A canoe camping checklist for every paddler

Posted on: February 5, 2020 | Bob Frye | Comments

A canoe camping checklist is handy.

Using a canoe camping checklist minimized the chances of leaving gear at home.
Photo: Pixabay

Imagine the movie Wild Hogs, but with four kayaks and a single canoe replacing the motorcycles.

That’s what our trip was like.

Well, sort of. We’re a half dozen middle-aged guys – trending hard and fast toward old – and last summer’s float was an attempt to add a little adventure to our lives.

Mild adventure, perhaps. To be clear, there were no bar explosions, fights with rival gangs, divorces, or Hollywood starlets.

But we did eat lots of red meat – take that, cholesterol – including venison sausage for breakfast and antelope steaks for dinner. We drank river water. And we slept under the stars.

Five of us did, anyway. One mostly sat awake, lamenting a memory gone rogue.

You see, we floated down the river for about 16 miles or so, alternately fishing and enjoying the sun. Around suppertime we arrived at our campsite, a designated if primitive piece of state forest land on river right, with a couple of picnic tables, fire rings and an outhouse.

We ate, then retired to sit around the fire and swap stories old and new of kids and family and work and life.

Finally, with another 16 miles of paddling before us in the morning, it was time to turn in. Four of us retreated to hammocks. One went to his tent.

And the sixth buddy, a veteran Scouter of many a camping trip? That’s when he realized he hadn’t packed a hammock. Or a tent. Or even a sleeping bag.

So he spent the night slumped in a camp chair around the fire, nodding off fitfully when he nodded off at all.

Hey, I’m not making fun of him (though we’ll admittedly never let him forget it either). We’ve all been there. Camp long enough and you’ll eventually leave something at home.

That’s a real problem on the water.

Do that when you’re car camping and, at least sometimes, the solution is as simple as running to the nearest store and paying a high price for a duplicate of something you already own that you’ll likely never use again.

You can’t even do that on a river.

So with that in mind, we’ve put together a canoe (and kayak) camping checklist. It’s not exhaustive, but it does list the basics, or enough of them to let you paddle, eat and sleep in relative comfort.

Look it over, pack your dry bags and hit the water, Wild Hogs style.

We’re planning to do the same again this year. Hopefully just with one more tent than before.

It's worth carrying a canoe camping checklist.

Infographic: Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures


Check this out, too: Tips on paddling safety during this boating season

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Bob Frye is the everybodyadventures.com editor. Reach him at 412-838-5148 or bfrye@535mediallc.com. See other stories, blogs, videos and more at everybodyadventures.com.

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