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Kayak Camping Tips


Kayak camping is a great and fun time that every paddler should experience. But like in all other activities what’s fun and exciting can be dangerous if the correct preparations are not made. Here will go over a few general kayak safety and kayak camping tips to ensure safe journeys for ourselves and our fellow paddlers. Some of the kayak safety tips here may seem like common sense but you’d be surprised at how many paddlers don’t think about the simplest things.


Buy a map


Seems pretty self explanatory right? Getting a map of not only the area and the landscape but getting an up to date river map is a pretty big deal. River maps can be found most times at the local DNR (Department of Natural Resources), a bookstore, local party stores or you can choose to print a map out online. Having a map is obvious as to what it will do for you; you will have a greater idea of your surroundings and will also be able to make your way out if you happen to get lost.



Let someone know your itinerary and float plan


Your best ally in a bad situation can be the people that are not even there with you. For a kayak camping trip a float plan is a must. A float plan is a document that will outline the trip and the time it will take among many other things. A float plan is one of the best things you can do for yourself even if you don’t ever have to use it. Sea Kayaker Magazine offers a fantastic printable float plan that I’ve used in several instances.


Bring Supplies for an extra 2 days


Nobody plans on their trip going awry but stories and time tells us that your kayak trip does not always conform to the standards you set. We talked about the float plan above but between when someone figures out something is not right and the time it takes to find you you’re going to have to survive. Packing rations for an additional 2 days will give you the ability to comfortably stay an additional few days. In a true survival situation 2 days rations can most likely last twice that long or more if rationed properly.


Know your surroundings


There really is nothing worse as a paddler going kayak camping than not being familiar with the area in which you will be paddling and camping. Most kayak camping trips are not taken in the same area people live in; most are trips out of town as this is half the fun.


If you are going on a kayak camp trip it’s best to do some research before you hit the river, coast or wherever you’re going. Being prepared is being informed and there are many ways to inform yourself before you hit the water. Below are a few great ideas I have personally found useful in planning a kayak camp trip.


Ask the locals


You may have read a book, done some research and feel pretty confident but the locals still know more than you. An example is last year we were planning a trip in Northern Michigan on a river we’d done some research online about and read a paddling book. The river was said to be mellow and easy to pass; this was not the case. Luckily we asked some locals at the boat launch what to expect and they shed some light on a section of the river that was very closed off and not paddled in years. We were planning on paddling this section as our paddling book told us it would be passable and easy. We changed our float plan including our take out point. Later we scoped that section of river and it was completely log jammed and non-passable.





If you live in an area where the most troubling wildlife is the Raccoons that mess with your garbage can every night you may lose sight of what else can be lurking out there. Knowing that you are entering Bear country and buying Bear mace ahead of time while actively watching and being aware can mean a world of difference.




These are simple kayak camping safety tips, there are PLENTY more but we just wanted to cover a few of the basics. We would love for you to comment and let us know what safety tips you would like to pass to fellow paddlers.

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