What Do You Need To Go Canoe Camping?
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Canoe camping, which is also called canoe tripping, is similar to backpacking. You are able to take supplies for many days but you are able to carry the supplies in your canoe. This allows you to take more stuff without needing to be able to carry it entirely on your back.
There are numerous reasons to engage in canoe camping. First, you get the chance to explore regions that are impossible to reach by foot. Second, you can carry much more than you would when backpacking, thus offering more comfort. And third, well, the activity is just fun!
However, in order to fully enjoy your trip, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. You are going into the wilderness, and so, it is always best to be prepared. Here are a few canoe camping tips for beginners:
Define Your Goals
It is imperative to determine what kind of trip you and your friends are looking forward to. Is it a challenging 7-day adventure or just a long, lazy weekend trip? Are you and your companions comfortable being out in the wild, away from civilization, or do you like it if you are not alone? Do you want to see wildlife or magnificent scenery? Do you intend to take side trips like hikes, or are you more interested in fishing?
When planning canoe camping, it’s imperative to know the desires plus experience level of everybody who will be taking part.
Research Your Options
It’s ideally important to decide how far you are willing to drive and begin exploring what is available. Some of the critical elements to nail down include:
- The length of the trail
- Access to drinking water
- Availability of ideal camping sites
- The paddling difficulty
To get this information, river guide books and local park rangers should be your resources.
Tap Into Local Knowledge
After deciding where you will be making the trip, you should consider working with a local outfitter. This is usually the best way to rent gear. Not only that, but they can be an excellent resource for local knowledge like weather patterns and hidden camping spots.
Remember The Elements
Speaking of weather patterns, it’s imperative to carefully think about the season and the kind of elements that you will be up against. Wind plays a huge role in any form of boating. Even a small breeze can quickly overwhelm you, especially if you are a beginner.
Sun exposure is another factor to keep in mind. Ensure that you are well prepared for hours under the sun and expect a lot of bugs.
Before you load up your canoe for the trip, ensure you spend a few days paddling it on flat water. Ensure you learn how to move safely in the canoe, how to steer effectively, and practice both front and back paddling. The last thing you want is to assume you’re good just because you took a canoeing class back in high school at summer camp.
Take The Water Seriously- Always!
This is perhaps the most important tip when it comes to canoe touring. Going out into the waters for the weekend can be exciting, but the lakes and rivers can be extremely dangerous if you are not prepared. Always wear a life jacket, avoid drinking on the water, and do not take unnecessary risks.
What To Pack On A Canoe Camping Trip
Here are the essential items you should have by your side during the canoe camping trip.
This is a mandatory requirement considering you will be heading on a canoe camping trip.
Make sure the canoe is safe to use, well-designed and is going to work well for your requirements. If the canoe isn’t safe to use, it can put you in danger and that’s never a good spot to be in.
Additional items to keep in mind:
- Personal Flotation Devices (1 Per Person)
- Knee Pads
- Dry Bags
- Bilge Pump
Start with these items and ensure you are fully equipped to handle everything the canoe portion of the trip is going to throw at you.
2) Navigational Items
It’s important to have the right navigational items to guide you outdoors. These items will let you know when you are steering in the wrong direction or moving away from where you want to go.
These items include:
- GPS Watch/General GPS
3) Two-Way Radios
How are you going to communicate with each other on the trip? There are times when you slip away from the rest and having two-way radios is a must to maintain an open line of communication outdoors.
4) Sleeping Bags/Pads
Sleeping is an essential component of any camping trip and the same applies here. Make sure the sleeping bags are comfortable, well-sized, safe to use, and in line with modern standards.
A high-quality tent is a bare minimum on a camping trip and it should be easy to set up. There are several options sold on the open market and you should be looking for something that’s ideal for the number of people coming on the trip.
6) Signaling Devices
There are times when it’s important to signal to others that something has gone wrong and you need assistance. This is where signaling devices come in handy especially outdoors.
These devices can include:
Invest in these devices so you don’t have to panic later on during the canoe camping trip.
7) Fire Starter
How are you going to start a fire? You can use matches but it’s generally easier to bring along a classic fire starter. It will simplify the process and allow you to focus on other things during the trip.
There are multiple situations where a knife is going to be essential and you should look to go with a high-quality one. The knife should be easy to pack away, sturdy, and sharp. This will allow you to cut through anything that comes in your way outdoors.
9) Food and Beverages
What are you going to be eating on the trip? You should always pack food that isn’t going to be spoiled and is going to taste good throughout the trip. It’s also smart to bring a lot of water bottles on the trip as it’s almost impossible to find a water source outdoors.
When it starts to get dark outside, you will want to have some sort of visibility. The only way for this to happen is with a good flashlight or headlight. You should invest in both, so you are able to move around in all conditions without having to think about the deteriorating light.
11) Sun Protection
How are you going to protect yourself from the sun?
The sun can start beating down and that’s not a comfortable spot to be in nor is it healthy. Look to invest in proper sun protection that’s going to keep you safe even when the sun is at its peak.
These items include:
- Lip Balm
- Hand Sanitizer
12) Stove with Fuel
Having a stove is important when it comes to heating food and making sure it all tastes good. It’s also important to have enough fuel to make sure the stove is fully functional.
For keeping the food cool, it’s important to make sure there’s a cooler present. This is the only way to ensure the food doesn’t spoil throughout the canoe camping trip.
A high-quality camera to capture the important moments is always nice. You can invest in a camera that’s going to work well underwater to take shots that would otherwise be impossible to do so. If necessary, you can easily use your smartphone’s camera, if this is something you don’t want to budget for. As long as there’s something to take pictures with on the trip, you will be heading in the right direction.
Picking The Right Canoe
When it comes to picking the right canoe, you’re spoilt for choices, but you’ll primarily have to pick between a single or double seated one. If you have an adventure pal, then a double canoe should be the go-to option. Doubles can be hard to operate alone, but it’s not impossible and allow you to carry more stuff.
A single canoe is ideal for the fast and light solo canoeist. They have excellent maneuverability but don’t have a lot of space for gear.
Open Deck Canoes
The open deck canoe is versatile, durable, and affordable. This type is ideal for the slow-paced lakes and rivers. This means that they aren’t meant to go crashing through rapids. They can be hard to transport without huge trailers or trucks, but if you are dedicated enough, you’ll find ingenious solutions on the internet.
Closed Deck Canoes
If you are a die-hard canoeist, then this type will allow you to navigate through exciting waters. Ideally referred to as white water canoe, this type covers the bow and stern storage sections, leaving just enough space for the paddler. It calls for minimalist packing but allows you to navigate through waters that would quickly swamp the conventional models. They are versatile and more costly, but an ideal investment of you like canoeing.
You can ideally go for inflatables, also known as duckies. They are hard to paddle in flat water, but they have the appeal of ease of transport.
One of my most memorable camping trips as a Boy Scout was a canoe trip. If you are inspired to go on a canoe camping trip, use the tips from this article to have a fun and safe trip.