|From: San Diego Kayak Club http://www.sdkc.org
Packing your kayak can be a joy or total misery. At the end of a trip have you ever wondered why you brought so much junk! Repeatedly hauling all your equipment and "stuff" up and down a long, rocky beach can turn any kayak camper into a minimalist!
The diagram below shows the basic methodology for packing your kayak.
For the best trim keep light items in the bow and stern, next heaviest items as you move toward the cockpit and heaviest near the cockpit.
Now, first things first - make an equipment list, gather all your gear, lay it all out for inspection and then decide what will fit in your boat. Decide which items are essential, good to have and luxury items. Start with essential items that need to stay dry. These items will probably go in drybags. Remember that a bunch of small drybags are good - one big dry bag is not! You also need to determine how dry your front and rear hatches stay - that will help you decide what needs to go in a dry bag or watertight container.
Also keep in mind what items you want to pull out first when you land. If you'll be paddling long hours and it's dark when you arrive, have your headlamp handy. A small first aid kit in your deck bag is good for easy access (store a more complete kit in the boat). Everyone keeps their water bottle handy, but also remember to keep spare water handy too. If you need to refill at the next rest area you don't want to unload your entire boat to get the water. If you will be stopping for lunch on your way to the next campsite, have your lunch easily accessible.
Your kayak will achieve some extra stability and tracking ability with the addition of properly packed weight. Make sure you are aware of the manufacturer's stated weight capacity. Pack heavy gear as low as possible to keep the center of gravity low and make sure your gear doesn't shift around in rough paddling conditions.
Remember, just because you CAN take the "kitchen sink" doesn't mean you should. Packing light and efficiently will make your trip much more enjoyable.
Anything on your deck will add windage and raise your center of gravity. However, and especially on long trips, you may need some essential items assessable to you without having to pop your spray skirt.
Essentials may include water bottles, snacks, VHF radio, paddle float, sun screen and your chart. A deck bag is perfect for these and other small items. For extended voyages, you may want to strap on a small survival kit. Anything on your front or rear deck must be secured for foul conditions and surf launches or landings.
Use the rear deck to store your spare paddle. This is an essential item for expedition or long distance trips. Store the paddle halfs with the blades facing the back of the kayak under the deck lines and the shaft towards you so you can get to them easily.
One thing to remember - do not load your front or rear deck with bags that do not fit into your boat. Re-examine your equipment list and leave behind unnecessary items. Think like a backpacker - even if you do have much room!
1. Use water bags or bottles that deflate or collapse when the water is used up.
2. Carry one or two large duffle bags to carry gear back and forth from the boat to the campsite. Select bags that will easily stow away when the boat is packed.
3. Don't carry your kayak when it is loaded with gear.
4. The new compression dry bags are great for sleeping bags and clothes.
5. Make equipment do double duty - sleeping pad/chair combos are good.
6. Keep your dry top handy in case of sudden storms.
Gear Check list 14K