If you’re not sure what to take on an overnight kayak trip then this overnight kayak trip packing list is going to help you figure out the gear you actually need.
In this post, I’m sharing the kayak gear and basic essentials you need to have a good time on the trail. If you’re new to kayaking, you’ll find a lot of recommendations on paddling gear that will last you a long time.
I’ve also included a free printable overnight kayak trip checklist in this post so that you don’t forget anything while you’re packing for your adventure.
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Kayaking Checklist: The 5 Big Essentials
Kayak and Paddle
You can’t go kayaking without a kayak! The Oru Kayak Bay ST is a foldable kayak, which makes it really easy to carry it around (say goodbye to roof racks). It’s super lightweight at 28 lbs, less than half the weight of a traditional kayak. This means you can hike to some cool alpine lakes with this kayak on your back.
To go with the Oru Kayak, the Oru Kayak Paddle breaks down into four pieces, so it stows easily inside the Oru Kayak in box form.
Water Resistant Backpack
The key to packing for a kayak trip is to try and pack as lightweight as possible. A smaller backpack will ensure you don’t have as much space to stuff gear into.
I love the Patagonia Black Hole® Pack 32L. I have the older version of it and I take it everywhere. The best thing about this pack is it’s heavily water resistant so you don’t need to carry a rain cover with you. It’s also just super durable, which means it’s going to last you a long time.
Tents can take up a lot of space and weight. I recommend a lightweight tent, like the NEMO Dagger 2 Tent. It’s a 3-season, lightweight tent that will keep you dry on your kayak trip.
It also comes with a dual-stage stuff sack which allows you to split the weight of the tent with your partner, making it much easier to stow away in your kayak.
I’ve been using the Sea to Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Sleeping Pad for many years now and it’s still in excellent condition. This sleeping pad is super lightweight and the regular size only weighs 15.8 ounces.
One of my favorite things about this sleeping pad is that it’s super easy to blow up and pack away. It also has Extra Thermolite® insulation which will keep you nice and warm.
The next essential that you need on your kayaking checklist is a sleeping bag. The NEMO Forte 20 Sleeping Bag is a 3-season sleeping bag made with 80% post-consumer recycled content. NEMO also offers a lifetime warranty on this sleeping bag!
Kayaking Essentials: Safety Gear
Personal Flotation Device
Whether you’re planning on recreational lake kayaking or river kayaking, the Kokatat Hustle PFD will keep you safe on the water. This personal flotation device has. great fit and will stay out of the way when you’re paddling. It also has just enough pockets to stash your keys or snacks.
The NRS Kayak Bilge Pump with Float makes it easy to remove unwanted water from your kayak. This will pump out 8 gallons per minute and has a full-length foam float so it won’t sink if you accidentally drop it in the water.
First Aid Kit
A first aid kit is part of The Ten Essentials and you’ll definitely want one on your overnight kayak trip. The Adventure Medical Kits Ultralight/Watertight .7 Medical Kit will give you some peace of mind while out on the water.
GPS & Satellite Phone
When you’re planning a multi-day trip, a GPS will help you locate yourself and find your way back. The Garmin inReach Explorer+ is a 2-way satellite communicator and lets you text, share your location, or call for help, even in areas without cell reception.
Keep in mind that you will need a subscription plan to send and receive satellite messages on this device. If you plan on traveling, double-check if the area you are visiting prohibits the use of satellite communication devices.
I love using a headlamp around camp so I can free up my hands to cook or read. I’ve been using the Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp for a few years now. It’s really bright and has easy to change settings including full strength in proximity, distance, dimming, strobe, and color modes.
Depending on your kayak trip, you may want to bring a waterproof flashlight like the Fenix PD35 TAC Flashlight.
I live in Alaska so I always carry bear spray. The Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray deploys a high-volume, atomized blast of concentrated spray to deter a bear attack. It sprays up to 32 feet and will completely empty in 7 seconds.
Kayak Cooking Gear
Cooking Stove and Fuel
I can’t tell you how much I love my Jetboil Flash Cooking System. This thing boils 16 fl. oz. of water in 100 seconds! It’s insane how fast it is. It’s a great item to bring if you only want to pack freeze-dried meals or need some hot water for your morning coffee.
It’s easy to carry as everything fits inside of the cup including the stove and your 100g fuel canister. I would keep some matches or a lighter with you just in case the igniter doesn’t work.
BearVault Food Container
When you’re kayaking in bear country, you want to make sure you don’t keep any food or strong smelling items inside of your tent to lessen the chance of bear vs. human conflict.
The BearVault BV450 Food Container will secure four days of food for the solo backpacker or a weekend’s worth of meals for two. Store it at least 100 yards downwind of your campsite.
Most backpacks have a slot for a water reservoir. It’s convenient to have one if you have to portage your kayak. I use the CamelBak Crux 3L Reservoir – 3 Liters, which came with my CamelBak.
PRO TIP: You can get rid of access air in your water reservoir by turning it upside down, and squeeze out the air while holding the mouth valve open.
Reusable Water Bottle
Even if I’m carrying my water bladder, I always have a Nalgene Wide-Mouth Water Bottle – 32 fl. oz. with me. I like to do this because it’s a lot nicer to drink from a lid rather than a hose.
Having a water filter will allow you to get water from nearby streams or lakes, and will allow you to carry less water on your back. The Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System – 4 Liter will filter 4 liters of potable water in just 2.5 minutes!
A camp mug is a must for any adventure. I have a Sea to Summit Delta InsulMug and I’ve been using it for a long time. It holds 16 oz. and will keep your drink nice and hot. My favorite thing about it is that it doesn’t burn your hands when you hold onto it.
My favorite piece of backpacking cooking gear is my Sea to Summit X-Bowl. This bowl is collapsible and lays completely flat. This saves so much room in your pack. Also, it’s super easy to clean out.
I used to get food all over my hands while I was eating from freeze-dried meals. Then I got the Sea to Summit Alpha Light Spork – Long and it’s amazing how much the extra length helps to avoid that mess.
I also use the Sea to Summit AlphaLight Knife to cut things like bagels or avocado. Both of these are made out of aluminum and super light to carry.
Easily make drip coffee in the outdoors with the GSI Outdoors Ultralight Java Drip Coffee Maker. The legs on the coffee maker clip to your mug and make it so that the cone stays out of your freshly brewed coffee. At 0.4 ounces, it’s seriously the best addition to your overnight kayaking gear.
Food Storage Bag
Kayak Clothing: What to Wear
Keep your feet warm and dry by wearing waterproof boots while kayaking. The XTRATUF Salmon Sisters 15″ Legacy Boots are a classic Alaska boot. They’re comfortable, versatile, and slip-resistant.
Merino Wool Socks
For an overnight kayaking trip, I pack two pairs of socks. I’ll use the extra pair to sleep in and they can be used as a backup if my other pair gets wet. I love wearing the Darn Tough Women’s Micro Crew Midweight Sock.
Camp sandals are the best, especially when your only other shoe option is rubber boots. I love the Chaco Z/Cloud Sandals. These are the most supportive and comfortable sandals ever, and you can also wear them with socks!
The lightweight Buff CoolNet UV+ Insect Shield Multifunctional Headwear lifts sweat away from your skin, offers UV protection, and keeps bugs away so you can stay outside longer. This is really useful when you’re in areas with a lot of mosquitoes.
A rash guard is perfect for kayaking and dries fast. Not only is the CARVE Kona Rashguard super comfy but it’s also super cute.
The Patagonia Centered Tights are stretchy, durable, and dry quickly. It always feels colder on the water and these pants will keep you warm.
The Patagonia Los Gatos Hooded Fleece Pullover is the plushiest and coziest hoody, and I never want to take it off. You’ll want to pack something similar so that you can switch out of your dirty clothes and into some cozy camp attire.
The Patagonia Torrentshell 3L Jacket is a rain jacket that will actually keep you completely dry. It’s also great as a windbreaker. The jacket has roomy front zippered pockets and pit zips. You can also stuff the jacket into its own pocket, which makes it easily packable.
The REI Co-op Essential Rain Pants are made with a 2.5 layer waterproof and breathable fabric. Lower zips let you vent your legs and zippered side pockets will hold your snacks. They also pack down into their own pocket.
The Conner Hats NorCal Open Road Outdoor Hat is waterproof and has a chin cord, which makes it a great hat to use on the water. This hat is made out of wool and it’s the perfect balance of stylish and functional. The UPF 50+ fabric shields against harmful UV rays.
Keep your essential gear safe from the elements whether on land or sea. This Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack features durable, waterproof construction and a roll-top closure to keep its contents safe and dry.
Whether you need to scope out wildlife, water ahead, or portage signs, the Nikon Trailblazer ATB Waterproof 10 x 25 Binoculars are super lightweight yet powerful.
If you love taking photos like me then you’ll need to charge your phone or camera. The Goal Zero Sherpa 100PD Power Bank is a great portable charger and will give you multiple charges.
Ear plugs are essential for me. I hate it when I can’t sleep when someone else is snoring or I hear something outside of my tent. The Eagle Creek Travel Ear Plug Set comes with a small storage container and make a great choice for any light sleeper.
Dry off with an REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite. The extra-large towel is big enough to wrap around your body and small enough to easily pack away.
Sleeping with a pillow while you’re out in the backcountry really brings the comfort of your home. The Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow weighs only 2.1 ounces! It’s super easy to inflate and will only take you a few breaths.
Protect your eyes from the sun with a good pair of sunglasses. The goodr OG Sunglasses come in a ton of fun colors and if you go for the polarized lenses then the UV400 protection blocks 100% of harmful UVA and UVB rays.
I’m so glad I brought a Sea to Summit Mosquito Head Net with Insect Shield with me on my last kayaking trip because I hate mosquitoes! They were unavoidable and kept buzzing in my ear. This is a small piece of gear that goes a really long way.
Sawyer Jungle Juice 100 Insect Repellent protects exposed skin areas against mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, gnats and ticks. You’ll be glad you pakced it.
Kayaking Toiletries: Good Hygiene
Refresh yourself with a quick wipe bath with the Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes. These are a great item to have in your kayaking toiletries kit. These wipes are soft on your skin and don’t leave any sticky residue behind. You’ll also love these when you’re camping on your period.
It’s important to follow Leave No Trace Principles and having a TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel will help you do that. This trowel is lightweight yet strong enough to dig a hole for your bathroom needs.
Sun is reflective on the water, which is even more reason to keep your skin protected. I always protect my face with CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30. I love this stuff and its part of my normal skin care routine.
My lips always get chapped while I’m out adventuring so I like to carry Burt’s Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm. This lip balm is made with Beeswax, Vitamin E and a hint of peppermint oil.
The Kula Cloth is a reusable antimicrobial pee cloth. You can clip it to the outside of your backpack for easy access when you need to pee. The best part of having a pee cloth is that you don’t have to carry as much toilet paper with you, making it a positive impact on the environment.
I hope you enjoyed learning about what kayaking gear to pack for your next overnight kayak trip. You can access my kayak packing list below.
Download Your FREE Overnight Kayak Checklist
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Is there anything you would add to my overnight kayak trip packing list? Share them in the comments.