How to Plan a Kayak Camping Trip

In Tips, Uncategorized by Tanner V.

About the Author
Hi Everyone! My name is Tanner, and I am the founder of I started this website as an outlet to pursue my hobby of kayaking, camping, and exploring the world at large. Every post here is written and curated by me so stop-in, have a read, leave a comment, and most importantly, get going on your next adventure!

On a typical day, as long as you have your phone, keys, and wallet; you can survive any situation. This is not the case when you go into nature. You cannot fly by the seat of your pants; planning is essential.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Benjamin Franklin

Fortunately, this guide is designed to teach how to plan and execute a successful kayak camping trip. I use portions of this very guide each and every time I go on my own trips. Some of this guide, you will only need to read once, but others will require you to use for each trip like Page 3 - The Gear List.

Pages in Guide

1. How to Plan a Kayak Camping Trip
2. Float Plan Creation
3. Kayak Camping Gear List
4. How to pack and prepare for the trip

Creating the Framework

Okay, so you have decided you want to go kayak camping. Maybe you even have a river, lake, or beach you want to paddle. Creating the framework of the trip – Who, What, Where, When, and Why - is over half the battle. (The “What” is kayak camping so we will ignore it in this case.) However, the details are key and they become increasingly important if you are coordinating a group of people. So let’s step through the 5 W’s to make sure all bases are covered.


The most critical of the 5W’s is the factor that will unite the group or give yourself motivation to actually get out there. I am not saying the reason needs to be a life-long goal, but knowing whether this is a leisurely escape or a raging bachelor party will help to frame the trip mentally.

Write down your mission statement or think about it briefly.


  • My mission is to go kayak camping because I want to spend a weekend with friends without distractions.
  • My mission is to explore my home state in a unique way. Also I want to fish waters that boats cannot reach.


Now that you have a purpose for the trip, determine who you would like to bring along with you. Bringing a girlfriend who has never camped versus college buddies could mean a totally different itinerary. The number of people going and their respective demographics will play a huge factor in the plan. Also, think about the group dynamic. Talking and exploring will be your primary activities so make sure the group meshes well. There is no escape from a bickering couple – choose carefully!

List all the people you would like to invite, but do not invite them yet. There is more to do first.


Now choose where you in the world you would like to go. There are no limits to where you can go, but anything over a few hours’ drive is beyond the scope of this article. Depending on where you live, there should be a few rivers and lakes within a 100 mile radius. Search online for popular kayaking destinations and speak to experienced family members or coworkers to get local opinions.

Select 2-3 rivers or lakes that would be a reasonable distance for you AND the other people invited.


Although kayak camping is possible in all season, I would stay away from colder months initially. Late Spring and early Fall are the best times of the year, but Summer works well too. Temperature ranges above 50F and below 85F is the sweet spot. This makes for cool, refreshing nights sleeping and sunny, warm days for swimming.
This trip needs to be planned out at least a few weeks ahead. People will need time to ask off work, and gather the proper gear.

Identify a few dates that work well for you. Also identify how many days you want to go for.

Putting It All Together

Now that you have your framework established of

1. Why you are going
2. Who is coming
3. Where you want to go
4. When you

It is time to begin getting initial commitment from the people you want to bring along. You can throw the details out into a group text to ask for who is interested in going. Sometimes this stuff can get political so asking a subset of the group (the core friends) and winning them over can help to sway the whole group. Again this step is just to garner interest in the trip, no hard commitments yet. It is okay if people do not want to go, in fact, it is better to know up front.

Next reach a consensus with the interested people on a primary date and a backup date in the event of bad weather. Start a new group message and cut the not interested people out because this can lead to a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen situation.

Next Step

Congratulations! You have successfully created a framework for the trip and that deserves a pat on the back! You are on your way to piecing together an incredible weekend of fun.

In the next article, we will iron out all the critical trip in a Float Plan. You cannot proceed without this document and it could even save your life.

Pages in Guide

1. How to Plan a Kayak Camping Trip
2. Float Plan Creation
3. Kayak Camping Gear List
4. How to pack and prepare for the trip