By Jim Baird, Professional Adventurer and Filmmaker
If you’re gearing up for an exciting 3-day flat-water canoe trip, you already know that a little preparation can go a long way in ensuring a smooth and enjoyable journey. I’ve spent years exploring the great outdoors and one thing’s for sure p having the right gear and essentials can make all the difference. So, let's dive right in and unpack the ultimate packing list for your upcoming canoe adventure.
Remember, this list is just a starting point. Customize it to suit your specific needs and the unique challenges of your canoe trip. Always keep an on on the weather forecast, share your trip plan with someone reliable, and be ready for anything Mother Nature throws at you.
1. Canoe and Paddles
Of course, the heart of your trip is your trusty canoe and paddles. Before you hit the water, make sure your cane is seaworthy and free from leeks and damages. If you’re paddling with a partner, a 16’ to 17’ canoe should do the trick. Look for a prospector model; it’s a versatile choice that can handle all sorts of water, whether moving or flat. Don’t forget to check your paddles for damage such as cracks and splits in the blade and remember it’s always a good idea to bring a spare. A beavertail or otter tail paddle design works well for flat-water trips.
2. Life Jackets (PFDs) and Safety Equipment
Safety First, folks! Every member of your crew should have a properly fitting Personal Flotation Device (PFD) or lifejacket. It’s crucial to keep your PFD accessible at all times, and in most conditions, it should be worn. Be sure to check local regulations - in addition to having appropriate PFDs and paddles on board, in most places, it’s also the law to carry a bailer, a buoyant heaving line, (at least 15m long), a waterproof flashlight, and a sound signaling device such as a Fox 40 Whistle.
Related article: How BLUETTI EB3A Powers my Solo River Expeditions
3. Navigation Tools
Stay on the right track with 1:50,000 topographic maps of your route, a waterproof map case, a reliable compass, and a GPS device. Don’t have an expensive hand-heard GPS? Try downloading a topographic map app into your smartphone - once you’ve downloaded the app's maps for your route area into your phone, they’ll work with your phone’s built-in GPS, even when you’re out of cell reception.
4. Dry Bags and Containers
Protect your gear from water by packing it in high-quality dry bags or waterproof containers such as a food barrel. These lifesavers come in handy, especially in heavy rain or when navigating unpredictable waters.
5. Camping Gear
For a cozy night's sleep, bring along a lightweight tent, a tarp with extra cordage for setup, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads. Ensure your sleeping gear is suitable for the season and weather conditions you expect. Look for a tent with a fly that covers the entire tent and extends to the ground – it's a lifesaver when it's pouring. Also, don't forget extra parachute cord and tent pegs to rig up your tarp, and keep them stowed in a stuff sack.
6. Cooking Equipment
A compact camping stove and fuel, cookware, utensils, and biodegradable dish soap are essential for preparing meals on a canoe trip. And remember lighters and a reliable fire-starting kit for backup.
7. Food and Water
Plan your meals and pack lightweight, non-perishable food items – paddling requires energy, so don't skimp on nutrition and calories. Carry a water filtration system or purification tablets to ensure a safe drinking water supply.
Dress in layers suitable for the season and the weather forecast. Opt for non-cotton garments, especially for anything close to your skin. Quick-drying and moisture-wicking fabrics are your best friends. And don't forget rain gear – bringing an extra warm sweater is never a bad idea either.
9. First Aid Kit
Accidents happen, so be prepared with a comprehensive first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any personal medications.
10. Repair Kit
A basic repair kit with duct tape, patch kits for your dry bags, a needle and thread, and a multi-tool can be a lifesaver if something goes awry during your trip.
11. Insect Repellent and Sun Protection
Stay bug-free with repellent like Muskol (30% DEET), a bug jacket, and sunscreen to protect your skin from pesky insects and the sun's rays.
12. Personal Items
Don't forget the basics: toiletries, a flashlight or headlamp with extra batteries, sunglasses, and a hat.
13. A Garbage Bag
Leave no trace – always pack a trash bag or two to carry out all your garbage and keep the environment pristine. Garbage bags have multiple uses, like creating a waterproof space or lining a bag.
14. Cutting Tools
For making fires and more, bring a folding saw (about 20 to 24" long) and, for cold nights during early or late season trips, a small Hudson Bay-style axe outfitted with a quality sheath. Axes can be risky, so make sure you're proficient with them or consider leaving it at home. A sheath knife on your belt, easily accessible, can serve a million purposes, and is mostly used for cooking tasks.
15. Portable Power:
Especially if you're filming your adventure for social media, YouTube, or just for fun, make sure to bring along a BLUETTI EB3A Portable Power Device. Charge it up before you head out, and it'll provide all the power you need to document your adventure. Of course, this portable power device has many other uses in the field as well.
Now that you're all set with the right gear, load up your canoe, hit the water, and embrace the adventure that awaits. Happy paddling!