Camping can be enjoyed at the lake, in the mountains, near the beach and even in your own backyard. For those seeking the most adventure, part of the experience is getting there so why not try canoe camping? If you’re thinking about planning a canoe camping trip we’ve got a gear guide just for you.
Your planning should be the foundation of your canoe camping trip. All the logistics from weather reports to portage points should be taken into consideration during the planning process. These logistics will aid in the packing process and ensure that you are prepared for your canoe camping trip.
Duration & Weather: The duration of your trip as well as the weather forecast will impact the amount and type of personal gear you bring. Note that if there is rain in the forecast, you will want to pack some waterproof rain gear as well as a few extra, dry layers so you’re not stuck in soppy, wet clothes all day. The weather can impact your daily activities so stay informed. If you have a long paddle one day and there’s rain on the horizon plan accordingly.
The Route: If your route includes portaging, proper footwear will be necessary as well as the weight of your packs and the number of bags you have will need to be considered. You’ll have to carry your canoe as well as all your gear from one body of water to the next so if you can avoid making 5 trips there and back, do it.
Research some bail-out points so you are prepared should you need to take shelter for a few hours or for the night. Mother Nature isn’t one to be battled with, so if you ever have doubts about carrying on, choose the safer decision.
Menu & Itinerary: Having an idea of meals beforehand can ease the preparation process and result in more organized days and evenings during the trip especially if you have early starts. Check if any ingredients require can openers or specific condiments and sauces so you can ensure they make it into your gear pack and into your camp kitchen.
If there are some good fishing spots on the lake you are canoeing on, you may want to bring along your fishing gear and catch dinner one night. If this is the case, you’ll want to pack the appropriate fish hooks and fishing equipment.
The Necessary Equipment
The Canoe: Your Vessel
Whether you’re venturing out in a personal canoe of your own or you are renting one, make sure the canoe is in working order. This means that the canoe will float, be balanced and won’t take on any water throughout the day.
While inspecting your canoe, check the seats are stable and safe. In most canoes, the seat will be a thin wood or plastic piece that stretches from one side of the vessel to the other. They generally aren’t the most comfortable seats but they aren’t meant to be cozy lazy boys or else you’d be asleep halfway through the paddle!
The Paddles: Your Motor
In order to operate the canoe, you guessed it, you need paddles. Ideally two at least, although if you’re experienced enough, you could pull off paddling a canoe alone with one canoe paddle if you absolutely need to.
Generally there are two to three people in a canoe although depending on the size, you could fit a family of five (mom, dad, Tim, Beth & Johnny) if you really wanted to. There will often only be two paddlers in a canoe, one in the front and one in the rear but in the case that there are more people you can use more paddles. The idea is to have the same amount of paddlers and power on both sizes of the vessel so if you are five people, it’s best that only four do the paddling.
The Life Jacket: You Personal Flotation Device
Once in the canoe, you should wear a life jacket at all times. Yes they often make nice bum cushions but they are meant for saving your life, not keeping your bum cushy so make sure you put it on. It’s important that you not only wear your life jacket, but that you are wearing it properly. There are a variety of styles and some can be quite confusing with straps and buckles coming out from everywhere so if you’re unsure, ask someone.
Your personal pack will carry your personal items including your tent, sleeping bag and sleeping mattress. You want to make sure you have compression sacks if needed and reasonably sized gear so everything fits in your pack and you don’t need a rubber dinghy towing behind you with the rest of your gear.
A 40L-50L pack should work fine although if your sleeping equipment and tent are of a larger size, a larger pack may be necessary. Keep in mind that the number of days you plan to camp for will influence the number of garments you bring. This list is made for around a 5 or 6 day canoe camping trip.
Personal items that should be included in your personal pack:
If you have a larger sized personal pack and your canoe camping trip isn’t much more than a few days, you may be able to fit some of the camping equipment into your personal pack as well. In a case that your personal pack is already jam-packed, an additional pack for your equipment would be necessary. If you are sharing supplies with a friend or partner, the camping equipment can be split into two packs so that the weight is shared or you can take turns carrying the equipment pack.
Camping equipment that should be included in your equipment pack:
Other important gear to keep in your equipment pack includes a fully stocked first aid kit and a water treatment kit or water filter. Should you run out of your own water supply, some locations will have fresh, flowing water which is safe to use. If ever you are unsure, don’t take chances, use a water filter. Getting sick halfway through a canoe camping trip is not only inconvenient but can be potentially dangerous if serious enough.
Accessible Gear In The Canoe
While you’re canoeing, there are a few things that you will need periodically so they should be in an easily accessible location whether it be a smaller day-pack at your feet or a fanny back around your waist. These particular items include:
Water Safety Equipment
Beofre you venture out on your canoe trip there are a few important safety tools that should be in the canoe at all times. These safety tools, although not needed often, are extremely important should an emergency arise.
It Isn’t A Fashion Show Out There
When you are packing your gear for your trip make sure that your packs are not so heavy that the canoe is going to sink. Pack smart and pack for the wilderness. You aren’t going to need any bedazzled, denim jeans and it is possible to survive without a pillow for a few nights. In saying that, if you really need a pillow for sleeping, you can always stuff a bunch of your clothes inside of your sweater and create one.
You also want to keep in mind while you’re packing that everything you have you may have to carry at some point whether it be to portage or to get from the lake shore to your camp. There is a limit with how much you can carry comfortably so be aware of that so that you don’t end up with a back problem by the end of the trip.
When you’re packing your gear into the canoe, ensure that you are distributing the weight evenly within the vessel. Generally canoes aren’t wide enough to over pack one side but it is always a good idea to be conscious of that.
Let The Adventure Begin!
The canoe is packed, life jackets are secured safely and paddles are in hand; let the adventure begin! Get the most out of the last of summer and enjoy a delightful canoe camping trip somewhere new.