How Sea Kayakers Can Blend in at the Beach
Dayglo orange is the color to wear when camping at 14,000 feet on Mt. McKinley. You want to be highly visible against the snow should you need rescue. And it’s legal to camp in the mountains, so there is no problem with bright colors. But on the beach, where camping is often frowned upon, especially in California, you should not draw unwanted attention by the constable. The solution? Camo. Camo your camp, your body, your gear, your tent, even your boat. Here’s how.
It’s easy to camouflage your body. You can wear desert camo, which can be purchased at dime stores, or you can make your own camo clothing, as I do, or even wear aloha shirts with beach scenes printed on them. When it’s warm, you can blend in by wearing hardly anything at all, ahem. Your gear bags can be neutral colors such as sand, grey, and brown, or be a mossy oak or desert camo pattern. It’s up to you.
Tents are big and must blend in with sand, rocks, and driftwood. It’s tough to find a reasonably priced camo tent in colors other than woodland, so the answer is to cover your tent with a camo tarp or netting, or to do like I did and spray paint your tent and tarps an appropriate camo color. If you place rocks and driftwood around your tent, it should fit in fairly well with the surroundings.
Sea kayaks are another matter entirely. First, don’t leave them on the sandy part of the beach, where they are highly visible. Instead, haul them up to the driftwood zone and place them so they look like logs. There aren’t a lot of camo kayaks available, but some have white hulls which look like bleached logs from a distance. You can add camo netting to make them blend in better. As you can see from the photo below, using rocks, driftwood and brushy material is an excellent boat camouflage. How many boats do you think are in the picture? That’s right—two!
Camp fires are problematic on beaches which do not permit fires. The best and safest plan is to forgo a fire. When it is legal, make a small fire that is not easily seen, and remove all traces afterward. Be sure to clean up your camp and make it so the next high tide removes any trace of footprints. Now that’s keeping a low profile.
I am not advocating that you camp on a beach where it is illegal, though it is possible I may have done it a couple of times in my life. I don’t remember…. Regrettably, many of the beautiful wild beaches in California and elsewhere in the U.S. have strict no-camping policies (except in designated pay campgrounds, away from the beach, full of cars driving by, people shouting, dogs barking, music blaring, garbage stinking, generators droning—all the stuff we hate). This is a shame because it is typically okay to camp in the mountains, or on BLM or National Forest land. Why can we not legally camp on a secluded beach?
Even when camping at a legal beach (such as on the Lost Coast), it is fun to practice blending in with your surroundings, and making it so others are unaware of your presence. Anyway, who wants to look at a garish orange tent? Not me.
What do you think? Is it wrong to camp on a pristine wilderness beach if the authorities say no? What do you do to reduce your visibility on the coastline? Do you have a beach camping story to share? Please post your comments below.