Kayaking Expeditions – The Kit List

So, you’ve decided that you’d like to explore an archipelago by kayak? You’ve checked the itineraries, required skills, and you have a group of friends who are happy to join? All you need to do now is book and make sure that everyone has the right kit.

Most kayaking companies will provide the option of renting some camping and cooking equipment. Here at Adventures, Planned, we like adventures like this so much that we tend to have our own equipment. We also find it’s cheaper this way. Plus, you get all the creature comforts – your own tent and your comfy sleeping bag. If you’re a little different to us, that’s not a problem. Simply ask the company you’ve chosen when you book for their rental prices.

The rest of the kit we recommend is relatively cheap to purchase. Here is our full kit list:

Food, water, fire kit & cooking equipment

Bring your own:

  • Mess tins
  • Mug/flask/collapsible travel mug like this one
  • Water storage: water bottle & a collapsible 10L storage bag like this one. Expect to refill this 1-2 times in the week if all members of the group have enough water for cooking & drinking. Some companies may provide you with refillable plastic water bottles instead; others expect you to have your own water storage. Please confirm this when you book.
  • Spork or other cutlery. There are now nice eco-friendly sets like this one.
  • Flint/matches/lighter. It is advisable that each member of the group have some sort of fire-lighter for survival purposes, should you get separated. The fuel in lighters doesn’t tend to last very long, and matches, even waterproof ones, aren’t great when wet. Flints are the ultimate small backup, despite being annoying to handle.
  • Snacks

A mix of your own and group kit:

  • Breakfast. Porridge is the best shout. I’d recommend you group together any dietary requirements in the group and share porridge where possible. This will involve less cooking! Alternatively, separate pouches are do-able as well, it just takes longer and uses more fuel. For anyone gluten free or not keen on oats, buckwheat flakes are a great high-protein alternative. Be sure to bring dried and fresh fruit, coconut syrup/maple syrup/honey, or peanut butter to share. Look out for the ones that don’t use palm oil if you want to be eco-friendly.
  • Lunch. Lunch tends to be on an island on route to your destination, so I would suggest an on-the-go lunch e.g. crackers and tinned food (tuna/meat/veg), with fruit for dessert. You may be able to pack fresh vegetables to last the first half of the week. You can expect to buy some of this food at local supermarkets prior to beginning your expedition. If you’re lucky enough to come across a shop on an island, you should be able to buy food such as fresh fish, and a long-awaited ice cream!
  • Dinner. This will depend on group dietary preferences. Camping meals are a good shout. Websites such as these make it easy to find a good variety of companies for various diets. I would recommend Lyo Expedition and Firepot makes, particularly the freeze-dried versions. You can also take portions of rice to cook for the whole group, and tinned curries etc.

For nominated individuals within the group:

  • Cooking equipment – Buy fuel at a camping shop when you arrive in your chosen country. Liquid fuel is recommended as it can be brought anywhere and lasts well. This stove works with liquid fuel and is great for medium sized groups. We’d recommend one stove for the group, plus maybe a small backup.


  • 1-2 individuals should bring card games
  • 1 waterproof speaker with SD-card capability may be helpful e.g. this one
  • If anyone has a GoPro or other camera, it’s well worth bringing that.


  • Ensure you have 1-2 people in the group who are confident with their navigation skills. I’d then recommend that each person in the group has a compass. Should you get separated, it is useful to know your heading!


  • Depending on your preference, you may take a tent each, or share. I’d recommend not taking any larger than a 3 man tent as you may be limited in space, and it can be easier to have smaller tents that you can pitch in a few different places.
  • You can use hammocks but it’s not possible to guarantee what types of islands you’ll come across. There are forested islands across much of Scandanavia but in the St Anna archipelago in Sweden, many islands are quite rocky. You also can’t guarantee the quality or spread of the trees. If you want to tie a hammock, mosquito net and waterproof layer, you might need up to five trees around you. You can try all-in-one systems which require less trees.

Sleeping bags

  • I would suggest a 3-season sleeping bag or a lower season one if you’re a warm sleeper, with a sleeping bag liner. These can add an extra season of warmth to your sleeping bag. Choose synthetic over down. They’re cheaper and they dry much faster should they get damp.

Sleeping mat

  • Sleeping mats these days are a lot more comfortable and pack better when compared with the older-style foam mats. A suggested mat is this one.

First aid

  • I’d recommend having 1-2 nominated first aiders, but you should all have some amount of personal first aid kit. Include essentials such as paracetamol, bandages, plasters, insect repellent, sunscreen, and antiseptic cream if you’re prone to infected insect bites. A penknife is a useful multi-tool. Tick removers can be handy, too.


  • Unless otherwise mentioned, expect to have good overall mobile phone coverage in Finland and Sweden. You may want to try a couple of walkie-talkers, if not just for the added fun!
  • Remember to consider the possibility of being separated or exploring an island.


  • Make sure you all have good insurance, and make sure you are covered.


  • Bring you’re swimming stuff if you can brace the cold water


  • Money for the cafes you may come across.
  • Revolut or a similar app. This will allow you to withdraw cash at ATMs or pay for goods and services via card/contactless abroad without being charged a transaction fee. Most of Scandanavia and the Nordic countries are card-friendly, so you should be able to get away without needing old-fashioned cash (but have some just in case). In fact, in some areas you’ll be looked at strangely if you ask if they accept card. Of course they do! Revolut also allows you to split payments with those using the same app, and it gives you instant notification on how much you’re spending in both local and home currencies.

Waterproofing gear

  • Take a mix of different drybags. I would suggest two hardwearing ones e.g. Ortileb, along with multiple cheaper drybags e.g. Exped or Osprey, sold at camping shops or online.
  • To waterproof your gear in a drybag, fold down the drybag at least 3 times. Ortileb and similar bags have been tested submerged. Exped and similar bags have not been – so buy a larger size and fold it down many times. The thinner materials fold down easier, the thicker ones are much harder to fold and squash. You could go the old fashioned way and bring bin bags, but these will tear!
  • Aim to divide your kit e.g. tent and sleeping bag in the front of your kayak, food in another part. Different kayaks have different storage space sizes, so the more variable drybags, the easier it will be to pack your dry bags.


  • Sponges x3 per group for washing up
  • 2 camping spades + toilet rolls per group
  • Biodegradable multipurpose soap won’t harm the environment & can be used for washing everything – individual kit. Soap nuts may also be used.
  • Shampoo leaves, wet wipes and wilderness wipes may also be used – individual kit.
  • 2x bin bags per group to collect group waste.
  • Chlorine tablets as a backup might be useful
  • Battery packs – personal kit
  • Torches – personal kit. Ones with red lights are useful.

Weather considerations

  • Good weather: flip-flops, sunglasses, swimming shorts, extra t-shirts
  • Bad weather: waterproof jacket, wet shoes/boots, extra dry clothes as your wet clothes may not dry in the evenings, an insulated jacket to warm up in the evenings or when you rest. You can also rent or buy wet-suits or semi-dry suits, but these will have a larger pack size & higher cost – though they may be useful in really poor weather!
Adventures, Planned.

That’s it! Let me know if there’s anything that you think is missing. Email me at: louise.sopher[at]theadventuresplanned.com

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