For many experienced canoe trippers, there comes a time when you wonder what it might be like to go solo. The type of solitude that comes with a solo trip may seem too extreme for some; for others, the allure of unparalleled freedom and independence has had them dreaming of a solo for years. But how do you know if you’re ready to take the leap?
Before any solitary wilderness adventure, paddlers need to honestly assess their own experience and abilities. This is not the time to be padding your resumé. Do you have experience being a trip leader? This means being able to plan a realistic route, navigate by map and compass, and handle a variety of weather conditions in terms of solo paddling technique and risk assessment.
It’s undeniable that there’s more risk involved in heading out alone, but those risks can be mitigated with preparation and common sense. While it’s always important to leave a detailed trip itinerary with someone back home, it’s especially important when you’re on your own. Consider bringing along a means of summoning help should you become lost or injured, such as a personal locator beacon (PLB) or satellite phone. If you know that your route is within range of regular cellphone service, slipping the phone into your kit is a simple solution to providing a little peace of mind. Just be sure to leave it turned off except for emergencies, or you won’t have any peace at all.
Every solo tripper should carry a ditch kit, as a capsize or getting turned around in the forest can leave you separated from your gear. In your ditch kit carry basic survival tools, including…