How to Pack a Sea Kayak Part 3: What to Bring

kayaking and camping gear on the floor

Selecting the gear you bring on a kayaking trip feels like a balance between comfort, weight and size. But, when selecting the right, modern gear, you can camp in comfort without having to carry significant weight or bulk.

As you learned in How to Pack a Sea Kayak Part 2: Packing Your Kayak, a sea kayak has different compartments used to store gear. Within those compartments, you store different gear types to make certain gear more accessible than others. For example, if you store you paddle on the front deck, it makes it hard to access gear from the front hatch during the day, so you could stash your camping gear in the front compartment. It’s easier to do this if you divide your gear into different categories that echo the rooms in your house and then pack those categories together based on ease of access.

Categories of Gear

The main categories of gear are (See Organizing Camping Gear):

  • Kitchen
  • Bedroom
  • Closet
  • Personal paddling equipment (clothing worn)
  • Den
  • Bathroom

This list doesn’t include paddling equipment such as a paddle, paddle float, pump, tow rope, life vest, VHF radio, ditch kit and more. It doesn’t include paddling clothing. All that should be brought along as well. The following doesn’t include dry bags; you can learn more about which dry bags to use in How to Pack a Sea Kayak Part 1: Selecting and Packing Dry Bags.

Kitchen Gear

The kitchen gear you pack doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. You can make a stove from a pop can or a cat can, use a $5 Imusa Aluminum Mug with a lid made from tin foil to cook in and a plastic takeout spoon for a light and inexpensive kitchen. For a more elaborate kitchen, canister stoves are easy to use and the Pocket Rocket by MSR gets the job done and weighs only 3 ounces. The Sawyer Mini water filter (read my review) is a no-brainer. The Snow Peak pot from the Ti Multi Compact Cookset is light and big and the Snow Peak bowl fits right inside. In fact, everything listed in this kitchen fits inside the Snow Peak pot, which makes for a compact cookset for two.

Bedroom Gear

bedroom camping gear packed upWhile the Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 isn’t completely freestanding — two corners require stakes — the weight of about 1 pound per person makes it attractive. Even at 2 pounds, it’s not that heavy to carry for one person. The sleeping pad is 2.5 inches thick and weighs 12 ounces. With so many sleeping bags on the market, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. Pick a bag that is comfortable and weighs 2 pounds or less.


The closet is the clothing that you wear in camp. It doesn’t include your paddling clothing, which may include a wetsuit or drysuit. The important thing to remember is don’t overpack. If you’re not using a wetsuit or drysuit and are carrying a rain jacket, then you don’t need to bring another one. On a personal note, I hiked the length of the Appalachian Trail with only a t-shirt, Helly Hansen Lifa long underwear tops and bottoms, shorts, a rain jacket and pants, one pair of socks, fleece cap and a fleece quarter zip pullover. That’s less than most kayakers pack in their hatches and it was for a six month backpacking trip. You don’t need lots of extra clothing.

  • T-shirt (synthetic or wool)
  • Long-sleeve shirt (synthetic or wool)
  • Long underwear pants (synthetic or wool)
  • Underwear (optional)
  • Insulation layer (Patagonia Down Sweater or Down Sweater Hoodie)
  • Rain jacket (many options – shoot for 10 to 14 ounces)
  • Rain pants (many options – shoot for 10 ounces or less)
  • Socks
  • Camp shoes (sandals)
  • Sunglasses
  • Stocking cap


You could also call this category a garage, because it includes tools — repair kits for both your gear and body. Depending on your style, you can include your journal and camera and any smart gear you want to bring. When it comes to charts consider printing your own charts to save money and weight.


Keep it basic and you won’t add too much weight here.

  • TP
  • DermaGel Sanitizer
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Small quick dry washcloth
  • Dr. Bronner’s
  • Trowel

Articles in the How to Pack a Sea Kayak Series

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One comment

  • Great series of posts !
    Will be waiting for more tips and reviews from you

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