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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

In this post, I will explain some basic items that are good to pack on a trip and what to think about before you leave. This is NOT a tutorial on how to pack for extreme weather or for long multi-day expeditions. It is for those who want to spend a weekend out on Oslo fjord, or someplace similar.

Check the weather forecast

This can give you a pretty good idea of how the weather will be but it is not always 100% certain. I always pack more warm clothes than I will probably need. I would rather be too warm and have to take clothes off than be too cold and not have any clothes to put on!

Research the area you will be paddling

It’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the area. Have a look at Google Maps and pinpoint some landmarks. If you haven’t been there before I recommend obtaining a map of the area. You can find maps online or at kayak stores. You can even print out a Google Map and laminate it or draw one yourself. If I were to paddle on Oslo Fjord, I wouldn’t bring a map as I know where I am, and there are many landmarks with which you can orientate yourself, i.e. Bygdøy, Aker Brygge, Nessodden and the Opera house. Researching if there are any strong tidal patterns, strong currents or heavy boat traffic, is a good idea.  If you plan on camping, make sure you find out if there are designated camping spots. Also, be mindful of fire laws, especially in the dry summer months. It’s usually best to use gas cookers unless it is an emergency. 

Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to be back

Give a reliable person information on where you are going, your phone number etc. Tell them the time you expect to be back and that you will call them to confirm when you are back safely. If you do NOT call, then the contact should wait another hour, and then try to call you. IF they do not manage to get in contact after 3 hours after the agreed time, then emergency procedures need to happen (i.e. they should call the police). Outdoor trips rarely go exactly as planned – you can drop your phone or get held up for some reason. This is why your contact person shouldn’t panic and call the police if you’re not back exactly on time. But having a contact person call rescue services has saved many lives in the outdoors, so it is a smart habit to get into.

Equipment

Mobile phone and spare charger in a waterproof dry bag

Check the area to find out whether there is mobile reception or not. Your telephone provider should be able able to give you this information.  I know that I have good reception when I’m paddling in Oslo Fjord. Also, I am never far from land or other people, which can help me. Because of these reasons, I choose not to bring a radio, satellite phone or locator beacon.  

Map and compass

If you are unfamiliar with your surroundings then a map and compass are a good idea.

First aid/survival kit in a dry bag

The main things I want to bring in my first aid kit: splint in case of broken bones; stretchy bandage to wrap sprained joints; sling to bind a dislocated shoulder; an emergency blanket; and extra clothes (gloves, hat, socks) to prevent hypothermia. Hypothermia is truly the biggest risk sea kayakers face, so make sure you are prepared. It’s not a bad idea to bring a thermos flask full of a hot sugary drink too. This can warm you up and give you a boost in energy.  I like to also have energy bars stored away in my lifejacket pocket so that I can maintain my energy throughout the day. Bring fire lighting material i.e. strips of rubber, candles, flint stick, lighter and fire-starting bits. Even some spirits can be a good idea if the weather is poor. 

Head torch and spare batteries

Must have when paddling at night and it’s even a good idea to put on your head torch when the day turns to dusk. It makes it much easier for boats to see you.  Especially considering that you are already below their horizon line. Add these two things together and kayakers can be easy to miss. It’s also nice to have a head torch when it gets dark and you have to set up your tent.

Dry bags

Keep all the gear you want to be kept dry in dry bags!  Even though some kayak hatches are pretty waterproof, it’s not worth taking the chance. If your boat tips over, water can seep in. I have a deck dry bag, which I have attached just in front of me. Here I keep things that I want to be dry but that will most likely need while I’m paddling. I also have a 60L bag for my tent and other sleeping equipment, and a 40L for clothes and accessories.  

Plastic rubbish bags

I bring a couple of big black plastic bags. These can be good for storing items you don’t mind getting a little bit wet i.e. cooking utensils, outdoor boots and dirty clothes. Of course, also for rubbish. Please remember to take all your trash away with you and leave a place as you found it – or even cleaner if possible!

Hand sanitiser gel

I learnt early on in my outdoor career that keeping your hands clean is important. When you are on a mission for a few days your hygiene standards can drop… and getting sick halfway through a trip is never fun. 

General items you don’t want to forget

  • Sunscreen, hat and glasses
  • An extra paddle 
  • Pump and sponge 
  • Water – don’t rely on there always being safe drinking water. 
  • Lots of food
  • Tent, sleeping-bag and mat
  • Towline 
  • Neoprene hat, gloves and socks
  • Life jacket 
  • Helmet – if you plan on rock hoping/surfing
  • Dry-suit or suitable clothing for the conditions – remember wind chill is not fun
  • Thermals/woollen under wear
  • Knife 
  • Whistle 
  • Paddle float or rescue equipment of your choice 
  • Spray skirt
  • Watch – good way to keep track of the time and gauge your speed
  • Insect repellent 
  • Wet and dry shoes 
  • Gas cooker

Of course, you can pick and choose what you want to bring on the trip, due to the conditions and length. I hope that I have at least given you an idea of what type of equipment you need. The more you paddle the more experience you will get.  

Please get in touch for all kayaking and paddleboard related inquiries in Norway. We offer tours, courses (yes, våttkorts included), and rentals in three paddling hotspots – Sjoa, Oslo and Tønsberg, both on the river and on the sea. Whether it is a gentle urban kayaking tour you are looking for, or to become a full-blown ninja-goat paddler, we can help you. 

Enjoy your adventure!

Tomas Hansson

Tomas is founder of Mad Goats, a keen kayaker and all-round outdoor adventurer. He goes by the official title of "Goat Chieftan", and is usually to be seen with Thug, his loyal companion, by his side.