One of the most overlooked outdoor activities is jet ski camping.
It’s a great way to bring the family together and make days on the water more fun for the kids.
Jet ski camping allows you the freedom to find your own secluded spot along a river, or maybe your own private island, where you can have a good time with friends and family members. Often times people never even consider going jet ski camping, but those who do find it’s a great way to spend a weekend.
This thorough guide will walk you through exactly where to go, what to bring, and how to have the best time possible.
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Finding a good spot to camp is an essential part of ensuring you have a good time.
Sometimes it helps to scope out a spot in advance either online or by going there in person. If you know already the area well then you may be able to find a spot without having to make a scouting trip beforehand. Make sure you’re allowed to camp at your selected spot before making yourself at home.
If you want, you could even use Google Earth to try spotting a good camping spot from above that you can get to on your jet ski. You can explore the National Parks Service’s website for some good locations as well.
Try to decide how secluded you want to be. One of the best parts about jet ski camping is that you can choose less common locations.
Venturing out far from city lights will allow you to see all off the stars at night and really experience camping outdoors. Having your own private space to relax is one of the best parts about jet ski camping.
On the other hand, staying close to civilization usually means a shorter commute time to and from the campsite. Restocking on supplies is also much easier if a store is nearby. There are even some riverfront bars and restaurants have docks that allow you to pull right up and get some food and a drink..
What to look for in a good camping spot
It’s important to find a spot that is dry, and high enough above water level that it will stay dry all night.
-Be sure to check the weather prior to the trip.
-Try finding an area with a sandy beach to park your jet ski on, otherwise you may need to bring an anchor and rope to tie it to a tree.
-It really comes down to preference, but an area with enough trees to provide adequate shade can come in handy. Sand bars can be fun to spend the day on but most people will want a break from the sun after a few hours. The added shade will also keep the sun out of your tent (assuming you’re going to sleep in one) and allow you a couple extra hours of rest in the morning.
Jet Ski Camping Supplies
The supplies needed to go jet ski camping can vary depending on weather, your location, and what you’re personally dependent on. A list of good jet ski accessories will be posted in the near future.
The drawback of jet ski camping is the limited storage space available on jet ski’s. Try to only bring what you need, and once the essentials are on board, then you can try bringing extra luxuries.
The gear that you bring needs to be compact, lightweight, and easy to assemble.
-Some of the items on this list are mentioned in a more detailed post here on jet ski accessories.
This kind of goes without saying, but you’re going to want to bring a tent. It’s very possible to sleep in a hammock or sleeping bag, but the option to shelter yourself from the elements as well as bugs is a great back up.
The Winterial single person tent is great if you intend on sleeping by yourself. It weighs around 2.5 pounds and is very portable.
If you want to have room for company the Weanas double layered tent is a good option. It fits 2-4 people but can be folded down and stuffed into a compact bag.
Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
A sleeping bag and sleeping pad aren’t exactly necessary for a jet ski camping trip.
If you’re sleeping in a tent then a pillow and blanket can be using in place of a sleeping bag but they will definitely take up more space. A sleeping pad is useful because it makes sleeping on the ground much more comfortable but it’s not a must-have.
If the extra gear is worth it to you, then I’d suggest getting an Outdoor Vitals sleeping bag.
The top half can be left unzipped to stay cool in warmer climates which is preferable because most jet ski camping trips take place during the summer. A cool feature this sleeping bag offers is the ability to zip two of them together to create a two person sleeping bag. It weighs just over 2 pounds and takes up very little space.
Most novice campers don’t own a sleeping pad, but getting one actually makes sleeping on the ground bearable. Getting good sleep while camping makes the next days activities way more fun.
The Klymit Static V lightweight sleeping pad has some great reviews and takes up very little room so it may be worth it to invest in one.
Bringing a bundle of wood for a fire is such a surprisingly overlooked detail on many jet ski camping trips. Most people assume they can find wood where they are but that isn’t always the case.
You can save some storage space by finding kindling around your site, but there is no reason to go chopping down trees. Collecting wood, even if it’s deadwood, is often times prohibited in national parks because it can damage the ecosystem. Check the rules and regulations before you pull our your axe or go foraging.
If it’s allowed, spending a little bit of time searching for some deadwood to burn can be a good way to explore the area and get free supplies in the process.
Regardless if it is permitted or not, cutting down trees should be avoided. Keep in mind the goal of a camping trip is to have fun, not spend your afternoon playing lumberjack. Save yourself some time and just buy a couple bundles of wood beforehand.
Here is a good video on how to start a campfire. Remember to be responsible when starting a fire. Make sure it is completely our before you abandon the campsite.
Unless you plan on living off of the land survivalist style, bringing food is very essential.
Stick to packing the classic camping foods such as hotdogs, chips, and s’mores. If you want to feel extra outdoorsy, get some granola and beef jerky too. There’s a reason all of these cliche foods are continuously brought on camping trips. They’re cheap, easy to prepare, and taste great!
Bring a cooler if you can to keep your food fresh. Yeti makes so high quality coolers in several different sizes. The Yeti Tundra cooler is one of their better models.
Buying a fold out grill to put over a fire makes cooking much easier. They are light and compact which makes them great for jet ski camping because it’s important to save as much room on board as possible.
The Texsport heavy duty over fire camp grill should be able to handle anything you intend on cooking.
If you plan on making coffee the morning after camping, I’d suggest getting a french press. They’re really easy to use and make great tasting coffee.
X-Chef makes a really good stainless steel french press that can make 8 cups at a time.
Be sure to dispose of your leftovers and trash properly. Bringing trash bags is a good idea because you should never leave anything behind, even if it’s biodegradable. Leftover scraps can attract animals to your campsite either while you’re there or when other people camp there in the future.
Airtight containers are great for storing food after it’s out of its original packaging. Avoid plastic baggies or other small items of trash that can easily be forgotten and left at the campsite.
Having a fun time
Going jet ski camping is a great way to make boating and jet skiing fun for kids.
There are tons of different activities you can do to enjoy the outdoors, but these are just a few of the more cliche ones.
-Jet Ski Fishing
Bring a couple of rods along and use the mobility of your jet ski to get to good fishing spots other watercraft cant reach! If you decide to keep your catches you can head back to your campsite and cook up dinner.
-Jet Ski Tubing
All you need is some tow rope and an inflatable tube to keep the whole family busy for hours. Tubing with a jet ski is a lot of fun because PWC can maneuver sharply and accelerate quickly.
-Make a GoPro video
Making a GoPro video is fun to do, and it provides you with something to look back on.
GoPro’s are very easy to use and their waterproof housing makes them a great camera for anyone with a PWC. The GoPro Hero 4 Black Edition is the best version out right now but they make plenty of other good options as well.
-Set up an Eno Hammock
If you can find a nice wooded area to set up camp, consider bringing a hammock!
Most people lay in hammocks just to relax, but you can even sleep in one if you prefer to be off of the ground. The most popular hammocks for camping are made by Eno. The Eno Doublenest hammock can be set up just about anywhere and provides the best value for the money.
Playing horseshoes may be the most cliche camping activity there is. A horseshoe set doesn’t add a lot of weight or take up much room so they can be for jet ski camping. St. Pierre Professional Horseshoes have great reviews.