Kayaking Dry Bag Supplies Checklist

Pack Your Dry Bag Once for the Whole Kayaking Season

Dry Bag: Canoe and Kayak Dry Bag
Different Size NRS Dry Bags. Photo © nrsweb.com, used by permission

It’s a good idea to keep a dry bag stocked with these supplies so you never forget any of these often forgotten yet very important items to have on a kayaking and canoeing trip. The following list is in no particular order.

Duct Tape

  • Duct Tape is every outdoorsman’s best friend. You never know when you’ll need to tape over a loose screw in your kayak, or provide a quick repair to some other gear item just to get you back to the car. You probably don’t need a whole roll of duct tape. They make smaller rolls that are good for travel. You can also make your own by simply wrapping duct tape around a short wood dowel, stick, golf pencil, or even a straw. Wrap as much on there as you think you’ll need.

Hand Towel

  • Hand towels are great on kayaking trips. You might need to dry off a wound before applying a band aid. You can use it to dry off your hand before handling a camera. This can be as simple as a wash cloth or as technical as one of those quick drying towels you can wring out.

Super Glue

  • That’s right, super glue but not for your gear. This is for your wounds as a last resort. If you end up with a gash that you just can’t close, super glue works wonders. Read what our Sports Medicine Guide has to say on Super Glue.

First Aid Kit

  • Bringing along a first aid kit is always a good idea when in the outdoors. Nowadays, they aren’t bulky boxes, but rather are zipper pouches of varying sizes. Choose one that will fit in your dry bag while at the same time serving your needs based on where you’ll be and how far away you’ll be from civilization.


  • Multi-tools are a great solution to most repairs. You never know when you’ll need to tighten screws on your boat, bend or reshape a piece of metal, and cut through something.


  • All paddlers love their photos. They capture the moment, document the trip, and allow us to preserve our memories for the future.

Energy Bar

  • Its always good to bring extra food. Keeping an energy bar in your dry bag will ensure if you forget to bring a snack on the trip each time that it is there for you. Of course, don’t leave it in there past the expiration. Making sure to throw it out by the end of the paddling season will help this problem.

Bottled Water

  • For the same reason as the energy bar, keeping a bottle of water in your dry bag ensures you will have it there in case you forget to bring a new one on the trip. We all know the importance of proper hydration, so its better to be safe than sorry. Old water is better than no water.

Emergency Blanket

  • So often paddling occurs in cold water and air temperatures. You never know when you will be in a situation where you’ll need to hunker down either due to an emergency or just while waiting for a ride. Those aluminum emergency blanket are the perfect item of gear to keep in your dry bag as they are small and light. In an emergency, they’ll help you retain up to 80% of your radiant heat.


  • A small mirror serves as a visual signaling device for when you’re stranded and need to get someone’s attention. Whether for a helicopter in the sky or a boat on the water, a mirror will help shine light in the direction of help and has been the difference between life and death on more than one occasion.


  • Whistles are obviously auditory signaling devices. If you’re lost or simply need help and are in an area where others cannot see you, a whistle will help you let any people that are around that you are out there. If you have a whistle attached to your PFD, you don't need to pack one in your dry bag.

Matches or Lighter

  • It’s a good idea to bring matches or a lighter (or other fire-starting device) for obvious reasons. If you’re stranded somewhere, you’ll be glad you don’t have to rub two sticks together to keep yourself warm.

Car Keys

  • Why not keep an extra car key in your dry bag. So many paddlers hide keys on their car while paddling. Many more have locked their keys inside the car by putting them on the seat while changing or unloading gear and then forgetting they are there. If you put a set of keys in your dry bag, you’ll make sure you can get back into your ride at the end of the trip.


  • Having some cash on you while kayaking is always a good idea. You never know when you’ll end up in a location you hadn’t planned on. You might be starving or dying of thirst and need it to buy a drink or snack. You might need it to pay for a taxi or an unexpected shuttle back to your boat.

Of course, this is just a suggested list. Some of the items might not apply to you. The idea though is to have this bag packed and leave it packed with these items for the season. Every month or so go through it and make sure its all in good working order. Then, be sure to get rid of anything that is expired at the end of the kayaking season.