What To Bring On a Kayaking Trip?

Packing for a canoe trip is an important step in planning a canoe trip. It is useful to know what to pack for a kayak, how to prepare for various eventualities, and how to facilitate a canoeing trip with well-fitting equipment. The choice of kayaking equipment affects comfort, and safety, but also the cost of rafting and the environment.

What To Bring On a Kayaking Trip

What to take on a kayaking trip? List of equipment for a kayaking trip

Over the past few years of kayaking on both small and large rivers, lakes and canals, I have tested various pieces of kayaking gear and created my kayaker’s “kit” that serves me on day trips and longer rafting trips.

List of equipment for a kayaking trip

I tried to prepare this guide so that you could find as many answers as possible to your questions about what to pack for a kayaking trip and what equipment to bring with you to make your kayaking trip easier or even less expensive. I also wanted the guide to be as complete as possible, i.e. to address the needs that kayakers have for day trips, but also to be useful for those planning longer kayaking trips.

I also hope that the list of equipment will be useful to both kayakers who use kayak rentals and watermen who organize kayaking trips on their own.

I have divided the guide into several chapters corresponding to different aspects of preparing for kayaking. Subsequent chapters cover safety, clothing, packing, cooking equipment, camping gear, and hygiene.

Let’s start with the most important thing – safety.

What to bring on a kayaking trip? Safety

Kapok, safety vest

A basic piece of equipment for a kayaker ensures safety on the water. Kayakers are always equipped with kapoks by rental companies, although most often they are not very comfortable.

How to choose the right life jacket? The kapok should fit the weight of the kayaker and not restrict movement. When buying kapok, you need to check the size of the kapok and its buoyancy.

I have been using the ONYX Kayak Life Jacket model for a long time. It is a belay vest with expandable and expandable pockets, which allows me to keep small things always at hand.

ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket, Universal, Tan
Astral, V-Eight Fisher Life Jacket PFD for Kayak Fishing, Recreation and Touring, Pebble Gray, L/XL
NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)-Charcoal-L/XL
ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket, Universal, Tan
Astral, V-Eight Fisher Life Jacket PFD for Kayak Fishing, Recreation and Touring, Pebble Gray, L/XL
NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)-Charcoal-L/XL
ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket, Universal, Tan
ONYX Kayak Fishing Life Jacket, Universal, Tan
Astral, V-Eight Fisher Life Jacket PFD for Kayak Fishing, Recreation and Touring, Pebble Gray, L/XL
Astral, V-Eight Fisher Life Jacket PFD for Kayak Fishing, Recreation and Touring, Pebble Gray, L/XL
NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)-Charcoal-L/XL
NRS Chinook Fishing Kayak Lifejacket (PFD)-Charcoal-L/XL

Last update on 2022-11-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I can also put a snack or a filter bottle in the pocket in the kapok so that it doesn’t interfere with my paddle operation, and this is a big, big plus for this model. It is also easy to adjust and ergonomic.

Belay vests are often downplayed and many kayakers do not use them. My attitude is that water is not to be taken lightly and even on shallow rivers, I swim in kapok. I start packing for every rafting trip with kapok and finish by making sure I’m sure to have one with me.

High sunscreen

It won’t be a big surprise if I write that sunscreen with high sunscreen works very well on canoeing trips as a shield from the sun. As a person who is definitely “fond” of the sun, I can point out that particularly sensitive areas exposed to the sun’s rays during rafting are the face, neck, and hands. For rafting, I recommend a cream with a high sunscreen (min. 30) and repeated lubrication every 2h or so.

First aid kit for kayaking

I admit that in the preparation of kayaking equipment I do not pay great attention to completing a first aid kit.

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First Aid Only 57 Piece 10 Person First Aid Kit (6060)
First Aid Only 298 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit (FAO-442)
Be Smart Get Prepared 110 Piece First Aid Kit: Clean, Treat, Protect Minor Cuts, Scrapes. Home, Office, Car, School, Business, Travel, Emergency, Survival, Hunting, Outdoor, Camping & Sports, FSA HSA
First Aid Only 57 Piece 10 Person First Aid Kit (6060)
First Aid Only 298 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit (FAO-442)
First Aid Only 298 Piece All-Purpose First Aid Emergency Kit (FAO-442)
Be Smart Get Prepared 110 Piece First Aid Kit: Clean, Treat, Protect Minor Cuts, Scrapes. Home, Office, Car, School, Business, Travel, Emergency, Survival, Hunting, Outdoor, Camping & Sports, FSA HSA
Be Smart Get Prepared 110 Piece First Aid Kit: Clean, Treat, Protect Minor Cuts, Scrapes. Home, Office, Car, School, Business, Travel, Emergency, Survival, Hunting, Outdoor, Camping & Sports, FSA HSA
First Aid Only 57 Piece 10 Person First Aid Kit (6060)
First Aid Only 57 Piece 10 Person First Aid Kit (6060)

Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

A form of activity such as recreational kayaking does not particularly expose one to mechanical damage or injuries that can happen, for example, when hiking. For a first aid kit for canoeing, I take only:

  • Elastic bandage;
  • Octenisept 50 ml;
  • Panthenol 5% spray 150 ml;
  • A set of Viscoplast waterproof plasters;
  • Tweezers.

Here I have everything I need to respond to minor injuries, burns, and bites.

How to dress for kayaking? Clothing for kayaking

Unlike hiking in the mountains, recreational kayaking is not so demanding when it comes to fitting appropriate clothing. After all, many people kayak in “walk-in” clothes. However, it is possible to complete a set of clothes that will make kayaking more comfortable and enjoyable. As usual, a lot depends on the weather and the season. In this guide, I decided to focus on kayaking equipment for canoeing in the warm months. Did I write a separate guide about preparing equipment for winter canoeing: How to pack for a winter canoeing trip?

Kayak clothing for summer

Clothing for kayaking is important for our comfort and has a preventive role. I advocate choosing clothing for kayaking that is:

  • ergonomic – does not restrict movement;
  • breathable;
  • quick-drying;
  • protective against the sun;
  • protects against insects – mosquitoes and ticks.

My outfit for kayaking, starting from head to toe, looks as follows:

Neoprene shoes, water sports shoes

Ever since I first went on a kayaking trip in water sports shoes, they have become a permanent part of my kayaking gear.

YALOX Water Shoes Women's Men's Outdoor Beach Swimming Aqua Socks Quick-Dry Barefoot Shoes Surfing Yoga Pool Exercise(Color,34/35EU)
NING MENG Womens Mens Water Shoes Swimming Socks Barefoot Beach Pool Shoes Quick-Dry Aqua Yoga Socks Surf Beach Shoes(Black Dark Blue,5.5/6.5 Women,5/5.5 Men)
Womens and Mens Kids Water Shoes Barefoot Quick-Dry Aqua Socks for Beach Swim Surf Yoga Exercise (American Flag, S)
YALOX Water Shoes Women's Men's Outdoor Beach Swimming Aqua Socks Quick-Dry Barefoot Shoes Surfing Yoga Pool Exercise(Color,34/35EU)
NING MENG Womens Mens Water Shoes Swimming Socks Barefoot Beach Pool Shoes Quick-Dry Aqua Yoga Socks Surf Beach Shoes(Black Dark Blue,5.5/6.5 Women,5/5.5 Men)
Womens and Mens Kids Water Shoes Barefoot Quick-Dry Aqua Socks for Beach Swim Surf Yoga Exercise (American Flag, S)
YALOX Water Shoes Women's Men's Outdoor Beach Swimming Aqua Socks Quick-Dry Barefoot Shoes Surfing Yoga Pool Exercise(Color,34/35EU)
YALOX Water Shoes Women's Men's Outdoor Beach Swimming Aqua Socks Quick-Dry Barefoot Shoes Surfing Yoga Pool Exercise(Color,34/35EU)
NING MENG Womens Mens Water Shoes Swimming Socks Barefoot Beach Pool Shoes Quick-Dry Aqua Yoga Socks Surf Beach Shoes(Black Dark Blue,5.5/6.5 Women,5/5.5 Men)
NING MENG Womens Mens Water Shoes Swimming Socks Barefoot Beach Pool Shoes Quick-Dry Aqua Yoga Socks Surf Beach Shoes(Black Dark Blue,5.5/6.5 Women,5/5.5 Men)
Womens and Mens Kids Water Shoes Barefoot Quick-Dry Aqua Socks for Beach Swim Surf Yoga Exercise (American Flag, S)
Womens and Mens Kids Water Shoes Barefoot Quick-Dry Aqua Socks for Beach Swim Surf Yoga Exercise (American Flag, S)

Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Water sports shoes greatly improve the comfort of moving on the bottom and overgrown shores. They protect against damage to the feet and make it more pleasant to operate in places where we are not sure what we will put our foot on. Even the simplest model of water sports shoes is good for the confidence of navigating the invisible bottom and protects against possible injuries. I much prefer them to flip-flops, sandals, or crocks, which do not provide stability. Moreover, water sports shoes will not be swept away by the current, and will not get between the toes, and, of course, they protect the entire foot.

Long thermo-active pants

I make no secret of the fact that I swim best in long thermal pants, up to the ankle. They protect from the sun on the kayak, shield from plants on overgrown banks, and at the same time are light and breathable.

Long unbuttoned pants

Thermal pants alone are an option for warm and sunny days. In slightly colder weather I also wear long, unbuttoned pants, preferably waterproof. When rafting, I also use pants with an Insect Shield parameter to protect against ticks and insects. During longer shore descents and camping trips, this is a very good solution. I don’t think there are anywhere as many insects and mosquitoes as in the river valleys, and this is also worth considering.

T-shirt, shirt

For kayaking trips, I usually wear airy long-sleeved shirts. Since I spend quite a lot of time on the water I also depend on good protection from the sun’s rays. Hence the long sleeve and fabrics with a high UV rating. The long sleeve has another practical use. When sailing through really wild and overgrown sections during the pollen season, I have occasionally returned from rafting trips burned or with blisters on my skin. A shirt that covers your hands reduces the risk of skin injury. In choosing a shirt or T-shirt for long rafting trips, it is also important to me that it does not restrict movement. A clinging shirt, still under a life jacket, can effectively discourage paddling.

Rain jacket

For days that are colder or with inclement weather, I also take the right rain clothes. In my case, the jacket is primarily to protect against rain on a rafting trip. It does not need to be insulated in any way. For added thermal comfort, I carry a sweatshirt or fleece with me.

In packing for kayaking trips, one of the most important things for me is to save space. The jacket I wear most often when kayaking is FROGG TOGGS or Columbia. It’s a lightweight jacket model that can be folded into a small “bundle,” with a very high waterproof rating. In addition, it is permanently impregnated and repels insects.

Fleece, sweatshirt

On colder days I also carry a fleece or sweatshirt with me. I prefer and recommend softshell items. They are ergonomic, protect from wind and breathe quite well.

Paddling gloves

They help avoid mechanical damage to your hands while paddling. Scrapes and bruises are a constant problem for me. Paddling gloves always land in kayak gear for longer trips.

Regular cycling or gym gloves and any models with “cut-off fingers” work well. I recommend gloves with a Velcro closure at the wrist.

Buff

The silent hero of my kayak gear is the buff or sports scarf. I use the buff in two ways. I wear it around my neck to protect myself from the wind and sun. Or I tie it on my hands and so it is used to wipe sweat.

Sunglasses with a float

I recommend buying a string float for sunglasses. Sunglasses are probably the thing that is easiest to lose or drop in the water during a kayaking trip. A float-string will keep your glasses around your neck or keep them from sinking.

Headgear

EINSKEY Men's Waterproof Sun Hat, Outdoor Sun Protection Bucket Safari Cap For Safari Fishing Hunting Dark Gray One Size
Women's Sun Hat Outdoor UV Protection Foldable Mesh Bucket Hat Wide Brim Summer Beach Fishing Cap Pure Black
GearTOP Wide Brim Sun Hat for Men and Women - Mens Bucket Hats with UV Protection for Hiking - Beach Hats for Women UPF 50+ (Army Green, 7-7 1/2)
EINSKEY Men's Waterproof Sun Hat, Outdoor Sun Protection Bucket Safari Cap For Safari Fishing Hunting Dark Gray One Size
Women's Sun Hat Outdoor UV Protection Foldable Mesh Bucket Hat Wide Brim Summer Beach Fishing Cap Pure Black
GearTOP Wide Brim Sun Hat for Men and Women - Mens Bucket Hats with UV Protection for Hiking - Beach Hats for Women UPF 50+ (Army Green, 7-7 1/2)
$14.99
$15.99
$18.99
EINSKEY Men's Waterproof Sun Hat, Outdoor Sun Protection Bucket Safari Cap For Safari Fishing Hunting Dark Gray One Size
EINSKEY Men's Waterproof Sun Hat, Outdoor Sun Protection Bucket Safari Cap For Safari Fishing Hunting Dark Gray One Size
$14.99
Women's Sun Hat Outdoor UV Protection Foldable Mesh Bucket Hat Wide Brim Summer Beach Fishing Cap Pure Black
Women's Sun Hat Outdoor UV Protection Foldable Mesh Bucket Hat Wide Brim Summer Beach Fishing Cap Pure Black
$15.99
GearTOP Wide Brim Sun Hat for Men and Women - Mens Bucket Hats with UV Protection for Hiking - Beach Hats for Women UPF 50+ (Army Green, 7-7 1/2)
GearTOP Wide Brim Sun Hat for Men and Women - Mens Bucket Hats with UV Protection for Hiking - Beach Hats for Women UPF 50+ (Army Green, 7-7 1/2)
$18.99

Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

And at the very end: something for the head. Since I’m not a fan of hats (even though they also protect the neck) I swim in a regular baseball cap. Alternatively, it happens that the role of headgear is played by the previously mentioned buff.

Anti-mosquito clothing

When completing the equipment for a kayaking trip, you also need to think about how to protect yourself from an encounter with the kayaker’s greatest enemy – mosquitoes. What is the best way to protect yourself from mosquitoes during kayaking trips? I for one am becoming more and more convinced of anti-mosquito clothing.
Is it an effective way to fight insects while kayaking? In my case, yes. So I solve the problem of mosquitoes by using clothing (socks, pants, a shirt, on cold days a sweater) made with technology whose feature is to discourage insects, not only mosquitoes, from contact with humans. At the same time, the garment is in no way toxic or harmful to the skin – such a question may probably arise.

The material of which the garment is made is flexible, which does not restrict movement, and breathable and airy – which gives a high level of comfort for swimming on hot and less hot days.

How do I pack for a kayak trip?

In preparing kayak trips and excursions, it is important to me not only what I pack, but also what I pack my gear in. For every kayaking trip, I pack all my gear in waterproof bags or so-called waterbags. This way I protect the equipment from water, but also organize it. Subsequent batches of equipment packed in separate bags help to see where I have what, which is especially useful during longer rafting trips.

In this short subsection, you will find a few words about waterproof bags for your kayak.

Waterproof case for documents/electronics

On rafting trips, I take with me a small, resealable, waterproof bag or case to store documents, phones, and car keys. Storing small personal items in a separate, airtight seal is a good habit. The cost of a waterproof case is about £20-40. I recommend a waterproof case with floats, which is a piece of waterproof material that will keep the contents afloat in case they fall into the water.

Waterproof bags, waterbags, drybags

Waterproof bags, or so-called waterbags or drybags, are bags with which you can protect your equipment from getting wet. On every rafting trip, I have all my equipment packed and protected in case of capsizing, or contact with water. In addition to a waterproof case, for a one-day rafting trip, one 20-liter waterproof bag is usually enough for me.

How to choose a waterproof bag?

You can find quite a lot of models of waterproof bags in the offers of tourist and kayak stores. How to know a good and quality waterbag?

A good waterproof bag is characterized by 3 things:

  • high water resistance – at least 10,000 mm;
  • roll-top closure – wrap the bag at least 2x before closing it with a clip;
  • durability – made of high-quality material that will protect it from mechanical damage.

A good waterproof bag should also not be made of too stiff material. Such bags are not comfortable to operate. A minor parameter of waterproof bags, on the other hand, is weight. The differences in the weight of the bag usually amount to about a few tens of grams. This is actually meaningless for the kayaker and the kayak, the weight of which is carried by the water anyway.

What to take on a kayak? Cooking equipment, food, and water

Food and how to prepare meals while canoeing is activities that bring a lot of joy during canoeing. Breakfast on a slope with a view, dinner on a small island – this is something you remember for a long time. I have two favorite patents for cooking while kayaking. And one regarding drinking water that saves a lot of space in the kayak.

Gas stove

My primary way to prepare meals while canoeing is to cook on a gas stove. I became convinced of the touring stove fairly quickly, and for many reasons, I prefer this method to at least burning campfires. The stove model I use is the Coleman Gas Stove with a piezo igniter.

Coleman Gas Stove

I use a stove with a piezo igniter, which works even if the stove gets wet

The stove is tiny and ultralight and on top of that, it works even if it gets wet. In fact, it’s everything I could want from a travel stove. Using the stove is also in line with my swimming philosophy. I leave less of a trail and it is also a safer, more controlled solution.

Hiking pots for kayaking

We have a stove. But it’s still helpful to have cooking and eating equipment. I’ve been using silicone pots, plates, and cups for years. It’s a compact set that doesn’t take up much space. I have a silicone pot with a heat-resistant bottom in my kit, and that’s where I cook all my meals and boil water. I am incredibly happy with this solution and can’t imagine replacing it with anything else.

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Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

I used to use classic pots for cooking. This is by far the best solution if you prefer to cook over a live fire.

Cutlery set

When it comes to cutlery, I most prefer to use an aluminum 4-in-1 travel essential that includes a spoon, fork, knife, and bottle opener. It’s a very handy solution that doesn’t take up much space in your kayak gear. The essentials can be conveniently kept in a pot or thermos.

Thermos for food

The second way to eat while kayaking is to take warm, ready-made meals in a food thermos. One meal for one person will fit in a 0.5-liter thermos. When I have more time to prepare for a rafting trip I cook ahead of time and take the finished meal in a thermos. Most food thermoses keep a meal warm for up to about 12h. They also work the other way – they can keep a meal cold until about 12h.

A food thermos may also be a better idea than taking a stove and pots for the reason that it will ultimately take up less space in your kayak gear.

Thermos

Especially on rafting trips that I start very early, I like to have a thermos of coffee or tea with me. I use a 0.7-liter thermos (a more versatile size. It’s also enough for two people), with a cap and an extra cup.

Water filter bottle

For some time now, I have not taken bottled water with me on kayaking trips. Taking water in a kayak or pack raft on longer rafting trips has always been problematic. I remember well how we carried two 5-liter water bottles with us all the time while canoeing in the Finnish Lake District. It was not comfortable.

Now I use filter bottles and drink water exclusively from rivers. In my kayak gear, I have a LifeStraw Flex water filter with a soft bottle. Skeptics will probably ask: is it a solution that really gets rid of all contaminants from rivers? I, so far, am convinced of the LifeStraw Flex. The bottle comes with two filters: HollowFiber and a carbon cartridge, which remove chemical and biological contaminants from the water. Filtering water is a separate topic, for a longer argument. I will conclude perhaps by saying that I have used water filters dozens of times and they have not yet failed me.

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Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Water filters on canoe trips are also an environmental solution. By using filtered bottles, you don’t buy plastic and you also reduce the risk of leaving trash in the environment.

What to take on a kayak trip? Camping equipment

Multi-day kayaking trips are inextricably linked with overnight stays “under the cloud”. What do you need to bring with you when planning camping during a kayaking trip? Certainly, you can approach this topic in several ways. The market offers at least some interesting solutions. I, however, still advocate the classics – sleeping in a tent. Here is my list of camping gear for kayaking trips.

Tent

I use two models of tents on a daily basis and also take them with me on multi-day kayaking trips. The first tent, the budget version, is the Fjord Nansen Lima II. It can be said to be a classic in the category of two-person tents. Tropic with water-resistance of 3000 mm H2O/m2, 3.2 kg in weight. A good, proven proposition for solo rafting as well as in teams of two.

Fjord Nansen Lima II

The second tent I use on kayak trips is MSR Freelite 3. Slightly higher price range, but the tent is excellent. Made of durable materials, ultralight (about 1 kg), with two separate entrances. The advantage of the tent is its packability. In luggage, it does not take up much space. MSR Freelite breathes very well. Sleeping and mornings are really very comfortable.

Sleeping bag

A sleeping bag should, of course, be included in the kit with tent. What is the best sleeping bag to take on a kayaking trip? It’s hard to give a definite answer because thermal comfort is a synthesis of many parameters of the sleeping bag and the season in which we intend to raft. This is definitely a topic for a separate article. I will not elaborate on the sleeping bag thread here. I leave a mention to simply have one when a kayaking trip of several days is in prospect.

Mat, alumina, carimat, air mattress

The last of the items of equipment you will need for sleeping on a camping trip is something that will insulate you from the ground. When planning overnight stays in the river valley, it is worth taking into account that these are wet and humid places, so it will most likely be “dragging” from the soil at night and in the morning. It is worth reaching for a solution that will not take up too much space in our cockpit. Such requirements are best met by self-inflating mats.

Flashlight

The best type of flashlight for kayaking will, of course, be the popular “headlamp”. The biggest advantage of such a flashlight is that it does not occupy your hands. In kayaking and hiking stores you can even run through the models of “headlamp” flashlights. As with sleeping bags – I will not recommend a particular model. “Headlamp” accompanies me on every rafting trip, and for known reasons, it is better not to forget about it.

Powerbank

During a rafting trip of several days, it is also worth taking care of an additional source of energy. After all, it may turn out that we will not have access to an electrical outlet for several days of our trip. In such a situation, a power bank will come in handy more than once.

Hygiene on a kayaking trip

Taking care of hygiene on kayaking trips is trivial. Water is unlikely to run out. However, it is worth thinking about such solutions that will make our visit to the aquatic environment as less invasive as possible and at the same time make us feel comfortable. How to complete a beauty bag for a kayaking trip? My solutions are as follows.

Biodegradable cosmetic products

The classics of the trip, that is, products that help us stay clean and hygienic. Soap, toothpaste, toilet paper. I choose biodegradable products. This is insanely important for the environment of the river.

Toothbrush

A toothbrush with a snap closure works best for me. Good insulation from dirt.

Quick-drying towel

This can be treated as both a bath towel and a handy towel to wipe your face and hands. I recommend quick-drying towels for their compactness and short drying time, which is no small matter in an aquatic environment.

What to take on a kayak? Summary

I value my kayak gear kit because it meets all the needs I have on the water: it increases my level of safety (water should never be taken lightly), it affects comfort, it allows me to be self-sufficient, it’s eco-friendly and, what’s insanely important, it’s compact. It doesn’t take up much space.

The kayaking equipment I use is also versatile, and the same things come in handy in all conditions. They also work equally well for day rafting trips and multi-day trips.

The only thing that will be different is packing for winter rafting trips, but we’ll leave that for next time.

Finally, a little more astringency. Equipment, kayak gear in the form of a list, a pull-down:

  • safety;
  • life jacket;
  • sunscreen;
  • kayaker’s first aid kit;
  • outfit;
  • water sports shoes/neoprene boots;
  • the long-term active pants;
  • long unbuttoned waterproof pants;
  • breathable shirt/shirt;
  • fleece or sweatshirt;
  • rain jacket;
  • gloves;
  • buff;
  • sunglasses with a float;
  • baseball cap;
  • packing for kayaking;
  • waterproof cases;
  • waterproof bags;
  • cooking equipment, food, and water;
  • tourist stove;
  • silicone pots;
  • cutlery set;
  • sponge;
  • thermos for food;
  • thermos;
  • water filter bottle;
  • camping equipment;
  • tent;
  • sleeping bag;
  • self-inflating mat;
  • flashlight;
  • power bank;
  • hygiene on a canoe trip;
  • biodegradable toiletries;
  • toothbrush;
  • quick-dry towel.

I hope that reading this guide has helped you find the answer to the question of what to take on a kayaking trip. If you have questions or concerns, or if I can otherwise help you decide what to buy for your kayaking gear – feel free to leave a comment!

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