Must-See Kayaking Checklist for 2020

primitive survivors kayaking

Planning to go on a kayaking adventure? You don’t need a lot of gear for when you’ll do it on calm, near-shore waters. But if you’re padding to a faraway destination, this guide will come in handy to guarantee that you don’t forget any essentials for your flatwater kayaking.Β 

Take note that this list may not be your final gear since what you need to add or leave off still depends on your preferences, abilities, and the conditions in the environment you are in. It’s also suitable for when you’re camping overnight.


For short, recreational outings here are some pieces of equipment you will be needing:

  • Paddle. A paddle or a pedal are the options for tournaments. You may also choose between a half, full, or a Backwater Assault style paddle, as well as wood, metal, plastic, or composite. A paddle will help you push off banks and other obstructions when you’re in the water.Β 
  • Kayak. The type of boat you have means you have to anticipate challenges along your route.Β 
  • Dry bag for personal items. A good dry bag for gear can be essential while kayak fishing. We hope that we never need it, that we never roll and watch our gear create a debris field in its wake, but it does happen.
  • Personal floatation device
  • Bilge pump
  • Spray skirt for cold weather/water
  • Headlamp or light with batteries
  • Signaling whistle

Here are other recommendations for extended trips

  • Paddle knife
  • Bowline. You’ll need one for trying off the boat no matter how far up the shoreline.
  • Maps and charts
  • Compass that floats
  • Watch
  • CHF radio
  • Paddle leash
  • Large sponge
  • Float bags
  • Emergency flares
  • GPS


Clothing is a sequence of layers that shelter your body from the elements to help regulate your body’s temperature. Footwear is also under this category as it makes or breaks your outdoor experience.

For warm weather, pack the following:

  • Footwear. A good water shoe should be flexible enough to work your foot inside the cockpit yet have a strong enough sole for rocky beaches. “Cannery boots” are the standard dress code for most ocean kayakers I know, especially along the Pacific coast
  • Gloves. Paddling gloves wor dry, warm, and raw-worn hands protection are recommended, while gloves or liners are better for warmth on land.Β 
  • Swimwear
  • Rashguard top
  • Sun-shielding hat
  • Bandana
  • Paddling gloves
  • Vest

Meanwhile, get the following for when you’ll kayak in the cold:

  • Synthetic or wool socks. These will provide a little extra warmth to make it easy for you to slip your wet foot in or out of a wet shoe.
  • Drysuit
  • Long underwear
  • Pogies

Food and Water

If you have done any kind of camping before, you probably already have your food or snacks of choice that you bring along. What’s important is to keep it fresh and properly sealed as well. Food for camping is generally packaged in two ways, coded or with same colored containers or packaged as such. Either way, consider one-pot meals, minimal utensil.


Soft-sided coolers keep food as cold as rigid boxes do, but are more easily stowed through hatches, and fit in weird spaces below deck where a rigid cooler wouldn’t. And, If you winter kayak camp, a cooler can also be used to keep food from freezing.


More importantly, you have to avoid dehydration. Drink ample amounts of water from time to time, and not just when you’re feeling thirsty. Learn how to filter water and boil it in the wild since it is also a primary ingredient in most camp cuisines.Β 


Finding fresh water, unless collected during rains, usually means processing water found in nature and presumed contaminated regardless of how pure it may seem. A reliable water filter is essential for providing healthy water.


If you decide to bring your own water with you, that means your backpack will be heavier and you’ll have to give up some gear. Flexible or collapsible containers can be “molded” to fit almost anywhere throughout their emptying process. Water bottles stashed throughout your boat at least one or two easily accessible on deck and/or perhaps a backpack hydration system are all good methods of having drinking water available throughout your camping trip.


For cooking and eating, prepare to pack the following utensils:

  • Camp stove
  • Fuel
  • Matches
  • Large pot with lid
  • Small pots with lids
  • Bowls
  • Cups
  • Large spoon for mixing, stirring, and eating
  • Knife
  • Small spatula
  • Can opener
  • Biodegradable soap, dish cloth

Repair Kit Supplies

On a trip, it is important to put together a repair kit that you carry in your kayak. While you may not use it, it can save your life in many other scenarios. Pack a small dry bag with the following items:

  • Multi-tool
  • Sealant
  • Static deck line
  • Bungee cords
  • Replacement rudder parts
  • Baling wire
  • Duct tape

Personal Items

Your personal hygiene is just as important as the essential kayak gears. The same goes with other personal things. Here are some things you’ll need:

  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid kit
  • Sleeping bag
  • Toilet paper
  • Hand sanitizer or rubbing alcohol
  • Menstrual and urinary products
  • Cellphone
  • Permits and licenses
  • Credit card
  • Small amount of cash
  • Binoculars
  • Lip balm
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses

Enjoy Your Adventure!

As previously mentioned, these essentials may be excessive or insufficient depending on your preferences and condition. The more self-reliant and skillful you are, the more you can extend yourself in style and comfort, as well as keep yourself safe without the need of some items.Β 

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