.5 foot Perception Pro Striker and I pack a LOT of gear into that puppy. More than I ever got into a backpack.

It has a forward dry well and a daywell but can take gear the length of the hull. The rule of thumb is to keep everything pretty much as small as you would for backpacking so that it can fit through the hatches. I just do not have to carry it on my back which is a good thing with an old Army leg injury.

I can cary one or two larger items in the open cargo well on the rear deck. I usually carry a milk crate and a kayak kart, for river trips, there though. I use the milk crate for water, fishing gear and I keep my solar charger clipped across the top.

With my complete hammock system, including bug bag, and tarp, my sleep system and pad, my whisperlite stove with fuel, food, water (way more than I ever carried on my back), clothes, toiletries, emergency bag, a book or two, water filter, fishing gear and my M1911 or my G23 with accessories, I have a lot of gear on, or in,that SOT.