How to pack for for a Canoe/Camping trip

Here is my latest video. It is too stinking hot to be camping out, so I put this together just to give people an idea of things you can take and how to pack for a canoe trip. I am interested to hear what yall think. I’m always checking out new gear and would love to hear about the kinds of things yall take. Enjoy!

Canoeing is just backpacking with more fresh food.
I am old so I bring lightweight furniture.

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Is there an adult beverage in there? On a long ago camping trip I was soaked, cold, and exhausted. My friend pulled out a small bottle of Drambuie and a couple of sips and a dry sleeping bag were great.

That’s more like our car camping gear than canoe camping. I’m guessing you don’t portage. Any idea how much it all weighs?

For kayak camping I bring gear more oriented toward backpacking, but with a few luxury items: big tent, air mattress, folding chair. And somehow a small hip flask of single malt always makes it into my gear. :slight_smile:

No matter what you bring, there is always something you’ll forget.
Jack L


I don’t make lists and rarely forget anything important.
It is easy to make do with what you have.

The completely prepared canoeist might look something like this

Loaded Canoe


Even though he is wearing a PFD… I would say he is not prepared for a swim :slight_smile:

Lol. Well, I’m not quite that bad.

I hope this is in jest. Packing over the gunwales creates lots of instability. Overpacking also slows the boat down considerably, could leave you with very little freeboard, which could allow waves to broach, and loading and unloading take forever.

I know a lot of people are fanatics about packing light, but I’m not one of them. If it is a trip that involves portages, that is one thing - I’ll pack light. Otherwise I bring the big cooler, the cooking gear and just about everything but the kitchen sink. Sometimes I get some snide remarks at the put-in, but no one ever complains at mealtime.

Erik in the bow, Bill in the stern

In this boat I could take the kitchen sink -18-foot Old Town Voyager

Old Town Voyager - loaded and ready to go

This was an overnight trip on one of our local rivers. We eat well, and in my defense there are a couple of big bags of firewood in there… :wink:

And the best trips are when you can bring this along.

Dutch oven cooking


I am with you. I’m always looking for light weight compact gear, but I take a lot of gear. I show some of that in the video. One of my favorite things is eating good food on the side of a river. I’m in the middle of planning another video on food preparation. I’m going to have a lot of fun with it.
I’ve never understood having to bring firewood. I’ve always been able to find plenty of driftwood & downed trees along the river to make a fire with.

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I’m OK foraging for wood, but sometimes it is just easier to bring it. It’s not an option everywhere because some places (lot of places) have restrictions on bringing in wood.

Camp cooking is a lot of fun. I’m still more of a stove person, but getting better at cooking over the fire.

Same here. In the video I show the over the coals grill that my family gave me for father’s day. I have not used it yet, but I hope to soon. Have you ever used a reflector oven? I love a dutch oven, but it is bulky and heavy. The reflector oven I show in the video is very light weight and works great.

Never tried a reflector oven, but I should sometime. I started with the dutch oven, so that is what I use. It is a lot to bring - especially since it is so much easier controlling the temperature with charcoal.

This is the one I have. Reflector Oven, Campfire Oven, Camp Kitchen Gear | Boundary Waters Catalog

Been thinking about cooking gear and what I take. I’ve done a week with this.


Breakfast is cereal with powdered milk, lunch is peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, and supper is instant rice with a freeze dried meal bag. Ice for the cooler is 2 6-packs of beer (cans, frozen) - I’m not really a beer drinker so it lasts. Fruit and snacks go in the cooler. Add instant coffee and all you need is water, which hopefully you can filter along the way. Not my preference, but I have done it, and it will easily fit in my solo boat.

If I am paddling tandem and there are no portages, I’d prefer to take this.


I love a big breakfast with brewed coffee. If you have a couple of coolers and organize it properly you can have fresh food for a week. The folding stove is a compromise - it fits in my big dry bag, but is more susceptible to wind and not quite a hot as a normal Coleman two-burner. Add the dutch oven and I can cook just about anything.

So what I take depends on where I’m going and who I’m with, and it is definitely different for folks in kayaks.

Soft coolers are often not a very good choice if you are tripping in areas where rodents like raccoons and squirrels are prevalent.

I have a Polar Bear cooler that was destroyed by either a raccoon or a squirrel when I set it on a picnic table at my campsite at Ozark Campground on the Buffalo River, AR in mid afternoon and laid down in my tent for 10 minutes.

That is a problem - I’ve been lucky. It is the only thing that will fit in my solo boat.

I kayak camp like I backpack. Not crazy OCD ultralight or thru-hike but, just regular backpacking. I’ve decided to count hauling the gear to the car- carrying from car to the launch- unpacking the boat and carrying to camp, all as portages. :slight_smile:

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