How to pack for an overnight kayak trip

By July 18, 2020 No Comments

Our newest team member, Tony Waters, is a veteran kayak guide and instructor. We asked him to share some top tips on packing for a multi-day adventure.

1. Pack your things into many small bags

Kayaks have lots of storage space, you can carry a far more than you would in a backpack. However the hatches are not that wide and the spaces become very skinny at the front and back. The hatches are meant to be waterproof, but sometimes water will get in so keep everything that isn’t waterproof in a dry bag. 

The kayak above is one of our rental boats and this is how I pack it for a trip.

Front Hatch: camping stove, food bag, garbage bag (as the food bag gest smaller the garbage bag gets bigger) clothes bag.

On the Deck: This is for things you know you will need while you are on the water, Sunscreen, water bottle, phone in a waterproof pouch (can also be in a PFD pocket), Maps or marine charts, cameras.

Behind the seat: There is a small space behind the seat, its very difficult to access while you are on the water. When the weather is warm and I’m not wearing my wetsuit, I like to fold it and store it here.

Day Hatch: This is the small hatch behind the seat, you can get another kayaker to open this hatch for you while you are on the water. I store several 1.5L water bottles here because I want the heavy items near the middle of the boat. On top of the water, I store things I might need during the day: lunch, first aid kit, knife, flashlight, hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

Rear Hatch: Sleeping bag, tent, sleeping mat (the inflatable mats usually pack down way smaller. if you carry a foam roll on top of the kayak it tends to act like a sail)

Tony’s Top Tip: Split your tent up. You can split your tent into two parts and make two smaller diameter rolls, this will slide deeper into the back creating more usable space near the hatch. 

2. Water

I like to use many small bottles. It is cheap and gives you lots of flexibility. These 1.5L bottles fit really well in the day hatch of our rental boats, the 0.5L bottles can be jammed in the spaces between other items.

How much?

3 liters per person per day, this is enough to drink, brush your teeth, and clean your dishes.

If you are cooking food like rice, pasta, oats, or dehydrated meals, you need extra water.

3. Food

I hate dehydrated food! It is expensive and not very tasty, the only advantage is that it is light … but if you have to carry extra water, then it has no real advantage. 

Cans are awesome, they are tough, waterproof, tasty, cheap and don’t require extra water.

If you are only going for one or two nights out, think about chopping all your vegetables at home.

Tortillas are great because they don’t take up much space and they don’t get squashed like regular bread.

Tony’s Top Tip: Dessert wraps. Spread a tortilla with nutella or peanut butter, add your favourite dried fruit, nuts, marshmallows, coconut or chocolate. They work hot or cold.

4. Toiletries

For a one or two night trip you don’t need much, this is what I pack:

Tony’s Top Tip: Steal the tiny shampoo bottles at fancy hotels. They are great for dish soap, vegetable oil, after sun lotion and body wash.

5 Camping Basics

I like simple equipment that can do lots of thing.

Tony’s Top Tip: Wash your hands. Camping and kayaking are not fun when you have gastro.

6. On my deck

Things on your front deck often get knocked in the water during a rescue, so make sure they float or they are secured to the bungees. I love stainless steel bottles because they can be used to boil stream water. Skin cancer kills far more kayakers than drowning, so find a good sunscreen container to keep on deck.

Tony’s Top Tip: Don’t fill it to the top. Leave enough air in your drink bottle so it will float if it falls overboard.

7. Equipment in/on my PFD

The worst thing that can happen when kayaking is to become separated from your boat.

If that ever happens, you will only have what you are wearing, so I carry a few survival basics in the pockets of my personal flotation device (PFD).

Want to Learn more? Take a course with Mad Goats and join the herd.

Our 3hr Intro Course runs most days and will teach you the basics of controlling the kayak and how to rescue your friends if someone capsizes.

Our 16hr Foundation Course is run as a 2 day / 1 night camping trip in Oslo Fjord, it covers more advanced skills, trip planning, weather and tide.

About the author

Tony Waters is an Australian adventurer and water sports specialist. He grew up around boats and has spent the last ten years seeking out challenging environments to hone his skills. He trained as a rescue specialist in Canada and as a Kayak, Canoe and SUP instructor in the UK. He spent last winter in the Arctic Circle and when Covid hit, border closures left him stranded there for over three months. We are thrilled to have Tony join the Mad Goats herd for summer 2020.

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