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Kayak Camping: Tips for Being Safe and Prepared for Your Next Adventure

In a way, kayak camping can be an easier and more rewarding camping excursion than hike-in camping. You can find some truly remote places alongside waterways and really get close to nature. If you think you’ve seen some interesting birds in your backyard, wait until you’re able to navigate some otherwise inaccessible spots in your kayak and view some really unique birds in their natural habitats. 

Another benefit of kayak camping is that you aren’t forced to carry the weight of your supplies while you search for the perfect camping spot. You are dealing with water, however, so here are some specific safety and readiness tips that you must know.

Woman kayaking
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How to Pack Your Camping Items in Your Kayak

The first rule of packing up a kayak for a camping adventure is that your kayak’s dry box is probably not going to stay dry. Water has a way of doing what it wants, so you shouldn’t rely on this storage area to remain dry.

One option is to make use of dry bags. They can be expensive, however, especially if you’re using them to protect all your camping gear. It may be smart to think about what really must stay dry and what can stand to get a little wet. For example, the outside of your tent and the bars will be fine if they get wet, but your sleeping bag/pad likely won’t be. If you line your sleeping bag holder with a garbage bag, you can keep most of the moisture at bay. If you are transporting a lot of unsealed food, then you may want to spring for a couple of small dry bags.

Weight distribution is paramount when kayak camping. Try to distribute your items evenly across the front and back of your kayak and balance the weight on your left and right sides to avoid tipping. For more essential packing tips, check out

woman kayaking with mountains in background, kayak camping
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Essential Safety Items

It’s essential that you bring along some basic kayak safety items on your adventure. These include a pump for water emergencies, tether for your paddle, bungee cable to tie your kayak, and a first aid kit. If you are kayak camping with a group, you should all be equipped with waterproof whistles and could even consider printing some matching T-shirts to make sure your group stays together and is recognizable.

If you’re venturing into the backcountry, a GPS device is highly recommended. Your phone likely won’t do, as service will probably be spotty. Always pack enough rations, food and potable water for an extra day or two. Bringing a small, portable camp stove for cooking and boiling water is a good idea, as building a fire may not always be an option.

Practice General Kayaking Safety

No matter what you’re doing in a kayak, there are essential rules to kayaking safely that everyone in your party should know. Some simple ones to remember are:

  • Always wear a lifejacket, even in still water.
  • Remain near your kayak even if it capsizes. A kayak full of water will still float.
  • Never try to get in front of a boat; simply let it pass and wait it out.
  • Always check weather conditions before heading out. Inclement weather can lead to rough waters even in calmer kayaking spots.
  • Always dress to get wet. This is especially crucial in colder waters.
kayaking past a temple
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Kayaking Abroad

If you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, there are plenty of scenic places around the world where you can kayak and be close to nature. You need to do some preparations beforehand, though – beyond just getting your passport and brushing up on ways to keep your valuables safe. You should also prepare for certain emergencies, like losing your wallet, by signing up with a remittance service before you go. Remitly is a great option because they offer lots of good deals. For instance, if you’re visiting Vietnam’s beautiful Halong Bay, there are no fees on your first transfer. Or if you’re visiting Mexico’s Baja, right now you can get 20.77 Mexican pesos per U.S. dollar on your first transaction.

Just like any camping that is not right-outside-your-car glamping, kayak camping is best when you pack light. Just make sure not to neglect the most important items. The fact that you do have a vessel to bear the weight of your gear means that you can pack the essentials and still have room for a few luxury items. The most important aspect of kayak camping is to be prepared for the unexpected.

kayaks sitting on shore with mountains in background, kayak camping
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Tips to maximize safety and adventure on your next kayak camping adventure!
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