35 Day ChallengeTechnique

Cape Falcon Kayak Lightweight Gear List

Talk about going light, Brian Schulz of Cape Falcon Kayaks lists his standard kayak camping list in a thread at the Qajaq USA. His basic camping list:


  • 1 set of quick dry clothes, no underwear,
  • a warm sweater
  • a hat

Shelter System

  • foam pad
  • sleeping bag
  • tarp

Cooking System

  • 1 qt pot
  • a spoon
  • knife
  • 3 bic lighters
  • msr 10L water bladder
  • nalgene bottle

Emergency Gear and First Aid

  • roll of duct tape
  • bottle of cipro
  • benadryl

Extra Gear

  • book
  • headlamp


  • hat

He writes

as far as camping goes, when I look at most peoples kit’s I just shake my head and ask “What IS all this shit?”


Trust me when I say that paddling a 30 lb kayak with a 30lb kit is much more fun than a 60lb kayak with a 60lb kit. There is just so much stuff you don’t need! I’ve paddled without a stove for years now and I can only remember two night where I ate cold food. Even wet and desert climates abound with small dry twigs. Don’t tell this to anyone at REI, but two handfuls of twigs will cook a dinner just fine. I’m an ex gadget junkie, one day I walked into REI and looked around and I was like “Who needs all this stuff, maybe I could be happy without it.” I remember watching a guy wig-out on a trip because he couldn’t find his forty-five dollar titanium spork. Do you really need a titanium spork? If you buy a 45$ titanium spork when you can get a spoon at value village for 1 penny, isn’t that kind of like saying “F*** YOU to all the poor starving people of the world. Come the revolution they will eat us with our titanium sporks.

Brian cooking over an open fire with his light skin-on-frame kayak in the background. Photo credit: Brian Schulz
Brian cooking over an open fire with his light skin-on-frame kayak in the background. Photo credit: Brian Schulz

I still paddle in the good gear, but the camping stuff is pretty ghetto these days and I couldn’t be happier. When you cut open an old sleeping bag and stuff in more insulation from another torn bag to make one good bag, you just feel so good about it. It ceases to be just another thing you bought, it now has meaning, a story, a life. You met somebody or learned something while you were fixing it. You don’t get that from the store. This is how currency steals from us, it siphons off value from our efforts while simultaneously masking our interconnectedness.

When you look at his gear, he has all the bases covered, especially when you account for his paddling gear. I’d personally bulk up the first aid kit—my basic first aid kit for two to four people weighs 8 ounces, and my emergency gear and a repair kit adds 4 ounces—but with a roll of duct tape, ripped up clothing you can get pretty far. For hygiene, I’d also add a tooth brush, which could be used in a pinch to scrub a bad wound. I’m not exactly sure if I’d carry cipro, but that’s a decision to be made between he and his doctor. And I’d dump the Nalgene, because of BPA (Bisphenol A).

In bug country, I’d probably sew some netting into the sleeping bag or bring a headnet or some kind of bug netting for under the tarp, and I’m a fan of stoves, because I don’t enjoy the act of collecting twigs and starting a fire. Brian’s trying to stay “ghetto” on his camping gear so he doesn’t have to use currency, which is fine, so for those with the same philosophy looking for a stove pick up a few soda cans from trash cans and make a soda can stove . But these are all small nit picks.

When you stop picking nits and look back at what Nessmuk wrote, “Go light; the lighter the better, so that you have the simplest material for health, comfort and enjoyment.” Brian’s list is pretty close to as minimal as you can go and he writes that he couldn’t be happier. It just shows that you don’t need much to head out on big trips. If you’ve read any of Brian’s Sea Kayaker Magazine articles, seen pictures of him is sick big surf, you know that he’s one hardcore paddler who knows his stuff. So, you can trust him when he states it’s much nicer to paddle a lighter kayak than a heavier one. You get better performance and speed.

I’d guess his camping gear weighs less than 9 pounds. That’s pretty light.

Subscribe! Get PaddlingLight in your inbox. Enter your email address:


  • I agree totally with the minimalist concept in principle, but did find that I froze my arse off for a week in Quetico sleeping in my hammock under a tarp and lightweight quilt. I was more tired from lack of good sleep than I would have been from toting the extra weight of my down sleeping bag and solo tent. Balance and moderation in all things, I suppose.

  • ps. I did have a plastic spoon, though… :)

  • That may be more of a function of the wrong gear for the weather situation, than an flaw in the lightweight principles.

    On cold nights, hammocks may not be the best shelter to use. The main problem is the compression of the insulation around your body by the hammock. This reduces a sleeping bags ability to insulate against the cold. And you get cold.

    A better solution may have been to sleep on the ground under a tarp with a lightweight pad under you. I’ve spent many nights in the woods under a lightweight tarp and stayed warm even when the temps drop below freezing. I’ve also been really cold in tents before.

    It’s all about choosing the right gear for the weather.

Comments are closed.