Kayak Camping, 5 Tips from a Beginner, for Beginners

Using a Kayak on your camping/ fishing trip can be a blast. I find them much more comfortable to sit in all day, compared to a canoe. There’s something nice about being able to let your feet sit in the water as you patiently wait for a tug on the line. However, with Kayaks there are some things you should prepare for. I always utilized a Canoe before, and I learned these lessons the hard way. So from one beginner to another, here are 5 things I learned on my first kayak camping trips.

1. Apply Sunscreen IN the Kayak

This might sound weird but trust me. If you want to sleep peacefully at night you don’t want two charred pieces of flesh above your knees, as I had.

kayak camping
Ouch

Being responsible, I applied sunscreen before a long kayak camping trip. But, unnoticed by me, my shorts hiked up a little while paddling. Due to the way one sits in the seat, I received three inch lines of misery above my knees. So be aware of shifting clothes when protecting yourself against the sun, and apply sunscreen while actually sitting in the boat.

2. Know the Topography

Canoes are the best in regards to portages, however kayaks can get the job done. One must simply take care in planning your kayak camping route. Kayaks fully loaded with gear are quite heavy. It can be a struggle dragging them up steep, slippery slopes or long distances. Try and keep them in the water as much as possible.

Doable, but not fun or easy

Oh and if you are thinking about those carts with wheels, they work well in parking lots, but the minute we hit rough trail we had to give up on them. Keep in mind that a good quality kayak can easily take some abuse. We often found the best way forward was simply dragging it through rocks and rapids.

Much better!

3. Pre-Pack your Kayak Camping Supplies

What really surprised me about kayak camping was the amount of gear you could actually carry. But there is a finite amount of space for big ticket items such as a cooler. The interior storage does fill up fast as well. It’s best to know ahead of time how -or if- everything will fit. Give it a quick test before the trip, rather than spend everyone’s fishing time playing Kayak Tetris.

woodland caribou
Loaded up and ready to rock

4. Limit your Fishing Tackle

Fishing off a kayak is loads of fun, but bringing a huge tackle bag can provide some challenges. Firstly, if you’re kayak camping, a lot of space is taken up by things such as a cooler or pack. Secondly, it is challenging to reach your arm around unhook your secured load. Grabbing your pack, and then putting it back is awkward. There is minimal room in front of you for shuffling things around. It’s much easier to bring a smaller load out, that targets the fish you are after. Ideally it will fit in a couple of trays. These can slip under your seat or into other more easily accessible locations. Easy access is key.

With limited space, things get awkward real fast

5. Communicate with Fellow Adventurers

Also on Captain Obvious’ list but can not be overlooked. Communication will prevent your party from bringing enough burners to setup a home stove, or forget that one crucial item, like a lighter. A solid technique is making a list on a cloud service such as google docs. Everyone can check off what they are bringing so there is no overlap or so something is not left in the garage.

These are just some basic things that slipped through the cracks while I was learning the ropes of kayak camping. They were not trip breaking mistakes by any means, but they were minor inconveniences. I hope that this helps keep people from making some of my mistakes. A big takeaway from this is to take your time planning your trip, from start to finish, and your adventure will be all the better.

Submitted by Colin Wiebe

Well worth the effort

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