Do kayakers have an effect on nature and animals and what impacts does kayaking have on the environment?
We address these questions in detail on this page (because Mother Nature deserves a sustainable approach to this sport and leisure activity).
Table of Contents
- 1 What impacts does kayaking have on the environment? Introduction
- 2 Tips to lower ecological impacts of kayak camping
- 3 Sanitation: What about human feces?
- 4 What impacts does kayaking have on the environment? Final tip
What impacts does kayaking have on the environment? Introduction
We cause an impact just by being out on the water.
It could be as insignificant as being seen by another solitary kayaker or startling a brood of newly hatched mergansers (ducks), to which you came too close.
Whatever it might be, any impact carries a clear obligation that isn’t dissipated once we stop paddling.
The other party still feels our presence, and a panic-stricken duckling might find it overwhelming.
Tips to lower ecological impacts of kayak camping
The same happens if our kayaking trips involve camping.
We leave marks on the ground, flattened vegetation under the tent, scuffed plants where we crouched while cooking, and upturned rocks on which we placed our stove.
While we can not avoid all impacts when ashore, there are ways to reduce them.
Tips to reduce your impact when ashore
Sand and small gravel can endure the surface disruption of camping with no lasting damage.
If you’ve moved rocks or anything else, put them back before leaving.
Try to leave your campsite as if you were never there; think of the saying:
“Take only memories, leave only footprints”.
If camping spots are scarce, it’s even more important to leave a place in the way you would wish to find it. Respect other kayakers and campers.
Choose the right colors for your equipment
Choose the right colors for your tent and other equipment to decrease the visual effect, especially if camping on the coast.
Mountaineering tents are often brightly colored so they will stand out, and that’s to help in finding your way back.
It’s not such a big deal if you’re kayak camping using the appropriate camping equipment since you’re usually taking your tent and equipment with you upon leaving.
Don’t hesitate to use an earth-tone or camouflage camping tent if one is readily available.
Boat colors are different. Makers use bright hull colors for marketing.
The high visibility of such boats on the water is an excellent safety feature and offsets any negative visuality.
Tip: You should also pay attention to the weight carrying capacity of your kayak! Read our 500 lb capacity kayak for heavy people page and discover several great models for plus-size people who want to enjoy an overnight kayak.
And while you want your paddle coat and life vest to be highly visible for safety’s sake, your camping equipment can be more controlled.
Sanitation: What about human feces?
How do you plan a kayak without soiling the beautiful surroundings with your excrement?
Human excrement should always be taken away, and this is a requirement on many rivers, especially the more popular ones.
This is achieved by different systems using portable plastic bags, which are totally odor-free.
One popular method involves defecating on a scrap of paper; when you’re ready, pick up the folded paper, drop it into a plastic bag, and close it tightly.
Upon return, dispose of the waste in specialized containers or into pit (not flush) toilets if there aren’t any.
If you can’t do that, the proven system of using pigholes (also known as catholes) is the next best way.
Select the brushiest, least-likely-to-be checked-out spot you can find, the further from camp and water sources, the better, and don’t forget your toilet paper.
We are not talking a few yards here but feet.
What impacts does kayaking have on the environment? Final tip
Even in damp climates, with abundant soil microorganisms, complete underground decomposition of feces is a slow process.
So do all you can to prevent creating one big outhouse in outdoor areas.