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That question, along with, “You go for HOW long?” tend to be the most common question when boating conversation turns to extended forays on the water.

The answers to both questions are quite simple, really. To the first: everything fits quite nicely in the hatches and cockpit of the Journey, of course, and frequently with room to spare!  To the second: as long as I feel like and/or as time allows.

Don’t believe me?  Stick around for a bit and I’ll share some insight into my own personal packing procedure; it can easily be summed up with one simple sentence: Make a huge mess, and then organize the chaos!  Or, as a friend of mine would say, “In it’s place, or in your face!”

While you do have to be cognizant of remaining within the weight limits of your boat, you’re not nearly as concerned about weight when touring by boat as you are when traveling by foot.   As long as you remain within the weight limits of your boat, you can literally take the kitchen sink AND the linen closet if you so desire.  In other words: it is beyond easy to completely lux out your paddle trip.  I’m talking camp chairs, great dinners with vino and dessert, books, solar panels, tarps for canopies…  You name it!  And the more folks in your party, the more easily (and likely) your trip can morph into “glamping” simply because the amenities can be spread amongst the boats.  What I consider to be standard gear includes: my backpack, camp chair, food, Base Camp Thermarest, food, water, food, sleeping bag, water filter, med kit and food (I eat a LOT.)

So…  Ready to see my huge mess that’s spread across two rooms??












From here, everything gets repackaged, labeled and put into dry bags to go into the boat.  And in case you’ve ever wondered what to do with those blue 59¢ bags from IKEA, they’re perfect gear hauling bags!



Once you’ve packed your gear and food (and boats!) and you’ve made it to your launch site, the next step is stashing your gear inside your boat.


The key here is BALANCE.  If you’re using a rudder, you’re not going to feel an off-kilter boat as readily as you will if you’re (like me) not using a rudder.  I promise, the balance – or lack of – in your load makes itself known rather quickly, especially if there’s any kind of wind.  When I’m packing, it’s a given for me that I’m going to place long items such as my camp chair and sleeping pad along the keel of the boat.  Other standard procedure items include the chair going in the rear hatch, pushed as far stern as it will go, with a cockpit cover on top of it (I’m not overly keen on bugs and critters getting in the boat at night.)  In the front of my chair and immediately behind the stern bulkhead, I stash my backpack; you never know when you’ll find a trail that begs to be explored.  Also in the stern hatch: cook set and fuel, moka pot (MUST. Have. Coffee.) along with a book or two.

Thermarest goes in the cockpit between my feet, touching the fore bulkhead.  Next comes the tent.  It also goes in the cockpit, but widthwise under my knees (for you whitewater folks, it’s the touring version of the Happy Seat.)

The tent poles, however, will go in the rear hatch up against the camp chair.  That being said, DON’T follow my lead where, on a trip years ago I forget the tent poles!!  That was most certainly a memorable trip, to be sure…

Also in the cockpit, but behind my seat, go my water filter, a 32oz bottle of water, and my med kit.  And if I’m not wearing it, the last thing to go in the cockpit, also behind my seat, is my skirt.

Balanced between the bow and stern hatches, I pack my sleeping bag, food, clothes (weather/season dependant), water (why start off dry if you don’t have to?!)  and a tarp.

As far as deck bags go, while there are folks who swear by them, I’m not much of a fan.  I tend to find that they get in my way, and anything I need (to this point) is easily tucked into the pockets of my PFD or my touring skirt.  This would include my camera, knife, an energy bar, and other odds and ends.  This leads us to the deck of the boat.  In the summer, my sandals stay tucked under the far front bungees on the bow deck (sole up so that my feet don’t fry when I put them back on.)  I also keep a boat sponge up there.  In the winter, it’s my rain boots that get tucked under the bungees.  Yes, my rain boots; you’d be amazed at how handy those boots can be when it’s NOT raining!  On the stern deck, also under the bungees, I have my bilge pump (AKA: water cannon) and my break down spare paddle.


Next step, hit the water!!  This should be followed by: have a blast, take pictures, soak in your surroundings, enjoy your trip, use your sunscreen, etc.!

It IS possible to get everything – well…  MOST everything – into your boat.  Heck, I’ve even taken my #10 skillet on trips before just so I could fry up a mess of okra, green tomatoes and venison tenderloin for dinner one night, then make eggs, biscuits and gravy the next morning, but that was a trip where there were six of us to carry gear!  That said, I cannot reiterate enough that consideration absolutely must be taken to accommodate your overall boat capacity, trip data (length/number in your party/time of year/etc.), as well as the set of your boat/balance your load.  Remember: just because you can cram it all in the hatches of your boat does NOT mean your boat will tolerate the weight of the load!!! I tweak my system every time I go out on a trip, and it only gets better over time.

What doesn’t get better over time, however, would be the not-so-fun part: clean up.  Wishing I were back on the water, I’m now off to clean up and reorganize all the mess from my most recent adventure…

While I’m doing that, I know you’re going to be having more fun on the water than me.  Happy boating to you all!