My wife and I are avid inland, freshwater kayakers - both on calm lakes and up/down rivers and streams. We have only done day trips. We are also moderately experienced backcountry campers. Now we have plans to do a two night water trail.

What things should we bring or not bring when upgrading from day kayak excursions to overnight, aside from very basic backpacking gear?

We have fairly basic beginner kayaks with hardpoints but no actual rigging on the decks, no skirts, no paddle attachment cable, or really any accessories. We have paddles and PFDs. I'm open to suggestions of kayak modifications or accessories, but we don't really want completely new boats.

US Ohio region, planning September, rain possible. The river in question is shallow enough to stand in many places, though no real "rapids" and shore is quite reachable if one had to swim.

Not a duplicate of this question, as it is asking about experience, not equipment. Not a duplicate of this one either, as it pertains to spending multiple days on open ocean, which is way more serious than what we're planning.

1 Answer 1


In brief: Drybags or sturdy trash bags (trash compactor bags are good), and a splashproof flashlight you can keep at hand if you want to paddle in low light.

You are going to have a blast! Dawn dusk and maybe moonlight are fantastic times for a short paddle close to your campsite. So bring a light—-most places do not require a small boat to have a light on at all times but DO require a white light kept within reach at all times to alert other boats of your presence.

You need a way to keep your clothes and sleeping bag dry in the event of a capsize. Depending on weather this is a safety issue you need to be able to get warm and dry after an unintentional swim. And you need a convenient way to haul gear from the boat to the tent site.

I feel that dry bags such as those made by seal line are a great investment (I specifically prefer Seal Line Baja for performance and durability if it’s not too cold you could probably get away with cheaper).

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You can make do with trash bags if you are very careful not to abraded or tear (especially in warm weather when it’s a convenience not safety issue).

I also recommend a few reusable grocery bags / IKEA bags for hauling gear.

Other than that, enjoy the fact that you don’t need to pack as light as you would backpacking. Bring comfort items like a pair of camp shoes.

  • 1
    +1 for drybags, prefer this solution as they're multi-use reusable, more sustainable plastic than the other options. I have several, some thick some thin, all useful!
    – Aravona
    Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 7:58

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