Tips for Packing a Sea Kayak

If you are new to sea kayaking, new to overnight trips, or just haven’t gone out in a while, below are some tips and tricks that may help you when packing for your next adventure.


  • Assume your hatches will get wet, no matter how they have performed in the past.
  • Use several small dry bags rather than a couple of big ones.
  • If you don’t have access to dry bags, double bag items in good quality rubbish bags (pack a couple of spares in case of rips) and twist them closed.
  • If you only have a dry bag or two, use them for the important things like your sleeping bag and spare clothes.
  • Separate gear into groups so that is all stays together (e.g. all spare clothes in one
  • Use different coloured bags or number them so you can remember what’s inside without needing to open it.
  • Put light items in the ends of the kayak (e.g. sleeping mat and bag).
  • Leave items you will need during the day accessible.
  • Make sure you use all the little spaces.
  • If you have small hatches, put the bag in first then put the items in the bag.
  • Make sure your emergency gear is easily accessible.
  • Having a big bag to move the gear up and down the beach can save some trips (e.g. an Ikea bag works really well).
  • Do a test pack at home.


  • Remove all excess packaging.
  • Choose food that will last the duration of your trip.
  • Pre-cut food if possible.
  • Look for food in user-friendly containers (e.g. tuna in a sachet rather than a can).
  • Pack perishable items in hard containers (e.g. the billy is always a good place).
  • When deciding a menu, consider:
    – Cooking times
    – Pot size and how many are available.
  • Pack a small chopping board.
  • In hot climates, hard cheese like Parmesan will keep better.
  • Pack food into day portions (e.g. day 1 food, day 2 food etc).
  • Split trail mix into day bags (otherwise you’ll eat all the chocolate bits on day 1!).
  • Use small water bladders to carry extra water rather than one large one (in case it springs a leak).
  • Only take what you need, plus a little extra in case of an emergency (e.g. there’s no point taking 500g of pasta for one per person).

Sample gear lists can be found on the Paddle Prep app or Paddle Prep webpage.

We hope this helps with the packing for your next adventure. There are many more tips and tricks out there. If you have any tips that you would like to share, please email them to

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