Kayak Touring – Packing

OR
HOW THE HECK DO I FIT ALL THAT STUFF IN MY KAYAK?
(last updated October, 2016)

Suwannee River, River Camp, kayaking, Kayak Touring - Packing

Loading up at a River Camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PACKING FOR KAYAK TOURING
Weight distribution is not only necessary but a fine art.  Too much weight in the bow and your kayak will nose-dive into any waves.  Too much weight in the stern and the higher bow will catch any cross-wind or currents. Too much weight on the left side will cause the kayak to constantly turn left and you’ll have to paddle harder on the right to go straight ahead.  So what you are looking for is an even distribution of weight when you are sitting in your kayak.  This is much easier to accomplish when you use small dry bags that can be stowed wherever you need to even out the weight.  You’ll also want to place your lightest items far up in the bow and stern and your heaviest items (like water) in the bottom of the hull and close to the cockpit. 

All this extra camping gear should be stowed “below deck” or in the recessed wells of a SOT because too much weight piled up on top of the deck will make your kayak top-heavy and tippy, so keep on deck only those things which you need during the day such as safety gear, maps and camera, etc.   Another thing is that too much gear in your cockpit can not only make the cockpit cramped but could pose a safety hazard if you have to exit and could get lost if you turn over.

How not to pack!, Kayak Touring - Packing

How not to pack!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On a recent trip we came up with an easy way to help keep things balanced side-to-side and fore-and-aft.  We assigned 2 yellow 15-liter dry bags to the bow compartment and 2 red 15-liter dry bags to the stern compartment.  Each dry bag was then loaded with approximately the same weight.  After the sleeping bag was loaded into the extreme front of the bow compartment and the light-weight tent was loaded into the extreme rear of the stern compartment, the two bags went in, side by side.  Since these 4 bags contained almost all of our other gear except for our water the fact that they were close to the same weight created a simple way to keep things balanced.  See if it works for you!

Below is a typical layout of gear for a multi-day trip. Of course, a lot depends on location, your gear requirements, the configuration of your own kayak, and the weather, so use this only as a guide while developing your own system.

Bow hatch – forward
Sleeping bag
Pillow

Bow hatch – aft (near cockpit)
Small cooler
Extra water

Bow hatch – center
Clothing
Toilet kit
Personal items
Tarp & rope (right under the hatch cover)

Stern hatch – aft
Tent
Tent poles
Sleeping pad
Camp chair

Stern hatch – forward (near cockpit)
Small cooler
Extra water

Stern hatch – center
Kitchen/cooking items
Food
Water filter

Cockpit & deck
PFD
Water bottle
Small cooler with lunch
First Aid/Repair kit
Bilge pump
Skirt/Half-skirt
Spare paddle (at least 1 per group)
Ditch bag – flares, matches/lighter, signal mirror, toilet paper, knife, power bars)
Paddle float/stirrup
Rain gear
Towline
Bow and/or stern line

 

GENERAL CHECKLIST

Below is a general checklist for any kayak tour.  You should modify it for your specific trips taking into account length, location, weather, and paddling skills.

Boat/Safety Gear (usually on the deck, in the cockpit or on your person)
Kayak
Paddle
PFD with whistle
VHF radio/SPOT/EPIRB/Cell Phone (depending on your location)
Spare paddle (at least 1 per group)
First Aid/Repair Kit
Towline
Paddle float/stirrup
Skirt/Half-skirt
Rain gear
Sunscreen
Lip balm
Insect repellent
Bilge pump
Sponge
Ditch Bag – flares, matches/lighter, signal mirror, toilet paper, knife, power bars)
Maps/GPS
Bow and/or stern line

Camping Gear
Water-proof dry bags
Sleeping bag
Sleeping pad
Tent (don’t forget poles, stakes and ground cloth – they can be packed into separate bags)
Pillow
Camp chair
Tarp with lines and stakes (great for rainy and windy lunch stops)

Kitchen
Stove
Fuel
Matches/lighter
Cook pot(s)
Cooking utensils
Eating utensils
Plate and/or bowl
Cups
Water filter
Water bottles
Biodegradable soap
Dish scrubber
Dish towel
Bear rope (50-foot smooth line to hang food bag in tree)
Cooler(s)

Personal
Toilet kit (toothbrush, toothpaste, towel, washcloth, meds, toilet paper, etc.)
Small flashlight or headlamp – with extra batteries
Clothing – for paddling and in camp
Short clothes line

Optional
Camera
Binoculars
Book

For an example from one of our Suwannee River tours, click HERE.

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