Storage of needed stuff while paddling

So, I am wondering where everyone stores stuff you might need while paddling, such as my rope throw bag, bottled water, snacks, etc.

I have usually just ducked stuff into the cockpit with me, but as I have been becoming a more advanced paddler and am starting to more regularly use a spray skirt, getting to those items is difficult when they are under the spray skirt.

Do you undo your spray skirt to get to your stuff or do you put it somewhere else while you paddle so you can still get to it (the most obvious answer would be to put it on the deck, but am not happy with that).

Thanks for the advice and please be kind.

I lift the spray skirt to get at items if needed. If the water is too rough to lift the skirt, it’s probably too rough to be fiddling with stuff anyway.

For some added in-cockpit storage, I sometimes tie a light line to the item or put a few items in a small bag and then kick the item forward in front of my feet. I use the light line to pull it back toward me if needed.

Also, there will be different preferences on this, but I like to have my pump and paddle float on deck, but well secured, so that I can get at them easily in the event of a capsize.

Several options available here.

For long paddles, I used to use a lap bag that I would keep in the cockpit with me under the spray skirt. You can use anything, depending on how waterproof you require, from a small zippered duffle bag, to a dry bag, or something really burly like a Watershed Ocoee bag. Around 10-15 liters I find is a good size. I find the benefits of this system is it’s easy to find things as they’re right in front of you, and it’s easy to take with you ie bring your necessities to your tent all in one bag. Cons might be you need to pop your skirt to access the bag, and it’s one more thing to deal with getting in and out of the boat. Can be a bit tricky for rough landings.

You can keep a lot of stuff on your person in lifejacket pockets and wear a hydration system on your lifejacket. Pros to this system are everything is always on your person and available. Cons are limited space and I find wearing a hydration system gets heavy.

You can use a deck bag that straps on the top of your deck to keep stuff in. Pros are you can keep everything close at hand. Cons might be it could make rescues a bit more difficult if your deck bag gets in the way.

A lot of sea kayaks now come with a day hatch right behind the cockpit which you can theoretically access while seated in the boat. Pros, great for storing gear your want to access while on the water. Cons are it can be tricky to access the hatch, and stuff can roll around in the hatch, making it hard to find. It’s often helpful to have a buddy who can either steady your boat while you rummage or fish around in your hatch. Another downside is I’ve found on longer trips where you need more food or if you’re packing water, the space right behind the seat is where you want to pack heavy items, and this is now only accessible via a smaller opening.
Additionally many boats now have a even smaller hatch located on the deck that are great for smaller items.

The good old deck lines directly in front or back of the cockpit. Great spot to store and access things you need quickly. Spare paddle, a pump, paddle float, water bottles, all can be tucked under deck lines. Pros easy access and quick to use. Cons are stuff can dissappear quickly if not stowed correctly or if you’re in rough water.

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thanks for the advice, I am thinking mainly of things I might need in rough water, like my pump, my throw bag, etc. Don’t really want fiddling things like my phone or camera, etc.

Throw bag is a little bulky to keep on my person so…

I guess on the deck is probably my best bet.

I keep my paddle float behind my seat. I figure if I need it, I am already out of my kayak and the sprayskirt is off. If my pump fit behind the seat, I would keep it there, but it does not, so it is on deck with the spare paddle.

I have a tow belt, rather than a throw rope, so I wear that. I have a small water bottle on deck, under the bungees. It is the type runners hold or wear on their waist belts. I have another, larger water bottle, behind my seat. A third, even larger water bottle, in my day hatch.

I do not usually eat snacks while paddling, but if I do, I either have a banana on deck under a bungee, or a snack in my vest pocket, or in my day hatch. I can get into my day hatch with out too, too much trouble while floating, but I do not put much in there that I may want to access. Really, just a second camera.

My kayak has a small hatch just in front of the cockpit. I love this feature, and some stuff, like my GPS, gloves, extra sunglasses, note book, wind meter, etc go in there. Very easy to access. If conditions are such that I may want my radio, it goes on my PFD’s left shoulder strap.

Deck bag.

Are you talking a true throw rope like for WW or something more like a tow line, like for sea kayaking? I have a bag around my waist with my tow line in it. I believe I have seen similar for WW throw ropes.

I don’t like a lot of crap on my deck. In front spare paddles, contact tow line that clips on and stays out of the way, waterproof chart stuck under the bungies. In back my pump because I tend to paddle lower volume boats that don’t love having that inside. Paddle float behind the seat under the skirt because I likely won’t need it unless I am out of the boat anyway.

Water in a bladder that is attached to my PFD. Some people run a hose from a water bladder under the skirt and to the deck. Apparently not much water gets in, not my fave solution so others can talk better about this.
Snacks, hand compass, signal mirror when I haven’t lost it again, whistle and cheater glasses in my PFD pockets. VHF radio on the PFD.
More food, cag, white light and foghorn in the day hatch which I do access on the water.

My phone moves around depending on the paddle and what I am carrying. Often on the deck in a waterproof case if paddling alone. Day hatch in a dry box if I have company.

Change of clothing in a dry bag in one of the bulkheads.
Day hatch also has spare emergency hatch covers (which as far as I know you can’t find any longer), hood/hat/spare gloves and more small crap which I periodically have to clear out.

What I take depends on the sort of paddle. On trips I carry more than what I take on a local day paddle. I can wear everything I need while paddling and only pull my skirt if I have taken on enough water and conditions allow me to sponge it out, grab my neoprene cap or use my pee bottle. Pump goes behind one cheek plate and the float bag behind the other.

The stuff that I carry on my decks are either low profile or stuff that I can pitch if it gets in my way during a self rescue. Spare paddle is on the front deck (low profile) along with chart case (low profile) and Glacier Gloves (pitch). On the back deck within my arthritic reach is my helmet (pitch).

In or on my PFD is my VHF radio, waterproof camera, a plastic “jug” that holds 5 one ounce hits of Power Gel, two Pro Bars, one Protein Bar of some sort, sunscreen, lip balm, whistle, three pencil flares, Kokatat Hydration Pack and if I’ve gone long and things break bad I am wearing my ditch bag in a Kokatat Tactics Pack. I haven’t weighed everything to see what it amounts to but I float just fine with all of that gear.

I also wear a tow bag about 1/2 the time. I don’t wear my phone. It is in a waterproof box with my wallet, passport and keys velcroed securely to the bulkhead or skeg in the back hatch. If on a trip someplace where landing to take a break will not be an option I will have my lunch in a drybag loose in the cockpit (pitch).

I use this deck pod: It holds pump, paddle float, water bladder, knife, tow rope, and a few other items. It is easy to reach and snaps on and off very easily. The only thing that does not fit conveniently is my sponge.

You might consider a Kokatat Tactic Pack. While its touted for hydration, I find it’s more useful to carry stuff I want on me, such as phone, radio, etc. It attaches to the back of your PFD.

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Easy in a canoe where you can attach things to the thwarts and gunwales with bungees. I like thwart bags. Verlen Kruger used bicycle baskets for small loose items.

In the drift boat there are trays with a lip on each side of the rower’s seat. The gunwale has an inner and outer with easy access to the rail. I attach cup holders, little trays and pouches. The boat as 3 dry boxes, one under each seat. Throw ropes are out where I can reach them. It is really easy to organize. My next lifejacket will have lots of pockets.

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I’m a fan.


A pack on the deck of a kayak is handy, but raises the center of gravity and exposes your stuff to waves washing over the deck.

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Agree. I went through a couple of deck bags before deciding that they weren’t for me.

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Waves are coming over with or without a deck bag. Things in my deck bag are few pounds total. Handy to reach in. Putting the things in there 8" lower in a hull I doubt means much to me. Seals use to make a smaller one but I don’t see it.

Nothing in my deck pod is harmed by water and eating a cheeseburger prior to paddling raises my center of gravity more than strapping on my deck pod ;-).

Deck bag works for me, the Seal Line Baja deck bag is not too big, and water resistant, can fit spray skirt, 15x50 binoculars, water bottle and more inside, and outside mesh storage bag too, has two velcro straps on bottom to go under deck rigging