Solo Kayak Camping




Introduction: Solo Kayak Camping

About: Retired software engineer. Like the outdoors, canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing. I’ve built 3 cedar strip canoes and 2 cedar strip kayaks and use all of them. I built 3 acoustic guitars and play all of th…

A summary of my experience using my home built cedar strip kayak for wilderness camping in Canada's Quetico Provincial Park.

You cram all of your camping gear into the hull or hatches of a kayak and paddle off to a distant remote campsite, then unpack, set up camp and enjoy the solitude. Pretty simple!

for more information:

Step 1: Gear List – What Did I Take – Where Was It Packed

At every portage this loose gear was removed from the forward hull and rear hatch or unstrapped from the deck, then placed in the army duffle. The portage yoke was attached to the kayak combing.

4 man tent – smallest I had – forward hull

Sleeping bag – packed in plastic trash bag and rubberized pack liner bag – forward hull

Light weight foam sleeping pad – forward hull

Clothing – packed in waterproof gear bag – rear hatch

Cook kit – loose in rear hatch

Coleman Dual Fuel 533 camp stove – loose in rear hatch

Small coffee pot – loose in rear hatch

Spare shoes – loose in rear hatch

Food bag – loose in rear hatch

Army surplus duffle bag with shoulder straps – loose in rear hatch

Katadyn Hiker water filter – loose in rear hatch

Rope for hanging food pack – loose in rear hatch

Portage yoke – strapped on top of hull

Fanny pack emergency survival kit – strapped on top of hull

Paddle float – strapped on top of hull

GPS – in deck bag

Camera and mini tripod – in deck bag

Tackle – in deck bag

Fishing rods (2) – strapped on top of hull

Water bottle for drinking – in cockpit

Compass and maps – in deck bag

Rain gear – in deck bag

Sponge – in cockpit

Step 2: Food and Water

Clean drinking water is essential. For a day trip you can bring along a canteen or a few bottles, but for extended trips bringing your own water is not practical. A water filter with a pore size of no larger than 0.3 micron is needed to remove most common bacteria.

Food is a matter of personal preference, but spoilage is a consideration in warm weather. I usually bring dehydrated or dried food in an effort to minimize weight.

Here are some suggestions:

Instant Oatmeal

Granola bars

Homemade trail mix – nuts, dried fruit, M&Ms,

Powdered milk

Folgers Coffee Singles

Krustaez Pancake mix

Any “just add water” muffin or biscuit mix

Instant Coco

Instant Mashed Potatos

Instant Rice or Pasta, flavored side dishes

Pre-cooked bacon

Spam Singles

Foil Packed Tuna

Foil Packed Chicken

Foil Packed Ham

Hard cheese, Velveeta, or cheese whiz

Hard salami or meat sticks


Popcorn for popping on the camp stove



Instant Soup mix

Ramen noodles

Step 3: Clothing

Clothing can take up a lot of space and the tendency is to over pack. Essentially what you need is one set of clothing to wear and one dry set to change into if you get wet.

For a week long trip I pack:

3 changes of socks and underwear

2 pair of zip off cargo pants

2 cotton t shirt

1 synthetic t shirt

1 long sleeve shirt

1 hat – ball cap

1 extra pair of dry tennis shoes

1 Rain suit

1 fleece jacket

Step 4: Precautions for Traveling Alone

When you are travelling alone in the wilderness you should slow down and travel at a more relaxed pace. Be overly cautious, excessive risk and hasty decisions can lead to trouble. Observe your surroundings and every thing you do should be purposeful and thought out. Take the time you need to make the right decision when you begin to question yourself.

Leave contact information and trip details with a responsible person. Where are you going? When will you return? What is the general itinerary? Where will you start and where will you park? What color is your tent?

Research and plan your route and stick fairly closely to your plan.

Plan ahead. What would you do if you are injured? Do you have adequate supplies for a few extras days if needed? Do you have an emergency medical kit? How would you signal for rescue if needed? Is there cell phone service in the area? What would you do if you become lost?

Pay attention to the weather. Weather forecasts are helpful but often times not entirely reliable.

Step 5: The Solitude and Pace

The solitude you may feel could become a profound experience. The first few nights of being alone, I’ll admit, can make you feel a little distressed. Soon a feeling of calm will fill you due to the relaxed pace and the quiet and the routine of travel and camp life.

for more:

Link to a 10 minute video:

Step 6:

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    8 years ago on Introduction

    Bummer I'm still only 13. I would do that any day. Also where is that place, looks like a great place to have a canoe trip.


    Reply 7 years ago

    The quetico. It's in Canada. Just north of Minnesota. A great and beautiful region. Canoeing up there is amazing. The area farther north is actually even more amazing, it is referred to as the Crown Lands. It is even more untouched and beautiful. This past summer I went on a 30 day trip up there (22 days in the crown lands, 6 days in the quetico, and 2 days in the boundary waters), we covered a total 277 miles. It was an amazing experience. And don't let age get you down, I was only turned 16 in the middle of the trip. If you are interested in that kind of stuff look into a ymca camp called camp Widjiwagan.


    Reply 7 years ago

    Sounds like a great trip. I wish I had the free time to spend on a longer trip. I have to settle for one or two week long trips per year. Thanks for reading and commenting.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    Great description! Do you have a description for building your kajak? What plans did you use?


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I regret not taking photos of my kayak build. I lofted the plans from the tables for the Resolute in "Kayak Craft". I would like to build another someday - I WILL document the build with photos and an instructable.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Pitty that! I'll have to wait for the next one ...
    Keep up the good work!


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Someday I'll post an Instructable on the construction of my cedar strip kayak (it's only halfway finished at the moment, so don't hold your breath). If you want to see how the boats are built, I'd suggest checking out the forums at I learned a lot from the folks over there while I was planning my build.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    My second cedar strip kayak build is nearly complete. I plan to write and instructable when I am finished but in the mean time you can follow my progress on:


    8 years ago on Introduction

    What great photos; it looks like it was a wonderful trip! I appreciate that you mention leaving a float plan with a responsible person and trying to anticipate and prepare for possible emergencies. I have an additional suggestion regarding safety equipment: as a kayak guide, I always told people to consider carrying a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), especially if they paddle solo or go beyond the range of cell phones and VHF radios. PLBs are about the same size as a large cell phone, are more reliable than cell phones, are very robust (waterproof), don't need any kind of service plan, and will give rescuers your precise coordinates. I always keep mine in my life jacket, and most open-water guides that I know do the same. Also helpful is a waterproof strobe to make you more visible when rescuers get overhead.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    one tip the lessen the weight space. Instead of using a tent, sleeping bag, ground pad use a hammock ENO makes a great hammock that pack real small. its like $100 for the hammock and strap


    9 years ago

    Wow! Very beautiful photos and instructible!