While canoe trips are about enjoying the great outdoors, exploring the wilderness and challenging yourself, packing the necessary gear makes it all possible.
Before you head to the put-in, run carefully through our canoe trip packing list to make sure you have the essentials covered. We have broken things down into kitchen, gear, and safety items and added some of our expert advice along the way.
Kitchen gear to pack for your canoe trip
Food & drinks
There’s nothing like a good meal after a long day on the water. Depending on the length of your trip and how much you can bring, pack accordingly. Calories, protein, goodies, oh my.
- Meals: Create a meal plan for your canoe trip. Search for recipes or buy pre-packaged dehydrated meals.
- Coffee, tea, hot chocolate
- Snacks! (Read: 8 Healthy Snacks For Paddling Trips)
- Spice kit: Tic Tac boxes and pill containers with compartments for each day of the week work well
- Cooking oil or butter
- Emergency meals: Use your discretion and pack the number of emergency meals based on the length and remoteness of your canoe trip
Can’t have delicious meals without some means of cooking and eating it! You’ll need to be prepared to properly clean up after as well, to avoid attracting unwanted visitors to your campsite. Here’s everything you’ll need for your make-shift kitchen in the woods.
- Coffee maker: We love the GSI JavaDrip and the Handpresso
- Camp stove, stove repair kit, windshield, fuel and fuel bottles
- Matches and fire starters
- Pots and pans
- Grill (optional)
- Work/fire gloves
- Spatula, spoon, flipper
- Small cutting board
- Knife with a blade cover
- Mess kit with cutlery, plates, bowls, mugs
- Dish kit with biodegradable soap, a dishcloth and steel wool. PRO TIP: Pack your mess and dish kit inside a mesh sack that can be hung in a tree to easily dry dishes.
- Hand sanitizer
- Water treatment (pump, tablets, filter system)
- Water bottle/Nalgene
Canoe camping gear list
Canoe camping essentials
If you’re planning to sleep in the woods, these are the basics you’ll want to get your hands on.
- Food barrel & harness
- Camping pack
- Sleeping bag
- Sleeping pad
- Garbage bags
- Hatchet or small saw
- Waterproof map bag
- Permits, if needed
Clothes and shoes for canoe camping
Every canoe camping checklist requires well-chosen clothes. Pack clothes based on both the weather forecast and average yearly temperatures in the area. Always pack an extra pair of socks.
- Sports bra
- Long-sleeved shirt
- Sleeping layers
- Fleece or down jacket
- Rain pants
- Bug shirt/bug hat
- Sun hat
- Camp shoes or sandals
- Paddling shoes or sandals
- Immersion protection for cold weather paddling
Personal camping trip gear
They say not to sweat the small stuff, but these items can make a big difference in the enjoyment of your trip!
- Toothbrush and toothpaste: Save weight and pack toothpaste tablets
- Toilet paper
- Notebook and pen
- Headlamp and extra batteries
- Sunglasses and case
- Bug spray
- Lip balm with SPF
- Power bank or extra batteries
Canoe paddling gear
Can’t go on a canoe trip without your paddling equipment, now can you?
- Tripping canoe
- Canoe paddle for each person plus an extra
- Tie-downs for canoe
- Canoe repair kit: sealant, duct tape
Safety gear for your canoe trip
Safety first. A proper and smart canoe camping packing list is nothing without safety supplies and rescue gear. Extra weight for an extra safe trip will be well worth it.
- Canoe safety kit: Depending on where you live, there are different regulations as to what you need to have in your canoe. (In general, you need a floating safety line, flashlight, whistle and a bailer.)
- Bilge pump (optional)
- PFD for each person with a whistle attached
- Emergency signal/flares
- Emergency plan: Take a look at your map and make note of roads, communities, and other landmarks that could serve as evacuation spots or places to go for help in the case of an emergency
- Ditch-kit (Read: DIY Ditch-Kit Essentials)
- First aid kit: Pack inside a drybag and don’t forget your daily medications
- A copy of your route and your expected return time and date left with a reliable friend
- Depending on where you are going and for how long, you may want to consider electronics like a GPS, a SPOT device or a satellite phone
- ID, a small amount of cash and a credit card: In case of an emergency, it is important to have ID on you. In remote areas, having both cash and a credit card is a good idea—and you may even paddle past somewhere you can buy a beer or ice cream!
Luxury canoe camping items
Once you’ve completed your canoe trip gear list, try to leave a little room just for you. Make your canoe trip extra comfortable with those little things that you love at home.
- Book (Read: Best Paddling Books)
- Down booties
- Camera, card and batteries
- Portable speaker
- Camp pillow
- Cards and camp games
- Camp chair
Paddling Magazine tells you what to bring on your next canoe trip. | Feature Photo: Noah Booth
How could you list a portable speaker to take on a canoe trip? This is completely unacceptable. People go to the woods for the solitude and not to hear someone else’s music. Unacceptable Paddling Magazine.
Thanks for doing this. I do a lot of multi-day trips down here in Texas and am always looking for new gear to make my trip more efficient and enjoyable. I put this video together on how I pack. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/p3z4yTxzeEc