What is boat camping?

Boat camping or boat-in camping comes in many forms, but at it’s most basic, it combines boating with camping. Rather than driving to a campground in your car or SUV, load up your boat with a tent, food, sleeping bags, and other accessories you need to spend the night.  Here is a brief intro to boat camping.

Where can I do boat-in camping?

A few parks and campground support boat-in camping. Two Harbors in Santa Catalina Island, CA, and Devils Fort State Park, in South Carolina, are two examples. However, much of the time boat camping is not done at formal campsites. If you aren’t camping at a formal campground, be sure to watch for No Trespassing signs, and carefully observe conditions of any uninhabited areas. No matter where you camp, always observe “carry-in, carry-out” rules, and remove any trash upon your departure.

What gear do I need for boat camping, and what should I plan for?

Boat camping does not always take place at formal campgrounds. So, prepare accordingly. Make sure you’ve thought about water supply, water purification, cooking, camp stove, tent, blankets, flashlight, and food for all meals.

Boat camping should not be planned at the last minute. Take time to think through your list of camping and boating accessories.  Jot what you need on a piece of paper. Have a backup plan, and a backup plan for the backup plan. Remember that many remote areas do not get good cellular phone reception.  Make sure you inform someone back home about your plans. Be as specific as you can. Include check-in times and a float plan, and let that person know where you plan to camp, and when you expect to return home.  Some additional items you may want to consider:

  • Lantern
  • Tarp
  • Firewood/matches/lighter
  • First aid kit
  • Rope
  • Flares/flare gun
  • Radio/radio with weather band

What should I watch out for?

Keep an eye out for No Trespassing signs.  Be aware of any dangers relating to wildlife, weather, and natural conditions such as waterways, tides, and flooding patterns. Be sure you check and double check the weather conditions, and avoid boat camping if the conditions are dangerous or potentially harmful.

What kind of boat do I need for boat-in camping?

You can use virtually any kind of boat that is large enough to hold you, your boating and camping gear, and those who you’ll be traveling with. If you’re boat camping by yourself, a canoe or kayak may be sufficient.  If you’re camping with your family or friends, you will need a larger vessel.

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