Forrest Wells // September 05, 2019
The gear you end up selecting for your specific trip will depend on a couple of things but none more so than the amount of storage in your kayak. Larger boats are able to carry more goodies like dutch ovens and camp chairs while smaller kayaks you will be forced to go "fast and light".
Regardless of the boat you paddle here are a couple of things to remember when packing your kayak:
Accessibility: Make sure that gear you may needs access to while on the water, like snacks, navigation aids first aid etc.. are close at hand. Best stored on your life jacket or in an accessible day hatch.
Go light weight: Light gear is easier to transport and will make a huge difference after just a couple of days. If you are headed out with multiple people assign group gear like pots. pans stoves, tarps etc... so you all don't end up bringing the same gear when you can share.
Keep your gear dry: Invest in a number of dry bags in varying materials to keep your gear dry. Even though kayak hatches are sometimes called dry hatches, they are never dry. Use varying material dry bags so when you are loading and unloading the bags they slide past one another with out sticking. Dry Bags with purge valves also make life easier when packing and conserving / maximizing space. All of your gear needs to go in a quality dry bag!
Be as organized as possible: Use many dry bags to ensure I stay organized. They can be color coded and labeled on the exterior. Camp Kitchen bags are red, camp clothing green etc...Having a number of dry bags and a system to keep track of what is where will lessen frustration and time spent digging through your gear. Try and avoid putting too many things in one dry bag. You and I both know that whatever it is your are looking for is always going to be at the bottom of the bag,requiring you to empty the contents to get at what you need.
Keep your kayak balanced: Your kayak should be trim and balanced when loaded will all of your gear. Meaning the bow and stern should be even, one should not be higher than the other when on the water, and the boat should feel stable. If you have heavier gear loaded up higher in the kayak it can make you less stable. Before you leave the beach float your kayak and step back to ensure that your boat is trim (even). Paddling all day in a kayak that is bow or stern heavy, particularly in the wind can be a real nightmare.
You can ensure your kayak will be trim by loading the heaviest things closest to the cockpit in the middle of the boat and at the lowest pints. This is usually behind the seat and items like water and food go great there. As you get closer to the bow and stern of your hatches your gear should be lightest, sleeping bags, clothes etc...
For a more information on specific gear to bring check out our article on Kayak Essentials