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Packing a Kayak for an Overnight Trip

If you are planning an overnight trip in your kayak, then you are going to need to think about the things that you need to take with you on your journey.

two kayaks packed for an overnight trip

It might seem like a straightforward task, but there are lots of things that you will need to consider.

Not only do you need to think about the importance of the items that you want to take, but you will also need to think about the weight and space that these things are going to take up.

In addition to this, you will need to find ways to protect your things while you travel, which can mean getting more equipment than you planned for.

How to Pack a Kayak for Overnight Trips

In this article, we are going to explain exactly how you can pack a kayak for an overnight trip, so you don’t need to worry. We will also provide you with all of the information that you could possibly need to know to help prepare you for the journey ahead.

What to Pack in a Kayak for Overnight Trips

There are lots of things that you are going to need to consider that will determine some of the things that you should pack.

kayak packed with camping gear

Something that is really important to check is the weather forecast, so you will know exactly what kind of clothing to take with you.

The clothing that you pack should be suitable for the weather that you are going to be experiencing.

Another thing that can impact your packing list is the overall purpose of the trip, as this may lead to you needing to take additional items or equipment with you.

How to Pack a Kayak for Overnight Trips

Packing your things for an overnight kayaking trip doesn’t need to be difficult, and it won’t be, as long as you have really thought about what you need to take with you.

kayak carrier for car

There are some general rules to follow when it comes to packing, and we will leave some of these things below for you to think about.


Any items that you are planning to take with you that cannot handle water should be packed into waterproof bags to ensure that your possessions don’t get ruined.

person paddling a kayak

An overnight trip can become quite costly if all of your things get tossed into the water. You can purchase these bags in many different sizes, depending on what you need.

Pack Light

Some things simply won’t be essential, and you should think about whether or not you really need to take them with you on your adventure.

kayak next to a tent

You don’t need to pack up your entire house for an overnight kayak trip, and so you will need to be picky about the things that you do decide to pack.

Space is a luxury when it comes to kayaking, so try to be strict with yourself.

Size Matters

It will most likely be easier to use multiple smaller dry bags instead of less large bags as this will help you to save space in your kayak, depending on how big it is.

red and yellow kayaks next to a tent

You could even go one step further and color code or label each bag, so you know which one is which.

This will help you to save time when you are looking for something, rather than having to rummage through all of your things. Some of the best bags to use in this instance are those that are lightweight and waterproof. 

You will need to take care when using them to ensure that they do not get damaged, but they are great for storing and protecting your belongings.

This is one of the most efficient ways to store your things with ease, and you won’t have to worry about your stuff getting damaged.

two kayaks on the shore near tents
Parc de la Vérendry, Réservoir Cabomga

To help you to save as much space as possible you should make sure that you push any excess air out of the bags before you go ahead and seal them, so they won’t be using more room than necessary.

Keep Your Balance

You will also need to be aware of the weight distribution in your kayak to make sure that it isn’t going to turn over when you least expect it.

Any items that are particularly heavy should be placed near the center of the kayak.

kayak with a deck bag

Items that are light can be packed towards the ends of the kayak. Everything that you are taking with you should be packed as low as possible, and be centered from side-to-side.

This will help to ensure that your boat remains stable and balanced while you’re paddling. Of course, this can be mitigated by using a trolling motor.

Tips for Packing a Kayak For Overnight Trips

  • Make sure that you take care with any fragile items that you want to take with you. You can wrap them inside a towel before they go inside the dry bag for extra padding if necessary.
  • Try to keep a logical system in place when you are packing all of your belongings. Having similar items in the same bag can be a huge time-saver, and it makes things much more convenient. 
  • Something that always comes in handy is sealable plastic bags, as they are great for storing smaller items. They can also be a great backup solution to have to hand if the situation arises. As well as this, they are also easy to access, which helps to save time. 
  • Something else that you might want to save for your trip is silica pouches that often come with retail purchases. These sachets will work to remove humidity really efficiently, and they are great for putting inside plastic bags with your things.

Test Run

If you are looking to be as prepared as you possibly can before you set out on your adventure, then you should try to do a test run before the real thing.

people kayaking at campgrounds

You should load all of your belongings onto your kayak using the tips and advice that we have mentioned, and make sure that everything will fit and can be stored efficiently.

This way, anything that goes wrong can be amended before you go, so you won’t face any delays or issues on the day.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this helps you out when it comes time to pack up your kayak for camping or an overnight trip. There’s much more to it than some people might realize!

Of course, there are lots of other things to consider when packing a kayak for overnight trips or camping. You definitely want to make sure you have the right paddle, too!

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