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The Kayaker’s Checklist: 100 Items You Can’t Leave Home Without

The Kayaker’s Checklist: 100 Items You Can’t Leave Home Without

If you’ve got a kayaking trip planned, even for a day, then you’ll appreciate this kayaker’s checklist – with roughly 100 items that you can’t leave home without. The biggest difference between a short trip and a long trip, from my experience, is the amount of food and water I take. On longer trips I also take more repair gear. I hope you find this comprehensive kayaker’s checklist useful for future trips.

"Kayaks in Gwaii Haanas National Park"

Kayaks in Gwaii Haanas National Park

Camp Clothing

  • Capilene and/or fleece bottoms
  • Capilene underwear
  • Several pairs of socks – quick dry and/or wool
  • 2 quick dry t-shirts
  • 1 quick dry long sleeved shirt or turtleneck
  • Full rain gear – including a hat
  • Synthetic or down puffy jacket
  • Small quick dry towel
  • Quick dry shorts
  • Long pants
  • Toiletries including sun screen, sun block and insect repellent
  • Wool or fleece hat
  • Warm gloves
  • Sun hat or ball cap
  • Footwear – sandals, old running shoes and/or rain boots

Clothing for Kayaking 

  • Capilene underwear
  • Quick dry shorts or long pants.
  • Capilene t-shirt
  • Wind proof fleece jacket
  • Lightweight windbreaker
  • Water sandals with a strap, boots or old runners

Camp Gear

  • Stove with enough bottles of fuel and a repair kit.
  • Multiple lighters, candle, fire starter (I like the Cricket 5 minute firestarter), waterproof container. In some places you’ll be able to have a campfire.
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Pots and pans
  • Cup and a bowl or plate – collapsible if you want to save space.
  • Sharp knife
  • Small cutting board
  • Grill and an oven mitt
  • Water containers – the collapsible ones made by Ortlieb are especially good as they fold into nothing when they’re empty. Allow 3 L/pp/day.
  • Water filter, drops or purifying tablets like those made by Potable Aqua.
  • Ax or saw, sharpening file
  • Tent and poles.
  • Tarp and extra rope.
  • Sleeping bag and an insulated pad.
  • Thermarest chair for comfort in camp.
  • Emergency day trip kit including a flashlight, fire starter, matches/lighters, space blanket.

Kayaking (Boat) Gear

  • Paddle plus one spare
  • Spray skirt and cockpit cover (for long trips take a spare spray skirt)
  • Lifejacket with a whistle and rescue knife
  • Pump for bailing
  • Flares, waterproof strobe, Emergency locator like a SPOT
  • Tow rope
  • VHF Radio plus an extra battery
  • Weather radio
  • Chart with a waterproof chart case
  • Water bottle for kayak deck
  • Compass, GPS, tide tables
  • First aid kit

Repair Kit

  • Fiberglass repair kit
  • Duct tape, Aquaseal, five minute epoxy
  • Multi-tool and a multi screwdriver
  • Pliers with wire cutters
  • Rudder cable
  • Spare nuts, bolts and parts
  • Extra straps
  • Hack saw blade
  • Duct tape
  • Lighter

Bags 

It’s usually best to use the same colour of bag on every trip you do. Do what works best for you.

  • Breakfast bags (yellow)
  • Lunch bags (green)
  • Dinner bags (black)
  • Snack bags (orange)
  • Dessert bags (red)
  • Condiments (small black)
  • Compost – not a bad idea to first line a bag with a green garbage bag.
  • Burnables
  • Waterproof bag for your sleeping bag (or use two green garbage bags) – take your sleeping bag into the store so you know it fits
  • Waterproof bag for clothes (20L)
  • Day bag and/or a deck bag
  • Large grocery style bag for shuttling small items between the kayak and campsite
  • Small day pack
"Assorted kayaking gear"

Assorted kayaking gear

Optional Kayaking Gear

  • Paddling pants and jacket
  • Wetsuit, pogies, neoprene booties, neoprene gloves
  • Snorkeling gear
  • Fishing gear – hand line, lure, net, possible crab trap, license, fillet knife
  • Camera, binoculars, waterproof case
  • Waterproof watch
  • Alarm clock
  • Satellite phone
  • Bear spray if you plan to be in bear country
  • Kindle, books, cards, journal
  • Blow up cushion to sit on your kayak

Is there anything I’ve missed that you always take on a kayaking trip?

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 6 Comments
  1. There is something not on your list that is extremely important to me. No matter what activity I’m doing or length of trip I go on, I take a waterproof wallet with the following information in it:

    1) copy of drivers licence or other photo ID ( I use an expired licence card)
    2) list of all current medications (updated before going)
    3) list of any medical conditions
    4) list of at least 2 next of kin with their contact info (I contact them before going to let them know and ask if they will be available during my trip. Also give them a copy of the itinerary)
    5) cash (you just never know)
    6) fishing licence and boating licence

    When paddling I keep this wallet in my PFD pocket.

    I also take my cell phone (in a waterproof case) with charging divice in case of emergency.

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