Some folks chose to play cards on land while others enjoy exploring. Personally I like to explore, plus after spending hours in a kayak it’s nice to move around on legs again. There are usually abundant hiking opportunities. Be sure to bring good lightweight trail shoes for hiking and climbing around on rocks and tide pools. I also like to bring a small daypack for water bottle, camera, lunch, and spare clothing. Having been a gimp for 30 years I also bring at least one expandable hiking pole. In fact I keep it on the deck under the forward bungee cord for use at stops and lunch along the way.
Whether planning to pack your own food or sharing meals with the group, keep in mind that food generally weighs more than anything else that we bring! It’s probably best to find a buddy who has similar taste to yours and share meals with your buddy. It’s also nice to split up dinner cooking among the group, for instance we can take turns, two people make dinner for the entire group each evening and everyone fends for themselves for breakfast and lunch. No matter what the meal arrangement, it’s always best to do some meal planning before embarking on a trip.
Check with the local health food and backpacking stores for dehydrated foods that weigh little but are very nourishing. Try some out at home before packing for a trip! Some pre-made meals pack and carry well, and cook easily such as “Tasty Bites” Thai food. Bread doesn’t pack well but pita bread and tortillas keep and store easily. Soft cheeses won’t stay fresh without some refrigeration. Hard cheeses such as Parmesan and Asiago carry and keep for days. Bring spices, garlic, even butter. Do not bring anything that requires refrigeration. Don’t bring mayonnaise. Meat does not keep well at all unless it is jerky or canned. Salami can store well if kept cold prior to packing in the kayak, loaded down near the bottom of the boat and kept carefully away from sun and heat. Veggies — forget lettuce and sprouts. Cabbage keeps very well for days without refrigeration and can be eaten cooked or raw. Carrots, onion, and potatoes keep and carry well. Broccoli stores okay but not great. If you have a breathable container to store them in, tomatoes, bananas and avocados can last a couple days. Liquids weigh the most so go sparingly on those little boxes of soy and rice milk.
I know someone who brought nothing but canned food for every meal the entire trip. He had the heaviest boat in the beginning and the lightest at the end. We were lucky to find campsites with garbage disposal. He had no meal preparation, and very few dishes to ever wash. If I liked canned foods better I might consider this option.
Peanut butter and jelly on pita bread gives you carbs, protein and sugar — everything you need for paddling energy. This combination gives you the energy you need when you need it. Our bodies burn sugar very quickly, carbohydrates more slowly, and protein takes the longest for us to use. Breakfast is especially important when paddling long distances. Think in terms of time-release food. Depending on your metabolism, the activity you are doing, and the actual meal you eat, this time-release will vary. In general, sugar is immediate fuel, carbs last a couple of hours, and protein is good for 4 to 6 hours of fuel.
Use your stove and camp cookware at home before embarking on a trip. Just because it worked last summer doesn’t mean it still lights every time. I know my “Whisperlight” needs to have its cork oiled before it will function. Don’t wait until you’ve paddled all day and are eagerly expecting a great meal to find out your cooking system doesn’t function the way you thought it would.
Do be sure to bring a good combination of protein and carbohydrates. Bring high-energy snacks such as trail mix to munch on while paddling. It is possible to eat really well while kayak camping.
While we don’t want to drink and paddle, it is nice to have something to relax with at camp after a day of paddling. Bring a bottle of wine or spirits to share with the group. I know it’s not the first choice of wine snobs but bag-in-the box wines can be removed from the box and then stowed in front of your feet against the forward bulkhead. If you bug the sailboats and yachts for cold beer then be sure to offer to pay twice what they’re worth—you don’t want to give kayakers a bad name!
Light weight Trail shoes for onshore wear
Warm socks—synthetic or wool
Long-sleeve light weight sun shirt
Warm jacket (fleece is good)
Rain jacket—with hood
Warm hat (wool or synthetic)
OPTIONAL CLOTHING LIST
Neoprene gloves or pogies for paddling
Warm gloves for onshore
Rain hat or hood
Synthetic sleeping bag
Tent with good rain fly, mosquito net, and tarp (to set tent on)
Para-wing or tarp
Collapsible water container (s) (at least one gallon capacity—old “bags” from bag-in-the box wine work very well!)
Personal eating gear—fork, spoon, knife, bowl, cup
Headlamp or flashlight w/ extra batteries and bulbs