Canoe and Kayak Camping: A Beginner’s Guide

I didn’t even know canoe and kayak camping existed until I read about it online. Apparently, camping is not only about hiking to your destination, but you can also use a kayak or a canoe.

If you want to give this adventure a try, here’s a guide to help you plan the perfect trip.

About Canoe and Kayak Camping

Compared to the traditional way of camping, canoe and kayak camping makes use of a canoe or a kayak to get to your campsite. Sounds exciting?

Using a canoe for camping means that you have more space to put your stuff in. If you’re going canoe or kayak camping with a kid or a dog, a canoe should be your chosen transportation since it’s a bit more stable and easier to move around in.

However, canoe camping doesn’t provide any cover. You’ll need to pack your stuff on a dry bag or bring your tarp.

On the other hand, kayaks have watertight compartments but lesser storage space. Despite being less spacious, kayaks are more stable and can handle strong currents better.

Depending on where you’re camping, you can either opt for a canoe or a kayak. It’s all up to you.

Top Tips to Canoe and Kayak Camping

For any canoe or kayak camping trip, knowing what you are doing is what will make it successful.


Pros: Canoes have an open design which means you can store a lot more. If you’re planning on bringing a lot for your camping trip, it’s better to choose a canoe. Plus, its design allows more movement and is more stable so your kids and pets can tag along.

Cons: A canoe’s open design has its cons, too. When it rains, you might have a hard time keeping your things dry. As such, never forget to bring a tarp or put your things in a dry bag if you think it will rain.

Best Canoes For A Camping Trip

Want to try canoe camping but don’t have a canoe yet? Here are some of the best canoes to have.


Pros: The kayak has a closed design so keeping your things dry won’t be a problem with this. Despite it’s lesser space, kayaks can handle weather conditions and strong water better. They’re easier to maneuver, faster and lighter!

Cons: It has a lesser storage space.

Best Kayaks For A Camping Trip

If you’re still having a hard time deciding which is better for your camping trip, this article gives a more in-depth discussion on the differences between kayaks and canoes.

Canoe and Kayak Camping Tips

Choose the right route

If you’re a beginner in canoe and kayak camping, it’s best to select calm waters and a relaxing camping spot. This way, you have the time to understand and ease yourself into canoe and kayak camping.

Consider the driving distance, too. Ask yourself these questions. Is it far from where you live? Will you need to kayak or canoe back to where you started? Is there a difference entry and exit points?

And compared to traditional camping, canoe and kayak camping allows you to move around bodies of water so take into consideration whether or not you want to spend more time camping or paddling, or if you want to go fishing.

Check your local maps and find the best route for you.

Check the weather conditions

When packing for your canoe or kayak camping trip, it’s best to pack with the weather conditions in mind for the duration of your whole trip. Create a packing list before your trip so you don’t forget anything.

Plan how to load your gear

Depending on whether you’re using a canoe or a kayak, you’ll have to plan how to load your gears and equipments. Distribute the weight so it won’t influence your paddling later on.

Know how much weight your kayak or canoe can handle and make sure you don’t exceed it. Don’t bring anything that you don’t need.

Do a dry run before your trip

It’s important that you are comfortable in your canoe or kayak. Do a simple dry run before your first camping trip. Load your gears in your canoe or kayak and go on a short trip. This way, you can get used to the weight distribution of all your gears before the actual trip.

Stay safe

Bring a life jacket with you and wear it no matter how good of a swimmer you are. Safety first before going on any trip.

Must-Have Kayak and Canoe Accessories

You might also enjoy…

We try our best to keep travel guides updated as often and accurately possible. However, there's no guarantee that what you find on our site will be 100% correct or current at any given time - so please make sure to cross-check the information with credible sources.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top