Can You Sleep In A Kayak? [Is It Safe & Comfortable?]

If you are a keen kayaker, you might be wondering about the practicalities of sleeping in your kayak. Of course, quite a few factors might lead to this question, such as strict camping laws, a desire to reduce the gear carried, a reluctance to sleep on land due to animal activity, etc., but how practical is it to sleep in a kayak?

Can You Sleep In A Kayak?

Kayaks are not designed to be slept in. And while a kayak might seem a tempting solution to the problem of needing to carry a tent, it isn’t suitable for sleeping in under most circumstances. There are no kayaks that have been specifically designed to accommodate a sleeping traveler. Some people do sleep in their kayaks, it is generally not advised.

Why Might You Want To Sleep In A Kayak?

You might want to sleep in a kayak for several reasons, including the fact that it reduces the amount of gear you need to carry.

One of the biggest issues about sleeping in a kayak is being unable to scout out the terrain you’ll be sleeping in advance of an overnight kayaking trip, and this makes it difficult to know what to take with you.

As space is extremely limited on a kayak, it is tough to know what to carry. You can’t just bring one of everything; you need to choose your gear with great care.

Being able to turn your kayak into your bed might seem like a great way to cut down on how much you have to carry and possibly on the setup time needed as well because your kayak is already a solid and relatively comfortable, protective structure.

If laws prohibit camping on land in your area, you may want to sleep aboard your kayak. Equally, if you are aware of bears or other animals on the land, the nearby lake might seem like a safer place to sleep.

That covers several of the significant reasons people consider sleeping in their kayaks, so let’s now explore the actual reality of doing so.

Can You Sleep In A Kayak On Land?

It might seem like a great idea to turn your kayak into a form of bedding, allowing yourself to carry less gear and protecting yourself from the bumps and chill of the ground. Of course, if you have a comfy inflatable kayak, this might seem even more appealing.

If you find it comfortable, there isn’t anything to stop you from sleeping in your kayak on land, but you should check out how you fare before going on a long trip with this as your plan. Many kayaks have been found to be too narrow, hard, cold, or short for comfortable sleep.

If you can’t lie flat in your kayak, it is not good to sleep in. Also, you will likely find that you give yourself a bad back very quickly, which isn’t ideal at all if you have a long day of paddling ahead of you (and behind you). 

You need a spot where you can get comfy and stretch out cramped muscles for a good few hours before you get back on the water.

Your kayak may not provide much insulation from the ground. And you will still need a way to cover your head and protect yourself from the elements. If you plan to sleep just in the open, a comfortable camping mat will make a better choice than a kayak, but there are very few places where this is a viable option.

Just like it’s possible to put a boat seat in a kayak, it is possible to use your kayak to shelter you from the elements. One innovative kayaker transformed their inflatable kayak into a mattress for a tent, an you can read more about how they did it on this site.

So it can be done if you are determined, and there are definite advantages to doing so (such as reduced gear). However, this wouldn’t be for everyone, and you need a kayak that is both large enough and comfortable enough.

So, if you want to sleep on a kayak on land, you can do it. That said, you will want to test the idea beforehand, on a series of short, single-night trips in various conditions before you go out on a long trip. You need to make sure that your setup is comfortable, secure, weatherproof, warm, and protective enough to work for you.

Don’t forget to test it in adverse conditions as well as the “ideal” camping weather; you never know when things might turn, and you need to be able to rely on your setup if you are off on a long trip with no easy way to get home if things go wrong.

Can You Sleep In A Kayak On The Water?

It’s is often a much trickier and more dangerous operation. That said, there are some valid reasons for sleeping in a kayak; such as: keeping away from animals and steering clear of camping laws. But on the whole, it is better to look for other solutions and not stay on the water while asleep.

You will be unable to respond to changes in the conditions while sleeping. Even though people have safely slept in their kayaks overnight, others have found themselves blown off course and many miles from where they should be by attempting this.

If you are going to try it, you need to take a lot of safety precautions. First, you will need stabilizers to ensure that the kayak can’t (hopefully) capsize while you are asleep, even if the wind picks up and the water grows very choppy.

You will also need a good anchor and still water on which to rest your kayak. You should not anchor in a current, as even the best anchoring could come loose if the water speed picks up.

You should also sleep with a floatation device on and ensure that you have plenty of safety equipment. Pack a compass, map, whistle, and means of calling for help when you are traveling in unfamiliar territory. Make sure that somebody knows where you are and that you check in regularly so that anything going wrong will be noticed quickly.

Furthermore, you should still find a means of covering your boat if possible, even if this is only a waterproof skin that you spread over the top of the kayak. 

This will keep you dry if it rains or the wind splashes water over the edge of the kayak. In addition, it will protect you from biting insects.

All in all, sleeping in a kayak on the water is not generally a good idea. While you are asleep, you are at the mercy of changeable conditions. Plus you might end up in real trouble if you are washed away from the shore. In addition, grogginess and the confusion associated with sleep are not a good mix with any kind of boating.

If you wish to sleep on the water, choose a large, more reliable craft that has been designed for this. Unfortunately, kayaks are generally too small and not geared towards protecting sleeping kayakers.

Final Word

It is possible to sleep in a kayak on land, but you must carefully consider the setup. If you wish to sleep on the water, it is better to choose a more suitable boat. And take safety precautions to keep yourself safe if conditions change while you are asleep.