Overnight summer kayak trip gear list

Daye Cooper

Welcome to expedition kayaking! Kayakers can bring more gear than, say, backpackers, but there is still a limited amount of space. This is a list of gear suitable for a short overnight (a few days) kayaking trip in familiar, protected waters in summer. Longer or more arduous expeditions (i.e. surf landings, high currents, a week-long trip, unknown or rural waters, fall weather, etc) require more specialized equipment and skills.

File a detailed trip plan with someone reliable before you leave and check in with them when you return.


Technical / Shared / Emergency Gear
• Kayaks appropriate for the trip (consider length of the boat, rudders or skegs, and especially adequate secured floatation).
• Technical kayaking gear including PFDs (with whistles), sprayskirts, pumps/bailers, throw bags, float pads, paddles, spare paddles. Wear your PFD.
• Shelter: tents or tarps for kitchen and sleeping – don’t forget rope!
• FOOD! Including snacks, spices, etc. Good idea to have a little extra packed.
• Water: typically 2-3L per person per day (consider water treatment options)
• Kitchen kit including cooking pots & utensils, stove & fuel, hand sanitizer or biodegradable soap. If you plan to cook over fires and the area permits it, a grill, fire gloves, or a fire hook may be helpful.
• First aid kit appropriate for the trip and someone with appropriate first aid knowledge.
• Repair kit appropriate for your kayaks (e.g. duct tape, zip ties, extra rudder cable and crimps, vice grips/pliers, WD-40, extra parts)
• Flares (excellent for summoning assistance in an emergency)
• fire kit (e.g. matches/lighter (more than one), firestarter/tinder, a good fixed-blade knife, the ability to cut wood).
• The ability to communicate and to check the weather (VHF radio and know the channels to call, or cell phone if you will have coverage and know the numbers to call for the marine weather forecast).
• Navigation equipment: compasses, charts, guidebooks
• AND, and this cannot be emphasized enough, THE SKILLS AND ABILITIES TO USE ALL OF THIS GEAR PROPERLY.


Personal Gear
> Avoid cotton, particularly cotton paddling clothes. Cotton tends to absorb water and then stay wet, taking 5X longer to dry than synthetic materials. Wet cotton SUCKS the heat away from your body 9X faster than if you were naked.
> Bring synthetics, polypro, fleece, merino wool, cheap regular wool, etc.
> Pack efficiently but keep warm. Kayakers have two full outfits, one “dry” and one “wet”, so you always have something warm and dry for camp.

Paddling/“wet” clothing (NO COTTON!)
• Bathing suit
• synthetic shirt (keep sun protection in mind)
• shorts
• light vest/sweater, long johns (long johns + shorts = you are super cool)
• RAIN JACKET & PANTS: rubber or good Gore-Tex. (Your rain gear should keep you dry in a downpour. If in doubt, get in your raingear and have a friend spray you with a hose. If this is more fun for your friend than it is for you, you need better raingear!)
• sunhat with a good brim
• water shoes: neoprene booties or sturdy sandals (not flipflops)

Camp/“dry” clothing
• synthetic pants (not jeans)
• shorts
• T-shirt
• Long-sleeved shirt
• warm synthetic jacket
• enough sports bras / underwear
• 1 pair shoes for around camp (runners or gumboots for wet weather).
• 2-3 pair socks
• Toque

Toiletries
• toothpaste & toothbrush (practice no-tracing your toothpaste spit)
• a small towel is great for drying off at the end of the day
• ladies, reusable menstrual cups like the DivaCup or Keeper are awesome, check ‘em out. Otherwise, bring your usual pads/tampons and a bag (plastic inside of brown paper works well) to pack the used ones out.
• a note on toilet paper: unless there’s an outhouse at your campsite, toilet paper also needs to be packed out – please don’t leave TP in the ocean or buried in a hole; it is very slow to decompose and will be dug up by animals and spread around the campsite — gross. Consider “natural toilet paper” options, and consider reading Kathleen Meyer’s How to Shit in the Woods.
• don’t forget spare glasses, contact solution and case, floss, etc.

Other Gear
• sleeping bag & mat
• headlamp or flashlight and extra batteries
• sunglasses / small sunscreen / lip balm with SPF
• any prescription or non-prescription medications (duplicate and separate vital medications, and be sure to tell your travelling companions about any medications or medical issues you might have).
• 1L water bottle
• mess kit (bowl, mug, spork … etc)

Optional, great to have
• camera & the ability to keep it dry
• fishing gear + license
• snorkel, goggles
• pocketknife
• small musical instrument, frisbee, water gun?


How to Pack
• Backpacks and large duffel bags will not fit into kayaks. All your gear needs to be in 5-20L stuff sacs (think “cat-sized”. Cats are all different sizes but you could probably fit any cat into a kayak).
• Everything needs to be waterproof enough to immerse in a bathtub. If in doubt, try immersing it in a bathtub. Now, while you have a dryer handy.
o Drybags are excellent. Buy or borrow.
o Alternatively, use 2+ garbage bags to line whatever sac you’re using**; squish the air out and twist the garbage bags closed; tuck the twisted end down the side, or if you must tie a knot, make it a slipknot so you can untie it easily without ripping the garbage bags. Put important things in extra ziplocs.
o **Note: please do not just throw your stuff in a garbage bag and call it a day! Garbage bags are weak by themselves and will tear. They must be protected by another sac.