So you’re a proud river rat, in love the rapids, with a list of all your favorite places to go on everything from an overnight paddle to a 3 day kayaking camping trip to the best places for longer 'yak expeditions. You just know that you’ll spend all summer with damp feet accumulating a tan while you tackle the high class rapids and chill on flat water.
There’s just one catch-- you might, just might have an indoorsy friend who you would love to take on the water, but isn’t quite sure about extending an expedition past a few hours. How can you convince these landlubbers to join you for a modest excursion into the wonderful world of creek camping, or listen to your carefully honed kayak touring tips?
How To Take a Friend On Their First Kayak Camping Trip
1) Lower the threshold for entry by helping your friend source and pack their gear. This helps in two ways: you can nerd out about kayaking gear, and your friend can focus on the experience, rather than get overwhelmed with everything they don’t know about what to take on a kayak camping trip. Check and see what items they can contribute-- the easy, personalized stuff like food, drinks, first aid/personal care, clothes, etc. Don’t worry if your buddy overpacks a little bit-- that’s what your CreekKooler is for.
2) Pick a gentle, scenic route. You know your buddy best. Maybe they’d feel better on a slow, wide, glassy river if they’re nervous about the actual water aspect of the trip or aren’t confident about maneuvers like wet exits under pressure.
Maybe you’ve got a buddy who’s on the verge of getting into ‘yaking and would feel a little more legit if they get to handle a little white water. In general, focus on maximum scenery, easy put ins and take outs, and finding the right blend of easy and confidence-building.
On the flip side, your friend might be perfectly comfortable with the kayaking part and is ready to shred. Perhaps it's the camping angle that they need to warm up to. In that case, your expertise still comes in handy. You probably know the best campsites for kayaking in your area, or have a fun river spot or kayak-friendly lake town on your radar.
3) Plan some fun side activities, especially if your friend is more comfortable with the “kayaking” aspect than the “camping"aspect. Are there fun trails to explore nearby? Opportunities for kayak fishing? A place to watch the local wildlife? After all, kayak camping is 50% about your time on the water, and 50% about the places you can only get to by water. Now is the chance to show off your super secret favorites, or bucket list destinations like the San Juan Islands. This could be a great time to try something new together, like an entry level sea kayak.
4) Leave behind anything that might be distracting or add to the logistics, like pets who aren’t used to boats and campsites, excess gear, or fussy electronics. Yes, you’re trying to get your friend into kayak camping because 'yak packing is AWESOME, but also to spend more time together and make some great memories. Keeping it simple will help you focus on learning a new skill and staying in the moment.
5) Patience! Maybe your buddy was born to ride rapids and is some kind of secret kayaking savant. Maybe he or she was right to be a little nervous and needs to stick to easier waters. You’ll never know until you get out there! Just remember to be patient if you can’t get as technical as you’re used to or go as far or as fast. If this trip goes well, you can look forward to amping up the pace and adrenaline on future trips.
For now, play to your friend’s strengths, be mindful of their weaknesses, and roll with the punches. You’re out here to play! With the right route, gear, and attitude, you can have a new convert to kayak camping in no time-- and just in time for the prime season for adventures on the water!