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Canoe Camping Tips

By Edited Jun 29, 2015 1 5

Taking a canoe camping trip can be a great way to have an adventure and enjoy the outdoors. Before you plan your next trip, consider the tips and suggestions below.

1. Check the weather. Although the weather can be unpredictable, it is always a good idea to check the forecast before heading out for several days. A few days of thunderstorms can really put a damper on your paddling plans. If there is still a chance of rain, just make sure you pack accordingly so you can stay dry and prevent your gear and equipment from being damaged.

2. Plan where to camp. Wherever you choose to paddle, whether it be a river, lake, or some other type of body of water, make sure you have at least a general idea of where you are going to spend the night. You don’t have to have reservations or have each night planned out, but make sure you have plenty of options in the event that your site is taken or unavailable. The last thing you want to do is get stuck on some stretch of river without a place to camp.

3. Scout the location. See what you are going to be encountering during your trip. Check to see if there are any good sites nearby, like waterfalls, that you can check out while on your trip. If you plan on doing any fishing, check the fishing reports.

4. Pack accordingly. Your needs are going to be different than the next person’s, but here is a list of supplies and equipment I always take if I am going on a four or five day canoeing trip. I try to go as light as possible.

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bags in waterproofed compression bag
  • Food: I usually take plenty of dry goods like rice, beans, nuts, beef jerky, etc. You are going to be out for several days, so you won’t be able to bring a lot of meat or other food that has to be cold.
  • Backpacking stove with fuel
  • Lightweight mess kit (pots, pans, cups, plates, utensils, etc.)
  • Fishing rod with plenty of lures, hooks, sinkers, etc: I don’t bring my tackle box; I usually just place everything in small plastic case to save space. I love to catch and eat fresh trout on my canoeing trips.
  • First-aid kit
  • Lighter (ever seen Castaway?)
  • Knife (for food, cleaning fish, etc.)
  • Small starter logs
  • Water purifier and/or water treatment tablets
  • Plenty of sunscreen and bug spray
  • An appropriate amount of clothing
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Life jacket
  • Cell phone or other communication device
  • Hand sanitizer or some type of soap
  • Plastic bags to keep everything dry
  • Digital camera
  • A good book (you don't really need this, but I love to read)

That is what I always bring, but I may modify or bring a few other things depending on the location.

5. Let someone know where you are going: This one is a no-brainer, but let someone know of your plans, even if you are you going with another person or your entire family.

6. Keep your canoe organized: I try to put as much as possible into a few bags and place everything low and in the center of the canoe. This will help with the weight and balance, but it will also keep your canoe organized throughout your trip.

7. Take your time: The whole point of canoeing and camping is to enjoy the simplicity of nature and get away from the bustle of society, so don’t rush your trip. Enjoy paddling, fishing, taking pictures, and spending time with the people you are with.




Jun 2, 2011 10:31am
I've never been camping before and canoeing only once, but it sounds like fun. I think this will have to go on to my things to do list.
Jun 2, 2011 3:29pm
You should go. Campsites are pretty cheap (or free), and you don't have to spend a lot on a tent or other supplies either. Thanks for commenting.
Jun 2, 2011 1:02pm
Spot on article. Its a great checklist. Have you ever thought about getting an ENO hammock? I love mine. You can set it up between basically any two trees. Its perfect for summer camping. I sometimes don't even take a tent!
Jun 2, 2011 3:28pm
Actually, I am going next week, and I was seriously considering getting one. Any particular model you recommend?
Jun 3, 2011 4:36pm
This is the model I have.

I got the doublenest because I like the extra material/space. It can also double as a bug net if you cover yourself with it. Its not perfect as that, but it works if you're not in some kind of swarm haha. I also have the "slap straps" found here.

If you have any spare climbing rope/carabiners around anywhere you can use those instead. I just didn't have any.

Have fun on your trip!
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