New to kayaking...problem

I’m primarily a backpacker, but I’d like to get into kayaking a bit more. The only question I have is where do I store my backpack if I buy a 9.5ft rec. kayak? Would it be ok to strap it on top behind me?


If you’re talking a big heavy pack, and you’ll always be carrying it and maybe even other stuff too, you’ll probably want to look for something a bit bigger with front and rear bulkheads that will give you more dry storage space. Anything on board that is not in a dry hatch should be put in a dry bag.

I’d say go for the 9.5 only if you always plan on kayak-camping REALLY light.

just make sure it is completely water proof or in a large dry bag such as a NRS “Bills Bag”.

If your little rec kayak doesn’t have any deck bungees, you can equip it with some, and design your own hold down method.



I made that transition a year ago…
and have learned a lot here. Good thing to know is the general load rule of 2:1. One pound up front for every two in back. If I were you, I’d think VERY carefully before buying a 9.5 footer. It will be totally unsuited to kayak camping trips, especially if you’re paddling with others. They will likely have longer, faster boats and you will kill yourself trying to keep up. Also, a little wind and you’ll be working to keep your boat in a straight line. What kind of paddling do you want to do over the next one, two, three years? If it’s anything more than splashing around the lake behind the cabin or local ponds and small lakes, consider boats more suited to trips and longer day paddles. Research, learn, try before you buy. I’ve adapted a lot of my backpacking gear to kayaking, but there are things you have to spring for, like the aforementioned drybags. Ziplock bags are ok for rainy hikes, but not immersion. Some things to consider. Good luck. You’re going to love it, no matter what you choose to do during your paddling adventures.

Size and dryness and all

– Last Updated: May-10-09 9:58 AM EST –

If you are a backpacker, I am guessing you like to explore as in getting into new places, spending a day making some kind of distance.

Aside from gear storage considerations, you won't be happy with a 9.5 ft kayak for that purpose over very long. If you are lucky it'll be 8 weeks before you discover you need a different boat.

I suggest that you start at the 12 ft length, find something with at least one sealed bulkhead and preferably two, consider buying used/demos/blems by looking around at the various paddle-fests that are going on in May to get started. Also a couple of basic lessons to understand why the suggestion for a longer boat.

As to lashing anything like a backpack on the deck - yes you can but it'll slide and stuff will get wet and you won't find it practical over time. In a kayak, gear stows best inside in dry bags.

how big?
The problem with stowing something on the deck the size of a backpack is that it will change the center of gravity of the boat. On most rec boats that should not be a problem. I will say that I prefer nothing but a chart and a compass on my deck. If it is just a day pack stow it inside.

It’s a big 4300cu in bag. Getting a 12 footer with one cargo hold would probably work. The majority of stuff I have in my bag is either in stuff sacks or waterproof sacks(sleeping bag and tent). A 12 foot rec kayak will track that much better than a 9.5footer?

Have to ask

– Last Updated: May-10-09 2:58 PM EST –

What do you know or what kind of time have you spent in a kayak to date, and where would actually be paddling? Rivers, lakes, what?

For real tripping you need two pockets of floatation, one front and one back. This is especially so if you will be paddling alone. It can make the diff in whether your craft can be rescued easily by yourself. If the boat doesn't have these features, you have to think about packing your gear in a way that allows for space for that floatation. If you have a boat that already comes with a sealed bulkhead front and back, you don't need to think about this part.

Also, many times those who want tracking also want some amount of speed. That is not going to happen with a 9.5 ft rec kayak. It isn't the strongest suit of many 12 footers either, but they are better.

hatch dimensions
sounds like you have a fullsized pack there.

When fully stuffed it probably won’t clear a typical kayak hatch - generally round or oval and on the stern deck range from 6-14" at the widest. A few kayaks, among them the longer “expedition” seakayaks, will offer bigger hatches.

So you will want to measure hatch dimensions and depth of the boat for any kayak you consider.

Then you have decreasing width toward the ends of the kayak that you want to make the most of. Large rectangular packs are not the most efficient shape.

For this reason kayakers tend to pack in different size drybags (measured by the dry liter) which are cylindrical, roundbottomed and made of material which helps slide each bag into the bulkheads. Just like backpackers, we get good at squishing things in.

I have a Deuter Aircontact Lite 35-10 Women’s pack (2100-2750 oz) which measures 25x15x10. I bought it w. kayaking/hiking trips in mind, and understuff it so it will fit in the rear hatch of my 16’ seakayak, which happily has the relatively rare and useful 16" x 20" rectangular hatch. Overall I much prefer drybags but it’s sometimes nice to have a pack if there will be a little hiking involved.

So I understand where you are coming from; you may just want to bring a day backpack and drybag the rest.

Also, Deuter makes an awesome totally waterproof backpack in two sizes from their DryShield line:

Kayak Camping Different Mindset
You end up packing your stuff in small waterproof bags segregated by their purpose and how often you need to get at them. You don’t really need a big pack unless you are doing portages. Personally if I have to carry a kayak more than 100 yards, I’d rather do a different trip. If you buy a boat designed for kayak camping you can pack lots of water and food cooking equipment that are just too heavy for backpacking. It’s very liberating.

If you are going to be camping mostly on rivers I would at the Prijon Yukon --if you are going to be doing lakes and sea kayaking look at a Prijon Kodiak. Much different than you are looking at now but both of these boats will be great for expeditions and multiday trips.

Your bow won’t be wiggling from side to side nearly as much in a 12 footer.

see if you can try one out someplace and see the difference



If the original poster is a hiker wanting to get to better, more remote hiking locations, it sounds like a canoe would fit his needs better. Toss in full pack and go.

If his intent is to camp from the kayak, I’d leave the full pack at home, invest in a boat with hatches/bulkheads, pack with traditinal drybags and then do day hikes from his kayak campsite. No need for a full backpackers pack.

Yup - don’t bring the pack packed
As above, you at the least will need to break your pack contents into smaller dry bags that will fit the V shape of a boat better. The tricky bit may be the frame - how awkward is that?

As above, depending on where you plan to paddle a canoe may be an altogether better idea. It’ll portage too, something which kayaks do poorly.

Consider a SOT
which has internal storage in the front and a tank well in the rear.

Something like the Manta Ray 111 or 12. This gives you a lot more options and more storage. It will also be a good all purpose boat for everything from mild whitewater to decent sized lakes.


If you want
to keep the large pack Think about a longer Sit on top Hurricane Aqua sports makes a 16 ft SOT that might hold your pack in the rear well. There are also other larger SOT but Hurricane makes a very light boat for not too much $$.

Just a thought

Pack placement
put the EMPTY pack flat on the hull bottom inside the hatch…place the waterproof bags inside on top of the pack…when you need to portage, or you want to hike away from the boat, you can load the pack to make those things easier…

Ditto on the hatch sizes and shapes…oval shapes allow for longer item loading…tents with poles, a CHAIR…they pack most easily inside the oval hatches…