There’s nothing that spells adventure quite like loading up your favorite kayak with all of your camping gear and setting off for a few days in the wilderness. Certainly there’s no doubt about it – this can make for a truly spectacular adventure.
Furthermore, if you don’t have the right tools for the job – namely, a kayak designed specifically for camping – you might be left a bit disappointed. In this buyers guide, we will give you some of the best advice on what to look for in a kayak, and we’ll tell you everything you need to know for successful kayak camping.
Riot Kayaks Edge 14.5 LV Flatwater Day Touring Kayak (Yellow/Orange, 14.5-Feet)
|– Fully adjustable seat and footrests
– Rudder for steering
– Dual storage compartments
– Deck bungees and perimeter lines
– Thigh braces
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Wilderness Systems Tsunami 165 Ruddered Kayak
|– Adjustable seat and padded thigh braces
– Customizable foot braces
– Two extra-large storage compartments
– Small day hatch
– Deck bungees and perimeter deck lines
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Wilderness Systems Pungo 140 Kayak (currently unavailbe)
|– Fully adjustable foot braces- Adjustable seat for added comfort
– Customizable thigh pads
– Two separate storage hatchesDeck bungees
– Removable storage console
SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12-Foot Sit-in Kayak
|– Fully adjustable backrest
– Removable storage compartments
– Deck bungees
– Water bottle/cup holder
– Paded, adjustable knee braces
– Customizable footrests and backrest
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Perception Pescador Pro Sit On Top Kayak for Fishing
|– Removable, adjustable camping seat
– Two extra-large tank wells
– Deck bungees
– Fully adjustable footrests
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Table Of Contents
Table Of Contents
How to Choose the Best Equipment for Kayak Camping
Before we can get into the nitty gritty details about what kayak is best for camping, we need to tell you what exactly you should be looking for in the ideal kayak.
Choosing a kayak for camping is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor – no cookie cutters here. While there are several vital points you need to think about and consider when selecting your kayak, know that there is no one “perfect” kayak and that the best kayak for you will likely vary depending on your needs.
First, consider where you are paddling. Regardless of where you are camping, the most important factor in choosing any kayak is in determining the conditions in which you will be paddling.
If you are paddling on a river, you will likely find that a short, easy-to-maneuver kayak is ideal. Unless you’re paddling on a very wide body of water, this factor is important. Wider kayaks tend to be much slower than slimmer ones, and while this isn’t a major concern on a river, where the fast movement of the water will do most of the work for you, it’s something to be considered for sure. Therefore, a wide kayak will allow for more stability and storage space if you have a lot of camping gear.
If you plan to paddle in a coastal area, you should know that these waters have the potential to be much rougher as a result of wind exposure and fast currents. Therefore, a longer touring kayak will be better suited for this task. These kayaks are able to handle rugged conditions with ease, and are better equipped than shorter recreational kayaks. Many kayaks designed for coastal paddling also come with skegs or rudders, along with multiple storage hatches to give you extra storage space for your camping supplies.
Rudders and Skegs
What are rudders and skegs, you might ask? These features help a kayak move as straight as an arrow through the water. This is important when you are paddling in windy or choppy conditions in particular, which you often find when you are in a coastal environment.
The rudder sits on the back of the kayak and its function is to keep the kayak on course. A major advantage a rudder has over a skeg is that it can easily be controlled by the operator with foot pedals. Therefore, it has additional maneuverability that makes the kayak easy to paddle in choppy water.
A skeg, on the other hand, sticks out beneath the bottom of the boat. This device acts like a fin, somewhat like what you might find on a surfboard. It keeps the kayak moving straight ahead, but does not offer any customization or added maneuverability like a rudder does.
Duration of Camping Trip
The next thing you need to consider is how long you plan on camping for. When you are packing for a camping trip, there is a big difference between packing for an overnight excursion versus packing for a several weeks-long trip.
Not only will you need to tote along extra food and clothing, but a longer trip also requires you to be prepared with additional emergency camping gear and supplies. Whenever you plan on camping for more than a night or two, you should always bring along extra supplies – just in case. This is important when you are selecting the ideal kayak, as you will need to have additional storage space for all of your gear.
As an obvious follow up to the item mentioned above, storage space is the next consideration you need to make when purchasing your kayak. A kayak’s onboard storage space is measured by a combination of deck bungees and storage hatches or other spaces.
Deck bungees are aboard the kayak, and are designed to store gear that you will need to access quickly while you’re paddling. Storage hatches and compartments, on the other hand, offer an easier place to store gear that you won’t need to set up camp.
While your storage compartments and hatches will provide more waterproofing for sensitive gear, a deck bungee allows you to access your gear more easily. However, storage hatches will allow you to store more gear overall, so you may be better off with extra storage hatches instead of deck bungees.
Tips for Successful, Enjoyable Kayak Camping
While much of your success and enjoyment on your kayak camping trip will depend upon the kind of gear you have, there are some basic tips you can follow to make kayak camping a bit more enjoyable, too.
For starters, pack light – at least, to the best and safest extent possible. Keep in mind that your kayak will have limited storage space, and a kayak that is loaded down with hundreds of pounds of extra gear won’t perform as well.
When you are packing your kayak, make sure you pack appropriately, paying attention to how well-balanced your loads are. as a result Heavy items should be stowed low and close to the center of the kayak. This will help balance the weight in your boat. Loading heavy items high up in the kayak can destabilize it, making it more prone to tipping and other dangerous incidents.
Consider dispersing your gear among multiple small bags, instead of stuffing it all into one bag. This will serve multiple purposes. It will help you be more organized, allowing you to get at items you need more easily. The smaller bags will also fit better into the oddly-shaped storage compartments found in most kayaks – remember, most aren’t perfect little squares!
You should also think about packing your equipment in dry bags. Even a perfectly sealed storage hatch can get water in it, or at the very least face a buildup of condensation. Instead, keep your most water-sensitive gear in dry bags so that you don’t’ have to worry about catastrophes.
Remember, always practice packing your kayak before you actually need to get on the road. This will help you make sure you have enough room for everything you need to bring with you – and prevent any mishaps caused by forgetting to pack a crucial piece of gear.
Review of Best Kayaks for Camping
Best for: Weekend camping trips and paddling in coastal areas
Weight: 60 lbs
Length: 14’ 6”
Weight capacity: 325 lbs
- Fully adjustable seat and footrests
- Rudder for steering
- Dual storage compartments
- Deck bungees and perimeter lines
- Thigh braces
The Riot Edge 14.5 is a small touring kayak that has enough storage space to accommodate even longer weekend camping trips. It is sleek and stylish, easy to paddle around without feeling like you are bumping into everything. While it is ideal for shorter trips, it can also cover longer distances.
This kayak has two large storage hatches and front and rear deck bungees. You won’t be pressed for space when you use this kayak. Plus, it has a hull that is over 14 feet, allowing it to move effectively and safely through coastal waters as well as wide rivers. It has a rudder to help you track and maneuver more easily in rough waters.
The hull on this kayak is somewhat narrow, which compromises some of its stability when compared to other kayaks. It has a hard chine along the hull to improve stability and make up for some of what it is missing. This prevents it from feeling tippy and unstable most of the time, despite its narrow width.
This kayak offers value to experienced and novice kayakers alike, and is loaded with features that are typically reserved for more expensive, high-end sea kayaks.
Best for: Camping expeditions that will last for a weekend or longer, particularly those along coastal waters
Weight: 66 lbs
Length: 16’ 6”
Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Adjustable seat and padded thigh braces
- Customizable foot braces
- Two extra-large storage compartments
- Small day hatch
- Deck bungees and perimeter deck lines
This kayak is perhaps one of the best for multi-day excursions along coastal waters. It has a sixteen-foot hull and a rudder, making it easy to navigate in any setting. It tracks well, even when there are significant waves and gusting winds.
This kayak also comes with two larger storage hatches. These are designed to provide paddlers with a place to store their camping gear for later use. It also has a smaller day hatch, so that you can access your supplies that you need during the trip itself.
Where this kayak truly rises above the rest is in its seat. This seat is dynamic, featuring a superior combination of mesh that is stretched over contoured foam. This offers exceptional comfort and ventilation giving you support no matter how far or how long you need to paddle.
The seat is one of the most comfortable you can find among kayaks in this price range, and it also dries off easily if you happen to get it wet.
In addition, the seat on this kayak can easily be adjusted so that it fits your body like a glove. This may not sound like an important feature for a kayak to have, but when you’re spending multiple days out on the water, it’s definitely a good quality to have.
Although this kayak is slightly more expensive than some other options, you will likely find that it is well worth your money. It is efficient and comfortable, allowing you to get out on the water without spending a ton of money or time researching alternatives.
Best for: Weekend warriors seeking a balance between performance and stability on their shorter kayak camping trips
Weight: 58 lbs:
Weight capacity: 350 lbs
- Fully adjustable foot braces
- Adjustable seat for added comfort
- Customizable thigh pads
- Two separate storage hatches
- Deck bungees
- Removable storage console
This kayak is a good choice for kayakers seeking a compromise between kayaks designed for stability, and those designed for performance. You don’t have to settle for a kayak that only meets one standard any more, and can instead find everything you need in this middle-of-the road option.
Wilderness Systems offers a varied series of kayaks, and this is perhaps their most popular kayak lines. It strikes a good balance between comfort, security, and speed, with plenty of features to make your kayak camping trip a total breeze.
Also the Pungo 140 kayak has two separate, completely secure storage hatches. In addition, it also has some extra space behind your seat so that you can stash extra camping gear or items you need to get to quickly. This product also comes with fore and aft deck bungees, which don’t offer a ton of extra space but do help create a bit of storage.
While this kayak offers plenty of storage space for weekend trips, it might not be ideal for longer adventures. Because it doesn’t store quite as much gear as other kayaks, you might find yourself having to leave a lot of your gear behind.
This kayak has a wider hull and does not have a rudder. While it is not designed for coastal paddling, it is a good choice on calm days and can be used on most rivers. It also has a comfortable Phase 3 AirPro seat, once of the most highly regarded in the market. This seat offers full adjustment capabilities and superior comfort.
So while the Pungo 140 might not be the most efficient kayak on the market, it offers better stability and a roomy cockpit for short voyages. If you only plan on river camping or occasional coastal paddling, you should get a lot of use out of this spacious, extra-stable kayak.
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Best for: Budget paddlers seeking an exceptional value for their money
Weight: 47 lbs
Weight capacity: 395 lbs
- Fully adjustable backrest
- Removable storage compartments
- Deck bungees
- Water bottle/cup holder
- Paded, adjustable knee braces
- Customizable footrests and backrest
The Aruba 12 SS may not be at the exact same level as other picks on our list, but this kayak still offers great value and can get you out on a kayak camping trip without breaking your budget.
This kayak is a bit tight on storage space, so you won’t want to take it out on longer excursions. However, it is great for single overnight trips, unless you’re willing to go for a really minimalist camping experience! This kayak has a small front storage hatch as well as a removable, separate storage compartment behind the seat.
One of the interesting and most fun features of this kayak is that you can actually take out the behind-the-seat storage compartment and leave it at home. This will free up extra space so that you can stash a dry bag in the well in which the console normally fits. This allows you to store extra gear here instead of trying to squeeze it into the small storage console.
The Aruba is exceptionally wide, so it’s nice and stable if balance is one of your concerns. However, because of its width, it may not be ideal for covering longer distances. It is best for downriver trips in which the current will do most of the work for you. This kayak is short, only about twelve feet in length, so it’s better suited to paddling on lakes and rivers than in coastal areas.
While the Aruba 12 SS is built with somewhat lower quality than other kayaks, it’s hard to overlook the low price point and overall decent features that this kayak carries.
Best for: Budget paddlers who want a good value for the price
Weight: 64 lbs
Weight capacity: 375 lbs
- Removable, adjustable camping seat
- Two extra-large tank wells
- Deck bungees
- Fully adjustable footrests
This kayak offers the best of both worlds – flexibility to fish while you’re camping, and easy maneuverability and storage space in an affordable kayak.
This kayak is technically marketed as a fishing kayak, but it has a large front and rear tank well that make it possible to stash camping gear as well. For best results, choose the twelve-foot model instead of the ten-footer, the latter of which may be too small to fit all of your gear.
The Pescador Pro is a sit-on-top kayak, making it very easy to get on and off of as well as to control. You don’t have to manually pump out any water that gets inside – this kayak is self-bailing! The only downside of the seating format of this kayak is that it is much easier to get wet, since you’re susceptible to any breezes and splashes that may come your way.
However, this kayak is a great fit for warm weather paddling and camping. The seat that is included is not only comfortable, but it’s also removable. You can pull it out and use it as a camping chair – this double-duty function makes it an ideal choice for sitting around the campfire at night.
The kayak has a 32.5” hull, therefore it is wide for a camping kayak. It might not be the most efficient boat to use when paddling on longer trips, but it is a solid river camping kayak nonetheless.
Because it is a fishing kayak, this boat also comes with two built-in rod holders. You can even add an accessory track system that will allow you to further customize your boat with additional rod holders, fish finders, or other useful equipment.
This kayak, the Pescador Pro 12.0, is the perfect choice for anglers seeking additional options. It allows you to mix things up and enjoy the best of both worlds – from fishing to kayaking to camping.
The Final Verdict
While all of these kayaks are excellent options when it comes to getting out there on the water, you really can’t beat the Riot Edge 14.5. This kayak, designed specifically with campers and weekend warriors in mind, offers performance, value, and versatility, all rolled into one handy, efficient kayak.
Finally, you get a large amount of storage space in this kayak, making it easy to haul along all of your gear wherever you may decide to go. Because it comes with a rudder and a sleek hull, you can use this boat wherever you want -from rivers to lakes to coastlines. If you want a kayak that will help you camp over a long weekend, you won’t be able to find a kayak quite as outstanding for this purpose than the Riot Edge 14.5 LV.