How to Choose the Perfect Kayak for Camping: A Complete Guide

How to Choose the Perfect Kayak for Camping

Picking the right kayak for camping can seem daunting with a plethora of options available. Did you know that choosing the wrong one could significantly impact your outdoor adventure? This guide simplifies the process, addressing key factors like weight capacity, storage space, and types of kayaks to help make an informed decision.

Get ready to unlock your perfect paddling companion!

Key Takeaways

  • The three main types of kayaks for camping are sit-on-top kayaks, sit-in kayaks, and inflatable kayaks.
  • Factors to consider when choosing a camping kayak include weight capacity, skegs and rudders for maneuverability, cargo storage space, shape and stability of the kayak, and seat comfort.
  • Essential gear and accessories for kayak camping include a lightweight tent, food and cooking supplies that don’t require refrigeration, sleeping gear for a comfortable night’s sleep, a well-stocked first aid kit, and cleaning supplies to maintain the kayak’s performance.

Types of Kayaks for Camping

There are three main types of kayaks for camping: sit-on-top kayaks, sit-in kayaks, and inflatable kayaks.

Sit-on-top Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are perfect for campers who value ease of use and comfort. They’re designed with a sealed hull and an open deck, providing an advantage particularly if you’re new to paddling because they are very stable, easy to get in and out of, and there’s no feeling of confinement.

They also offer self-bailing scupper holes that automatically drain any water that splashes onto the deck. Packed with plenty of space for your camping gear, they make the process of loading and unloading hassle-free.

Ideal for warm environments as you’ll probably get a bit wet due to the open design!

Sit-in Kayaks

Sit-in kayaks are a popular choice for camping because they provide more protection from the elements and allow for better maneuverability in rough waters. These kayaks have a cockpit where you sit inside the boat, which helps to shield you from splashing waves and keeps you drier during your paddling adventures.

They also typically have a larger storage capacity than sit-on-top kayaks, allowing you to pack more gear for longer camping trips. Sit-in kayaks are great for campers who want to explore different bodies of water and paddle through various conditions while having the ability to bring along all their necessary camping gear.

Some recommended sit-in kayak brands include Wilderness Systems Tsunami and Old Town Loon, both known for their durability and performance on the water. So if you’re planning a kayak camping trip, consider trying out a sit-in kayak for an enjoyable outdoor adventure!

Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks are a popular choice for camping adventures due to their convenience and portability. These kayaks are made from durable materials that can withstand the rigors of outdoor use, while still being lightweight enough to carry on your camping trip.

They are easy to inflate and deflate, allowing you to quickly set up and pack away your kayak. Inflatable kayaks also offer great stability on the water, making them suitable for both beginners and experienced paddlers.

With ample storage space, you can easily bring along all your camping gear without worrying about running out of room. Whether you’re exploring calm lakes or tackling gentle rivers, inflatable kayaks provide a versatile option for your camping needs.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Camping Kayak

When choosing a camping kayak, consider the weight and weight capacity for easy transportation and optimal performance.

Weight and weight capacity

One important factor to consider when choosing a kayak for camping is its weight and weight capacity. You want to make sure that the kayak you choose can handle your body weight as well as any additional gear or supplies you’ll be bringing along on your camping adventures.

It’s important to check the manufacturer’s specifications to ensure that the kayak has a sufficient weight capacity for your needs. Keep in mind that if you plan on carrying a lot of gear, you may need a kayak with a higher weight capacity.

Finding the right balance between comfort and functionality is key when it comes to selecting the perfect kayak for your camping trips.

Skegs and rudders

Skegs and rudders are important features to consider when choosing a kayak for camping. Skegs are like small fins located on the bottom of the kayak, which help with tracking and keeping the kayak moving in a straight line.

They are especially useful if you plan on going long distances or paddling in windy conditions. On the other hand, rudders are adjustable mechanisms that attach to the stern of a kayak and can be controlled by foot pedals.

This allows you to steer your kayak more easily, making it ideal for navigating through narrow waterways or maneuvering around obstacles. Whether you go for skegs or rudders ultimately depends on your personal preference and the type of kayaking adventure you have in mind.

Cargo storage

Consider the amount and type of gear you will be bringing on your camping trips when choosing a kayak. Look for kayaks that have ample storage space, such as front and rear dry hatches or bungee cord attachment points.

This is important because you’ll need room to store essential items like tents, sleeping bags, and cooking supplies. Having sufficient cargo storage will ensure that you can pack everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable camping adventure without feeling cramped or overloaded.

Don’t forget to also consider how easy it is to access the storage compartments while out on the water – having quick and convenient access can make all the difference when you’re in need of something during your trip.

Shape and stability

Choosing a kayak with the right shape and stability is crucial for a successful camping trip. The shape of your kayak will determine how it performs in different water conditions, while stability ensures you stay balanced and comfortable on the water.

For camping, look for kayaks with wider hulls as they offer better stability, especially if you plan to carry gear or move around inside the kayak. A wider kayak will also provide more storage space for your camping essentials.

Additionally, consider kayaks with a flat bottom or a slight V-shape as these designs enhance stability and maneuverability. Remember, choosing a kayak with the right shape and stability will make your camping experience much more enjoyable and safe.

Seat comfort

The comfort of your kayak seat is crucial for an enjoyable camping trip. After all, you’ll be spending long hours on the water, so it’s important to choose a kayak with a comfortable seat.

Look for kayaks that have adjustable seats with ample padding and back support. This will ensure that you can paddle in comfort without experiencing any discomfort or pain. Some kayaks even offer additional features like lumbar support and adjustable footrests for added comfort.

Don’t compromise on seat comfort as it can make or break your camping experience!

Essential Gear and Accessories for Kayak Camping

When it comes to kayak camping, there are a few essential gear and accessories that you’ll want to have on hand. Tent, food and cooking supplies, sleeping gear, first aid kit, cleaning and washing supplies – these items will ensure you’re prepared for your outdoor adventure.


For kayak camping, having a reliable and durable tent is essential. Look for a lightweight tent that is easy to set up and take down, as you’ll be packing it along with your other gear in your kayak.

Consider the size of the tent – you want enough space to comfortably sleep in, but not so big that it takes up too much room in your kayak. Look for a tent that is waterproof or has a rainfly to keep you dry during rainy nights.

Opt for a tent made from high-quality materials that can withstand the elements and provide insulation during cold nights. Don’t forget to bring along sturdy stakes and guy lines to secure your tent properly.

Food and cooking supplies

One of the most important aspects of kayak camping is making sure you have enough food and cooking supplies to keep you fueled during your adventure. When it comes to food, think about meals that are easy to prepare and don’t require a lot of refrigeration.

This could include things like dehydrated meals, canned goods, or snacks like granola bars and nuts. As for cooking supplies, make sure you have a lightweight camping stove or portable grill along with pots, pans, utensils, and plates.

Don’t forget to bring along plenty of water for drinking and cooking as well. Planning ahead when it comes to your food and cooking supplies will ensure that you have everything you need for a delicious meal while enjoying the great outdoors on your kayak camping trip.

Sleeping gear

Don’t forget about sleeping gear when planning your kayak camping adventure! A good night’s sleep is essential for an enjoyable trip. Look for lightweight and compact options that won’t take up too much space in your kayak.

A high-quality sleeping bag rated for the temperatures you’ll be camping in is crucial, along with a comfortable inflatable sleeping pad or lightweight camping mat to provide insulation and cushioning.

Remember to bring a pillow or use clothing as a makeshift one, and consider using a hammock if you prefer sleeping off the ground. Don’t skimp on comfort when it comes to sleeping gear – after a long day of paddling, you’ll want all the rest you can get!

First aid kit

When heading out on a camping trip, having a well-stocked first aid kit is essential for any outdoor adventure. Accidents can happen even in the safest environments, so being prepared with the necessary supplies will ensure that you can handle any minor injuries or mishaps that may occur.

Make sure your first aid kit includes items such as adhesive bandages, gauze pads, antiseptic ointment, tweezers, and pain relievers. It’s also a good idea to include any personal medication or specific medical supplies you may need.

Remember to regularly check and restock your first aid kit before each camping trip to ensure it’s always ready for use in case of emergencies.

Having a proper first aid kit is an important part of staying safe while enjoying your kayaking and camping adventures. With the right supplies on hand, you’ll be able to quickly address minor injuries and take care of yourself until further help arrives if needed.

Cleaning and washing supplies

Keeping your kayak clean and well-maintained is essential for a successful camping trip. Make sure to pack cleaning and washing supplies, such as a brush or sponge, mild soap, and a bucket.

These items will help you remove dirt, grime, and any saltwater residue that may accumulate during your paddling adventures. A clean kayak not only looks good but also performs better on the water.

So take the time to rinse off your kayak after each use and give it a good scrub when needed. Proper maintenance will ensure that your kayak stays in great shape for all your future camping trips.


In conclusion, choosing the perfect kayak for camping is all about considering your individual needs and preferences. Whether you opt for a sit-on-top or sit-in kayak, inflatable or hardshell, make sure to prioritize factors such as weight capacity, storage space, and comfort.

With the right gear and accessories, you’ll be ready to embark on exciting outdoor adventures and create unforgettable memories. So get out there and start exploring the beauty of nature from the tranquility of your kayak!


1. What factors should I consider when choosing a kayak for camping?

When choosing a kayak for camping, you should consider factors such as the type of water you will be paddling on (calm lakes or rough rivers), the duration of your camping trips, your skill level and experience with kayaking, the storage space available in the kayak for camping gear, and the weight capacity of the kayak.

2. Should I choose a sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak for camping?

The choice between a sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak for camping depends on personal preference and specific needs. Sit-on-top kayaks are generally more stable and easier to get in and out of, making them suitable for beginners or those who prefer easy access to their gear. Sit-inside kayaks provide better protection from splashes and colder weather, making them ideal for longer trips or paddling in rougher conditions.

3. Can I use an inflatable kayak for camping?

Yes, inflatable kayaks can be used for camping as they offer portability and ease of storage. However, it is important to ensure that the inflatable kayak is durable enough to withstand varying water conditions and has sufficient storage space for your camping gear. Additionally, proper inflation techniques should be followed to maintain stability while paddling.

4. How important is the weight capacity of a kayak when considering it for camping?

The weight capacity of a kayak is crucial when considering it for camping as it determines how much gear you can bring along with you safely. It is important to factor in not only your own weight but also the weight of all your equipment when assessing if a particular kayak’s weight capacity will meet your needs during camping trips.


  • William Grello

    I'm William an outdoor enthusiast who grew up hiking and camping in the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee. At, I aim to inspire and help you by providing valuable insights and tips on making the most out of your outdoor adventures. Grello William

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