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what to bring on a kayak with kids

There is something so fantastic about watching kids connect with nature, especially in this time where we are SO plugged in ALL of the time.  Getting back to the basics, letting kids be little, get dirty, take physical risks, play with bugs… these are magical moments at least to me.  Being out in nature with my kids is definitely my happy place.

This summer, like every dry, dusty summer before it, is hot.  Lord knows, I love Palm Springs but in the summertime, the only thing I want to do here is drive away from it.  We’re pretty fortunate that Southern California has quite a few amazing lakes to spend long, lazy summer days – the perfect escape from the heat.  Our closest lake is Lake Hemet and it has become a home away from home for us.

With the palm trees and cacti in the rear view mirror, the lake offers us a nice change of pace (#onlaketime) and scenery.  One thing I really love about camping at Lake Hemet is you can rent a kayak (or fishing boat) for the entire day and dock it by your lakeside campsite.  It’s great to be able to come and go throughout the day, taking turns with the kayak.

Kayaking has quickly become one of my favorite activities to do with the kids.  It is a great opportunity to have some quiet time together or catch up on talks you’ve been meaning to have.  It’s also a fabulous way to get a really great arm workout!  After a kayaking trip, my arms and shoulders will be sore for days – in a good way – probably because I’m kayaking with kids and well, that means I’m doing most of the work.

what to bring on a kayak with kids

dry bags. 

Dry bags are an outdoorsman’s best friend.  It’s a good idea to have a few different ones in different sizes to choose from.  A shorter trip won’t require a huge bag.  A dry bag will keep anything that you want dry – clothes, camera, food, sleeping gear if applicable.  Dry bags are not only great for kayaking, but all water sports, snow activities and even just hiking (or a day at the water park).  I prefer bags that have a roll top closure – they have never failed me when falling into the water.

cell phone in case.

A cell phone is a great item to bring while kayaking – not to check your Facebook, of course, but as an emergency device.  I don’t bring our professional camera gear out on the kayak so my cell phone also doubles as a camera.  I like to keep my phone double safe by storing it in a waterproof cell phone case with attached lanyard (which can hang around your neck when in use) and store it in a separate dry bag.

skin protection.

This last long day out on the kayak, I gave myself sun poisoning.  That night back at our campsite was ROUGH and I won’t be making that mistake again, ever.   Protect yourself with a hat or shemagh wrapped around your head and neck, sunglasses and thin long sleeves if you would like.  Slather on a chemical-free sunscreen and reapply if you go for a swim.

first aid

I keep a small first aid kit in my kayak gear box.  It’s pretty simple and not as thorough as my kit back at camp:

  • adhesive bandages, assorted sizes
  • butterfly closures
  • sterile gauze pads
  • 2″ rolled gauze
  • surgical tape
  • Superglue
  • anti-bacterial spray
  • Neosporin
  • Hydrocortisone Cream
  • Moleskin
  • tweezers
  • medications – Advil, Ibuprofen, Benadryl
  • waterproof flashlight
  • electrolyte tabs


Bringing adequate water is crucial to any outdoor sport/activity.  A camelback is a great idea since your hands are occupied.  I also bring a few water bottles for everyone to enjoy.  If anyone is feeling a bit drained/dizzy, grab an electrolyte tab from your first aid kit and add it to water.


We all get a little cranky when hungry and kids are definitely no different.  Bring nutrient-dense foods that will not only satisfy cravings but also fuel your family up – there is still much paddling to do! Make sure to pack proteins, natural sugars, salts and carbs – trail mixes and dried meat snacks are ideal.  Remember that you are losing a lot of salt through your sweat so salty snacks are GREAT here.  Bring more food than you think you’ll need – hours of paddling in the sun can create a ravenous appetite!

In my dry bag, I keep the food simple, portable, shelf stable and nutritious.  You could definitely bring a small cooler or toss a few ice packs into your dry bag, but I usually don’t bother.  There are plenty of shelf stable options that are prefect for refueling on the kayak – you don’t even need to dock.  I like to bring apples, dried fruit/nut mixes, superfood granola bars and Lorissa’s Kitchen meat snacks.

I’ll be honest, I bring Lorissa’s Kitchen meat snacks just about everywhere we go.  I’ve always been a huge fan of dried meats, for their flavor and the energy boost they give.  They are just fantastic snacks for outdoor activities and adventures.  Quality is, of course, really important when purchasing meat products.  Lorissa’s Kitchen is made from responsibly raised livestock, 100% grass fed beef, antibiotic free chicken and pork, no growth hormones.  The snacks contain no added MSG, no preservatives and no nitrates.  These are snacks I can feel good about giving to my family, which is the point – right?!

Being a healthy, active family is of high importance for me.  Our times spent unplugged and outdoors mean everything to me.  The exercise and fresh air the kids get from these adventures, hopefully, will ensure they go on to lead healthy, active adult lives.  Why wreck all of that goodness with unhealthy snacks?  No way, Jose!  Lorissa’s Kitchen is the perfect addition to any dry bag.  Learn more about the Lorissa’s Kitchen story here!

Lorissa’s Kitchen meat snacks are all DELICIOUS and come in 4 exciting varieties:

  • Ginger Teriyaki (chicken)
  • Szcheuan Peppercorn (beef)
  • Korean Barbeque (beef)
  • Sweet Chili (pork)

Happy Kayaking!

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