Ultimate Overnight Kayak Trip Packing List

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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overnight kayak camping trip packing

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. 

Oru Kayak Bay St Foldable Lightweight Kayak

Check Price: Oru Kayak | REI | Amazon

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.

Patagonia Black Hole 32 L kayak backpack

Check Price: Patagonia | REI

Camping Tent

Tents can take up a lot of space and weight. I recommend a lightweight tent, like the NEMO Hornet 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.

Nemo Hornet tent 2 person backpacking
NEMO Hornet 2

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | NEMO

Sleeping Pad

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.

Sea to Summit Ultralight Womens Sleeping Pad

Check Price: REI | Backcountry

Sleeping Bag

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!

NEMO 20 Sleeping Bag Womens Sleeping Bag

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Amazon

overnight kayak trip checklist

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.

Kokatat Hustle PFD for kayaking
Kokatat Hustle PFD

Check Price: REI

Bilge Pump

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.

NRS Kayak Bildge Pump with Float

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Amazon

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.

Adventure Medical Kit First Aid Kit Kayak Essential

Check Price: REI | Amazon

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.

Garmin inReach Satellite Phone

Check Price: REI | Amazon


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.

Black Diamond Storm 400 Headlamp

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Amazon

Bear Spray

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.

Bear Spray Hiking Safety

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Amazon

Kayak Camp Cooking with JetBoil

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.

Jetboil Kayak Cooking Essentials

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Amazon

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.

BearVault Food Container

Check Price: REI | BearVault

Water Reservoir

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.

CamelBak Water Reservoir

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Amazon

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.

Nalgene 32 oz reusable water bottle

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Water Filter

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!

Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter System

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Amazon

Camp Mug

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.

Sea to Summit Delta InsulMug Camping Mug

Check Price: REI

Camp Bowl

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.

Sea to Summit X-Bowl Collapsible Camp Bowl

Check Price: Backcountry | REI | Amazon

Camp Utensils

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.

Sea to Summit Long Spork

Check Price: REI

Sea to Summit Knife Camping Utensils

Check Price: REI

Coffee Maker

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.

GSI Outdoors Ultralight Drip Coffee Maker Camping Coffee

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Food Storage Bag

I like to keep my food organized by using food storage bags. I like to use a LOKSAK OPSAK Odor-Proof Barrier Bag and a Stasher Reusable Silicone Bag for sandwiches or snacks.

Odorproof barrier bags

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Stasher reusable silicone bag sandwich bag

Check Price: REI | Amazon

what to wear kayaking
kayak clothing what to pack

Kayak Clothing: What to Wear

Waterproof Boots

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.

Check Price: REI | Amazon

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.

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Crew Womens Kayak Sock

Check Price: REI | Darn Tough | Backcountry


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!

Womens Chaco Z/Cloud Sandals Shoes

Check Price: REI | Amazon

UV Buff

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.

Buff CoolNet UV+ Insect Shield Multifunctional Headwear

Check Price: REI | Backcountry

Rash Guard

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.

CARVE Kona Rashguard

Check Price: Amazon

Moisture-Wicking Pants

The Patagonia Maipo 7/8 Stash Pants are stretchy, durable, and dry quickly. It always feels colder on the water and these pants will keep you warm.

Patagonia Centered Tights Hiking Pants 4 day backpacking checklist

Check Price: Patagonia | REI

Fleece Sweater

The Patagonia Better Sweater Fleece Jacket is a great mid-layer to bring on your overnight kayaking trip. I love how light it is and how easy it is to pack. I love being able to switch out of my dirty clothes and into some cozy camp attire!

Check Price: Patagonia

Rain Jacket

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.

Patagonia Torentshell Womens Rain Jacket Kayak Clothing

Check Price: Patagonia | REI | Backcountry

Rain Pants

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.

REI Co-op Essential Rain Pants Womens Rain Pants Waterproof Kayaking Essentials

Check Price: REI

what to take on an overnight kayak trip

Kayaking Accessories

Sun Hat

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.

Conner Hats NorCal Open Road Outdoor Hat For Kayaking

Check Price: REI

Dry Bag

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.

Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack

Check Price: REI | Sea to Summit


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.

Nikon Trailblazer Binoculars

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Portable Charger

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.

Goal Zero Sherpa Portable Power

Check Price: Backcountry | Amazon

Ear Plugs

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.

Eagle Creek Travel Ear Plugs

Check Price: REI | Amazon

Microfiber Towel

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.

REI Co-op Multi Towel Lite

Check Price: REI

Inflatable Pillow

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.

Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Pillow Camping Pillow

Check Price: Sea to Summit | REI | Backcountry


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.

goodr OG Sunglasses

Check Price: REI | Backcountry

Mosquito Headnet

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.

Sea to Summit Mosquito Headnet

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Sea to Summit

Bug Spray

Sawyer Jungle Juice 100 Insect Repellent protects exposed skin areas against mosquitoes, chiggers, fleas, gnats and ticks. You’ll be glad you packed it.

Insect Repellent

Check Price: REI

how to plan an overnight kayak trip Kayak Toiletries

Kayaking Toiletries: Good Hygiene

Backcountry Wipes

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.

Sea to Summit Wilderness Wipes Camping Wipes

Check Price: REI | Backcountry | Sea to Summit

Backcountry Trowel

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.

TheTentLab The Deuce #2 UL Backcountry Trowel

Check Price: REI | Amazon


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.

CeraVe AM Facial Moisturizing Lotion SPF 30 Sunscreen

Check Price: Amazon


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.

Burt's Bees Moisturizing Lip Balm

Check Price: Amazon

Pee Cloth

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.

Check Price: Kula Cloth | REI

Kula Cloth Pee Cloth

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.

Happy kayaking!

Download Your FREE Overnight Kayak Checklist

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Planning your next overnight kayak trip? Get a Kayak Trip Checklist to help you plan your next overnight camping trip. From Womens Kayak Gear, Kayaking Essentials, Safety Gear, Kayak Outfits, Backcountry Cooking Gear, and more. #kayaking #kayakingessentials #kayakingchecklist #kayaktrip

Is there anything you would add to my overnight kayak trip packing list? Share them in the comments.

About Andrea Kuuipo

I was born and raised in Anchorage and have been able to travel to many places around Alaska. As an Alaska Travel Blogger, I love sharing my favorite things to see and do in my home state to help others plan an incredible trip!

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