How to Pack a Kayak

Are you planning on going on a long kayaking trip? You should make sure that you know how to pack your kayak before you go!

When you’re packing your kayak, you should first figure out just how long of a trip you’re planning on going on. After all, if you’re going to be kayaking for weeks, you’re probably going to need more supplies than you would if you were only going to be kayaking for a few days. However, there are some supplies that you need to make room for in your kayak no matter what.

First Aid Kit – Before packing your first aid kit be sure that it has been refilled with all its items. If you do not own a first aid kit, make sure to purchase one before you go. There are first aid kits designed specifically for kayaks and canoe touring but any first aid kit should do if it has the right gear. Here are a couple kits we recommend:

Adventure Medical Kits Sportsman Series Bighorn Medical Kit Small First Aid Kit for Hiking, Backpacking, Camping, Travel, Car & Cycling. With Waterproof Laminate Bags You Protect Your Supplies! Be Prepared For All Outdoor Adventures or at Home & Work Go First Aid Kit Ultralight, Portable with First Aid Bag On the Go for Emergency, 85 Pieces

Rescue Blanket – If your camping overnight you should always carry a rescue blanket just in case. Also, if your kayaking in cold water there is chance you might be susceptible to hypothermia. Be sure to do your homework on hypothermia before you head out to understand how to combat it if your ever in that situation.

Whistle – The last thing you want to do is break one of your legs and not be able to get out of the wilderness in the dark. Make sure to buy yourself a whistle so you can attempt to signal nearby kayakers. In addition, if make sure to have a light if your stranded out at night to be able to signal others. Attach both to your PFD (portable flotation device) and you won’t forget it.

Compass – Unless you are so far out to sea that you can’t see land or somehow ended up 5 miles off of the river, there shouldn’t be a need to use a compass. Still, it’s important to have a compass and know how to use it. Here is a compass that should suit your needs.

Multi-tool – A multi-tool is essential for any kayaking excursion. There are so many accessories that could come in handy while you’re out kayaking and there is a wide range of prices. There is no need to go overboard so we recommend buying a simple multi-tool that suits your needs. Here are a couple tools we recommend.

Leatherman - Wave Multitool, Black with MOLLE Sheath (FFP) Leatherman - Skeletool Multi-Tool, Stainless Steel Leatherman - Wave Multitool, Stainless Steel with Leather Sheath (FFP) Leatherman - Wingman Multi-Tool, Stainless Steel Leatherman - Charge TTI Multi-Tool, Stainless Steel with Nylon Sheath (FFP) Leatherman 830684 Charge TTi Multi-Tool with LeatherNylon Combination Sheath and Gift Tin

Iodine Tablets – In case you run out of water or your water pump malfunctions, it’s always a good idea to carry iodine tablets to ensure you always will have access to drinkable water. Some first aid kits come with iodine tablets but if not you can always get some online for cheap. Also, a water straw is also a good thing to have around if your water pump malfunctions.

Waterproof Matches and Fire Starter – If you haven’t found out yet, when your kayaking there is a pretty good chance that you will be getting wet. Having water proof matches could come in handy if you lose your lighter in the water or it gets water logged. In addition, having a fire starter makes things easier when trying to start a fire in wet conditions. If you don’t know how to start a fire make sure to read up on how to here.

However, even though you might never take some these items out of your kayak, you will not want to pack them into the bulkhead first. After all, whatever you put in first is going to be on the bottom of the bulkhead, and thus, farthest away from your reach if you need it. Therefore, the first piece of advice for you if you’re wondering how to pack your kayak is to put in the emergency equipment in last. That way everything will be within easy reach if something bad were to happen to you while you’re kayaking.

You should also make sure that you pack a little bit extra food and water. Make sure to pack enough so that you could make your trip longer without losing any food or water. After all, there are so many different things that could happen to you during your trip that it pays to be prepared with extra food as well as some emergency equipment.

If you plan on camping overnight it’s a good idea to bring a bear bag and a rope to tie to a branch. In addition to protecting your food supply from critters, it will keep your food dry while your paddling. There are many different sizes of bear bags to choose from to suit multi-day to multi-week excursions.

Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag - Roll Top Dry Compression Sack Keeps Gear Dry for Kayaking, Beach, Rafting, Boating, Hiking, Camping and Fishing with Waterproof Phone Case (2 Pack) Dry Bags, Compact and Lightweight 2 - 20L in Water Resistant 500D PVC Tarpaulin by The Friendly Swede Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag - Roll Top Dry Compression Sack Keeps Gear Dry for Kayaking, Beach, Rafting, Boating, Hiking, Camping and Fishing with Waterproof Phone Case

If you packed anything that needs to be refrigerated, we recommend spending a little extra to purchase a high quality and highly insulated cooler. There is nothing worse than getting food poisoning while you are camping. You could even purchase a specialized cooler that are specifically designed for kayaks. These coolers typically conform to the kayaks shape which will save you room as well as allow you to pack more efficiently.

Seattle Sports Kayak Catch Cooler 20 ENGEL USA Cooler/Dry Box, 19 Quart Coleman 16-Can Soft Cooler With Hard Liner Arctic Zone Titan Zipperless Cooler

While you should always wait until you’re just about to launch your kayak before you put in some of the heavy items, you might want to load up the lighter objects on the beach or dock before you go to launch the kayak. This will make it a lot easier to load the kayak, and you’ll know already that you have everything you need for your trip. A kayak cart can be useful as well if the parking lot is far from the launch zone.

Another thing that you should realize is that where you pack the items in your kayak can have a big effect on how stable your kayak is in the water. As a result, you should pack your bulkheads so that the heaviest items are closest to where you’re sitting in the kayak. You should also make sure that the heavy items are roughly along the center line of the kayak – you don’t want to make it easier to flip over, after all.

Packing a kayak is often hard the first time. However, after a few trips, you should quickly learn how to pack your kayak for any trip.


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