What Should I Pack For An Overnight Kayak?

Looking for essential items to pack for an overnight kayak adventure? Read this article for a comprehensive guide to ensure safety and enjoyment on your trip.

Are you planning an exciting overnight kayak adventure but feeling unsure about what to pack? Look no further! In this article, we will provide you with the essential items you should bring to make your trip safe and enjoyable. From proper clothing options to essential gear, we’ve got you covered. So, before you embark on your thrilling kayak expedition, make sure to read on and be well-prepared for a night out on the water.

The Essentials

Personal Floating Device

When heading out on an overnight kayak adventure, one of the most important items you should never forget is a personal floating device, also known as a life jacket. This essential piece of gear will keep you buoyant in case of an unexpected capsize or emergency. Ensure that the personal floating device fits you properly and is Coast Guard approved. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so make sure you wear it throughout your entire kayaking trip.


It goes without saying that a paddle is essential for maneuvering your kayak through the water. When selecting a paddle, choose one that is the correct length for your height and comfortable to hold. Opt for a lightweight, durable paddle made from materials such as carbon fiber or fiberglass. Having the right paddle will make your kayaking experience much more enjoyable and efficient.

Spare Paddle

While a paddle is essential, it’s always a good idea to have a spare paddle on hand. Accidents happen, and a broken or lost paddle could leave you stranded. Make sure your spare paddle is securely stored within your kayak, easily accessible in case you need it. Additionally, ensure that your spare paddle is of a similar length and style to your primary paddle for consistency in handling.


Of course, you can’t go kayaking without a kayak! Choose a kayak that suits your level of experience, the type of water you’ll be navigating, and your preferred style of kayaking. There are various types of kayaks available, such as sit-on-tops, recreational kayaks, touring kayaks, and sea kayaks, each designed for different purposes. Select a kayak that provides stability, maneuverability, and comfort.

Safety Gear

First Aid Kit

Safety should always be a top priority when embarking on any outdoor adventure, and kayaking is no exception. A well-stocked first aid kit can make a significant difference in the event of a minor injury or emergency. Include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, pain relievers, and any personal medications. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the contents of the first aid kit and how to use them effectively.

Signaling Device

In case of an emergency situation or if you find yourself in need of assistance, a signaling device can be a lifesaver. Carry a whistle or an air horn that can emit a loud sound to attract attention. These compact and lightweight devices should be easily accessible, preferably attached to your personal floating device or securely stored in a reachable pocket.

Personal Locator Beacon

A personal locator beacon (PLB) is a device that transmits a distress signal to search and rescue authorities in case of an emergency. This essential piece of safety equipment can greatly increase your chances of being found quickly in remote or challenging environments. Make sure to register your PLB with the appropriate authorities and keep it easily accessible.


Having a versatile and reliable knife or multi-tool is always handy during outdoor expeditions. It can help with various tasks, such as cutting ropes or fishing lines, preparing food, or even signaling for help. Keep your knife or multi-tool in a sheath or holster attached to your person for easy access in times of need.

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A small but mighty tool, a whistle should always be within reach when kayaking. In case of an emergency or to communicate with others in your group, a whistle can transmit a loud, distinctive sound, alerting others to your location or indicating that assistance is required. Attach a whistle to your personal floating device or keep it easily accessible in a pocket.

What Should I Pack For An Overnight Kayak?

Camping Equipment


If you plan on spending the night during your kayaking expedition, a reliable and lightweight tent is essential for a comfortable outdoor experience. Look for a tent specifically designed for backpacking or camping. Ensure it is waterproof, easy to set up, and provides sufficient space for you and your gear. Take note of the tent’s weight and packability as well, as space and weight are limited in a kayak.

Sleeping Bag

A high-quality sleeping bag will keep you warm and cozy during your overnight kayak adventure. Consider the temperature rating of the sleeping bag based on the weather conditions of your intended destination. Opt for a lightweight and compressible sleeping bag, as it will be easier to pack and transport on your kayak.

Sleeping Pad

A sleeping pad is essential for providing insulation and cushioning between you and the ground. It helps prevent heat loss and offers additional comfort while sleeping in the outdoors. Look for a lightweight sleeping pad that is easy to inflate and deflate, and consider the type of insulation it offers, such as foam or air-filled.

Camp Stove/Cookware

If you plan on cooking meals during your adventure, a camp stove and cookware are must-have items. Choose a lightweight and compact stove that is easy to use and fuel-efficient. Ensure you have a sufficient supply of fuel for the duration of your trip. Additionally, pack lightweight cookware, such as a pot or pan, utensils, and a small cooking stove.


Being prepared for low light conditions is essential, especially if you’ll be setting up camp or navigating in the dark. A headlamp or flashlight will provide hands-free illumination and assist you with tasks such as setting up your tent, preparing meals, or navigating your campsite. Make sure to pack spare batteries or ensure your headlamp/flashlight is fully charged before setting out.

Food and Water

Energy Bars/Meals

When it comes to packing food for your overnight kayak adventure, opt for lightweight and easy-to-pack options such as energy bars or specially designed camping meals. These foods are often nutritionally balanced, require minimal preparation, and have a long shelf life. Choose options that provide adequate energy and nutrients to sustain you during your trip.

Cooking Ingredients

If you plan on cooking meals during your kayaking expedition, pack essential cooking ingredients such as spices, oil, and any other condiments or seasonings you prefer. Consider pre-measuring the ingredients into small, airtight containers or resealable bags to reduce weight and avoid spills. Be mindful of any special dietary needs or restrictions when selecting your ingredients.

Water Bottles

Staying hydrated is crucial during any outdoor activity, and kayaking is no exception. Pack durable and reusable water bottles that are easy to refill during your journey. Make sure to drink regularly to maintain optimal hydration levels, especially on hot or strenuous days. It’s recommended to have at least one liter of water per person per day, but adjust this amount according to your individual needs and the availability of freshwater sources.

Water Purification Tablets/Filters

Depending on your route and destination, it’s essential to consider water purification methods to ensure access to safe drinking water. Carry water purification tablets or a water filter to eliminate any potential waterborne bacteria or parasites. These compact and lightweight tools can make a significant difference in your overall health and well-being during your kayaking expedition.

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What Should I Pack For An Overnight Kayak?

Clothing and Footwear

Waterproof Jacket/Pants

As you’ll be exposed to the elements, it’s crucial to pack reliable waterproof clothing, including a waterproof jacket and pants. These garments will protect you from rain, wind, and potential splashes while paddling. Look for jackets and pants made from breathable materials to prevent excessive sweating and keep you comfortable throughout your journey.

Dry Suit/Wetsuit

If you anticipate kayaking in colder conditions or in areas with frigid water temperatures, consider wearing a dry suit or wetsuit. These specialized garments provide insulation and protection against hypothermia, keeping you warm and safe during extended periods on the water. Choose a suit that fits well and allows for comfortable movement while paddling.

Neoprene Shoes/Boots

To protect your feet from rocks, rough terrain, or potential hazards in the water, invest in a quality pair of neoprene shoes or boots. These water-resistant footwear options will provide traction, insulation, and protection for your feet. Look for shoes or boots that are comfortable and fit securely to prevent blisters or discomfort during long hours of kayaking.

Change of Clothes

Bring along extra clothing to change into when you’re off the water or after a long day of kayaking. Pack lightweight, quick-drying garments to save space and ensure you always have dry clothes to wear. Include items such as a t-shirt, shorts or pants, underwear, and socks. Having a change of clothes will boost your comfort and overall enjoyment throughout the trip.

Navigation Tools


Navigating by map is an important skill to have when exploring new waterways. Pack a waterproof map of the area you’ll be kayaking in, ensuring it includes important information such as water depths, landmarks, and potential hazards. Familiarize yourself with the map ahead of time and consider laminating it or keeping it in a waterproof case to protect it from water damage.


A compass is a reliable tool for navigating and orienting yourself on the water. It can assist you in navigating between different points, estimating distances, and determining your direction. Learn how to use a compass effectively before your trip, and bring a backup compass in case of loss or breakage.

GPS Device

A GPS device can be a valuable tool for tracking your routes, marking significant points of interest, and making navigation easier. Consider investing in a waterproof and durable GPS device specifically designed for outdoor use. Familiarize yourself with its functionalities and pack spare batteries or ensure it is fully charged.

Chart of Waterways

Specifically for those venturing into unfamiliar or complex waterways, a detailed chart of the waterways can be immensely helpful. These charts provide critical information, such as channel markers, buoys, depths, and potential hazards. Use the chart in conjunction with your map and other navigation tools to ensure a safe and efficient kayaking experience.

What Should I Pack For An Overnight Kayak?

Communication Devices

Cell Phone

Carrying a cell phone is recommended for communication purposes and potential emergencies. Ensure your cell phone is in a waterproof and shockproof case to protect it from water damage or accidental drops. Keep in mind that cell phone reception may be limited in remote areas, so consider bringing a backup communication device.

Two-Way Radios

Two-way radios are an excellent tool for staying connected with others in your group or for communicating with fellow kayakers or rescue personnel. Opt for waterproof and durable two-way radios with a sufficient range for your intended trip. Familiarize yourself with the operation of the radios beforehand and establish clear communication protocols within your group.

Satellite Phone

If you’re going kayaking in extremely remote areas or off the grid, a satellite phone can provide a reliable means of emergency communication. Satellite phones work by connecting to satellites orbiting the Earth, bypassing the need for land-based cellular towers. Ensure you have access to a satellite phone and understand its operation and coverage before embarking on your adventure.

Protective Gear


Depending on the type of kayaking you’ll be engaging in, wearing a helmet may be advisable for added protection against potential head injuries. This is especially important for activities such as whitewater kayaking or when navigating rocky or challenging waters. Select a well-fitting helmet that offers the necessary protection without compromising your comfort or range of motion.

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To protect your hands from blisters, abrasions, or the cold, consider wearing paddling gloves. These specialized gloves offer comfort, grip, and protection while allowing for dexterity and control during paddling. Choose gloves made from quick-drying and durable materials, and ensure they fit snugly without restricting blood circulation.

Eye Protection

Protecting your eyes from the elements, such as wind, sun glare, or water splashes, is essential for maintaining clear vision and eye comfort. Consider wearing sunglasses or sports glasses with polarized lenses to reduce glare and provide UV protection. Ensure that the eyewear you choose is securely fastened to your head or has a strap to prevent loss during kayaking.

Sun Protection

When spending hours under the sun, protecting your skin from harmful UV rays is crucial. Apply a waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF and consider using lip balm with sun protection as well. Wear a wide-brimmed hat or a cap to shield your face and head from direct sunlight. Remember to reapply sunscreen regularly, especially after water exposure or sweating.

Personal Items


Pack essential toiletries such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper. Opt for travel-sized containers to save space and ensure they are stored in waterproof bags to prevent leakage. Additionally, consider bringing biodegradable soap and following leave-no-trace principles when using them in natural environments.


If you take any medications regularly or have specific medical needs, it’s crucial to bring an ample supply for the duration of your kayak trip. Keep medications in a waterproof container or bag and ensure they remain easily accessible. It’s also wise to carry a basic first aid manual or booklet for reference in case of any medical emergencies.


Carry identification documents such as your driver’s license, passport, or any necessary permits or licenses that may be required for your kayak adventure. It’s a good practice to keep photocopies or digital copies of your important documents in case of loss or emergencies. Store these documents in a waterproof bag or container.

Cash/Credit Cards

It’s always wise to have some form of payment available during your kayak trip, whether it’s cash or credit cards. This may come in handy for unexpected expenses, purchasing supplies, or accessing amenities along your journey. Ensure you keep your cash, cards, and any relevant identification securely stored in a waterproof and easily accessible wallet or bag.

Miscellaneous Items

Dry Bags for Storage

Dry bags are an essential component of keeping your gear and personal items dry during your kayak adventure. These waterproof bags come in various sizes and can be used to store clothes, food, electronics, and other essentials. Invest in high-quality dry bags that provide a secure closure system and consider using different sizes for better organization and accessibility.

Bilge Pump/Sponge

In case water enters your kayak, having a bilge pump or sponge can help you remove it efficiently. Bilge pumps are designed to remove larger volumes of water, whereas sponges are great for mopping up smaller amounts. Choose a lightweight and compact bilge pump or sponge that fits easily within your kayak and is easily accessible when needed.

Repair Kit

A basic repair kit is essential for addressing minor damages or issues that may occur during your kayaking expedition. Pack items such as duct tape, adhesive patches, rope, zip ties, and a multi-tool for quick and temporary fixes. Familiarize yourself with basic kayak repairs or consult online resources for guidance in case any unforeseen damage arises.


Having a durable and multifunctional rope can prove invaluable during a kayaking adventure. Ropes can be used for securing gear, tying your kayak to a stationary object, or even for emergency purposes. Ensure the rope you select is long enough for your needs and made from a strong and rot-resistant material such as nylon.

By thoroughly packing all the essential items mentioned above, you will be well-prepared and equipped for your overnight kayak adventure. Remember to stay organized, be mindful of weight and space limitations, and always prioritize safety when selecting your gear. With the right equipment and a sense of adventure, you’re ready to embark on a memorable and enjoyable overnight kayaking experience. Happy paddling!