Packing List: Canoe Trip

By David Tynes
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One of the pleasures of journeying by boat through the backcountry is being able to include minor luxuries that one might normally leave at home. Although, weight is a consideration and bulky items should be minimized to save space. Careful and systematic packing is a boon for getting to and from the water efficiently. Spending the extra time to logically organize items together before a trip will save you the stress of trying to locate lost items. Experienced paddlers typically pack gear according to how and when it is used. Pack a separate "car bag" to hold everything you might need for the ride to the water to avoid digging through your main gear bags for things. Include a change of clothes and even baby wipes to feel refreshed rolling home. An accessible "day gear" bag should have everything you will need while on the water like clothing layers, rain gear, and other personal gear and food. Emergency, safety, and repair gear should also be close at hand. Camp gear and food can be sorted into different dry bags or a large portage pack and secured. Take care not to pack and store food and stove fuel together to prevent contamination. Finally, this packing list provides a comprehensive gear selection for most canoeing adventures. Many factors like climate, water temperature, and trip duration will dictate what specific gear may ultimately be taken along, so adapt this list to your particular needs.

Paddle/spare paddle
Personal flotation device (PFD)
Safety whistle
Fire starter (matches in waterproof case, waterproof lighter, etc.)
Float plan (left with friend)
Map/charts in waterproof case
Canoe float bags

Canoe Gear
Bailer with lanyard (or bilge pump)
Yoke pads
Canoe cart
Floating bow/stern lines (painters)
Bungee cords or net, cordage
Throw bag with floating line
Canoe seat and/or knee pads
Rescue kit (rope, webbing, cordage, carabineers and pulleys for z-drag)
Spare PFD
Spray covers
Thigh straps

Safety and Emergency Gear
First-aid kit
Signal mirror
Light sticks
Cell phone in waterproof case
Weather and two-way radios
Personal locator beacon
Smoke signal
VHF radio in waterproof case

Gear Storage and Transport
Dry bags
Backpack or portage pack
Heavy-duty garbage bags (lining for inside of pack and other gear)
Ziploc bags (protection for non-electronic items)
Film canisters (small item storage)
Thwart and/or seat bags
Stuff sacks and compression sacks
Day pack
Mesh duffel bag (for wet items)

*Indicates optional/depending on climate and geography

Published: 7 Jun 2006 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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