How to Pack a Kayak for Overnight Trips?

Kayaking is one of the most popular recreational activities all over the world. Some spend hours on the water, where many prefer overnight or multi-day trips. The first group doesn’t have to worry about packing so much. Contrarily, a multi-day paddler must carry plenty of essentials and set a shoreline camp to pass the night. It is easy for experts since they know exactly what to take and how to pack.

But the first time packing is quite stressful. We are presenting some tips on how to pack a kayak for overnight trips to help you out.

Multi-day Kayaking Plans

Kayaking checklist

It is a wise decision to gather the essentials to estimate the required space you need. Here is a list of everything that will easily fit inside a 14- to 18-foot touring kayak.


  • Kayak with hatch covers
  • Paddle, spare paddle, paddle leash, paddle float
  • Spray Skirt
  • Maps, charts
  • Deck compass, GPS
  • Life vest, life jacket, or PFD
  • Emergency strobe
  • Whistle
  • Knife
  • Waterproof camera
  • First-Aid kit
  • Tow belt
  • Hydration pack, water bottle
  • Sunglasses, hat, sunscreen, gloves
  • Kayak’s lock
  • Towel/sponge to dry the kayak
  • Repairing kit


  • Camp shirts, trousers
  • Two pair of t-shirts with full sleeves
  • Sleeping socks, regular socks
  • Hiking boots/ sneakers
  • Comfortable sandals
  • Breathable and waterproof shoes
  • Convertible pants
  • Lightweight fleece jacket
  • Items according to weather (Raincoat, winter jacket, umbrella, etc.)
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Warm and windproof clothing
  • Synthetic underwear
  • Swimsuit
  • towel
  • Wetsuit, dry suit
  • Synthetic watch cap

Deck bag

  • Waterproof binocular or monocular
  • Keys
  • Wallet
  • Camera, spare camera batteries
  • Dry foods
  • Mobile, charger, memory card
  • Sun protection
  • Waterproof notepad and pen
  • Small flashlight

Cooking stuff and foods

  • Packed foods in dry bags
  • Dry fruits
  • Energy bars
  • Water for drinking and cooking
  • Camp stove with fuel, lighter
  • Pots and kettles
  • Plate, bowl, cup, mug, fork, spoons
  • Priming alcohol
  • Cookware
  • Bottle opener
  • Water filtering capsule
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dish soap, scrubber, hand sanitizer
  • Kitchen knife
  • Dishtowel


  • Complete hammock rig
  • Tent
  • Mosquito net
  • Camp chair
  • Insect repellent
  • Sleeping bag, sleeping pad
  • String and pegs
  • Camp mat, camp pillow
  • Bear Bag Kit
  • Toilet kit
  • Waterproof headlamp


  • Earplugs, headphone
  • Weather-proof headlamp, torchlight
  • Compact flashlight with spare batteries
  • Book, pad, pencil
  • Lotion, lip balm
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste
  • Comb
  • Personal hygiene stuff

Choose the right kayak

Not all crafts come with spacious compartments. Buying such a model will not be suitable for an overnight adventure because people can’t fit every single item into it. We have some perfect options, such as sea and touring kayaks.

How to Pack a Kayak for Overnight Trips?
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They offer optimum comfort, paddling efficiency, and above all, supplies storage. Fishing kayaks are also a more stable choice, but the passengers have to sacrifice speed. When it comes to both performance and small gear storage, whitewater kayaks may work fine. No matter which unit you prefer, it should have enough room to cover your gear. So, select accordingly.

Pack light

Kayaking for several days is the same as going on a backpacking adventure. We almost need the same gears. The trip duration, seasonal chance, and distance play an important role in determining the required items. For example, a person can survive a night eating dry foods, packed snacks, and water. He doesn’t have to worry about camp stoves and other cooking stuff. The situation is different for multi-day camping; he will need more clothes, cooking stuff, and spare objects.

Now come to the weather effects. We must carry a lot of weather-friendly stuff. If the weather becomes harsher, we will need heavier protection to survive. Besides, the larger our team, the more opportunities we have to split up the necessities. In conclusion, we suggest only taking the specific things and quantities we need. Carrying seven sets of clothes for a 2-day trip is nothing but making the kayak heavier.

Fit everything inside separate bags

We have seen many people carrying random essentials in the same bag. When they need anything, it takes a long time to get a particular item. It doesn’t seem like a big issue, but the situation can go out of your control during an emergency. Suppose you are in danger and want to call for help. You can’t waste a single second in searching for your phone and the whistle. Therefore, try to load various little bags instead of a big one.

They will adapt the size of the kayak/boat’s interior better than a big one. For quick identification, use color-coded bags and label each of them. Load foods into a zip lock or heavy vinyl bag. Keep the water-sensitive products in a waterproof bag.

Our top favorites are lightweight nylon bags along with the weather-proof foamed coating. Such cushioned layers keep the fragile supplies safe. Make sure to squeeze all remaining air out before sealing. It will conserve more space inside the kayak’s chambers.

Organize well

The organizing techniques depend mainly on passengers. None want to load and unload most bags just to find a power bank he needs urgently. It kills not only your energy but also time. Therefore, proper placement is a smart decision. One simple strategy is to sort all necessities based on when you will need them. You may not need the camping stuff while paddling.

Hence, there is no problem to place them far from your hand. Keep the most important objects within your instant reach, such as mobile, spare kayaking tools, water, etc. Make a checklist of everything you are carrying, their corresponding bags, bag color, and levels. Moreover, create a short note describing exactly where you put the bags into the compartments.

Maintain your balance

Uneven stuff loading often results in a boat’s imbalance and asymmetric hull. It may lead to flipping and more difficulties to handle the watercraft’s direction. Do not make such a silly mistake. Position average-weight cookware, tent, clothes in the middle. Pack the heavy things on both sides near the center.

The ends should cover bulky yet lightweight stuff, including sleeping bags and clothes. Distribute the load equally between both ends and sides. The professionals usually follow this light-average-heavy-average-heavy-average-light sequence. A couple of days before your final tour, test the kayak’s movement efficiency after loading gears.

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