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What To Bring On A Kayaking Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Emeline Hailey



Planning a kayaking trip can be an exhilarating experience. Whether you are a seasoned kayaker or a beginner, the thrill of being out on the water, surrounded by nature, is unmatched. But before you set out on your adventure, it is crucial to be well-prepared with the necessary equipment and supplies.


In this article, we will guide you through the essential items to bring on a kayaking trip. From safety gear to camping equipment, we will cover everything you need to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the water.


Before we dive into the specifics, it is important to note that kayaking can be physically demanding and potentially dangerous, especially if proper precautions are not taken. Always check local weather conditions and water levels before heading out, and be sure to have the necessary skills and experience for the type of kayaking trip you are planning.


Now, let’s take a look at the essential equipment you should bring on your kayaking adventure.


Essential Safety Equipment

When it comes to kayaking, safety should be your top priority. The following safety equipment is essential to have on any kayaking trip:

  1. Personal Flotation Device (PFD): A properly fitted PFD is a must-have for every kayaker, regardless of skill level. In the event of a capsize or any other emergency, a PFD will keep you afloat and greatly increase your chances of survival.
  2. Kayak Helmet: A helmet is critical for protecting your head from potential injuries, especially if you’re paddling in whitewater or rocky areas. Make sure to choose a helmet specifically designed for kayaking with a snug fit and proper ventilation.
  3. Whistle: A whistle is an essential signaling tool that can be heard over long distances. In an emergency situation, a whistle can help attract attention and summon assistance from other boaters or rescue teams.
  4. Kayak Bilge Pump: A bilge pump is used to remove water from the kayak’s cockpit. It is an important tool to have in case your kayak takes on water, as it can help prevent swamping and keep you afloat.
  5. Kayak Paddle Float: A paddle float is an inflatable device that attaches to one end of the kayak paddle. It aids in re-entry to the kayak after a capsize, providing extra stability and support.
  6. Tow Line: A tow line can be a lifesaver in situations where you or a fellow paddler need assistance. It allows you to tow or be towed by another kayak, making it easier to reach safety or provide aid to others in need.
  7. Navigation Tools: Carry a waterproof map, compass, and/or GPS device to help you navigate your way on the water. Familiarize yourself with the waterways, potential hazards, and any regulations or restrictions before you set off.

Never compromise on safety. It is essential to have these items with you on every kayaking trip. Remember to check and maintain your safety equipment regularly to ensure it is in good working condition.


Paddling Gear

Having the right paddling gear is crucial for a comfortable and efficient kayaking experience. Here are some essential items you should bring:

  1. Kayak: Select a kayak that suits your needs and experience level. Sit-on-top kayaks are great for beginners, while sit-inside kayaks offer better protection and control in rough waters.
  2. Paddle: Choose a paddle that is the right length and material for your height and paddling style. Lightweight and durable materials like fiberglass or carbon fiber can make paddling easier and more enjoyable.
  3. Spray Skirt: If you are using a sit-inside kayak, a spray skirt is essential. It attaches to the cockpit rim and keeps water from entering the kayak, helping you stay dry and comfortable in rough conditions.
  4. Life Jacket: In addition to your PFD, it’s wise to have a life jacket specifically designed for paddling. These jackets offer more freedom of movement and have multiple pockets to store small essentials like a whistle or sunscreen.
  5. Gloves: Kayaking gloves provide protection and enhance grip on the paddle. They can help prevent blisters and keep your hands warm in cold weather.
  6. Dry Bag: A dry bag is essential for keeping your personal items dry and protected from water. Look for a waterproof bag with a roll-top closure to ensure maximum protection.
  7. Bilge Sponge: A bilge sponge is a handy tool for soaking up any water that enters your kayak. It helps keep the cockpit dry and ensures a more comfortable paddling experience.

Investing in high-quality paddling gear will not only improve performance but also enhance your overall enjoyment on the water. Remember to choose gear that suits your specific needs and preferences, and always test it out before embarking on your kayaking trip.



Choosing the right clothing for your kayaking trip is essential to stay comfortable and protected from the elements. Here are some clothing items to consider:

  1. Wetsuit or Drysuit: Depending on the water temperature and weather conditions, you may need a wetsuit or drysuit to stay warm. A wetsuit provides insulation and retains body heat even when wet, while a drysuit offers complete waterproof protection.
  2. Quick-drying Layers: Opt for lightweight, moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly to keep you comfortable throughout your kayaking journey. Avoid cotton, as it retains moisture and can make you feel cold and clammy.
  3. Paddling Jacket: A paddling jacket is a waterproof or water-resistant outer layer designed to provide protection from rain and splashes. Look for one with adjustable cuffs and a hood for added versatility.
  4. Sun Protection: Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses with UV protection, and sunscreen to shield yourself from the sun’s harmful rays. Consider wearing lightweight, long-sleeved shirts and pants to protect your skin from sunburn and abrasions.
  5. Water Shoes or Sandals: Opt for water shoes or sandals that have a secure fit and provide good traction on wet surfaces. Avoid heavy boots that can make it difficult to swim in case of a capsize.
  6. Extra Clothing: Pack extra layers of clothing that you can change into if you get wet or cold. It’s always better to have too many layers than too few, as you can remove or add clothing as needed.

Remember to dress in layers that you can easily adjust based on the changing weather conditions. Pay attention to the forecast and plan your clothing accordingly to ensure maximum comfort and protection during your kayaking adventure.


Camping Equipment

If you’re planning a kayaking trip that includes overnight stays, having the right camping equipment is essential for a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some items to consider bringing:

  1. Tent: Choose a lightweight and waterproof tent that can be easily packed into your kayak. Look for a tent that is suitable for the number of people in your group and provides adequate protection from the elements.
  2. Sleeping Bag: Select a sleeping bag that is appropriate for the expected temperature range. Consider factors like insulation, size, and weight to find the best sleeping bag for your needs.
  3. Sleeping Pad: A sleeping pad provides cushioning and insulation between you and the ground. Look for one that is lightweight, durable, and comfortable to ensure a good night’s sleep during your camping trips.
  4. Camp Stove and Cooking Utensils: If you plan to cook meals while camping, a compact camp stove and cooking utensils are necessary. Opt for lightweight options and consider the number of burners and fuel efficiency.
  5. Camp Kitchen Supplies: Pack essential kitchen supplies such as pots, pans, utensils, plates, cups, and a cutting board. Look for lightweight and durable options that are easy to clean and transport.
  6. Food Storage: Use waterproof and airtight containers or dry bags to store your food and protect it from water and wildlife. Make sure to properly secure your food to prevent attracting animals to your campsite.
  7. Headlamp or Flashlight: A hands-free light source is essential for camping. Choose a lightweight and durable headlamp or flashlight with long battery life to navigate your campsite in the dark.
  8. Camp Chair: While not necessary, a lightweight and collapsible camp chair can provide comfort and relaxation at your campsite after a long day of paddling.

When selecting camping equipment, consider the weight and size restrictions of your kayak, as space may be limited. Opt for compact and lightweight options whenever possible to ensure a hassle-free camping experience.


Food and Water Supplies

Proper nutrition and hydration are crucial during a kayaking trip to maintain your energy levels and stay hydrated. Here are some tips for packing food and water supplies:

  1. Water: Ensure you have an ample supply of drinking water for the duration of your trip. Consider using a combination of refillable water bottles and hydration bladders to easily access water while on the water.
  2. Water Filtration System: If you’ll be paddling in areas where there are natural water sources such as rivers or lakes, a portable water filtration system can be a valuable addition. It allows you to filter and purify water on the go, ensuring a safe and clean drinking supply.
  3. Non-Perishable Foods: Pack a variety of lightweight and non-perishable foods that provide energy and nutrition. Consider options like dried fruits, nuts, energy bars, trail mix, jerky, and canned goods. Opt for foods that require minimal cooking and preparation.
  4. Cooking Utensils: Bring lightweight cooking utensils such as a portable stove, pot, pan, and utensils if you plan on cooking meals. Don’t forget to pack matches, a fire starter, or a portable stove fuel canister, depending on your cooking method.
  5. Cooler: If you have the space and ability to bring perishable foods, a small cooler can help keep them fresh for longer periods. Use ice packs or freeze water bottles to keep the cooler contents cold.
  6. Trash Bags: Practice Leave No Trace principles by bringing trash bags to pack out all your waste and keep the environment clean.

Remember to pack enough food and water for the duration of your trip, plus extra supplies in case of unexpected delays or emergencies. Plan your meals in advance and consider any dietary restrictions or preferences of everyone in your group.


Eating well and staying hydrated are essential for a successful and enjoyable kayaking trip. Take the time to plan and pack your food and water supplies accordingly to ensure you have the fuel you need for your adventure.


Navigation and Communication Devices

Having the ability to navigate and communicate effectively is crucial for any kayaking trip. Here are some essential devices to consider bringing:

  1. Map and Compass: Carry a waterproof map of the area you’ll be kayaking in, along with a compass. Familiarize yourself with the landmarks, waterways, and potential hazards before you embark on your journey.
  2. GPS Device: A GPS device can be a valuable tool for navigating your route, especially in unfamiliar or remote areas. Choose a waterproof and rugged GPS device that allows you to mark waypoints, track your progress, and set up routes.
  3. Mobile Phone: Keep your mobile phone in a waterproof and shock-resistant case or dry bag to protect it from water damage. Ensure it is fully charged and carry a portable power bank for recharging when necessary. However, remember that cell phone signal may not be reliable in remote areas.
  4. Marine VHF Radio: A marine VHF radio allows you to communicate with other boaters, marinas, and emergency services. Make sure you are familiar with radio protocols and have the necessary licensing if required in your area.
  5. Flares and Signal Whistle: In case of emergencies or to attract attention, carry waterproof flares and a loud signal whistle. Be sure to check local regulations regarding the use of flares.

Always keep your navigation and communication devices easily accessible and protected from water. Familiarize yourself with their operation and practice using them before you embark on your kayaking trip.


Remember that technology can fail, so it’s important to have traditional navigation tools like a map and compass as a backup. Additionally, inform someone reliable about your trip plans, including your expected route, estimated return time, and emergency contact information.


By being well-prepared with navigation and communication devices, you can navigate your way confidently and stay connected in case of any unforeseen circumstances during your kayaking adventure.


First Aid Kit

A well-stocked first aid kit is an essential item to have on any kayaking trip. It allows you to treat minor injuries and provide immediate care until professional medical help is available. Here are some items to include in your first aid kit:

  1. Bandages and Dressings: Pack a variety of adhesive bandages, sterile gauze pads, adhesive tape, and elastic bandages for treating minor cuts, abrasions, and sprains.
  2. Antiseptic Wipes and Ointments: Use antiseptic wipes or solutions to clean wounds and prevent infection. Include antibiotic ointment or cream to apply to cuts and scrapes.
  3. Pain Relievers: Include over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen to alleviate headaches, muscle aches, and pain.
  4. Antihistamines: Add antihistamines to your first aid kit for treating allergic reactions, insect bites, or stings.
  5. Sunscreen and Lip Balm: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by including sunscreen with a high SPF and lip balm with sunscreen in your kit.
  6. Tweezers and Scissors: Pack a pair of tweezers for removing splinters or foreign objects and a small pair of scissors for cutting tape or clothing if needed.
  7. Moleskin or Blister Bandages: Prevent and treat blisters by including moleskin or blister bandages in your kit.
  8. Disposable Gloves: Use disposable gloves when providing first aid to prevent contamination and protect both the patient and caregiver.
  9. CPR Mask: Consider including a CPR mask with a one-way valve for rescue breathing in case of a cardiac emergency.
  10. Emergency Blanket: In the event of hypothermia or shock, an emergency blanket can help retain body heat and provide comfort.

It’s also important to familiarize yourself with basic first aid procedures and keep a first aid manual or reference guide in your kit. Regularly check your first aid kit to ensure supplies are not expired and replace items as needed.


Remember, a first aid kit is only effective if you know how to use its contents. Consider taking a basic first aid course to enhance your skills and knowledge in providing medical assistance during emergencies.


The safety and well-being of yourself and your fellow paddlers are paramount, so always have a well-equipped and up-to-date first aid kit on hand during your kayaking adventures.


Personal Items

In addition to the essential gear and equipment, there are several personal items that you should bring on a kayaking trip to ensure comfort and convenience. Here are some personal items to consider:

  1. Identification and Documentation: Carry your identification, including a waterproof ID card or a copy of your passport. Also, bring any necessary permits or licenses required for kayaking in the area.
  2. Money and Wallet: Bring some cash, a credit/debit card, and your wallet for any unforeseen expenses or emergencies that may arise during your trip.
  3. Medications: If you take any prescription medications, be sure to have an ample supply for the duration of your trip. Keep them in a waterproof container or bag.
  4. Toiletries: Pack travel-sized toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, and a small towel. Remember to follow Leave No Trace principles and properly dispose of any waste.
  5. Personal Hygiene Products: Bring items like sunscreen, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, and wet wipes to keep yourself clean and protected from the elements.
  6. Spare Clothes and Towel: Pack extra clothes in case you get wet or want to change after a day of paddling. Also, bring a quick-drying towel to dry off or to sit on during breaks.
  7. Camera or Smartphone: Capture memorable moments on your kayaking trip by bringing a waterproof camera or a smartphone in a waterproof case or pouch. Remember to secure it to prevent accidental loss or damage.
  8. Snacks and Water Bottle: Keep some energy-boosting snacks and a refillable water bottle within easy reach for quick snacks and hydration during your journey.
  9. Books or Entertainment: If you enjoy downtime at camp, bring lightweight books, playing cards, or other forms of entertainment to relax and unwind.
  10. Personal Float Plan: Before you embark on your kayaking trip, let someone reliable know about your itinerary, including your planned route, departure, and expected return time. This information can help rescuers locate you in case of an emergency.

Remember to pack personal items in waterproof bags or containers to protect them from water damage. It’s essential to strike a balance between bringing necessary items and ensuring you have enough space in your kayak for safe and comfortable paddling.


Consider the specific needs and preferences of each paddler in your group, and customize the list of personal items accordingly to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable kayaking experience.


Additional Optional Gear

In addition to the essential items mentioned earlier, there are some additional optional gear that you may consider bringing on your kayaking trip, depending on your preferences and the specific activities you plan to engage in. Here are some examples:

  1. Fishing Gear: If you enjoy fishing, bring along your fishing gear, including a fishing rod, tackle box, and appropriate fishing licenses.
  2. Binoculars: Spot wildlife or enjoy scenic views by packing a pair of compact binoculars. They can enhance your experience by allowing you to observe wildlife from a safe distance.
  3. Waterproof Camera or GoPro: Capture stunning underwater or action shots with a waterproof camera or GoPro. Preserve your kayaking memories and share them with others.
  4. Camp Hammock: Relax and unwind in a lightweight camping hammock. It provides a comfortable spot to rest and enjoy the scenery during breaks or overnight camping.
  5. Snorkeling Gear: If you plan to explore underwater environments, consider bringing snorkeling gear to observe marine life and underwater ecosystems.
  6. Repair Kit: Pack a small repair kit with tools, adhesives, and spare parts specific to your kayak, such as duct tape, bungee cord, or kayak patch kits.
  7. Dry Suit or Wet Suit: Depending on the water temperature, a dry suit or wet suit can provide an extra layer of insulation and protection against colder conditions.
  8. Folding Chair or Camp Stool: If you prefer extra comfort at the campsite, consider bringing a lightweight folding chair or camp stool for lounging or sitting around the campfire.
  9. Anchor: An anchor can come in handy when you want to take a break, have a picnic, or do some fishing. It helps keep your kayak in place in mild currents or windy conditions.
  10. Waterproof Speaker: Amp up the fun by bringing a portable waterproof speaker to enjoy music or podcasts while paddling or relaxing at the campsite.

These additional gear items can enhance your kayaking experience and add to your enjoyment on the water. However, keep in mind that space and weight limitations in your kayak may restrict the amount of extra gear you can bring.


Prioritize items that are essential for safety and comfort, and choose optional gear based on your personal interests and the specific activities you plan to engage in during your kayaking trip.


Remember to pack and secure any additional gear properly to ensure it does not interfere with your ability to paddle or create any safety hazards. Enjoy the adventure and make lasting memories with the gear that suits your style and preferences.



As you set out on your kayaking adventure, proper preparation and packing make all the difference in ensuring a safe, enjoyable, and memorable experience. By bringing the essential safety equipment, paddling gear, clothing, camping equipment, food and water supplies, navigation and communication devices, first aid kit, personal items, and any additional optional gear, you will be fully equipped for your trip.


Remember to prioritize safety and always check local regulations, weather conditions, and water levels before heading out. Prepare for changing weather conditions by dressing in layers and bringing appropriate gear for different conditions.


Additionally, take the time to familiarize yourself with the proper use of all your equipment, including safety gear and navigation devices. Practice basic paddling techniques and consider taking a kayaking course if you’re a beginner or want to enhance your skills.


Leave no trace and respect the natural environment by disposing of waste properly and minimizing your impact. Be mindful of wildlife and ecosystems, observing them from a safe and respectful distance.


Above all, enjoy your kayaking trip and embrace the beauty of being out on the water. Explore new places, challenge yourself, and create unforgettable memories. Whether it’s a leisurely paddle on a calm lake or an adrenaline-filled adventure on rushing whitewater, kayaking offers endless opportunities for exploration, relaxation, and excitement.


Stay safe, have fun, and immerse yourself in the wonders of kayaking – the perfect way to connect with nature and embark on unforgettable journeys.