Kayak Camping for Beginners The Ultimate Guide
A two-hour round over the nearby lake is a great thing for beginners. Especially recently, many kayakers have been out on the waters again. The good mix of relaxation on the water and exercise is one of the main reasons kayaking is so popular. In addition to cozy short trips on the weekend, you can also experience real kayak adventures.
We have had some great experiences with kayak camping. Equipped with a suitable kayak, proper provisions, and camping equipment, long distances are covered that would not be possible in one day. On the multi-day kayak trips, you can tour hundreds of kilometers across Germany or world history or just drive up the river for one day, pitch your tent in the evening and start the journey back the next morning. In the afternoon at the latest, you will be back at the starting point.
Kayak camping is wonderful. During the day you can paddle and the breaks can be used for fishing. In the evening the tent is set up at the campsite, a delicious evening meal is prepared and the late evening hours are spent comfortably in front of a campfire. In our opinion, there is hardly anything better in the world.
However, we have often met kayakers who don’t dare to go camping for several days. With this comprehensive guide, we want to dispel concerns and make your first multi-day kayak trip a great experience with our tips on choosing a suitable kayak and packing lists for provisions and accessories.
Table of Contents
What is Kayak Camping?
Kayak camping is a type of camping that uses kayaks to travel to nearby campsites. In short, kayak camping is a combination of backpacking and car camping in just water.
When traveling between two campsites, like backpacking, all your luggage is always with you. Most canoes offer lots of storage space and much more space for equipment and requirements than a backpack. Just like car camping, you don’t have to give up comfort.
Kayak Camping vs. Canadian Camping
The main difference between kayaks and Canadians, often mistakenly referred to as canoes, is the open design of Canadians. In addition, Canadians are driven by one-way pedals, while double paddles are used for kayaks.
.We have already covered in detail the differences between kayaks and Canadians. It’s about the differences in terms of camping experience. Canadians offer more storage space and are often made wider, which provides more stability. The disadvantage is that the extra storage space is exposed. However, luggage can be secured with a dry bag or a tarpaulin.
Kayak offers less storage space, but luggage is protected from water. Camping equipment, change of clothes and provisions are kept dry under the deck or in the storage hatch. And kayaks can cope better with porous water and wind. Also, kayaks can reach lighter, higher speeds and are more maneuverable.
Finally, however, both types of kayaks can be used for this type of camping trip. In the past, Canadians were often used for long day camping tours. Nowadays, however, you often sea kayaks. This is mainly due to the meteoric growth of inflated kayaks, which have quickly gained popularity due to their low price. Also great for some inflatable touring kayak camping trips.
5 Tips for Kayak Camping
With proper preparation, kayak camping is great. The following tips will give you everything you need to take with you on your first tour, from planning to the best way to pack your equipment and safety tips.
Planning: For the first tour, a simple route with calm waters should be chosen so that there are not too many parts. The average paddler covers 10 to 20 kilometers per day. Experienced kayakers can easily double or triple this value, but simply take it on your first multi-day trip. Initially plan a two day trip with only a one-night stay. When choosing a route, it is important whether you want to paddle, eat a lot of fish, or spend more time in front of a campfire in the evening. Daily goals are set accordingly. Also, bring a printout of the map in a watertight cover.
Organization: Dry bags are a great choice for company kayak camping. On the one hand, they save the gear dry. On the other hand, tools can be arranged with the help of dry bags. We recommend a separate dry bag for clothing, cutlery, and cooking utensils. An empty hiking backpack is also useful for carrying luggage from the boat to the camping site.
Packing: kayak space is limited. Possibly the most important step is to store the kayak. A kayak behaves significantly differently when fully loaded than when it is empty. The weight must be evenly distributed and should be as low as possible to minimize weakness while driving. When choosing equipment, you should also pay attention to the maximum carrying capacity. Heavy luggage should be placed in front and back, while light things should be stored centrally. Important items used when paddling should be easily accessible. A GPS device, a first aid kit, a map in a waterproof case, and a smartphone in case of a waterproof phone should always be within easy reach.
Safety: Kayak camping is for experienced kayakers only. Before the first overnight kayak tour, a test should be run where you will load all the equipment on the boat and lap a little. This way you get used to the new driving experience and can still make some changes regarding the load or load distribution. Wearing a life jacket is always a part of kayaking. There is a special danger in kayaking in cold water.
Kayak: All-round kayak (affordable, wide kayak which is good for beginners) and touring kayak (best choice for long-distance which is fast, stable, and directional) are suitable for kayak camping. The best kayaks are those that provide water-protected storage space, lie safely in the water, are easy to operate, and allow good straight travel.
Kayak Camping Packing List
For a kayak camping trip, you have to pack the same things as for backpacking. You also need equipment for kayaking, which must be adapted to the season and the weather. Don’t overdo it with your equipment. In any case, remains well below the maximum load capacity.
A good beginning point for planning your own kayak camping tour is our packing list:
- Sleeping bag
- Drinking water
- Gas cooker with gas cartridge
- Cookware, plates, and cutlery
- Lighter or matches
- pocket knife
- Life jacket
- Dry bags
- Splash guard
- Waterproof phone case
- Compass and GPS device
- Mosquito repellent
- The card in a waterproof case
- Repair kit
- Fishing gear
Kayaking and camping: an adventure from another angle
Chile has a coastline of 6,435 km in length. And if we add to that number a large number of navigable rivers, canals, and lakes, there is no doubt that we live in a country blessed to practice some water sports such as kayaking. And what happens when we combine it with camping? Find out here.
In the distance, you can only hear the noise of birds and the sound of gentle waves crashing against the coast. Suddenly, after a rocky accident, an ideal space opens up to disembark: a lonely beach that invites you to visit. Time to go to it and set up camp.
The desire to explore our territory is gaining new momentum thanks to the possibilities offered by the touring kayak. This modality allows access to unique and special places for which there are often no trails. But it also avoids having to go through tacos and riots. At the same time, it has the goodness of allowing large movements (through lakes, rivers, fjords, and seas) in an efficient and entertaining way.
But this is not all. Kayaking allows you to visit places from another perspective. Sitting at ground level, the coastline, vegetation, and mountains look different. Before a new look, there is always a new experience. The wildlife sightings They are also usually older since kayaking is a silent and environmentally friendly means of transport. Thus, with a keen eye and a bit of luck, you may spot the elusive chungungo (a sea otter almost a meter long) that makes its burrows among the rocks by the sea. Or if you are kayaking a lake or river in the south, it is much more likely that you will spot a kingfisher in the middle of fishing. Both animals mentioned here usually flee in the presence of motorized vehicles and people. But the kayak can be an ally to enjoy nature and also to obtain a record of elusive and vulnerable species like these.
On the other hand, the touring kayak offers what one would like to have in any great expedition: the possibility of carrying enough implements to be comfortable. While in mountaineering and trekking we are limited to the liters of our backpack and what our back is capable of carrying, in the kayak we do not have to worry about it since one of these boats can carry at least 120 kg of weight and What’s more, it will be the water that carries it, not us. Therefore, if it is camping, there will be no problem with packing a spacious 3-season tent, an awning, folding chairs, and even a grill, the charcoal, the smooth spine, the glasses and the respective beers, the cereal for the morning breakfast, coffee and mates, among many other things. The kayak allows you, then, luxury camping.
TYPES OF KAYAK
There are different types of boats for different objectives and routes. There are open kayaks (intended for short walks near shore) and enclosed kayaks. By using one of the first types, the person is exposed to the waves and is usually constantly wet, so these boats are only designed for hot times and short circuits. They are slow and not very comfortable, but they do the job of offering a nice “ride.” On the other hand, to go camping you will need a closed kayak, whose objective is to keep you dry. In turn, they have watertight cargo compartments. For this reason, these touring kayaks can be used throughout the year.
Another consideration is that there are single and double kayaks. The latter, by sharing the load and rowing, makes the activity not become so heavy. But this requires good attunement with your partner and, as in the mountains, you must choose your team wisely. Cooperation as a team is essential. To avoid hitting the oars due to a lack of rhythm and timing, it is important to practice.
Finally, within the wide range of kayaks that the market offers, it should be noted that some are more technical (and, for the same reason, narrower, lighter, and hydrodynamic) and others more basic, but for the same reason, more stable and also slower. There are plastic, fiberglass, and Kevlar-carbon kayaks, some more fragile than others, some cheaper than others. But beyond all this, the first thing to do is define the route, the goal and, based on that, determine what type of kayak is suitable for the adventure in question. For this, we must also consider the level of the people involved, how much they know and how much they are capable of giving.
When defining the destination, it is also important to consider the following variables: although the beaches in Chile are public, are there any restrictions that we should consider? For example, in National Parks there are usually specific places where to move and where to camp.
It is important to bear in mind that this activity, like any other, carries its risks . Falling into the water or overturning the boat can be very dangerous. Therefore, as in the mountains, do a risk assessment and be clear about how far you want to go. In addition to handling protocols in cases of emergency, plan your outing, check the weather forecast, be well equipped and avoid hypothermia, dehydration or eventual heat stroke . Report your plans and itinerary to a trusted person, a person with technical skills and the local authority. But also, since it is an activity with a special tenor, consider:
- Although the kayak is sealed to prevent things from getting wet and has watertight compartments, it carries enough dry bags for those objects that should not get wet for any reason. We suggest that you use a synthetic sleeping bag , as if a down bag gets damp, it may take a long time to dry (and in addition to becoming heavy, the feathers may lose their thermal insulating quality). Also make sure that the layered clothing is the aceduaca and that your dry suit is of good quality.
- When loading things into the kayak, make sure that the load is well distributed. Take care of the balance between starboard and port, bow and stern. And just like if you were putting together a backpack to go to the hill , organize the objects (for example, leave at hand what you will use first). If you are going to go out in a double kayak, incorporate the weight of your companion into the calculation: generally the heaviest person should be seated in the back. That will make the kayak easier to handle.
- While weight isn’t an issue, as we’ve already said, volume may be. Therefore, use compressible bags to compact the objects you want to load into the kayak.
- Consider that water flows are changing . Pay attention to how the coast is, currents and tides. Take nautical charts, seasonal tide tables, and maps with you. Calculate your situation according to the place, conditions and time of day. Be careful camping on the beach … lest you wake up with water inside the tent.
- Remember that when leaving the port, you must request the departure from the maritime authority . It is they who also ask to have a list of safety equipment (ranging from life jackets to radios and pistols to flares). Find out about it.
- If you don’t have enough experience, always date an experienced person .
- Practice rowing maneuvers on land. Get trained with courses that teach about efficient paddling techniques, navigation, orientation and interpretation of nautical charts, communication in the water, rescue and minimal impact camping, such as the instruction offered by NOLS in the Aysén Region or Pueblito Expediciones in Valdivia.
- Know yourself . It not only matters how much distance you are able to cover, but also how fast. Do not over demand.
- Take care of the place where you move and where you will camp. Try not to leave a trace. Respect local communities.
GO FOR A WALK
Martín Gildemeister, mountaineer, and explorer, recommends a series of places to do this recreational activity. But, above all, it reminds us that you always have to be adequately informed about the conditions of each site and request the respective permits (either with Conaf, either with a private party or with an authority).
In the central area of the country, Martín suggests we go to the Laguna del Inca (Portillo), which offers beautiful views and high mountain conditions. In the same Valparaíso Region, but more towards the coast, we can find a series of wetlands for kayaking. For example, there is the El Yali estuary ( El Yali National Reserve ), in Santo Domingo, and a little further north, near La Lingua, the Salinas de Pullally, where you can camp nearby. Already in the Region of the Liberator General Bernardo O’Higgins, it is possible to navigate the Rapel river and reach the mouth. These places are great options for apprentices to the sport, as they offer a combination of great scenic beauty and also a dose of challenge: wind, currents, and waves.
Another fantastic setting is the Maule River, which can be traversed 94 km from the mountain range to the sea (in about 2 or 3 days). And further south the possibilities skyrocket. If it is, then, to achieve an authentic connection with nature, the combination of kayaking and camping stands as an excellent option!
Multi-day kayak tours are one of the best things there is when it comes to outdoor sports. At first glance, kayaking trips lasting several days seem like an elaborate undertaking. With a little preparation and the right equipment, this is not a problem.
Sure, the kayak offers less storage space than a car or a caravan. However, that doesn’t mean you have to throw in the towel right away. With a little creativity and practice, the boat is quickly packed and ready for use in no time.
Anyone who sits by the campfire after all the exertion, listening to the splashing of the water and the creaking of the wood, knows that all the work has been worth it.