Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Canoe Camping Gear / Packlist

So you've decided to take a leap into canoe tripping, huh?

This is a short list of recommend items to bring if you're coming on a canoe trip with me.  I'll have the rest of the gear (map, water filter, rope, food barrel, backpacking stove, cooking tools, etc...) so this is a list of things to pack for yourself.

Gear Checklist
The Essentials
□ Trip plan left with family or friends
Large Backpack
□ Waterproof pack liner (if your bag isn't waterproof on its own)
□ Tent
□ Sleeping bag
□ Sleeping pad (not necessary, but makes the experience so much better than being on the ground)

□ Rain Jacket or Poncho
□ Shorts / T-Shirts
□ Long Pants / Long sleeved shirt (it can get chilly at night or if it’s raining)
□ Swimwear
□ Hiking Boots or Walking shoes
□ Sandals or flip-flops
□ Hat
□ Sunglasses

Personal Care Items
□ Toothbrush / Toothpaste
□ Towel
□ Biodegradable Soap
□ Toilet paper / Baby wipes
□ Hand Sanitizer
□ Contacts / Glasses + repair kit
□ Bug Spray
□ Sunscreen

Camping Gear
□ Bowl / Fork / Spoon
□ Heat Proof cup (for hot drinks- coffee, hot chocolate, etc...)
□ Small Day pack  / possibles bag
□ Water bottle (I recommend  750ml or 1L bottles)
□ Fixed Blade / Swiss Army Knife / Multi-tool
□ Headlamp / Flashlight / Lantern
□ Compass
□ First-aid kit
□ Whistle
□ Lighter / Matches in waterproof container
□ Small sewing kit / duct tape or waterproof tape / repair kit (for tents, sleeping pad, poncho, etc)

Extras (optional)
□ Binoculars
□ Fishing gear
□ Camera
□ Notebook / Journal & Pencil / Pen
□ Watch
□ Deck of cards / Games

How to Pack
How you pack your gear is almost as important as what you pack.  You're taking all of your personal effects with you, so the key is to identify what items are really needed and cut the ones that aren't.  More than likely you aren't going to need 3 pairs of shoes and an entire wardrobe of clothes.  For a 3 day trip, i usually carry
  • 2 pairs of long pants (convertible pants are even better)
  • 2-3 t-shirts
  • 1 long sleeved shirt 
  • Swim pants
  • Rain jacket / poncho
  • Hiking boots
  • Water shoes
I usually don't need more than that.  If I get cold at night I can layer items to enhance the insulation power of my clothing.  Wear the clean shirt you plan to wear the next day to bed and you no longer need a dedicated sleeping shirt.  On longer journeys you can wash soiled clothes with biodegradable detergent and hang them to dry during the day.

Because all of your belongings will be taken with you in the canoe, you MUST pack as if you will flip the canoe.  If canoe tripping is something you enjoy and plan to continue doing, it's not about if you spill...but when.

All items need to be in a waterproof pack, and if the pack isn't waterproof it must have a waterproof liner in the main bucket area where your items are being stored.  In a pinch a garbage bag without holes in it will do, but I recommend a light weight ripstop nylon liner because it's durable and relatively cheap.  Clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and tent should be carried in this waterproof area so that in the event your canoe capsizes, you won't be sleeping in wet gear and you'll have dry clothes clothes to change into at night.

Any electronics (cameras, lenses, cellphones, lanterns, flashlights) will need to be placed into this waterproof areas as well.

Organization is also key.  I have found that separating items into smaller kits is helpful in finding items I need quickly (all clothes in a stuff sack, hygiene items in a kit, first aid kit, etc...).  A cost effective way to do this is by using large freezer bags, but any small pouch will do.

You'll want to pack items you're less likely to need at the bottom of the pack and items you need quick access to on top or in side pockets.  Nothing is worse than realizing you're about to be rained on and your poncho/rain jacket is at the bottom of your pack under the rest of your gear.

If there are portages on this trip, try your best to pack everything so that nothing is loose.  Remember that everything needs to be carried by hand over land, so having it all in the pack reduces the amount of trips you'll need to cart all the gear.

Do not keep food in your pack.  The last thing you want is your clothes and gear smelling like food in bear country.  If you have energy bars or snacks, it needs to be packed away into the food barrel.

Where to buy?
List of local retailers you can find most of these items:

Of course if you think you need guidance you can feel free to message me about specific items.


  1. Thanks,

    While not extensive, hopefully some will find it useful when preparing for their first few trips out.