Packing for a kayak trip is like preparing for no other kind of experience. Everything you bring with you needs to be stored in your kayak and you have to expect that it will get wet. Here are some tips for packing for a successful kayaking trip:
Water, water everywhere
No matter how careful you are, there is a very strong chance just about everything you bring with you is going to get wet. With that in mind, pick your items wisely. The gear itself should be either waterproof or quick-drying. This means you need to leave your down and cotton belongings at home. Not only will your down coat or sleeping bag lose all of its power to hold in warmth if it gets wet and take days to dry completely, it will also essentially turn into an anchor, as it gets extremely heavy when wet. While cotton doesn’t have the latter problem, it also will chill you quickly and dry slowly.
On a similar note, unless you have dependably water-proof electronics, don’t bring them with you. If you needed a GPS or smartphone to get you to your launch spot, leave it in your car. To give you some extra peace of mind, consider picking up a portable safe to keep your valuables – wallet, electronics, firearms or anything that won’t react well to moisture – secure while you’re away.
Size and weight
Your kayak is going to be your home for the next night or two, so make sure you have everything you think you’ll need on hand. Of course, you can’t exactly tow a trailer off of the back of your boat, so you’ll have to be able to fit it all inside. Unfortunately, kayaks aren’t known to be particularly spacious, so it’s important to be smart about what you pack. Say goodbye to your beer cooler and cast-iron frying pan, you’ll be traveling light on this trip. Usually, the best way to pack is in a series of small bags, which will be easier to cram into every little nook and cranny of the kayak. That said, avoid overloading the boat – you will need to carry it to and from the water, a task that will prove difficult with a fully packed kayak. Make sure you have at least three others with you to carry a kayak that is fully loaded.
Don’t forget to balance out the heavier items across the boat. The last thing you want is your kayak to be nose-diving all day because you over-loaded the front end. The good news is, if you load up your kayak properly, the extra weight will make it even more stable than when it is empty because of the newfound low center of gravity. The heaviest items should be packed low and as close to the cockpit as possible. Then, pack outwards from there, putting the lighter items further toward either end. Avoid packing up too high on your deck. Not only will this raise the center of gravity, costing you the aforementioned stability, but it will cause wind resistance. However, a low-profile deck bag or a couple of light-weight items shouldn’t cause too much of a problem.
When you’re packing, don’t forget to keep water within easy reach at all times – usually the best place to keep your water bottle is the deck. You may opt for a hydration backpack, but be wary about those. If you capsize, the last think you want is a bag weighing you down.