Astonishingly Easy: How to Pack a Kayak for Camping

Packing a Kayak for Camping: Foolproof Guide

If you’re an avid camper and water enthusiast, then the idea of incorporating kayaking into your camping excursions may have already crossed your mind. An adventure of this kind requires you to be adequately prepared and to consider the logistics involved. One essential step will be to properly pack your kayak so it’s ready to hit the water. In this article, we spot the focus on the topic of packing a kayak for camping, giving you all the tips and tricks that will help ensure your packing is foolproof.

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Step 1: Get Organized!

The first and foremost advice my experienced kayaker teammate gave me is to get organized. From getting the right gear to making sure you have enough space or considering logistics on how to transport your kayak, nothing will make the process easier if you haven’t planned and organized correctly ahead of time.

A good way to ensure that you have everything you need is to make a packing list ahead of time. This list should include all the essential items such as paddles, extra clothes, safety equipment, navigation instruments, snacks, and other items that you might need while on the water. There are also several gear carrying solutions for kayak camping which can be very helpful in keeping your kayak – and your belongings! – organized.

For extra organization while packing, it could be a good idea to use containers to keep all your items in check. This will also help avoid the chaos of smaller pieces becoming lost in the bulk of your gear. And make sure to use waterproof containers to prevent any items inside from getting wet.

Step 2: Consider Your Paddle and Safety Equipment

Much of the effort required for packing a kayak for camping is in determining which items to bring along to ensure a safe and successful trip. Some of the items you should consider bringing include a helmet, life jackets, whistles, bailers, bilge pumps, waterproof backpacks, a go pro, a fishing rod, navigation equipment, and of course, a paddle.

Kayak attached to roof rack

When packing any of these safety items into your kayak, make sure that they are properly secured, and that nothing will move around while you’re paddling. As far as the paddle goes, be sure to securely strap it to the deck of the kayak or bring a paddle leash to keep it close by. Also, consider bringing a spare paddle in case the first one gets lost or broken during your journey.

Step 3: Load Your Provisions and Gear

Since kayaking is relatively low impact, you can usually bring along a fair amount of gear in the kayak without overloading it. Again, organization is key to ensure that nothing gets left behind or forgotten. Keep in mind that items you won’t be needing for the duration of your trip, such as firewood, can be strapped to the outside of the kayak.

Stowed gears

Camping gear such as tents and sleeping bags can also be strapped to the outside of the kayak and the bulk loaded inside. Your food is a crucial consideration, and you should store all your perishable items in waterproof containers. Make sure that everything is secured with straps and that any sharp or hard items are stored away from the hull of the kayak.

Step 4: Usable Gear Tips

When packing, it might be worthwhile to consider finding replacements for items you already have that you can “multi-task” multiple purposes. My personal suggestion is the dry-bag. Dry-bags keep your items dry and also make good seats when sitting on the kayak. You can even bring along a cooler strapped on the outside which can double as an extra seat.

Camper using a dry-bag

You can also minimize the number of items you have to pack by considering lightweight multi-taskers like folding camp chairs or a collapsible fishing rod. There are many items available on the market that have multiple uses such as waterproof cases, flashlights, and hiking poles. The key to making the most of the space in your kayak is to find items that can serve more than one purpose.

Demonstration Video

As an extra bonus, for those who prefer to watch instructional videos, here’s a great and informative demonstration from experienced kayaker Kassidy Wallen on how to pack your kayak:


Packing for a kayak camping trip takes a bit of preparation, planning, and organization. But with some thought and creativity, as well as a few gear multi-taskers, you can fit all the items you need for your trip in one well organized kayak. Hopefully, this guide has given you enough information to be comfortable enough to go try it out!