Best Kayak Camping Gear – The Ultimate Kayak Camping Packing List

Prepping for a kayak camping trip can easily turn into a nightmare: You’ve spent hours trying to make a list, obtain, and pack kayak camping gear, paddled for hours, and finally reached your destination… Only to find out that you’ve forgotten bug spray and a flashlight.  Ahem, it happened to ...
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Sam OBrien

Founder, Kayaking & Paddle Boarding Expert

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

Prepping for a kayak camping trip can easily turn into a nightmare:

You’ve spent hours trying to make a list, obtain, and pack kayak camping gear, paddled for hours, and finally reached your destination… Only to find out that you’ve forgotten bug spray and a flashlight. 

Ahem, it happened to a friend of mine.

Anyways, I’ve created this kayak camping gear checklist to ensure you don’t forget anything and have a safe and convenient kayak camping trip. I’ve included all the basics and essentials, plus a few extra items for a homey night under the stars, and broken them down into categories for your convenience

So, what do you need for your next kayak camping adventure? Let’s check out this article and see!

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Kayaking Essentials

Kayaking on shore loading with camping equipment

When preparing for kayak camping trips, one of the first things to consider is what you’ll need for the kayak trip itself. 

In other words, let’s dissect the “kayak” part before we come to the “camping” one.

1. Kayak (No Kidding)

Wilderness Systems TSUNAMI 145

Okay, first of all, you’ll need a kayak. Yes, I could hear the “Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Jokes aside, you’ll want to get a ‘yak that has what you need for kayak camping. A recreational kayak most likely won’t suffice because you want that extra space for accessories to set up your camp. 

Your best bet here is a touring kayak. Compared to traditional kayaks, it offers a higher comfort level due to extra storage space and adaptability to various weather conditions.

My recommendation is the Wilderness Systems TSUNAMI 145:

It has a whopping 350-pound capacity and plenty of dedicated cargo space – such as two mesh gear pockets, two water-resistant hatches, and a water bottle holder. 

It’s one of the largest Tsunami ‘yaks, meaning it accommodates paddlers of all sizes. In addition to that, it has easily adjustable footrests and a comfortable seat.

I do have more touring kayak suggestions here, though.

2. Emergency Paddle

Emergency Telescoping Paddle

Second, you should get an emergency paddle

No pun intended, but you don’t want to be up in the creek without a paddle.

Seriously, assuming that you already have your favorite kayak paddle on board – if you don’t, you can check out my review of the best kayak paddles – you’ll need a trusty backup.

An ideal emergency paddle is easy to carry and store. The Emergency Telescoping Paddle is my recommendation:

This 42-inch lightweight paddle folds down to 20 inches, and it features a corrosion-resistant aluminum shaft. It’s also great as an emergency paddle because it’s orange and it floats – so, losing it is next to impossible.

3. Bilge Pump

Best Marine Bilge Pump for Kayaks

If you’re going kayaking, one thing’s for sure – unwanted water is part of the deal. Even on calm water and with no hint of rain, even if you paddle carefully, even if you never fall out of your ‘yak – it will accumulate eventually.

That’s where a bilge pump comes in. 

It’s a compact device designed to effectively remove water from your cockpit – wherever you’re located, while you’re still sitting in your ‘yak. 

Quite convenient, huh?

The Best Marine Bilge Pump for Kayaks is, hands-down, the best bilge pump I’ve used. 

The durability of its 2-feet long hose that attaches to either end of your ‘yak impressed me. And with the flow rate of five gallons per minute, it will drain water out of your kayak in no time.

That said, you’ll find more highly recommended options – including high-capacity automatic pumps – in my best kayak bilge pump round-up!

4. Kayak Seat

Leader Accessories Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat

It’s only been an hour of paddling, and your lower back is already killing you. Each stroke results in sharp pain traveling down your spine. 

What’s to blame? 

An uncomfortable kayak seat.

Comfort aside, you can’t brush the dangers of a poor sitting posture under the carpet. It’ll place pressure on your muscles and joints, resulting in chronic neck, back, and shoulder pain.

You’ll spend hours in a seated position. It’s essential that you get a kayak seat that’s both comfy – for your enjoyment – and ergonomic – for your health.

I would suggest the Leader Accessories Deluxe Padded Kayak Seat

It’s made of EVA foam that offers excellent support, combined with a breathable 21D polyester exterior that – well, let me just say, it justifies the “Deluxe” part of the name.

Not sure if that’s what you’re looking for? Check out my reviews to find the best kayak seat for you!

5. Dry Bags

5 Pack Multi-Color Waterproof Dry Sacks

Dry bags are another necessity in your kayak camping arsenal. 

They are the key to keeping your essentials dry, from your wallet, electronics, gadgets, and maps to the clothes, food, and sunscreen – you name it, any item that isn’t too happy to be mixed with water.

Since dry bags come in various shapes and sizes, my advice is to stock up on different ones. 

The 5 Pack Multi-Color Waterproof Dry Sacks are the perfect example:

They come in five different sizes, ranging from 1.5 to 6-liter capacity – making them suitable for storing just about anything you need. More importantly, you can rest assured that they’re true to their name – dry bags – thanks to the polyester material reinforced with waterproof PU coating.

But for your for small items that require protection from moisture, like your phone, wallet, and keys, I highly recommend the use of a waterproof fanny pack. This type of bag not only safeguards your personal essentials, it also keeps them conveniently within reach.

6. Repair Kit

Repairing a cracked kayak is certainly not on your camping to-do list, but unfortunately, mishaps can happen. Rocky shorelines and transportation damage can cause dents, gouges, scratches, and holes to the underside of your ‘yak.

So, how do you fix it? What about the good-old duct tape, for instance? 

The legend has it that it can fix everything.

Well, in fact, yes – something as simple as duct tape could be enough to keep the water out of your beloved vessel.

Kayak Sinking - Emergency Repair to fix Kayak Leak

However, duct tape is only a temporary fix. You should use something more professional – such as this plastic boat repair kit – to apply a layer of epoxy and prevent the damage from spreading further.

Remember, though: 

You won’t be able to repair every crack on your own. If you notice a severe leak and resorting to these two quick fixes doesn’t solve it, always ask for help.

Camping Essentials

Kayak Camping. A tent camp stands on the river bank

Now that we got down the kayak essentials, it’s time for the camping packing list. 

Whether you’re going day-camping or overlanding, there are several items you’ll need to bring – and I’ve singled them out below. They mostly revolve around comfort and shelter – AKA the two most important aspects of a pleasant camping experience.

1. Tent

Nemo Firefly 2 Person Backpacking Tent

When it comes to camping equipment, a good tent can – and will – make all the difference on a kayak camping trip. How do you pick one that’s “just right” for you?

One of the first things I’d assess is how easy the tent is to set up. I’m not a huge fan of a manual that promises a five-minute assembly when, in reality, it takes roughly an hour and comes with a headache. 

The Nemo Firefly 2 Person Backpacking Tent meets my expectations in that department: 

With color-coded poles and webbing, the whole experience was a breeze. It’s also durable and well-ventilated – and spacious enough for you and your tent-mate.

If you prefer the just-you-and-the-stars type of shelter, a hammock is the way to go. Still, always make sure to have an emergency shelter, such as a tarp. Nature is unpredictable – one minute, it could be scorching hot, and the next one, you could be facing a downpour.

P.S. Don’t forget to set up your tent as soon as you arrive, so you don’t have to do it in the dark – you’ll thank me later.

2. Camp Chair

Cliq Camping Chair

Obviously, my favorite part of kayak camping is the actual paddling. 

But the close second would be that moment when I just plop down in my camp chair next to the campfire and relax. 

My recommendation is the Cliq Camping Chair for its practicality and comfort. 

It folds to the size of a bottle and back to its original shape in under 30 seconds. Even more so, the aircraft-grade aluminum construction with double seams translates to durability – and its weight capacity is 300 pounds.

Did I mention that the chair comes in four pretty sleek designs? 

Style certainly isn’t a primary concern of mine – but it doesn’t hurt to have something that’s easy on the eye, too.

3. Sleeping Gear

TETON Sports 101R Celsius XXL -18C/0F

Camping in a tent is a beautiful way to reconnect with Mother Nature, but let’s keep it real:

A long night on the cold ground can bog you down. 

That’s where your sleeping gear comes in. I’m adamant about this, and I will always preach it – kayak camping does NOT need to be uncomfortable.

Now, to rest my case, here’s what comfort items you’ll need to get a good night’s sleep:

  • Sleeping Bag – The TETON Sports 101R Celsius XXL -18C/0F is an excellent choice because it has a winter temperature rating, meaning it will keep you warm and provide a cozy escape. And if things get too warm, it’s easy to unzip and ventilate. It also ensures supreme comfort with its SuperLoft Elite padding material. 
  • Sleeping Pad – It will insulate you from the cold ground and all the creepy crawlers that would like to be part of your tent crew. The Sleepingo Camping Sleeping Pad manages to strike the right balance of durability, comfort, and budget-friendly price if you ask me.

While you’re at it, you should complement your sleeping bag and pad with a pillow that’s both comfy and inflatable – such as the Sea to Summit Aeros Premium Pillow.

4. Flashlight / Headtorch

GearLight LED Head Lamp

Readily available illumination is not a campground’s strong suit. And I believe that I don’t need to emphasize that being left alone in the dark is something you want to avoid – at all costs.

Hence, a flashlight – like the GearLight LED Tactical Flashlight S1000 – is a must-have camping item.

Alternatively, you could go with a headlamp – also called a headtorch. It will free up your hands for other campsite activities. I would wholeheartedly recommend the GearLight LED Head Lamp with an adjustable headband and a fantastic runtime of 10+ hours.

Camping Tools & Gadgets

Overhead Necessary Items for kayak camping On Grunge Wood Floor

If I had to sum up the next category in one word, it would be: 


These camping tools and gadgets will keep you safe and help you get the most out of your trip.

1. Multi-Tool

RoverTac Multitool

Knife… check. Screwdriver… check. Bottle opener… check. Or – you could combine all of them in a single tool, or more precisely, a multi-tool.

It’s incredibly versatile, and an excellent space-saver – and kayak camping gear is all about that.

The RoverTac Multitool combines as many as 14 different tools, including pliers, a bottle opener, saw, hammer, knife, file, and more. It also comes with a nylon pouch.

That means you’ll have everything you need on hand – whether you’re cutting wood, setting up a tent, or fixing one of your gadgets. And when it’s beer time, you’ll look cool opening a bottle with this supercharged opener. 

Don’t drink and paddle, though!

2. Water Filter

FS-TFC Portable Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

Having fresh water is absolutely essential for any kayak camping trip – especially when it comes to avoiding the agony of experiencing a nasty stomach parasite.

Sure, there will be resupply locations available most of the time – but what if there aren’t?

The best solution for having clean drinking water would be a water filter. The FS-TFC Portable Reverse Osmosis Water Filter is the best choice for its practicality and efficiency.

You should also bring purification tablets as a quick solution for treating contaminated water by releasing chlorine and killing most pathogens.

Remember that you’ll need water for personal hygiene, washing dishes, and cooking, in addition to hydration. And carrying water can get pretty heavy: 

A gallon of water weighs roughly 8.34 pounds!

3. Power Bank

300W Solar Generator FlashFish

I know the whole point is going off the grid, but you don’t want to be entirely separated from your modern devices. A charged phone (or any other battery-powered communication device) can be a lifesaver if there’s an emergency.

You can use a power bank – or, better yet, a generator – to keep all your devices fully charged if you’re planning to spend multiple days kayak camping.

The 300W Solar Generator FlashFish is an all-around pick for every situation: 

It packs enough power to charge just about anything – including your smartphone, camera, GPS device, or head torch – and it’s solar-powered, meaning it’s a perfect portable power station.

Camping Safety Equipment

Map, gps navigator, portable radio, rope and first aid kit

1. Kayak GPS

Garmin GPSMAP 64st

I’m aware that we live in a time when virtually everything can be done using the tiny computers that are our smartphones. I get that. I’m not THAT old. 

But for every occasion when you find your smartphone helpful while strolling down the streets of your town, there is an equal but opposite scenario – one where it isn’t as helpful when you’re out in nature. I’m talking about remote, far-from-civilization outdoor areas here – not the park around the corner. 

My point is, a kayak GPS device – like the Garmin GPSMAP 64st – is necessary. 

It combines GPS with GLONASS for improved accuracy, has an IPX7 waterproof rating, 16-hour battery life – you can use disposable and rechargeable batteries, by the way – and comes loaded with TOPO US 100K maps. 

While you’re at it, check out this best kayak GPS round-up for more suggestions!

2. VHF Radio

Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF

Everything I said about smartphones and GPS devices applies to VHF radios, too. You’re free to bring your phone – but that doesn’t mean you can afford to overlook the importance of having an actual VHF radio onboard. 

Nothing beats a marine radio when you need outside help – and you need it fast. 

With that said, I would like to recommend the Uniden MHS75 Waterproof Handheld 2-Way VHF Marine radio. Or, if your budget allows it, a SatPhone.

If you’re getting a VHF radio, though, you might want to spend some time learning how to use it properly – and be sure to follow Mayday and Pan-Pan emergency VHF radio protocols.

Do you want to know more about marine radios and walkie-talkies? Then make sure to check out my in-depth review to find the best walkie-talkie for you!

3. Maps

I’d generally advise you to plan every detail of your kayaking trip – from entry and exit points to plan B routes and rest areas. You want to be prepared; navigating an unknown waterway – let alone open waters – can be relatively tricky. 

And to make things even trickier, you will have to plan both your paddling route and trail route at the same time. Now, I don’t know about you – but I think a map would be rather helpful in such a scenario.

How to Use a Compass || REI

Oh, and while you’re at it, consider buying a kayak compass. If your navigational skills are a bit rusty, now’s the time to work on them. 

4. First Aid Kit

Adventure Medical Kits

I don’t want to hear about how careful and cautious you are in general or how you’ve never had an accident while kayaking – or camping, for that matter. I can pretty much guarantee I’ve heard it all before. 

Heck, maybe I’ve made similar “excuses” for not carrying a first aid kit myself. 

But I was younger then. And I know better than that now – which is precisely why I’m telling you: 

You need to carry a first aid kit, period. 

I’d suggest you go with the Adventure Medical Kits. It’s lightweight, water-tight, and equipped with everything you might need to treat allergies, inflammation, and pain, along with antiseptic wipes and bandages for cleaning and closing small wounds.

5. Emergency Beacon

Acr ResQLink 400

While we’re on the subject of emergency scenarios, another thing you might want to add to your kayak camping gear checklist would be an emergency beacon. 

This portable device can be hooked to your PFD while on the water – and your backpack while on the trails. Its purpose? Transmitting a distress signal that will help Search and Rescue teams locate you in a life-or-death scenario. 

If you’re looking for a reliable emergency beacon, I recommend the acr ResQLink 400

It features three levels of integrated signal technology – a 406 MHz signal, GPS positioning, and 121.5 MHz homing capability – a multi-functional clip, a built-in LED strobe, and excellent battery life. Oh, and it’s buoyant, too!

6. Bear Spray

UDAP Bear Spray

Umm, do I need to point out the importance of keeping bear spray on hand if you’ll spend the night in the woods and share the territory with black bears or grizzlies? Yeah, I hope not. 

UDAP Bear Spray is an excellent choice. Given that it’s made by an actual bear attack survivor, I’m not surprised that this is an industry-leading bear deterrent spray. 

It deploys highly concentrated pepper spray in a powerful blast, creating a dense fog rather than a narrow stream, making the protection barrier a lot more effective. 

Now, if only they designed something similar for sharks.

Kayak Camping Clothing

Figuring out what to wear kayaking is tricky enough. Dress for the water, not the weather and all that jazz. But figuring out what to wear kayak camping? 

That’s gonna take some next-level planning.

Are you supposed to dress for the water? The climate and the season? What about the terrain? 

Try – all of the above. 

1. Dry Clothing 

So, remember what I said about dry bags being an absolutely essential piece of equipment for a successful kayak camping trip? 

Well, I honestly hope you took my advice seriously – because you can’t have dry clothes without a dry bag. Not in a kayak, anyway.

I mean, hopefully, you – and your cargo – won’t be taking an unplanned swim, but you can never be too sure. Things happen, kayaks capsize, and splashing is pretty much a guarantee. 

What Are the Best (and Worst) Clothes to Wear on Backpacking Trips?

Pack spare clothes – and keep them in a dry bag – just in case. 

Pro Tip – always pack an extra t-shirt with your kayak gear; they make for a great pillow, towel, hat, etc. 

2. Water Shoes

Mares 2mm Neoprene Non-Slip Rubber Sole Boot

Yes, yes, you’ll spend a good portion of your day sitting on your behind – be it in the kayak or by the campfire. That doesn’t mean footwear doesn’t matter, though. 

If anything, I’d say this makes it even more important to find shoes that won’t let you down, both in and out of the water. They should be flexible enough inside the cockpit but durable enough to handle the rocky beaches. 

One pair of water shoes that fits that description is the Mares 2mm Neoprene Non-Slip Rubber Sole Boot

These are not your only option, though. My best kayak shoes round-up includes some excellent recommendations, too!

3. Drysuit

Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian Dry Suit

If you know that there’s a chance you’ll be paddling in below 60-degree weather, you would be silly not to wear an extra layer of protection. And that’s where a drysuit for kayaking comes in: 

Water-tight gaskets around the neck, ankles, and wrists and waterproof but breathable fabrics seal the moisture out, keeping you dry. However, staying warm depends on the layers you wear underneath – so choose your base layers wisely.

Now, my advice is to go with the Kokatat Hydrus 3L Meridian Dry Suit. It’s made of proprietary three-layer fabric that offers Gore-Tex-level performance, but at a much more reasonable price.

However, you can find plenty of other options in my best kayaking drysuit round-up. 

4. Wet Weather Gear

FROGG TOGGS Men's Classic All-Sport Waterproof Breathable Rain Suit

You’re a paddler; I know you don’t mind getting wet. Still, it’s probably a good idea to prepare for a sudden rain shower – even if you double-checked the weather forecast and you’re sure there’s no chance of rain. 

You never know with nature. 

So, make room for a rain jacket and pants in one of your dry bags. The FROGG TOGGS Men’s Classic All-Sport Waterproof Breathable Rain Suit is an excellent choice because it provides you with head-to-toe protection from wind and rain while still remaining breathable enough. 

Honestly, when it comes to wet weather gear, this is your best bet. 

5. Hat

Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney

Okay, folks, repeat after me: 

Sun protection is crucial. 

Now, obviously, that means you should bring sunscreen with a high enough SPF and apply it as often as you can. But when it comes to protecting that head of yours, a hat might be your safest bet. 

I saw this Columbia Unisex Bora Bora Booney earlier and thought, “Well, this would work great for kayak camping!” 


For starters, it’s made from the so-called Omni-Shade material – tight-weave, UV-absorbent yarn that blocks UVA and UVB rays. The fabric boasts excellent moisture-wicking properties, and the hat features an adjustable cord that’ll keep it secure – even if things get a bit windy. 

Camping Wash & Sanitary Items

Mature man shaving with axe while going camping

Not to stick my nose into your personal hygiene – I’d rather not if you catch my drift – but what’s your strategy in terms of maintaining good personal hygiene on the go? And for the sake of the people going kayak camping with you, I do hope you have one.

I’m not trying to be rude here. 

But the truth is, after a day of paddling, with a touch of hiking sprinkled on top, you’ll probably be left smelling less than rosy. And looking at it from a health-related aspect – if not the social one – it’s probably a good idea to put in some effort into staying clean while camping. 

Well, “clean” is a relative term when you’re out in nature – but you get what I mean. 

1. Personal Hygiene Items 

Now, your choices of go-to hygiene items might differ based on the length of your trip and such, but essentials are called essentials for a reason – they are necessary, and they get the job done. 

How to Keep Clean while Camping

Here are a few must-haves: 

  • Toilet Paper – I think this one’s pretty obvious. I’d advise you to keep the toilet paper in a Ziploc bag so that it stays dry. I mean, you could technically use leaves – but TP is still a must-have in my book. 
  • Toilet Bags – If you have a portable toilet (or a bucket, I’m not judging), you’ll need toilet bags, too. Do your thing when nature calls, and then just bury the bag in the ground – it’s that simple. Trail Essentials Toilet Bags are biodegradable and compostable and come in a handy carrying case!
  • Camping Towel – Camping is all about essentials-only, but one thing a paddler shouldn’t go without is a reliable microfiber towel. This super-absorbent – and fast-drying – Rainleaf Microfiber Towel is a great choice. 
  • Washbag – When it comes to the contents of your washbag, two key principles to keep in mind are “unscented” and “biodegradable.” I’d suggest that you bring some wet wipes, a toothbrush and toothpaste (or a travel-size bottle of mouthwash), biodegradable body wash or soap, and unscented hand sanitizer. 

2. Sun Cream

Coppertone Pure Simple Baby SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

I talked about the importance of sun protection already, but I don’t mind repeating it. It’s crucial – no matter how much you enjoy spending time in the sun. 

Trust me; I love nothing more than spending a sunny afternoon outdoors. But that doesn’t mean that I won’t apply sunscreen regularly – as in, every two or so hours – as long as I’m exposed to UV rays. 

So, my advice is to keep a bottle of water-resistant sunscreen on hand – and Coppertone Pure Simple Baby SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion seems like an excellent choice. 

The formula is hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and doesn’t contain any nasty chemicals – while still delivering broad-spectrum UV protection. 

3. Bug Spray

Repel Sportsmen Max Formula

The fatal move of forgetting a bug spray could leave you desperately scratching for hours. Does that sound lovely, huh? 

Yeah, I didn’t think it would. 

The thing is, annoying itchiness isn’t the only risk. Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue, and West Nile viruses are no joke – and they’re all transmitted through mosquito bites. 

As far as my recommendations go, the Repel Sportsmen Max Formula is a pretty safe bet. The formula with 40% DEET provides long-lasting protection, repelling mosquitoes, fleas, biting flies, gnats, ticks, and other bugs that might be after you. 

Kayak Camping Kitchen – Camp Cooking Gear

cooking outdoors on a camp stove

You haven’t been on a real camping trip until you’ve had an evening meal while sitting next to a campfire. Okay? Okay. 

1. Camping Stove 

Cooking-wise, it doesn’t get much more fundamental than a portable camping stove. Whether you’re heating meals or boiling water, you’re going to need one. 

A two-burner camp stove is generally a popular choice among backpackers, but I think that’s a bit much for kayak camping. So, instead, I suggest that you go with the more compact option – an efficient single-burner camping stove – like the Jetboil Flash Cooking System.

How to Ignite Your Jetboil Stove

It features a one-liter cooking cup, a push-button igniter, a color-changing heat indicator on the insulating cozy, and has a boil time of 100 seconds – all while weighing a mere 13.9 ounces.

Now, all you need are pots and pans – I’ll talk about those in a second – and you’re all set. 

2. Travel BBQ

Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Gril

A barbeque at the camping site after a long day of paddling? Where do I sign up? 

I know that many campgrounds already have grill grates, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that they’re generally in less-than-ideal condition. So, rather than counting on a grill grate being there and ready to use, I suggest bringing your own portable grill for BBQ on the go. 

You can keep it simple and get a portable grill that can be used over the fire pit. Or – and this is my personal favorite – you can go all-out and get a portable charcoal grill. 

If you choose the latter, check out the Weber Go-Anywhere Charcoal Grill. Granted, it isn’t as compact or lightweight – it weighs more than 13 pounds – but if you have enough room in your kayak, I say, go for it. 

Word of warning: many National Lakeshore campsites, such as those at the Great Lakes, prohibited open fires – so make sure to check before packing your BBQ.

3. Cooking Utensils

Bulin Camping Cookware Kit

Unless you don’t mind eating with your hands – which, I admit, can be convenient but incredibly messy – you’re going to need some utensils. Now, you could just limit yourself to a basic “spork” – that’s a combination of a spoon and fork, by the way – and call it a day. 

But I figured you might find a few other pieces of cookware useful, too. So, I did some digging – and found this convenient Bulin Camping Cookware Kit

It features a kettle, a frying pan, and two pots with lids, all made of anodized aluminum, a set of four bowls, two plates, one rice ladle, a soup spoon, and a cleaning sponge. And the best part is that the individual pieces nest together, meaning the kit doesn’t take up a lot of space. 

4. Mess Kit

UCO 6-Piece Camping Mess Kit

There are certain pieces of camp cooking gear that turn out to be necessary only after you have had the misfortune of leaving them at home. One example that comes to mind would be a mess kit. 

For those unfamiliar with what a mess kit is, it’s essentially a set of basic cookware and utensils needed to prepare and eat a simple meal when camping or backpacking. 

The UCO 6-Piece Camping Mess Kit is my current go-to. 

Simple, compact, and relatively affordable, this six-piece mess kit includes a collapsible cup, a plate, a bowl, a fork, and a spoon with an integrated knife, along with a tether for keeping the kit secure. 

I’m telling you, it’s everything you’ll need for a meal on the go. 

5. Washing Set

Tiawudi 2 Pack Collapsible Sink

Okay, who’s in charge of washing the dishes? 

Whoever has the honor of cleaning up will appreciate having a washing set – like the Tiawudi 2 Pack Collapsible Sink – on hand. 

The washing set includes two BPA-free washbasins, boasting thermoplastic rubber construction and a collapsible design. You can use one for washing the dishes and the other for storing your clean ones – but that’s just a suggestion. Both have an 8.5-liter capacity and collapse down to a height of only 2 inches.

Pair that with a cleaning sponge from your cooking utensils kit, and you’re all set.

6. Cooler

Igloo 25-Quarts BMX Cooler

I’d say a cooler is a must for any sort of excursion – by kayak or on foot. I recommend it for kayak touring and fishing trips, and, of course, for kayak camping. 

I mean, you need a way to keep your food fresh and your beverages cool. And since bringing a mini-fridge isn’t a viable solution, a kayak cooler is the next best thing. 

Choose wisely, though. 

A kayak cooler for camping is only as good as its waterproof design, capacity, and ice-retention ability. On that note, for most weekend camping getaways, the Igloo 25-Quarts BMX Cooler will be more than enough.

You’ll find a few more options in my best kayak cooler round-up, though!

7. Lighter, Fire Starters & Waterproof Matches 

You can’t have your evening meal next to a campfire without – well, a campfire. And that means you’ll also have to pack some fire-starting equipment, too. 

How to light a campfire

Here are a few suggestions: 

Oh, and one more thing: 

Make sure that your campfire doesn’t get out of hand. Keep the fire small and controlled, and be sure to put it out completely and scatter the cool ashes when you’re done. 

8. Litter Bags 

Do you know about the Leave No Trace principles? There are seven of them, but the central concept of wilderness ethics comes down to making minimal impact on nature when spending time in the great outdoors. 

And one of those seven principles is – dispose of waste properly. 

That means you should dispose of food waste, non-reusable items, and other trash responsibly. If you bring it to the campsite, you should also pack it up and carry it with you when you leave. 

And for that, you’re going to need litter bags – and lots of them. 

Kayak Camping Packing List: Final Thoughts

You don’t have to spend hours pondering what to bring kayak camping anymore. Or what’s that one thing that you’re missing.

Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned expert-level enthusiast, this kayak camping gear list will account for a smooth trip – call it a kayak camping checklist1 if you will 

It’s a happy medium for your next campout by the water: 

It covers all the fundamentals – plus a few things that’ll make your kayak camping trip a bit more “luxurious” and fun.

Of course, you can always add – or remove – items to adapt to your specific needs, but this kayak camping checklist  has everything to make sure you’re well-prepared

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Sam OBrien

Sam is the founder and editor of WaterSportsWhiz. With over 20 years of experience across various water sports, he provides trusted reviews and expert advice to help others pursue their passion for getting out on the water. When not working, you can find him kayaking, paddle boarding, or planning his next water-based adventure with family and friends.

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