The obsession starts with a destination. Drop a pin on a satellite image, enter a waypoint on a GPS or scratch a grease pencil X on a topographical map, then start dreaming about a place far from the crowds and full of fish.
The next step is packing the kayak with tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, stove, food, clothing and more. Every ounce counts. Every inch is precious. Kayak Angler editors gathered some of the lightest, packable camping gear so you can take home to the fish.
1. Big Agnes MtnGLO Manzanares HV SL 2
$299 | www.bigagnes.com
Big Agnes MtnGLO series gets its name from a string of LED lights illuminating the inside of its tents. The dedicated light source is handy on dark nights and campers can move the lights around several attachment points or remove from the tent and use as a camp lantern.
To maximize interior space in this tent, the support poles are bent to create steep walls. Four media pockets are plumbed to run charger cord and headphone wires. Even packed with features, the MtnGLO comes in at four pounds, 11 ounces.
2. SealLine BlockerLite Compression Dry Sack
$39.95 to $49.95 | www.seallinegear.com
Cramming clothes, a sleeping bag and other gear into a kayak requires a smart drybag system. SealLine’s BlockerLite bags are square to pack tighter than round bags. To purge air and compress tightly, the bags use top-to-bottom cinch straps and waterproof one-way valves. Silicone and polyurethane coated nylon and welded seams keep water out.
3. Helinox Chair 0
$119.95 | www.bigagnes.com
Helinox’s Chair 0 is the lightest, most compact camp chair we’ve tested. Weighing one pound and packing to the size of a water bottle, after a long day on the water, the Chair 0 is worth its weight in gold, which at today’s price is $20,718. The frame is constructed of aluminum shock-corded poles with a lightweight nylon seat providing solid back support.
4. Therm-a-rest NeoAir Xlite
$129.99 to $199 | www.thermarest.com
Even the best sleeping bag is worthless without a comfortable mattress. Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir Xlite provides the warmth and comfort of a foam pad but packs into a stuff sack smaller than a one-liter bottle. The internal air chambers and reflective material prevent heat loss and provide 2.5 inches of rigid support. The fabric is super soft against skin.
5. Slumberjack Boundary 40
$59.95 | www.slumberjack.com
Tiny little sleeping bags are fine for backpacking, but kayak camping allows for a few creature comforts. Slumberjack’s new Boundary 40 is light and small enough to fit in a kayak hatch with extravagant space for arms and legs. A convertible hood can make this into a mummy bag, or keep the top down on warmer nights.
6. CGear Sand-free life SANDLITE mat
$49.99 | www.cg-sandfree.com
Love the beach but hate the sand? So does CGear Sand-Free Life. They make a full line of shoes, mats and bags to separate the beach from the beach bum. Now they’ve carried their patented cross-weave material to the SandLite mat, compact and light enough to fit in a kayak hatch. Step on the mat with sandy feet, and the grains fall through the weave, leaving the surface clean. Works with dirt and liquid, too. Spread the mat in front of the tent to keep the grit outside.
7. MSR Windburner Duo
$179.99 | www.msrgear.com
It takes thousands of calories to fuel a kayak camping adventure, and quickly preparing a meal allows more time for fishing. The MSR Windburner Duo boils water in any conditions. The burner uses radiant heat instead of an open flame and the pot fits snugly into the stove top for optimal performance in the worst wind. Stove and fuel canister pack inside a 1.9-quart pot with a plastic cup and a lid doubling as a strainer or pouring spout.
8. GSI JavaPress
$29.95 to $44.95 | www.gsioutdoors.com
A course ground coffee and GSI’s JavaPress will fuel a full day of paddling and fishing. The press comes in a 30-ounce size for single missions or a 50-ounce size for two-man adventures. The plastic carafe is shatter resistant with an insulating sleeve to keep coffee hot and hands cool.
9. Leatherman Signal
$109.95 | www.leatherman.com
Leatherman’s Signal combines fishing tools with camp tools. To repair a reel, cut line or remove a hook, the Signal features a Phillips and standard driver, pliers, two box wrenches and wire cutters with replaceable blades. Back at camp, a hammer on the handle pounds in tent stakes and a ferrocerium rod will start the fire. In a bind, the safety whistle alerts rescuers to your position.