Leave The Kitchen Sink Home

Easier said than done most days

Published in the July 2018 Issue August 2018 Feature Vanessa Oler

I have a couple friends who are professional, international travelers. Our running joke is, after any span of silence, to shoot a warning text over their virtual bow and ask: are you in country this weekend? To which the response is always: Maybe, depends on who is asking!

Devoted minimalists and photographers, I’m always astounded at their ability to pack so much gear in one bag and not have it weigh 300 pounds. We just got back from Disneyland together (yes, even the jet setters take domestic, tourist trips from time to time) to which they had one modest backpack between them. One! I nearly fainted.

Once I recovered, the challenge was on. How to pack for a day on the lake without trying to cram my entire house into the pontoon’s storage space?

 A.) 20L Day Pack

You’d be amazed what will fit in 20 liters, but you’ll appreciate the freedom of movement and space when you commit to it. Find your favorite 20 liter bag, preferably made of waterproof or water-resistant material. 

B.) Trash Compactor Bags

Whether for wet clothes or kid-generated trash, it’s a nice courtesy to bring a few with you. Compactor bags are more robust than the average kitchen bag and tolerate more stuff shoved inside.

C.) Personal First Aid Kit

All good captains have a robust First Aid kit for the boat, but it’s always a good idea to have your own that includes any specific medications you might need. 

D.) Chacos

There’s a lot to be said for boat shoes but we all know pontoons and deck boats are the launch pad for adventure. A solid pair of Chacos allows you to go from water to shore without sacrificing your feet. 

E.) WetOnes

Anytime you can find one product that serves multiple purposes, you’re making good life choices! Disinfecting wipes that are also gentle enough for hands and faces are a must-pack. 

F.) Sunscreen

We could build an entire magazine around sunscreen reviews and recommendations. But we won’t. So, for now, our only advice is: bring it, apply it early and often and wear a cover up when you’re not in the water. 

G.) Off! Deep Woods

Consistently ranked at the top of Consumer Reports effectiveness testing, Off! Deep Woods keeps everyone safe from West Nile and the nuisance of scratching mosquito bites for the rest of the week. 

H.) Off! Botanicals

For families who are wary of deet-centric products, Off! has a plant-based repellent with the active ingredient being a synthesized pine extract. Bonus: it smells amazing! 

I.) ChapStick

With extra-strength moisturizers and a built-in sunscreen ChapStick keeps those lips soft and protected long after you’re off the water. 

J.) Packing Cubes

Quite possibly the greatest thing to happen to packing since the steamer trunk, packing cubes are the key to the 20 liter life. Super lightweight and typically see-through, packing cubes keep your spare clothes organized. Each kid can even have their own color cube. Total game changer!

K.) Two Phones

Designate one as the emergency phone and keep it fully charged the entire day, the other one can run the music and entertainment.

L.) LifeProof Case

Waterproof cases used to be chunky and rendered your phone completely useless while on the water. No longer! Waterproof up to 6 feet and shockproof, LifeProof is about to be your phone’s new best friend. 

M.) Dog & Bone Wetsuit

The first and only quality direct touch waterproof case, Dog & Bone conquers the one gripe we all have about waterproof cases: there’s something between our fingers and the glass. With all the same credentials we’ve learned to love from Dog & Bone, but without the heavy-handedness of other waterproof cases. 

N.) Waterproof Document Bag

For all those irreplaceable essentials like driver’s license, boating and fishing licenses, car keys, and Dad’s credit card. Most modern pontoons will also have a watertight document storage area near the helm.

O.) Westwood Sunglasses

That’s right. Wooden sunglasses aren’t just for hipsters. Westwood balance the specific weights of walnut, bamboo, cherry wood with polarized lens types to ensure flotation. These are the ultimate adventure sunglasses! 

P.) Long-sleeved Cover Ups

Weather can change in an instant and it’s a good idea to have several light layers available. Cabela’s fishing gear department is home to all our favorite shirts, including Huk Performance Fishing Gear. Cabela’s house label even has an insect repellant fabric! 

Check with the Captain

As a guest, your number one job is to make sure you can take care of your own needs while onboard. However, as a fellow boating enthusiast you may have quite a treasure trove of water toys, life jackets, and other fun boating accessories. Check with your captain on the following to make sure you’re not bringing duplicates. No one likes a boat overcrowded with stuff you’re not going to use!

  • Cooler
  • Flares
  • First Aid
  • Inflatables
  • Towables
  • Wake Surf Boards
  • Other Water Toys
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Fishing Poles
  • Tackle
  • Adult Life Jackets
  • Various Kid-sized Life Jackets


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