Camping With a Kayak

Camping with a kayak is an exciting adventure that allows you to explore the great outdoors while enjoying the tranquility of the water. However, one challenge that kayakers often face is keeping their belongings dry during the trip. Even if you have never seen water in the hatches of your boat, it seems that Murphy’s Law always finds a way to get water in there when you least expect it.

To ensure that your essential items stay dry, it is important to take extra precautions. Items such as clothing, sleeping bags, fire starting equipment, and first aid kits should always be protected, even in the driest of boats. This is especially true if you are using a kayak that you are not familiar with, such as a rental boat. In these situations, it is best to assume that the hatches are not waterproof.

While dry bags are an effective way to keep your belongings dry, they can be quite costly. Additionally, most touring or sea kayaks can only accommodate a limited number of dry bags, especially larger ones. For example, my 17-foot touring kayak can only fit three medium-sized dry bags in its hatches. If you have a British-style kayak with a skeg, which takes up space in the rear hatch, you may have even less room for bags.

However, there are ways to maximize the space you have. Around the medium-sized dry bags, you can fit many smaller ones and small items. So, if you decide to invest in dry bags, consider getting several smaller ones along with a few medium ones.

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Here are some clever tricks to reduce the number of dry bags you need:

Lining Sleeping Bags with Trash Bags

You can make your sleeping bags waterproof by lining the inside of their stuff sacks with heavy-duty trash bags before stuffing them. The stuff sack will provide extra abrasion protection to the trash bag, allowing it to stay waterproof in most circumstances. Although double bagging may still be necessary as a preventive measure, this method is a cost-effective way to keep your sleeping bag dry.

Using Trash Bags for Non-Essential Items

For items that don’t need to be completely dry, consider placing them in trash bags. For example, you can place your tent inside a trash bag, as it doesn’t require complete protection from water.

Evaluate the Need for Waterproofing

Before packing, think about whether an item even needs to be kept dry. For instance, you can remove the poles from your tent and place them separately in the boat. Their long and skinny shape makes them a perfect fit towards the bow or stern. Additionally, your sleeping pad may not need to be put in a bag at all. If it gets wet, you can easily dry it under the sun or with a camp towel.

Optimize Space in Your Boat

To create more room in your kayak, it is beneficial to place items that don’t need to be kept dry loosely in your boat. Removing things like canned foods makes it easier to find space for a half-full bag and the separate cans. This way, you can efficiently pack your boat for longer trips.

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Handy Tools for Loading and Unloading

On longer trips, you often have many loose items and small bags that need to be packed tightly. Loading and unloading can be quite inconvenient in such situations. To overcome this, it is useful to have a tarp available that you can lay items on just before loading or unloading your boat. Furthermore, carrying an empty duffel bag can come in handy when transporting these loose items to and from your kayak.

Remember, keeping your belongings dry during your kayak camping trip is crucial for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. By employing these creative and cost-effective methods, you can protect your essential items and make the most of the limited space in your kayak. So, gear up, grab your kayak, and embark on an unforgettable camping adventure!