Recently, my husband and I got a chance to check off one of our summer bucket list items: kayak camping!

This was a first for us both and, as expected, we learned a lot. So, we compiled a list to share with anyone else eager to give kayak camping a try.

Pay attention to tides, current, water levels
We planned to break up our trip to the campsite because the tide would change in our favor midway if we waited it out. So, we planned a side trip where we could take a break from paddling, get out and walk around. It felt great to stretch and use different muscles. It also gave us a chance to do some light hiking. By the time we got back into our kayaks the current was with us and it was an easy paddle to the campsite. However, we didn’t have the same luxury coming home as we underestimated how much drinking water that side trip cost us…and out of an abundance of caution we decided to paddle against the current directly home, rather than wait until the heat of the day when the tide changed in our favor…

Overestimate how much you’ll need. Especially when paddling where there is no freshwater to use filters/purifiers. If we’d brought more than we thought we’d need we would have had more options the next day, including waiting out the hot sun while hiking in the shade and paddling home later in the day. Side note: eating an apple can be just as satisfying as brushing your teeth (especially if you are conserving water).

Bug spray/wipes
My poor husband was kept awake by the sound of mosquitos whining around his head, despite the fact that we were well protected from any bites by our ENO bug nets around our hammocks. Neither of us had packed earplugs. Ben’s Bug Wipes to the rescue! He wiped down the outside of his netting and that repelled the little blood biters the rest of the night! Now he could be kept awake by the love of his life tossing and turning in her hammock.

Bed pads/Under quilts
Even in summer. So, I knew hammock sleeping was going to be cool, but it was summer! Because my old sleeping bag was so enormous it took up an entire dry well, I opted instead to copy my husband and bring just a blanket. Which was not enough to keep me warm. I ended up sleeping on top of it as insulation and using my microfiber camp towel as a makeshift cover. While it helped, it was not quite enough to keep me warm. It wasn’t until I was back in the shop that it was pointed out I could have also used my OR Helium rain jacket as an additional layer to keep me warm. But next time I will bring proper insulation plus a quilt or blanket.

Food luxuries
A small jar of salsa can go a long way and what we didn’t finish with our dinner (chips and salsa while waiting for our rice and chicken…topped with salsa, of course…) we used up at breakfast (scrambled eggs with salsa…sadly we forgot bacon bits).

Wool Socks
Yes, wool and water do mix. When my old shoes didn’t dry as quickly as I’d expected I was so relieved I’d packed my wool socks. Not only did they guard my skin from the cold and clammy shoes they kept my feet dry the entire trip home.

Water shoes
While quick drying shoes are key, as I learned…having shoes that are supportive enough to allow for side trip hikes is also important (which was why I chose my old, sneakers in favor of my open-toed paddling sandals). My husband was very happy with his Astral Loyaks, which have gum rubber soles and are grippy on slippery surfaces.

Check the weather/radar…throughout your trip
I checked the weather obsessively in the days and hours leading up to our trip to see if it was a go. We lucked out that the chance of thunderstorms changed to just an outside chance of rain showers and our second day looked all clear too. However, we neglected to check the radar the morning of our second day before we headed out. Quickly we felt that the winds had changed and now our paddle against the current had us also fighting a headwind as well. Given that I hadn’t slept well and we were concerned about conserving water I *may* have been a tad cranky on the paddle home!

Though our trip wasn’t perfect, overall, we had a good time and gained valuable knowledge that we’ll definitely put to use on our next paddling adventure.

Which brings me to our most important thing to share…

While trips rarely go exactly as planned, it’s the challenge of making the most of the gear you have and keeping a positive mindset that makes the adventure fun. And fun makes the whole trip worth it!

Happy adventuring—