I’ve canoed over 20,000 kilometers across North America, both in my native country Canada and in the U.S. Recently I made my first long-distance paddling adventure over in Europe, with a successful traverse of France.

When people ask me what my favorite pieces of canoe camping equipment are, they often expect me to name a boat model, a well-crafted paddle or some indispensable technical wear. It tends to surprise them when I mention my favorite canoe equipment for months-long expeditions are, in fact, a few simpler luxuries.

Martin Trahan’s favorite outdoor gear for long-distance canoe expeditions

Crocs sandals for canoe camping
Crocs sandals. | Photo: Martin Trahan

1 Crocs sandals


Crocs sandals are hideous, awkward and ugly, but they’re amazingly comfortable, even when wet. Also, they offer excellent toe protection. They’re indestructible, versatile, dry quickly, hang easily with a carabiner and are perfect for slipping on when leaving the tent. However, be sure to shake them before putting them on to avoid stepping on a hairy spider or a large, slimy slug.

After spending the day in my neoprene socks and water shoes, my feet are impregnated with a strong, disgusting smell. Crocs are antibacterial and odor-resistant. So even if I use them for several hours with stinking feet, they don’t really absorb odors. What’s more, they are very easy to clean.

The cult of Crocs is real, but we will always find people who hate them. Life is better in Crocs. It’s a fact we don’t need science to prove.

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Man sitting in a Helinox Chair One looking out at the water.
Helinox Chair One. | Photo: Martin Trahan

2 Helinox Chair One

$109 | helinox.com

When I was younger, I was often laughed at for bringing a chair along on my canoe camping adventures. My ego could take it, but I was shaken nonetheless. Then, as I grew older, I began to fully embrace myself. My Helinox Chair One accompanies me wherever I go. It’s compact, solid, light and so comfortable.

Comfort makes all the difference when I’m out in nature for days or weeks at a time. The same friends who used to make fun of me are the same ones who now offer me chocolate or candy to borrow my chair for an evening around the fire. The campfire is where we gather in the morning or after a long day on the water. It’s a happy place to drink an early morning hot coffee or a whisky at night. Those special moments always feel better when sitting in a chair.

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Exped Ultra 5R sleeping pad.
Exped Ultra 5R sleeping pad. Photo: Martin Trahan

3 Exped Ultra 5R sleeping pad

$199 | expedusa.com

Exped’s Ultra 5R sleeping pad is exceptional and of the highest quality. The long, wide, seven-centimeter-thick model offers unrivaled comfort and, above all, makes me forget my backache for a good night’s sleep. The thick sleeping pad helps prevent my sleeping bag from getting wet when the tent floor is damp.

I’m always taking good care of my gear. I’ve been using Exped sleeping mats for eight years and haven’t broken any of them. However, even if it’s sturdy, I wouldn’t make love on it because, you know, there’s a limit to how far you can go. It’s expensive, but I’ve never missed my bed thanks to it. Sleep is invaluable to me during expeditions, so it’s well worth the investment, in my opinion.

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Martin Trahan on a canoe expedition.
Martin Trahan. | Feature photo: Yan Kaczynski

Feature photo: Yan Kaczynski



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