+1 (250) 230-4399

Packing for a Kayak Trip

The clothing list is designed to be comprehensive. If you know yourself to be a very warm-bodied person during cold, wet and windy weather, then you may be fine bringing slightly less clothing. However; if you are generally a colder-bodied person, then you would be wise to follow the clothing list very closely.

A synthetic or wool balaclava (ski mask) is an incredibly useful piece of warm clothing for kayaking, camping and sleeping. It is highly recommended that everyone brings a balaclava and ensures it is always accessible during the trip. Wear it during the speedboat ride.

An important aspect of packing for a kayak trip is to have all clothing and equipment in small waterproof bags. The smaller your bags are, the easier you will find it to pack your boat. The front hatch of our kayaks measures approximately 23cm x 36cm (9” x 14”). All of your gear must be in waterproof bags small enough to fit through the hatches. Stuff sacs about the size of a football will be easiest to pack into your kayak.

Differently colored stuff sacs make it easier to find and sort your gear. You may wish to bring a waterproof marker to label your bags. (It may be best to label your bags on the second day of the trip, as you may be reorganizing your gear after learning how to load the kayak most effectively.)

To maximize seaworthiness, we paddle with minimal deck loads; gear and food must fit inside the kayak hatches. To conserve space inside the hatches, you may want to pack your sleeping bag in a waterproof compression dry sack. If the compression sack is not completely waterproof, then after compressing place it inside another stuff sac that is lined with two garbage bags for waterproofing.

To waterproof a nylon stuff sac, line it with two plastic garbage bags, place your gear inside, squeeze all the air out of the garbage bags, tightly twist the top of each garbage bag and tuck it inside the nylon stuff sac. We do not recommend tying a knot in the garbage bag; instead, simply twist each bag tightly and tuck it into the stuff sac. Packing your gear into garbage bags alone is not adequate; the nylon stuff sac over the garbage bags will help prevent the plastic from tearing.

Small roll-top dry bags may be used as substitutes for the nylon stuff sac and garbage bag combination.

If you plan on using dry bags, it is important to bring several small ones; 5-litre sized dry bags are very handy. The long and thin, nylon 10-litre sized dry bags also work well. Nylon dry bags are easiest to pack into the kayak because they slide in without sticking to each other as the vinyl ones do. (However, the smallest transparent vinyl dry bags are very convenient, as you can see their contents.)

Please do not bring more than one of the large 15 to 20-litre dry bags. These large dry bags can make packing your kayak a frustrating and difficult experience. Unfortunately, large bags are inconvenient for the entire group because they take up so much space in a kayak. Arriving with several large bags can make it necessary for all other group members to carry more because the kayak with large bags may not be able to carry its share of food and communal gear.

It is important to follow the equipment list as closely as possible in order to be properly prepared for the trip. Bringing too much gear will result in difficulty with loading your boat. Too little gear or inappropriate gear may cause discomfort to you and to the group. The most common frustration is having stuff sacs or dry bags that are too large. You will not regret having many small, differently colored, waterproofed stuff sacs and/or dry bags. The duffel bag is used daily to carry all your small bags between the kayak and the campsite.

It is essential for your comfort, enjoyment, and personal well-being that you arrive with clothing and gear made from appropriate insulating materials. Cotton clothing quickly absorbs water and becomes useless as an insulator when wet. Even cotton-mixed fabrics are a serious problem when wet. Please do not bring cotton clothing. Wool or synthetic clothing is appropriate. Merino clothing is highly recommended.

Down-filled and/or cotton-lined sleeping bags can absorb water vapour from the air and lose their insulating value overnight, even if they are packed in a waterproof dry bag during the day. Please do not bring a down-filled or cotton-lined sleeping bag. A 100% synthetic sleeping bag is required.

If you bring improper or inadequate clothing or equipment, such as predominantly cotton clothing or an inappropriate sleeping bag, you risk becoming evacuated from the trip if the gear gets wet and loses its insulating value.


You have some choices for appropriate footwear. We recommend neoprene booties with sturdy soles for use while kayaking and supportive medium-weight fabric/leather trail boots with good traction soles for wearing on shore. Waterproofing your trail boots with silicone or wax is a good idea. Sandals are not recommended for paddling. (Sandals tend to gather pebbles and sand when you enter the kayak, which can then become annoying while paddling.) Tall people; please see the online resource for more info.

Butterfly Tours guests are requested to avoid wearing rubber boots or hip-waders while kayaking. In the unlikely event of a capsize, this inappropriate footwear will fill with water, making the rescue much more difficult and significantly slower. All participants are requested to wear neoprene booties while kayaking. (Snug-fitting knee-high neoprene kayaking booties are fine.)

If you pack well and have all your items in small bags, then there may be space in your kayak hatches to carry a pair of rubber boots. Some people prefer rubber boots on shore even though this footwear generally provides very little ankle support and often has poor sole traction. Rubber boots are an option for on shore.

Appropriate footwear is very important.

Northern Gwaii Haanas

8 Day Tour

Venture into Northern Gwaii Haanas National Park for an 8-day adventure through the nutrient rich waters of Haida Gwaii

View Tour Info

Southern Gwaii Haanas

8 Day Tour

Endeavor into Southern Gwaii Haanas National Park for an 8-day wilderness journey towards SGang Gwaay

View Tour Info

Book Your Sea Kayaking Trip of a Lifetime with Butterfly Tours

Butterfly tours explore the isolated and pristine east side of Gwaii Haanas, an area preserved in its natural state.

We will leave behind all signs of civilization and explore the supernatural coastline of Gwaii Haanas, which consists of island clusters, jutting headlands, sheltered inlets, and secluded beaches.

Humpback whales, ancient murrelets, salmon, and tufted puffins thrive in this rich and diverse marine environment.

Book Now