Preparing for kayak camping is a lot like preparing for a backpacking trip only less so. Like backpacking, you have to watch the size and weight of what you bring. But with kayaking, you do have a bit more leeway. Backpacking tents, ground pads, sleeping bags, stoves, and cookware are all good choices and perform double duty if you backpack.
What’s more important with kayak camping is how you pack the kayak. Remember, if it won’t fit through the hatch opening, you are leaving it behind. Another rule of thumb: If you don’t want it to get wet, then put it in a dry bag. I’ve owned over 30 kayaks and regardless of price, the majority of them leaked at some time or other. It doesn’t take much water in a hatch to soak your clothes or sleeping bag.
I like to pack my clothes in multiple dry bags just in case one gets wet. Even if the dry bags don’t leak, you may have to open one in the rain. I also have dry bags big enough for my tent and sleeping bag, although many people just use garbage bags for these items.
You’ll need to distribute the weight evenly when you pack the kayak so keep this in mind. If you don’t your kayak could list to one side and you’ll get tired using corrective strokes all day long. Also keep in mind what you will need to access when. You can stuff extra sandals and ground pads way up in the bow and stern, but your extra clothes and food should be easy to get at.
Finally, if you are paddling in a group and have help carrying the kayak; feel free to bring some extras. My favorites: A Crazy Creek chair. I fold it up and strap it right on the deck. A book to read. Wine to drink while reading the aforementioned book (just make sure to put the wine into a plastic container). And my favorite extra? A camp shower. It folds up nice and small.
Don’t worry about what kayak you have. I took a 4-day trip in a 14 foot kayak and brought all of the stuff mentioned above.
See you on the water,