Aside from the obvious gear needs (paddle, PFD, helmet, etc.), there are certain gear requirements that are specific to self-support kayak trips. Additionally, typical kayaking and camping gear also must be looked at from a different angle to better optimize it’s function for packing, paddling, and daily use.
In the previous post we discussed why some river runners prefer a self-support whitewater kayak trip to a multi-day raft trip. Here you’ll find more information on the gear required for these trips with an in-depth look at the kayak, camping gear and kitchen equipment.
Starting with a kayak suited for multi-day travel makes everything easier. Larger kayaks help paddlers bring more gear, but also may pose difficulties when paddling. Other kayaks are made to perform better on multi-day river trips, such as the Liquid Logic XP, Pyranha Fusion or Dagger Green Boat. The XP and Fusion offer back hatches for easier access to overnight supplies while the Green Boat’s increased volume, length and narrow width provide ample space while also making longer distance trips easier.
The space within a kayak can also be altered to access gear easier and paddle smoother.
The front and back pillars, either foam or plastic, can be removed or cut down to free-up a lot of valuable space. The gear that will fill this space doesn’t replace the support and integrity gained from the pillars entirely. However, the extra space is well worth it. Having that extra bag of oatmeal, puffy coat and fuel bottle will pay off.
For many, camping gear can mean battery-powered air mattresses, three room tents, and a barbeque stove. Kayak camping requires a slightly different packing list that both reduces the size and weight of gear carried.
- A small tarp can provide the perfect shelter for both sleeping and cooking in the rain. Tents, while taking up more space, can be split between two people. Some kayakers opt to bring an ENO Hammock, a small alternative to a shelter and a sleeping mat. However, beware of cold nights hanging in the air.
- Plan for a pillow. This doesn’t necessarily mean “bring” a pillow, but rather think about what clothes you’ll bring and if they can be shoved into a stuff sack at night for better sleep. A fleece-lined stuff sack and puffy coat are perfect.
- A light-weight sleeping pad and bag are preferred, as well as compression stuff-sacks to get even more space. Sorry, leave the Paco Pad in the car for when you get off the river.
- An efficient and small stove, like a JetBoil or Primus Express, can make cooking easier and quicker. Don’t forget the fire. Very sad when lighters and waterproof matches are forgotten.
- Sporks are great for being both a spoon and a fork, but metal does hold up better. Don’t forget a pot for water (can double as a bowl for eating) and a pot holder to prevent unnecessary burns.
- Even in remote regions, water filtration and sterilization is typically necessary. Many options here, but the author prefers pump systems like the Katadyn Hiker Pro for their reliability and how simple they are to repair in the field.
- Water bottles should be able to carry multiple liters of water. Collapsible hydration bags can carry more liquid if you find a particularly pristine water resource.
- Night happens. Bring a headlamp and extra batteries.
- A few zip-lock bags can be great for left-overs, trash and more.
Additional Kitchen Gear Ideas
- Mugs for warm liquid can be found with a press for morning coffee (although the author prefers Starbuck’s Via packets to avoid coffee-ground waste).
- A small mat for cooking (such as a dining table placemat) can keep sand and dirt from getting into food.
- A good river knife works just as well in the kitchen. Try using the bottom of your boat as a cutting board but take care with sharp knifes!
Despite less space, a cook can use a bit of creativity to pack all the goodies and accoutrements of a well-stocked kitchen. Bringing spices, oils and even butter in no-spill containers (film canisters will inevitably fail, try small Nalgene bottles with screw-top lids) can make any dehydrated meal tasty and satisfying.
Don’t forget soap (the biodegradable Dr. Bronners works for the body, the dishes and the river) and a small sponge (cut a big one down to save on space).
While these lists seem extensive, everything on them is relatively small and easy to pack. Once you perfect your systems (Which stove works best? What spices do I need?), you’ll be able to pick up and go on a trip quicker.
What other gear do you find essential for your kayak self-support kitchen and camp?
We would love to hear other suggestions, comment below!
We’ll take a look at personal gear and packing methods in the next multi-day self-support tripping blog, so stay tuned!
Author Susan Hollingsworth writes for Wet Planet Whitewater, Canoe & Kayak Magazine, American Whitewater, and any other river-related publication she can find.