How To Hammock Camp with a Kayak

How To Hammock Camp with a Kayak


What constitutes a true adventure? I mean, just going to the supermarket can be an adventure these days! Still, our hearts cry out for certain types of outdoor adventure. Hammock Kayak Camping opens up some unique opportunities that you just cannot take advantage of on foot.

We are going to explore the pros, cons, and details of planning your own hammock kayak camping trip.

What is Hammock Kayak Camping?

It is one thing to follow a path or even a map to a campsite and setup your base camp. The best experience for the modern adventurer can happen in the backcountry of our National Forests. These gems are not only beautiful places to camp but also invite campers and adventurers.

However, the experience of kayak camping is something different completely. By using a kayak and storing your gear on it you can now leave the trails and paths and travel to new and exciting places by waterway.

There might even be an island location that can only be reached by hammock kayak camping. On an island that only kayakers can get to there is a magical feeling of seclusion and adventure.

You can cover more ground on the water if you have a viable waterway. You might also find yourself at a new location that you have never explored before. The hammock kayak camping adventure puts even more space between you and confines of our concretized world.

Lightweight gear is important for a kayak camping adventure and this is why the hammock is such a great sleep system for this kind of adventure.

Pros and Cons of Hammock Kayak Camping

Hammock Kayak Camping is a different kind of adventure and if you have never done it before you should weigh the pros and cons to be sure that it right for you. Not all adventures are created equal.


Less room than a tent

Hammock camping is not about setting up an office and closet in a space like a tent. You will spend most of your time sitting around a fire or swinging in your hammock, before retiring to the bug netted hammock for sleep. If you add a tarp it can be much more private.


An adventure like this is best experienced with lightweight camping gear. When you are traveling by kayak and your sleep system is a simple tarp and a hammock, you cut all the weight that comes from a typical tent setup.

Ideally you will carry much less because it will all need to fit on the back of kayak. A 70L full of heavy camping equipment might perilously weigh down the kayak.


If you already own the kayak a hammock kayak camping trip is much cheaper than investing in a new tent and camping setup. You can buy a decent hammock for less than $40! You can find tents for this price and have them overnighted to you if you use something like Amazon prime.

No Need for Flat Ground

Another great benefit of hammock kayak camping is that you can set up camp virtually anywhere. From the rocky outcroppings of a mountain pine forest to a small island that is studded with trees. You are not relegated to finding a nice flat piece of land to set up that tent.

This kind of freedom also allows you to move your home base several times if you desire it.


More Preplanning

There is no getting around it, once you start traveling by waterway you must be incredibly careful in your planning. You not only need to consider the weather from a shelter standpoint but also from a water level standpoint.

In the Appalachian Mountains there are some streams and creeks that you can kayak in the wet season but will all but dry up in the dry seasons. These types of things need to be considered.

Another aspect of safely preplanning goes into who knows where you are going. If you are exploring and traveling by kayak, you need to give better maps and plans to those who might need to find you in an emergency.

Can’t Go Too Far from Riverbank/Beach

No matter what happens you have a kayak to deal with. It is probably not a good idea to either wander to far from the kayak or to drag the kayak to far inland. This means you are probably not going to head to the peak of some mighty mountain on a hammock kayak camping trip unless you are comfortable with the area.

Remember if you lose the kayak you might not be able to get back.

Requires two suitable trees

The convenience of a hammock is hard to beat but there is one downfall and that is the need for two suitable trees that are the right size and distance apart. That can affect your ability to find the best camping spot as much as looking for flat ground, in some cases.

Hammock Kayak Camping

Packing/ Loading the Kayak

Packing and loading for a hammock kayak camping trip will require that you know how to maximize your kayaks carrying capacity. You should break your items down into a few categories.

  • Waterproof
  • Fragile
  • Water Sensitive

Fragile items can be waterproof but must be stored in padded locations to assure they don’t break. Be careful with what you store and how you store it. Once you arrive on site, what you have is what you have.

Pack your entire kit on dry land before heading off for your trip!

You might want to invest in a collection of smaller dry bags. These make a huge difference when you are packing a kayak with camping gear. Pack your heaviest items at the bottom of the kayak and DON’T PUSH IT.

Safety is critical and minimalism should be the mindset when packing for a hammock kayak camping trip.


Weather can have a massive effect on your camping trip. Rather than simply worrying about temperatures and conditions for a camping trip you now must consider water levels and rain levels from a literal navigation standpoint.

This is not to say that hammock kayak camping should be avoided, it just means that you need to spend more time planning. As we mentioned earlier, that might be a CON, or you might love that level of planning.

No matter where you sit on that you need to be prepared for the weather during a hammock kayak camping trip.


Camping and kayaking maintenance are both particularly important when it comes to an adventure like this.

Your kayak, storage and oar should all be checked and maintained if necessary. Cover the cockpit on your kayak, keep it out of direct sunlight and keep that thing clean when you are not using it.

As for your hammocks and tarps they should be put away dry and kept that way. Before each trip inspect your straps, hammock, tarps, and carabiners. No surprises at the campsite!

Important Kayak Features

You are going to want a nice wide all-around kayak when for a trip like this. Beginners kayaks are built wide to help people learn how to kayak. This wide base is great for storing things on the kayak. Either a good all-around kayak or something like a touring kayak that is easy to maneuver.

The very best features for a hammock kayak camping trip is an easy to ride kayak that is stable, shelter from water and a kayak that is small enough to deal with in tight areas and to carry down to the water easily.


If you are going to take on a hammock kayaking adventure you are going to want to consider these 9 tips:

  1. Pack light
  2. Focus on stability for gear travel
  3. Invest in a lightweight life vest
  4. Know your body of water
  5. Have zip ties and a couple bungee cords
  6. Bring a small fishing pole and tackle
  7. Don’t leave your kayak in the water or close to waters edge
  8. Start with a short trip
  9. Bring a quality first aid kit


Hammock kayak camping is a unique type of adventure. You may find it to be a little more involved than many other camping trips, however, it is a true experience. It is a departure from your typical car camping trip.

Because you are not only a hike but a boat ride away from civilization, you will need to do plenty of pre-trip planning and be prepared to deal with injuries.

The maintenance of your gear is of the utmost importance when you undertake a hammock camping trip. You check all gear and share your plan with someone else so that you know you are covered in every way.

Most of all, find a magnificent piece of water and land to traverse, set up camp and enjoy a weekend as a hammock kayak camper.

Related guides

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How To Find The Best Hammock Underquilt

How To Find The Right Portable Hammock Camping Stand

Winter Hammock – How To Stay Warm

19 Hammock Mistakes

8 Hammock Camping Dangers

How To Hammock Camp in Hot Weather

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