Are you looking to go camping for the weekend? Canada and the United States have some of the best lake systems in the world, filled with prime camping spots. If you own a jet ski, why not make it a jet ski camping trip?
That’s right, you can take your jet ski with you and use it to enhance the camping experience. Take trips from lake to lake and through the waterways, exploring the best the country offers in waterside camping accommodations.
Jet ski camping has plenty of advantages. Take it out onto the lake for some fishing, and cover loads of ground between camping sites. You’ll take in more scenery and experience more of the countryside from the water.
So, what do you need to start jet ski camping? Let’s unpack everything you need to know about starting this recreational activity.
- What Do I Need to Start Jet Ski Camping?
- Planning Your Jet Ski Camping Trip
- Jet Ski Camping Tips
- In Closing – Jet Ski Camping Safety Tips
What Do I Need to Start Jet Ski Camping?
What are the basics you need to go jet ski camping? They are largely the same as what you would need to camp without the ski. When you’re prepping your gear for the trip, it’s critical to focus on lightweight, compact equipment that takes up as little space as possible on the watercraft.
Here are the basics of what you need to go jet ski camping.
Permits and Licenses
To start, you’ll need to arrange your licenses and fishing permits for your trip. You can pick these up from the park’s office before heading to the parking area. Parks charge different fees for entrance and daily visitation. You’ll get a discount for longer stays.
Make sure you have the right permits. Your permit fees pay for the park’s upkeep, so don’t cheat them out of the little bit of money they charge you for an experience of a lifetime. If a park ranger catches you without fishing or camping permits, you could face a fine and expulsion from the park.
The first piece of gear you need for the trip is a tent. We recommend going with a standard four-man tent to sleep two people comfortably, along with your equipment. There are dozens of tent manufacturers and brands with plenty of tent designs.
We recommend going for a tent that’s easy to set up and disassemble. Look for dome tents that offer a simple setup. Your tent should have mesh covers for the doors, durable zips, and a rain cover. Ensure that the tent features design and construction with lightweight materials that are easier to carry.
Tarps are a good thing to have around on rainy days. You can set them up around the cam to give you somewhere to sit during the rainstorm. Tarps are easy to rig to nearby trees, and they are lightweight. A tarp won’t cost you much, they retail for $10 to $20, and they are simple to set up and disassemble.
Sleeping Bag and Pad
Your sleeping bag should match the temperature conditions around the camping area. If your sleeping bag is too warm, you’re going to sweat in it at night. Discuss your needs with the attendant at the camping store and pick out the right sleeping bag to suit your environment.
Most sleeping bags come with a rating system that shows you what temperatures they are suitable for. In most cases, you’ll be camping in the summer. So, choosing a lighter sleeping bag ensures you have a peaceful night instead of a sweat-fest.
The sleeping pad is also important if you want to keep yourself off the hard, cold ground. We recommend going for inflatable sleeping pads over the fixed cushion models. They are easy to blow up in a few minutes and store away in a compact size. Look for inflatable pillows to add to your sleeping gear.
Other Camping Gear Essentials
- Cooking Tools
You’ll need camping pots and pans for the fire and a small gas-powered camping stove for boiling coffee.
- Firewood Tools
Remember the fire steel, and take along a Bic lighter just in case. You’ll also need an ax and a saw for processing firewood.
- Food Storage
If you have space for a cooler, that’s great. If not, you’ll need Tupperware containers for the food you bring along.
- Fishing Gear
If you’re into fishing, take your gear long for the trip. Ensure all the rods, reels, and lures you need for specific fish species.
A GPS or map of the area is essential. Without a map, you have no idea where you’re going, and you’re asking to get lost.
Planning Your Jet Ski Camping Trip
Choose Your Location
Where do you plan on camping? Are you thinking about going to the local lake for the weekend, or are you going somewhere further afield? The duration of your trip and the remoteness of the location play a significant role in the gear you take with you and what you need during the journey.
- Are you planning to stay at a single campsite? Or are you going to be moving along a river or lake system, choosing different camping spots each night? There are hundreds of high-quality jet ski camping venues across the United States.
- Choose the location that offers you the most excitement for the trip and review the local camping accommodations along the river. Many parks provide camping spots littered along the shoreline of lake systems. A trip could take you hundreds of miles along the shore, camping at different locations every night.
- Or you can choose a local location, arrive, and pitch a tent for the weekend. The camping spot might have local amenities like showers and toilets, and some even have cafeterias. You need to decide what offers you the optimal jet ski camping experience. Do you want luxurious and local? Or are you into the call of the wild and rugged camping? It’s up to you.
Review the Maps and Camping Spots
Before you head out on your camping adventure, buy yourself a GPS. A GPS ensures that you always know where you are at all times. Some models also come with fish finders, giving you a tool to navigate and find the best fishing grounds.
If you don’t have a GPS or want to do things the old-fashioned way, pick up some local maps of the area. Learning to read a map and compass is a valuable life skill. Many campers chose to go this route to avoid taking electronics with them on their trip. Maps give you the chance to unplug from the matrix for a few days.
However, if tech is your thing, get yourself a handheld GPS. Most of them come with maps of all the waterways in the United States. These maps are free to download from the GPS provider’s website. With your GPS, you never have to worry about getting lost. We recommend buying a waterproof marine GPS that floats if you drop it in the water.
Check the Forecast
When you start planning your trip, look at the weather forecast for the duration of your trip. Some people like camping in the rain, but most are looking for camping in fine weather conditions.
Checking the weather ensures you don’t get any nasty surprises when you arrive at the venue or during the camping trip. It’s a free service, so it will cost you nothing but time to check it.
Before you head out for the trip and during the journey, take the time to check the weather. The NOAA forecast is available on most communication and emergency radios.
NOAA sends out regular updates of weather conditions in your area. If there is any rain heading your way, you know to set up your tarp at camp ahead of its arrival.
Tell Someone Where You’re Going
Going out into the wilderness on a jet ski camping trip is a thrilling experience. However, you need to wake up to the reality of what you’re doing. In many cases, you’re going to be camping along lakes and rivers where there is no help nearby.
You never know what could go wrong on a camping trip. While the chances are you will have a safe-and-sound experience, you need to prepare for the worst, just in case.
So, tell the neighbors or a friend or family member where you’re going and when you’ll be back. This tip is especially crucial if you’re heading out alone.
If you don’t arrive back on time and on schedule, the third party can inform the local authorities where you are to start a search for you. If you are lost or stranded, the sooner they start searching for you, the better.
Jet Ski Camping Tips
Remember the Anchor and Docking Lines
You’ll need the anchor and docking lines to secure the PWC at night when you’re at camp. We recommend against beaching the jet ski unless you have to. Beaching it could crack the hull. Drop anchor and tie the boat to trees nearby on the waterline or tether it to rocks.
Set Up Camp Before Dark
If you’re enjoying the day on the water, pick out your camping spot before dark. Set up and process your firewood and then get back onto the water for some sunset fishing. Setting up in the early afternoon means you don’t have to go through the hassle of making camp in the dark when you’re feeling tired.
Beware of Sunken Objects
When securing the jet ski for the evening, make sure there are no underwater objects nearby. Keep the ski at least ten feet from the shoreline, and watch out for rock bottoms.
In Closing – Jet Ski Camping Safety Tips
Wear Your PFD
The PFD is an essential piece of gear for PWC owners. The personal flotation device keeps you floating and visible for rescue after falling out of the boat.
If you’re thrown from the boat at high speed, the force of the impact could knock you unconscious. If you’re not wearing a PFD, you could land and sink, drowning before anyone rescues you.
The PFD gives you the best chance at floating face-up and a fast rescue. Make sure you and your passenger are wearing your PFD at all times on the water.
Carry a Basic Medical Kit
You never know what will happen when you’re out in the wild. If you get a small cut and you’re days away from help, it could turn into a life-threatening infection.
Keep a small trauma and medical kit with your gear. They are compact, and many attach to backpacks for easy carry.
When things go wrong, at least you’ll have the medical supplies on hand to treat the emergency.
Have an Exit Plan
If things do take a turn for the worse, you need to have an evacuation plan. How will you get back to civilization and find help if you have a medical issue?
When a problem turns into a crisis, having a plan can be the difference between a safe extraction and someone ending up in the hospital or worse.
Be Aware of Your Equipment
Make sure you maintain and service your jet ski before heading out on a trip. The last thing you need is to be three days into the trip and experience a mechanical failure because you didn’t service the jet ski.
Make sure you have all your gear and plan a checklist before leaving. Make a copy of the checklist for when you pack your equipment and a copy to take with you for when you pack up camp.
Be Courteous and Reduce Noise and Wash
If you’re using the jet ski in national parks and other waterways, be respectful of the environment and other people. There’s no need to start doing ramps and high-speed maneuvers on the lake, ruining everyone’s afternoons.
There are specific areas for doing those maneuvers, and going crazy on your ski in most public places will get you a lot of funny looks for other people. Keep your wash to a minimum and make as little noise as possible.