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.

Camp kitchen

  • 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
  • Can-opener
  • Cutlery
  • Personal plate and/or dish
  • Dish kit with biodegradable soap, a dishcloth, and steel wool. PRO TIP: Pack your 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 bottles/Nalgene

Gear items for canoe tripping

Canoe camping essentials

  • Food barrel & harness
  • Drybags
  • Camping pack
  • Tent
  • Groundsheet
  • Tarp
  • Rope
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Garbage bags
  • Towel
  • Hatchet or small saw

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.

  • Underwear
  • Socks
  • Sports bra
  • Swimsuit
  • Long-sleeved shirts
  • Quick-dry pants and shirt
  • Sweater
  • Shorts
  • Pants
  • Sleeping layers
  • Fleece or down jacket
  • Raincoat
  • Rain pants
  • Bug shirt/ bug hat
  • Sun hat
  • Toque/beanie
  • Mittens/gloves
  • Camp shoes or sandals
  • Paddling shoes or sandals
  • Immersion protection for cold weather paddling

Personal camping trip gear

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste – Save weight and pack toothpaste tablets.
  • Toilet paper
  • Notebook and pen
  • Headlamp and extra batteries
  • Sunglasses and case
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Medications
  • Power bank or extra batteries
  • Phone
  • Earplugs
  • Multi-tool

Canoe paddling gear

  • Tripping canoe
  • Canoe paddle for each person plus an extra
  • Tie-downs for canoe
  • Waterproof map bag
  • Maps
  • Compass
  • Permits, if needed
  • Carabiners
  • Canoe repair kit – Sealant, duct tape

Safety gear for your canoe trip

Safety first. A proper and smart canoe camping trip checklist 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.
  • Key Safety Skills For Whitewater Paddlers
  • Ditch-kit
  • 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 (read our SPOT X review)
  • Read here the 7 River Safety Essentials To Take On The River
  • 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 camping trip checklist, try and leave a little room just for you. Make your canoe trip extra comfortable with those little things that you love at home.

  • Book
  • Down booties
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Camera, card and batteries
  • Portable speaker
  • Camp pillow
  • Binoculars
  • Cards and camp games
  • Frisbee
  • Camp chair

Paddling Magazine tells you what to bring on your next canoe trip. Feature Photo: Noah Booth


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