I've been paddling three times (one week each) in rental (Canadian) canoes. My girlfriend and me brought all gear and food with us and there still was plenty of room for our dog in the boat.

I know from internet "research" that kayaks provide less space, but I'd like to try using one in the future due to the benefits of a kayak.

The cargo capacities I can find on various websites are somewhat meaningless since I don't know how many kilograms or liters I needed so far.

Therefore, assuming the following requirements:

  • 2 persons
  • one week
  • light-ish tent, mattress, sleeping bags
  • food for the whole time, preferably not only fully processed trekking food
  • no need to carry water

Let's also assume

  • moderate climate (night temperature not below 10°C, rain not unlikely)
  • fresh water lakes
  • Sweden

Will this be possible without crazy requirements on clothing and other equipment?

Will two one-man kayaks or one two-man kayak provide more cargo space?

  • 1
    Usually a kayak has a weight limit from the manufacturer, worth bearing this in mind as well as actual space.
    – Aravona
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 13:52
  • 2
    Related outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/17076/… Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 14:41
  • @RossMillikan You should keep your answers in the Answer section. That's what makes this site work, and what makes it different from random forums.
    – pipe
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 2:14
  • 1
    "Sweet water" would typically translate as "fresh water" in English. The German word "Süßwasser" also is often (mis)translated as "sweet water" - that's the literal, word for word translation, but not the correct expression.
    – JRE
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 12:53
  • 1
    That's a funny definition ;)
    – Jasper
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 20:03

4 Answers 4


I have been kayaking around Corsica, Denmark etc for longer periods in one man boats. We brought everything with us except food for the entire period. We had some spare food and a one or two day supply, and that was perfectly doable.

If you want take food for an entire week, you will have to resort to trekking food, or high-density low-volume stuff, and then it's going to be tight*, to the point where I'd advize against it. Are you sure you cannot build in some 'shopping stops'? Fresh bread, vegetables and fruit are always nice.

Factors that are of further influence:

  • Weather. When it's always calm you can pack some stuff on your upper deck, like loaves of bread in a plastic bag.
  • Number of people. The larger the group, the less luggage per person you'll have (because: sharing).

I suggest one-person kayaks since:

  • you then can assist each other in case something goes wrong;
  • practically speaking, when fully loaded you need two people to carry one kayak already. A two person boat will be heavy if you have to cross a beach, or walk 500 meters to the camp site.

You will try this out before going on your actual trip, right?

* Literally too. Make sure to use small packages for everything, and prepare for substantial (un)packaging time at very stop.

  • 1
    Don't worry, I won't do anything without proper preparation and training.
    – Jasper
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 15:41

There's no specific rule for how much cargo a single kayak can take, but there is a general rule that says a two man kayak of a given model has the same cargo capacity as a one man kayak of the same model.

The distribution of cargo for a sea kayak is between two main volumes, the bow hatch and the stern hatch. When you add an extra person you're extending the central section, but not really affecting the cargo areas and not noticeably increasing the width of the boat.

As such you'll basically be able to take twice as much if you take two one person kayaks, but if you've got lightweight compact expedition gear you should be able to take it all in a single two man sea kayak type boat (but no dog).

  • It may be true for some models that a double has no more capacity than a single but it's not generally true. You may be thinking of recreational doubles, not touring doubles. I've paddled a Seaward Passat G3, e.g., and it seemed to have double capacity.
    – Martin F
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 1:59

Roughly speaking, you can carry twice as much in a sea kayak as you can backpacking. There are expedition boats with larger capacity. It takes some doing to get it in the hatches. You waste some space because much of it has to go in dry bags. We did a four day trip in mostly doubles and had plenty of room. A week in singles should not be much problem with planning.

Our guides insisted it took four people to move a loaded single. One on each end and one on each side of the cockpit. A loaded double took six people.

  • 1
    Actually, quite a lot of stuff can be packed outside the dry-bags: fuel, canned food, drink, etc. I usually pack my tent fly, poles and pegs in the "wet" side; it helps if you can stuff things in the corners that the bags don't reach to. Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 13:14
  • 1
    Ross's guides make a good point here about the number of people to carry a kayak. While weight alone might not be an issue, having more people help to carry is important for proper kayak care. Not having people in the middle puts a lot of stress on the kayak's joints which isn't good for it. Probably more of an issue for fiberglass boats than plastic.
    – noah
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 22:40

Kayaks vary, and while you will be able to do the trip you describe in anything described as a “touring kayak”, the convenience and time required to pack will vary a lot depending on the exact model. In any case, packing each morning will be significantly more of a chore than in a canoe. With a larger volume kayak it’s a matter of stowing a few dry bags, maybe not always in the same order. With a smaller volume kayak there may only be one particular arrangement that fits it all in, and you may need to optimize (cut your foam sleeping pad in half so it fits on either side of skeg, tie a string to your fuel bottle and push all the way to end of bow). You can tie a drybag to deck if it is not too windy / wind chop is not washing over deck too hard, and you can keep a bag between your legs IF you are ABSOLUTELY sure it will not impede your exit in an emergency when you are upside down under water, if in any doubt at all that objects in cockpit could tangle or wedge and pin your leg do not use the cockpit for storage.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.