How to Keep Your Gear Dry While Kayaking

Kayaking can be a great family vacation activity or a great way to relax and explore local waterways on your own. The hard skills needed to kayak successfully are easy to pick up and a good kayak for beginners is a relatively inexpensive investment. It doesn’t take a lot to get started and a solidly built kayak will last for years.

As your kayaking experience grows, you might begin to explore longer trips. When you move beyond spending just an hour or two in your kayak at a time, you’re going to need to bring more gear and supplies with you.

The worst thing that can happen is to have those supplies go to waste because they become waterlogged. It’s also a tough way to potentially ruin valuable gear. In this article, we’re going to offer some important tips on how to keep your gear dry while kayaking.

Kayak Compartments


Depending on the specific model of kayak you’re paddling in, the first place that most people think to store any dry gear while kayaking is in the vessel’s built-in compartments. Some kayaks have compartments at one of two ends and some offer compartments at both ends. Many sit-on-top kayaks also feature a compartment just in front of the seat area.

While, at first glance, these spaces look like the perfect place to store dry gear, many of them aren’t nearly as waterproof as you’d hope. Especially if your kayak was on the lower end of the spectrum in terms of price, be careful to trust your precious dry belongings to what can often be the “false security” of the built-in compartments.

Dry Bags


Dry bags are really the best way to keep your gear dry on a kayaking trip. Even if your kayak features built-in compartments, it’s best to secure your gear inside a dry bag before placing the bag securely inside the compartment. Dry bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes and the best choice for you will, of course, depend on what you plan to store inside of it.

Larger dry bags with more than 50 liters of space should fit a rolled up sleeping bag and possibly even the components of your tent. A smaller 20 or 30-liter bag should provide enough space for a couple days worth of clothing and your toiletries. The smallest dry bags (10 liters or less) are perfect for electronics and other small tools and equipment you need to keep dry.

When researching dry bags, it’s important to recognize that not all dry bags are created equal. Because of the possibility of capsizing in a kayak, the dry bags you choose to keep your gear dry should offer the highest level of waterproofing available.

There is actually an International Protection Rating given to quality dry bags. Look for a bag with at least a 4 on this IP rating. The best dry bags will offer an 8 rating in this category.

Phone Cases


Today, we are very fortunate to have phones that offer their own waterproof capability. With that said, even the most waterproof phones aren’t necessarily made for extended submersion. If you happen to drop your phone overboard, these phones also don’t float.

If you want to guarantee your phone’s safety on an extended kayaking trip, purchasing a phone case is the best thing you can do. While LifeProof cases have been proven to protect a phone’s integrity throughout extended submersions, we recommend taking things a step further.

A larger phone case will not only protect your phone from water, but you can also fill them with air so that they float if they are washed or dropped overboard. A model like the Pelican Micro Case is an excellent selection to protect your phone from anything that your trip throws at you.

Kayak Spray Skirt

If you have a sit-inside kayak for your multi-day adventures, purchasing a spray skirt is a great way to keep your gear dry. Once in place, your spray skirt basically turns the entire inside of your kayak into a giant storage compartment. You can keep your sleeping bag, pad, and tent at your feet and clothing behind you.

Kayak spray skirts work by actually going on your body first. They have a rubber-ringed hole that goes over your head and stays tight against your midsection. Once you sit inside your kayak, the edges of the skirt secure to the rim of your kayak for a tight seal.

In addition to keeping your gear dry, a kayak skirt is also the best way to keep yourself dry, especially if you might encounter harsh weather elements on your trip.

That said, it is important for beginning kayakers to be cautious when taking this route. Once you’re inside your kayak with the spray skirt secure, you are basically sealed inside the kayak until you lift the edges of the skirt again. This means that you’ll need the hard skills to know how to right your kayak without getting out if you do happen to capsize unexpectedly.

This is a whitewater kayaking skill and new kayakers should consider taking a course with the American Canoe Association to learn how to right a capsized kayak before investing in a kayak spray skirt.

Keep Your Gear Dry While Kayaking to Enjoy Trips!

I learned this lesson the hard way on a multi-day kayaking trip a few years back. My sleeping bag was soaked after day one of my kayak trip.

I spent one of the most uncomfortable nights sleeping in a tent in my life. Hopefully these tips for keeping your gear dry while kayaking will help you avoid that bit of misery I experienced and make your future kayaking adventures much more enjoyable.

Have any other tips you didn’t see mentioned above? Leave a comment below!


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