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Sea Kayaking Checklist

Sea kayaking, also known as kayak touring, can be both incredibly fun and a great workout. The fun part is up to you and depends quite a bit on proper planning and good gear. If you are going on a multi-day sea kayaking trip, make sure to account for weather changes (since you’ll be on the ocean) and have all the camp essentials. Day trips might require less equipment and sit-on-top kayaks are perfect for adventurers who are just getting into the sport.


It’s important when packing for a sea kayaking adventure to keep in mind that everything you bring has to fit into your sea kayak. Weight and size are factors that might influence the gear and food you choose to purchase and bring. If you are planning an expedition-style trip (multiple days) there are several companies that make great lightweight gear such as GoLite.


Sea Kayak Essentials:

*Kayak (either a sea kayak or a sit-on-top kayak). Before you go, check that your kayak has foot braces, a working rudder, and all the outfitting (padding) is comfortable and in working condition.

*Personal Floatation Device that is U.S. Coast Guard approved, generally labeled III or V.

*Spray Skirt if your kayak is a sit-in type. This keeps the water from splashing in

*Touring Paddle (make sure it’s the right length for the width of your kayak)

*Spare breakdown paddle

*Waterproof Dry bags for gear – it’s great to have several sizes so they can fit into all the nooks and crannies in your sea kayak

*Float bags

*Bailing pump and/ or a sponge to soak up excess water


Additional Sea Kayaking Equipment and Clothing

Your personal clothing list will vary based on where you are traveling, what the weather is like and what type of paddling conditions you expect to encounter.

*Splash top or dry top/ dry suit

*Wet suit if you are going to encounter cold weather

*Warm, non-cotton layers (synthetic or wool work best)

*Sunscreen shirt for warmer paddling days

*Sandals or neoprene booties

*Poagies or neoprene gloves to keep hands warm

*Warm Hat


*Swim Suit


*Warm Jacket if you are planning to camp

*Camp clothes including dry shoes and possibly hiking shoes

*Rain gear – pants and top. These work well as paddling tops and bottoms as well, but if you might be in the rain in camp, it’s best to have a set on the water and a set of rain gear in camp.


Navigation, Hydration, Protection, and Repair

*First Aid Kit

*Water Bottle

*Water pump (desalination device if you aren’t going to be near fresh water)




*Chums/ Croakies (keeps sunglasses on)

*Bug repellant

*Headlamp with extra batteries


*Repair kit including duct tape, screws that match those on your boat, Aquaseal, super glue, pliers, a spare gasket if you are wearing a drysuit, and nylon cord.

*Matches and lighters


*Hypothermic prevention kit if you will be paddling in cold water. This should include an emergency blanket, warm layers, and emergency snacks.

*Map & Compass (even if you bring a GPS device)

*Chart for local tides

*Weather radio (optional, but handy on longer trips)


Camping Gear

A shelter from rain and wind is good to consider, but if you are sea kayaking where it is warm and there is no chance of rain, sleeping under the stars is a wonderful experience as well.

*Tent or tarp (try to bring one that is compact and lightweight, even a bivvy sack is great)

*Sleeping Bag

*Sleeping Pad/ Therm-a-rest (bring a cover that converts it to a chair)

*Toiletries (toothbrush, face wash, lotion, nail clippers, lip balm)


Kitchen Gear

Your paddling kitchen can be very minimalist or it can be fancy depending on where you are going, how long, and how much carrying capacity you have. See Paddler’s Kitchen for more information . Link to kitchenpaddling.htm )

*Single Burner Stove (JetBoil works as well if you keep meals simple)

*Fuel (for your stove)


*Bowl or plate

*Eating Utensils


*Garbage Bags (bring extras to line your dry bags)

*Zip lock bags


Miscellaneous Sea Kayaking Gear

There are many non-essential items that will make your trips more enjoyable, but if space is an issue you can choose to leave these items behind.


*Fishing Equipment (and license if needed)


*Natural History Book

*Astronomy Guide

*Snorkel & Mask

*Leisure reading

*Camping Hammock

*Crazy Creek chair (unless you convert your sleep pad to a chair)

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