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What’s in Your Kayak? With Matt Charette

Let's talk loadout:

I was cleaning out my kayak and I realized how personal my setup was compared to others. Everyone loads out their boats in different ways, but what are the essentials?

Personally, I won’t enter the water under any circumstances without these things:

  • PFD
  • First Aid Kit (with Epi-Pen and suture kit)
  • Two MREs
  • Paddle x2
  • Rope
  • Sunblock
  • Bug spray (deet is essential up in Maine, right guys?)
  • Knife
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Whistle
  • Fire starter x3 (lighter, flint, waterproof matches)
  • Tinder
  • Flashlight
  • Radio (on my PFD)

This list of gear is what I consider absolutely essential for paddling – it’s the equipment that will keep you safe and healthy under just about any circumstances. Make like the Boy Scouts and BE PREPARED – you are heading into nature, which is as unpredictable as it is beautiful. Ideally, you won’t need any of these things while you’re out there, but you’d rather have them and not need them than the other way around.  

Now, the fun stuff. These are the things I need for fishing:

  • Three rods. I usually have a spinning rod and a baitcaster on deck, and my fly rod tube strapped into a paddle holder. Everything else goes below deck.
  • Any of the 12,360 tackle boxes pictured (or the several not pictured). The four in the bag stay on the deck behind my seat, while the two most used for whatever species/water I'm targeting go next to the seat.

Different seasons, weather and environments will call for different fishing gear. The one hard and fast rule about this stuff: don’t leave anything off the first list so that you can fit more fishing gear into your kayak.

Non-essential/luxury items:

  • GPS fish finder
  • Extra rods
  • Extra tackle
  • Anchor trolley + anchor
  • Net
  • Scale
  • Enough camera gear to film the movie Titanic
  • Cart (you try lifting the boat with all this stuff in it)

These are the things that make your fishing excursion more productive and enjoyable, but they aren’t strictly necessary for kayak angling – they just make it more fun.

Things not pictured that only get taken on multi day trips:

  • Water filter/pump
  • Solar charger
  • Tent (1 man, with sleeping pad and aluminum poles)
  • Extra empty water bottles
  • Large titanium mess kit
  • Liquid fuel stove with extra fuel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hiking tarp
  • Hiking hammock

Now, this list edges back towards the “essential” end of the spectrum. When you’re out in nature, especially overnight, you need food, water and shelter. To keep things civilized, it also helps to bring gear that allows you to cook and stay clean and dry. Above all, it’s important to have multiple ways to create potable water, whether it’s purification tablets, filters or equipment for boiling.

These items are almost always in or on my boat. I don't use a crate because I like to try to keep my loadout as modular as I can. I'm constantly swapping in different boxes and gear, and I like to have the tank space for camping equipment or pelican cases for camera gear. The tackle bag fits on top of the rear hatch for easy access; inside it are more safety items, band aids, pliers, cutters, extra line, another fire starter, space blanket, paracord and another knife.

And yes - it all packs into the Vibe Sea Ghost 110, with the exception of food and coolers for multi-day trips. But as for how I pack that stuff… that's a trade secret.  

-Matt Charette
Vibe Pro Staff
@rural.fisherman