Overnight Canoe Camping

There is something therapeutic about canoe camping. You paddle in, set up camp, have dinner, and then settle in for a relaxing evening around the campfire. I wasn’t able to do a big trip this spring, so we decided to do an overnight this weekend on a nearby river.

The weather forecast was mixed with rain and wind Saturday morning, and again on Sunday afternoon. It was raining as I drove down to the highway to the put-in, but stopped by the time I met the group.

We paddled down to the campsite and set up camp. The first thing up was the rain fly – fortunately we never needed it – followed by the kitchen and then the tents. I decided to bring my new Alps Mountaineering Lynx one-man tent.

After setting up camp we took a break to enjoy cocktails before cooking dinner. At around 10:30, I finally turned in for the night. My one-man tent was tight, but it was still comfortable. It will work well for sea kayak camping in the Capella.

Breakfast the next day was cooked in a 20" Camp Chef Lumberjack Maine-guide skillet. After pulling out some coals from the fire, we were able to cook our entire breakfast in this pan – bacon, home fries, grilled English muffins, omelets and fried eggs. It worked really well, and I may need to get one. :wink:

As I drove back home the rain started up again – the forecast was perfect.

Few pictures here:


That was almost glamping.

Now that was a pot for cooking!:astonished:

It kind of was - live well, eat well. Why not…

It was cool. It was big enough that you can set it up with different heat zones. Great to have if you have room in the boat.

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Now that is camping in style!

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Is there any other way :wink:

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As a backpacker and sea kayaker 20" frying pans are something not even considered. I do enjoy camping from my canoes. Grilled steaks over coals, potatoes warped in tin foil and corn on the cob however do fit in kayaks but don’t make it into many backpacks. Although my backpacking isn’t much of an option anymore. I suppose I am reaping the benefits of age. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Hope to do a trip on the Maine Island Trail from my kayak this summer. We’ll see - it will be different not being able to bring the kitchen sink.

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I frequently read a European canoeing forum and by their standards you were really roughing it.

One of the great parts of a good size canoe is the amount of gear you can take along. I have a 20” frying pan that can double as an anchor if needed. It is big and heavy but once in the canoe in the water it takes up little space and you don’t know it is there. Back packing or bike touring forget it.

It is nice you have designated campsites to stay at. Around here it is mostly roughing it and finding someplace that isn’t posted.

I’m not a backpacker or sea kayak camper (at least up til now) so I’ve never really had to worry about packing light unless we were doing portages. Maybe its a bad habit to get into, but glamping is nice.

We are very lucky to have three official camp sites and one well-established bootleg site on the Pawcatuck River in RI

Stoney Point on Worden Pond
Stony Point Campsite

Carolina Canoe Campsite in the Carolina Management Area

Boot-leg site at the convergence with the Wood River

Burlingame Canoe Campsites in the Burlingame Management Area

Stoney Point and Carolina are small, but we have had some good size groups at the Boot-leg site and at Burlingame. You can actually do a pretty respectable 3-day trip on the Pawcatuck of 25 to 35-miles. We are lucky indeed.


Just curious as I’m sure where I live in PA there are some similar camping locations just not around here that I know of.

Do you register in advance? Is there a cost? Do you pack in your firewood? Is there road access to the sites also?

Just kind of wondering about the planning process for site usage.

They all look great. Nothing says camping has to be miserable.

These are no registration, paddle in, first-come, first-serve sites. Burlingame (where we were this weekend) is the biggest. There are five sites there that are spread out and private. There was a group at the other end this weekend, but there were quiet and we never saw them. Amazing they don’t get more use than they do. Maybe I should keep quiet about them. :wink:


Yes mums the word. Around here I would show up and find 200 people in tie dye shirts parting and rec kayaks of the pelican varieties strewn everyplace.

Yours looked very cleaned up and nice. You are indeed lucky.


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One of the advantages of canoe camping and raft trips, you can bring the big skillet and the folding chairs! The thing I miss the most when camping out of a kayak is the paco pad! The thermarest just doesn’t cut it anymore but it is all I can fit in an unhatched kayak. If anything, I’m looking to make “my kit” smaller and more streamline.
Eck you’re breakfast does sound a lot more tasty than my packets of instant oatmeal!

We do get our share of yahoos, but these sites are remote by RI standards (not accessible by car). If you’re a kid looking for a place to drink there are easier places to go. The three official sites are also in state management areas, so the rangers come through on occasion to clean things up, take care of blown-down trees, etc. I think the folks that use the sites are pretty good about keeping them clean as well. I know we did a sweep around all of the sites picking up whatever trash was there - not that there was a lot. There are also no privies - that limits the folks who will use them.


A good sleeping pad is important. I have an inflatable (REI Flash) sleeping pad that packs small, but I usually wake up in the night off the pad. I’ll use it in my sea kayak - won’t have much choice. In my canoe I usually use a 1/4" closed cell foam pad under my Thermarest. I can roll them up together. Takes up more room, but it is comfortable, and I stay on it. My son give me a SeaToSummit self-inflating pad. It is very comfortable, but is too big even for me in the canoe - it is great for base camping. I get packing light, but I’m not a fanatic about it. We’ll see how I make out if I ever get my sea kayak out.

If you need to get up and go, I also get oatmeal for breakfast - done it many times. If you have the time, though, there is nothing like a leisurely breakfast around the fire.

You are talking my language. My first canoe camping was in Algonquin Provincial Park, there is as much portaging as paddling, I don’t do that any more. I like going downhill, easier. I have learned less is more, but with a canoe, a large canoe, gives a wide latitude. I adore white water, but I think that is a character flaw. 2 weeks till my next and I am like a kid in the candy shop. I cannot wait.
It is more than therapeutic. It IS the way things are supposed to be. It is the work, and property taxes that are the true aberration. I think I remember every pushing off to begin the next journey, every one of them. There is an internal relaxing cool fresh water, or air suffuses throughout, It is like, I am home.
I taught a ‘how to canoe’ to a complete newbie last weekend. She took some minutes to get the grip, the stroke, but then she only wanted to paddle and paddle. So then, how to read a river, and then an hour later I really confused her when I began asking her to listen carefully to the wings of a butterfly, smell the blue of flowers as we passed by. It took her a while, but I think she finally got there. Those last lessons were the most important, by far. Stop to smell the roses? Much more than that.
100 or 200 miles is the norm, longest to date 1,300 miles, half a dozen 300 to 600 mile trips since Algonquin in 1965


Thank you for the trip report and pictures.

I’m looking forward to taking my kids on their first remote camping trip over the 4th of July, and envying what you can carry.

Anyway, my sleep solution of choice is an insulated Nemo Quasar 3D pad + Thermarest sheet & quilt + Klymit Luxe pillow. The pad is 3.5", insulated, and not noisy. Spendy, but the three together take up the same space as my previous sleeping bag did by itself.

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I love that time that is consecrated to canoe or kayak camping.

Everything slows down, details we ignore at home become important.

Setting up your shelter and bedding, preparing food, staying warm (or away from bugs!), all this is your only job. All other stresses and worries are set aside for this most important time away from normal every day stress!

Thanks for your trip report, it looks so relaxing!

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I’ve been through countless sleeping pads during over 50 years of various canoe/kayak/bike camping, backpacking, mountaineering and other outings and my most recent acquisition was a Klymit Static V inflatable one. Hard to beat it for compactness (packs down less than half the size of the full length Thermarest I had been using – tucks easily into the bottom of a dry bag or the side pocket of a backpack) and I have been surprised how really comfortable it is even though I am a side sleeper and usually find my hip gets sore with other pads and inflatables. But the v-shaped tube design of this one prevents those pressure spots.

They are a bit pricey, but I found one at a Dunham’s Sports store marked down to $40.

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