How to Pack for a Canoe Day Trip

The first thing to know about pack­ing for a canoe day trip is that missed take­out points, “Oh-let’s‑just-go-around-the-next-bend,” poor weath­er, injury, etc. hap­pen all the time so bring some emer­gency sup­plies in case. That being said, you will pri­mar­i­ly be pack­ing for a one-day trip, so let’s get to it.

Wear (and pack) Appro­pri­ate Clothing
While the weath­er in the dri­ve­way of your house in the sub­urbs might be 76 and mild, a riv­er day trip that stretch­es into evening can end in chilly and windy climes. If the fore­cast for the day is sun and fun, you’ll want to wear quick dry­ing shorts over a bathing suit, and per­haps a UPF shirt or even, a base­lay­er, which actu­al­ly do an amaz­ing job block­ing the sun for your entire upper body oth­er than your head. Opt for stur­dy water shoes that lace or strap up because you’ll be spend­ing lots of time with your feet on the rocks in the water. If the weath­er pre­dic­tion is cool and windy, a wind­break­er and a trust­ed pair of wool socks will do the trick. Whether the day is cool or warm, be sure to bring an extra sweat­shirt and jack­et, as well as a sleep­ing bag or blan­ket; Riv­er rid­ing can chill some pad­dlers (and not oth­ers), and you’ll want to be well prepared.

The Sun and the Bites
While not canoe-spe­cif­ic, these essen­tials are part of a suc­cess­ful out­door day trip of any type: Sun­block, sun­glass­es, a hat, and insect repel­lent. Remem­ber, in pro­tect­ing against the sun, you not only avoid sun­burn, you ward off dehy­dra­tion and exhaus­tion as well. As for bug bites: noth­ing ruins a run down the riv­er faster than a black fly bite or mos­qui­toes feast­ing on your tasty flesh, so repel, repel, repel — whether it’s a nat­ur­al oint­ment or the real stuff. And don’t for­get a strap for those sunglasses.

Basic First Aid Kit
Injuries occur in the most unex­pect­ed of ways – a fall while walk­ing on slip­pery rocks, a bee sting, a cut on a strain­er; acci­dents like these have spoiled many a trip. In addi­tion to ban­dages, antibi­ot­ic oint­ment and anti­sep­tic, don’t for­get any reg­u­lar med­ica­tions tak­en by pad­dlers in your par­ty. While not tech­ni­cal­ly part of your first aid kit, good emer­gency pre­pared­ness also includes such items as a cell phone and even more impor­tant­ly, a dry bag.

While the dura­tion of your trip might require only one meal and a snack, pre­pare for more. Two-meals-worth of food will cov­er you in the event of unfore­seen delay, and the extra meal won’t take up much space in your canoe. Think water, waves, and swamp­ing when pick­ing your foods: indi­vid­u­al­ly wrapped snacks, fruits and veg­eta­bles will all stand up well to splash­es; bread and crack­ers – they go in the dry bag.

Who’s got the Map?
Hope­ful­ly you can avoid fin­ger point­ing when it comes to the end of your trip and the need to locate that take­out point. Be sure to mark the take­out point promi­nent­ly before embark­ing on your trip. A com­pass and water­proof flash­light aren’t half bad ideas either, and can come in more than handy.