I prefer canoeing, but I never judge how people travel in the wilderness. I don’t think the ATV is Lucifer’s chariot, or that backpacking seems to be just one very long portage and I don’t believe kayakers look like dogs rubbing their butts across the carpet floor.
In fact, I spent few days kayak tripping with blogger Camper Christina just last week. She went on two canoe trips with me this season and she thought it was only fair that I join her on a kayak trip this time around. And I gotta say, I didn’t mind it.
At first, I found the kayak confining, awkward and uncomfortable. I wanted to be back in a canoe again. After a day of paddling, however, I started liking the freedom of the kayak. It was quick, agile and cozy. By the last day I even got in and out of it without getting my feet wet. (A huge ordeal that took me way too long to master.)
What I still found odd by the end of the trip, however, was the kayak’s ability to carry a heavy load. Remember, I spend most of my time out there in a loaded canoe. It’s not the kayak can’t handle the weight. It’s just that I had a hard time finding a place to put it all.
Unlike the canoe, where everything can be stored into a couple of hefty packs and then thrown in, gear for kayak tripping has to be stored separately in waterproof sacks, ranging from the size of a lunch bag to the size of a grocery bag, and then stuffed into the kayak’s storage areas. You also have to make sure you have compensated for equalizing your bow and stern, and watch out that the kayak doesn’t constantly lean to one side. It’s a tad stressful if you’re not used to it.
But change is good. Life shouldn’t be about being comfortable with the familiar. So, I practised loading and unloading, and this is what I learned about stuffing gear into a kayak:
The bow is a good place for compression sacks filled with clothing, your sleeping bag and a sleeping pad.
The stern is good for food, tent, tarp, stove, fuel and cook set. The cockpit holds the tow-rope, sponge and a waterproof daypack filled with things like sunscreen, snacks, first-aid kit, water filter and sunglasses.
And strapped on the deck—map, compass/GPS, camera, water bottle, spare paddle and fishing rod.
And more importantly, when you think there’s no room left—unpack and try it again. You’ll always find space for more.