Kayak/Canoeing Adventure Checklist

Here is a comprehensive checklist for your next kayaking or canoeing outdoor adventure. This list comprised of items needed for multi-day trips, so many of these items would not be required on a single-day or few-hour float. We are also not talking about taking on class IV and higher water here. This article is pertaining more to a multi-day boating/camping style trip on rivers, lakes, and yes, even island hopping on the ocean if you are lucky enough to be that person.

Your Kayak/Canoe

Well, you can’t do it without that, now can you! This part also includes your paddle(s), life jacket, helmet (optional), bungee rope to secure everything (and we mean everything) as an occasional "spill" is bound to occur. There is nothing like the profound sinking feeling of watching all your gear being washed down the river, sinking to the bottom of the lake, or being carried off by the ocean currents as you helplessly watch on day one of your multi-day trip!


We will break this down into cold weather/water and warm weather/water

Cold weather and cold water clothing:

• Base Layer: Synthetic material quick-drying underwear/sports bra, followed by synthetic quick-drying long-sleeved shirt and pants.

• Mid Layer: Midweight thermal underwear top and bottom. Long sleeve t-shirt and hiking pants. (If the temps are low then you may need an extra layer of fleece/wool on top of your thermal layer) Just remember you do have to be able to move.

• Outer Layer: Breathable waterproof pants and jacket with Velcro to secure at wrists/ankles.

• Footwear: While boating waterproof, insulted synthetic (neoprene) socks may be enough, but you will need synthetic or heavyweight wool socks and waterproof hiking boots off water.

• Gloves: As with footwear, synthetic insulated gloves while boating, wool, or synthetic insulated gloves at camp.

• Head: Always lovely to have at least a neoprene face wrap and warm hat (fleece or wool) and a bandanna.

Warm Weather and warm water clothing:

• Quick-dry everything. Done. Just kidding, sort of

• Base layer: Swimsuit or synthetic underwear/sports bra

• Outer layer: Mainly for sun protection (optional) Loose-fitting breathable synthetic quick-dry SPF clothing, long-sleeved shirt, pants.

• Footwear: None, water shoes, thin neoprene socks, sandals

• Head: Quick-drying SPF sun hat, bandanna, sunglasses


• Dry bags: for everything. Usually best to have 1 substantial dry bag for almost everything. Then use smaller drybags to store items like toolkit, compass, electronics, sunscreen, lip balm, etc. that you may need while on the water.

• Rope: This includes a throw rope, paracord, bungee rope

• Camera, cellphone, compass, GPS, maps, PLB(personal locator beacon)

• Tools-knives, multi-tool, hatchet or machete, camp shovel, sharp scissors, headlamps, flashlights, wind-proof lighter, waterproof matches, flint, fire starters, can opener

• Small canister stove or rocket stove and fuel, cook set, utensils, foods (mostly dried foods, jerky meats, canned), zip-lock bags, bear bag or canister (if needed)

• Water treatment: Filter straw/filter bottle, treatment tablets or drops

• Down or synthetic sleeping bag

• 3 season tent and its accessories or tree-friendly sling hammock and netting

• Inflatable sleeping pad and pillow

• Well stocked first-aid kit and home medications

• Insect repellant, sunscreen, lip balm

• Biodegradable toilet paper

• Wet wipes

• Fishing gear if desired