Last updated on November 25, 2023
Planning a multi-day kayak trip in Ireland? Great thing! But what should you take with you?
In this article I have summarized a comprehensive packing list for you, which will make the agony of choice in packing easier:
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Weather and conditions
Before you go: How will the weather in Ireland be? Shortly before your vacation you can consult your weather app, but for planning you can already assume about 18-25 degrees daytime temperature in the summer months and about 10-15 degrees daytime temperature in spring and autumn.
The weather on the Irish island is mostly influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and can be very changeable. You can expect blue skies and bright sunshine, but you should also be prepared for rain. In addition, it can often be windy, which makes it feel cooler.
Water temperatures on Irish inland waters are at least cool all year round, and cold in spring.
By the way, I know this very well from my own experience, because we have our second home in Ireland and I run a motorcycle rental business there during the summer months (www.easycruiser.tours). We also have nice guest rooms here (www.the-view-accommodation.ie).
So, now you have an idea about the weather and can choose your clothing accordingly.
Kayak and paddle
You bring your own folding or (inflatable) air kayak? Then check the conditions of your airline for sports luggage.
A kayak backpack will certainly be allowed as luggage, but if you’re bringing the kayak trolli as well, it will probably need to be stowed in the kayak backpack or in a separate bag. There are handy travel trollies that you can totally disassemble including the wheels.
The paddle should also be able to be disassembled accordingly and fit into the kayak backpack. There are travel paddles in 3 or 4 parts. Oh yes, the repair kit and possibly an air pump for the inflatable boat must also be natural.
I recommend that you attach the paddle to the kayak with a short cord, so that it does not get lost in the middle of the lake. Alternatively, you can take a spare paddle with you. Since a paddle blade can break in the middle of a vacation, this is a good idea anyway.
The question is how you’re going to carry the rest of your luggage – will it be separate bags, or can you get it all in one bag? There are especially large kayak backpacks where everything including luggage fits in and you can move them with the trolli. Add a small carry-on and you’re good to go.
The bag or bags for the luggage should of course be waterproof. Waterproof panniers with roll-top closures are best. If you are traveling with your own kayak, you will already have suitable luggage bags for it.
Rental kayaks can be open or closed. Depending on what kind of kayak you have booked, you can already get an idea of where you can put your luggage and how many pieces of luggage you will need.
In the front and in the back of the kayak, in the open kayak maybe between the legs? A swap outside on the bow or the stern?
So you know how many waterproof panniers you will take – and in which sizes.
And how do you attach the outer bags to the kayak? A few meters of cord and a pocket knife may also be in the luggage.
In Ireland, summer paddling can leave the sun blazing down on your pelt, but if you capsize in the middle of the lake, the water can still be dangerously cold.
If you’re on small rivers or lakes near the shore, quick-drying microfiber paddling clothes and an appropriate change of clothes in a waterproof pack will suffice.
If you’re out on more open water, you should consider neoprene. There are short and relatively thin neoprene clothes for paddlers that do a pretty good job of preventing you from cooling off too quickly during an involuntary swim.
Rain gear is a must. A sun hat or a cap with umbrella as well as sunscreen and sunglasses. For windy days you can also bring a cap, or one or two tube scarves, which you can use as a scarf or a headscarf.
Do you paddle with thin neoprene gloves on cool days? What kind of shoes do you use for paddling? Neoprene booties in the cool season and sandals or permeable kayak shoes in the summer?
I already mentioned the air pump for the airboat. A lightweight bilge pump and a leash with handle or loop to attach and tow should definitely be included.
A capsize bag can also be a good companion, especially on more open water. This is an air bag for the paddle blade to stabilize the kayak when re-entering the water.
Navigation and safety
Let’s start with safety: a kayak life jacket definitely belongs in your luggage. For emergencies you can attach a whistle to it and if necessary also a small emergency light. This can also be used as a flashlight for camping.
How do you actually find your way on the water? With the smartphone? Is it waterproof? There are waterproof cases for the smartphone with a cord to hang around it so that it doesn’t sink in the water. By the way – not everywhere has reception.
Therefore, a good map may also be on board. Either a folgerte paddle map, or you can also download maps from the Internet, print and foil yourself.
If you like it more electronic, you can also bring an outdoor GPS, e.g. from Garmin.
What do you need to get there and back? Probably not much: a pair of sneakers, a light softshell jacket that you can also take for paddling and an extra pair of pants – if you choose synthetic fiber instead of cotton, they are also suitable for paddling. The same goes for a sweater or hoody.
Accessories and personal items
Can you recharge your electric devices every night at the B&B? Do you need a powerbank? If you’re wild camping, a solar charger can also come in handy.
By the way, in Ireland and Northern Ireland you will find the three-pin British sockets (230V). So you should bring a travel adapter.
Sunglasses, cap and sunscreen we already mentioned, as well as hat, rain gear and gloves if necessary.
A pocket knife and small flashlight we’ve also discussed.
Mosquitoes are not as big an issue in Ireland as the infamous midges are in Scotland, but there can be mosquitoes at freshwater of course – so mosquito spray or cream may come along.
A small first-aid kit helps with minor injuries, headaches or other things. Medication that you absolutely have to take is best brought along in sufficient quantity.
Swimming trunks or shorts and a towel: There are practical microfiber towels that pack light and small and are also quick-drying.
You can save weight on the wash bag: Everything comes in small sample packs and you can also re-buy everything in Ireland. If you want to camp in the wild, you can buy biodegradable soaps and shampoos, so you don’t pollute the rivers or lakes with chemicals.
Money, IDs, documents
The euro is used in Ireland and the pound in Northern Ireland. Credit cards and debit cards are accepted almost everywhere, but not necessarily in the smallest stores. So take some cash with you.
Ireland is in the EU (Northern Ireland is part of the UK), but you will need your passport to enter the country. If you are driving a car, you will also need your driver’s license.
The airline tickets or ferry tickets and all other reservations (accommodations or rental cars) I would print out once for safety – in case the smartphone fails or “goes bad”.
I will not go into camping accessories here, you will find a separate article on this blog.
So, now you have everything packed – does it still fit into the kayak backpack? If not, shorten clothes and laundry – you can wash on the way in the B&B, hotel or at the campsite. Then it can start soon – I wish you a great paddling vacation in Ireland!
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Cover photo credit: photo by Roger Starnes Sr on Unsplash