It's time for another kayak camping trip into the backcountry, and so it's also time for a new list of things to bring. I have packing lists for every type of camping: car, backpack, day-pack, bicycle, kayak, small airplane, and even for bareboating in various environments from Alaska to the Bahamas. Each list is adjusted for where we are going , what we’ll be doing, and how long we’ll be there. Here are a few things I take into account when planning what to pack:


There will just be two of us for my next trip, so we can likely share many things such as tent, stove, and other gear. The nice thing about traveling with a friend or partner is it leaves more room for food, drink, and other amenities I’d likely leave behind if going solo. Of course, having a friend or partner to share the trip with is always a bonus!


The weather, based on the time of year, also makes a big difference in what you pack. If it's very cold you’ll need many more layers, a heavier sleeping bag, and maybe a 4-season tent - all of which can add a great deal of bulk.




The type of paddling trip you plan to take will affect how you pack, too. If you plan to paddle to and set up a “base camp”, you’ll have more time to make it a “homey” camp setting. This could include things like building a camp fire ring (if allowed), a clothes line, gathering extra fire wood, or setting up an overhead tarp or a table. So maybe you should include a deck of cards, a good book, a meal plan with several courses, a little more fishing gear, or a day pack, since you’ll have more time to enjoy and explore that spot. If your paddling from one campsite to the next on a daily basis, trying to make distance between each stop, you may not have time for a campfire or a tarp and will want a quick and easy set up/take down. Of course these two camping styles can be blended to suit whatever itinerary.

So here is the beginning of my list for two with a planned stay at a paddle-in base camp. The items with an asterisk in front are things we could or will share. The items with a post asterisk, like food or fishing gear, will have their own lists. See what you think and feel free to ask questions, suggest other items, or contribute your thoughts on specific types of gear (for instance I love my Seva-123 stove!)    



  • Kayak (patch kit)

  • PFD & extra paddle

  • Compass, maps/charts, permits

  • *Binoculars

  • *Stove & fuel (Seva 123)

  • *Cooking pots

  • Dinner ware

  • *Coffee pot (I use my espresso maker to “Americana” type coffee)

  • *Thermos

  • *Scrubby and biodegradable soap

  • *“kitchen sink”

  • *Water purification system and water storage container(s)

  • *Small grill top

  • *Garbage bags (pack it out – leave no trace!)

  • *Wood saw (Sven?)

  • *Matches or lighter, lighter wood, dryer lint, and back up fire starter

  • *Food, drink, and spices*

  • Packable chair

  • *Cord 20’-30’

  • *First aid kit

  • *Duct or hockey stick tape

  • Toiletries, meds, wash cloth, & small towel

  • Extra pair of glasses if you wear them

  • Knife and Leatherman type multi tool

  • Wet shoes and dry shoes

  • Good rain gear

  • Clothes (layers depending on the season and a change of clothes in case you get wet)

  • Fishing gear*

  • Phone or tablet for taking photos, & reading;  Solar charger

  • *Books, cards

  • Headlamp and extra batteries

  • TP and small shovel

  • Backpack or day pack

  • Dry bags

  • Sleeping bag, liner, and mattress

  • *Hammock

  • *Tent

  • *Small tarp

  • *Bug spray and sun protection


Remember to leave no trace!