Kayak Camping Advice

Hi All-
There’s an island in Lake Superior in The Upper Peninsula of MI that has campgrounds on it but it’s only accessible by kayak ,canoe or small craft. Does anyone have advice about the best ways to pack lightly or any products that are good for lightweight camping?
Appreciate it!


I have kayaked around Baja Ca., Colorado river and San Juan Islands in Washington, and other places. I just transferred my backpacking equipment to dry bags and pretty much had the bases covered. You have any equipment now?

Yes, in general boat camping can benefit from the same techniques as backpackers, and they’re the most-documented source of advice. Weight typically isn’t quite as important to paddlers, but I imagine with a kayak’s limited storage space, size will still be at a premium.

The biggest wins on size are: a small backpacking stove and cook kit, a compressible sleeping bag, and a lightweight tent. Also, get some compressible waterproof stuff sacks and use those for your clothes, tent, and sleeping bag.

Beyond that it’s mostly a matter of packing smart so you can be comfortable with less. Layer your clothes rather than packing a bunch of different outfits. Sleep in warm clothes if needed to augment your sleeping bag. Use water filtration or tablets so you don’t have to pack water in. Skip the camp chairs unless you have the fancy extra-small kind.

Also, one general tip if you’re new-ish to paddling: do some trial runs with stuff packed in your boat, so you’re comfortable with how it handles loaded. You don’t want to show up and be worried about your ability to make it to the campground, especially if there’s a bit of wind or wave chop.

1 Like

We have made several canoe trips in boundary waters in Minnesota in the past. We used an outfitter who supplied the canoe, tent, kitchen tarp and food. Unless you own your own kayaks and plan on repeating paddle trips frequently, you might check on rentals. Food and supplies will depend on your total days. The first day our lunch was summer sausage, cheese and crackers. This was easy to eat on the way to our first campsite. Our first supper was steaks and veggies cooked over a fire or camp stove. First breakfast was eggs and bacon, then oatmeal and coffee/cocoa. The lunches for the following days were easy meals without cooking— PB and jelly sandwiches, beef stick and cheese, etc. Dinners were dehydrated meals where you add boiling water and stir. Of course, we had protein bars and Cliff bars for snacks.
We carried a big Duluth bag with sleeping bags, clothes and supplies. They were packed in a large compactor bag (thicker plastic than trash bags) to keep them dry, then put inside a pillow case to protect the plastic bag. One per person. Food was packed in a large iron horse. A big metal rectangular box and lid with canvas carrying straps. Loaf of bread on top :yum:. Good luck and pack according to the weather.

Totally agree. I’ve done the CO river, Land Between the lakes in KY, and the Everglades. I find I can carry way more stuff kayak camping vs. backpacking - especially with fresh water all around you!

The Everglades was tough tbh, we had to carry so much water & we had to paddle our firewood in on our Colorado Rive trip.

Compressing dry bags can help free up more space for bonus items. I manage camp chairs, a small table, hammock, and other small luxuries on yakpack trips.