Refinement of camping gear

ok…including my boat…
103 lbs. My boat wieghs 37.6lbs + my 63-65lbs of equipment.

Paddle easy,


for canoe
camping weight could be an issue for portaging, but bulk is the main thing with kayak camping. If you are looking for easiest route to a lighter, slimmer gear load, think backpacking gear. Bob and Doug Mackenzie and the guys from Red/Green will kill me, but ditch the coleman, buy a snowpeak or an msr stove. On the thermarest thing, in my experience the 3/4 length pads are not worth the bulk/weight savings, you may as well buy the full length and sleep comfortably. I have the full length ultralite that can fold once on itself and it packs down tiny, but in winter it doesn’t insulate as well as say the explorer thickness pad. Backpacking tents are terrific for weight/space savings, plus you really do get what you pay for. But I am a gearhead, I own 4 tents. A four season tent, a 3-4 season convertible,

and an msr vistawing tarp.

What everyone suggests is that you make a gear list, (I use a database) and tick off everything you pack on one trip, then when you come back, tick off everything you used. Then on the next trip you chuck whatever didn’t get used last time.

No wonder Northman and I were having trouble portaging your boat! My boat alone weighs about 20 pounds more than yours and my boat and gear weigh almost 20 pounds less!

Fun thing to do. Improving gear…

– Last Updated: Jan-10-04 5:02 PM EST –

I recently got the little Gerber "Backpaxe" axe for my canoe camp "kitchen". Too cool!
My kitchen is a 22 by 18 by 9 inch deep black plastic case that in a former life was a refrigeration analyzer. Stripped out the meters and wires etc. The case was perfect for some future use and now it is my entire kitchen. It contains:
3 sets of old dinner ware.
3 Steak knives.Salt, Pepper, California Garlic Salt, Various small bottles of hot sauce, small bottle of corn oil and small bottle of olive oil ...
Two person mess kit.
Larger Pot (mess kit fits in it).
Coffee Press and ground coffee.
Folding Saw.
Small Teflon frying pan (handle is cut short).
Stew Spoon and Frying pan Spatula.

For a stove I use my Coleman propane 2 burner. It is the thin model. Bungees to the under side my cane seat perfectly. Totally out of the way and hardly weighs a thing.
Grocery's, flashlights, water filtration system, radios (vhf, am/fm), spare batteries, soaps and propane bottles go into two 5 gallon buckets with snap-tight lids.

If I carry water I use my trusty plastic collapsible 5 gal container.

Good sleeping bag. My pad is a thin type outdoor lounge chair pad. I don't know what's in it (and don't care) but it rolls up super tight like a sleeping bage diameter and always "puffs" back out.

Still trying out various chairs. I like the heavy bi-folds that are out now but would not think of taking it on a portage scenario. Always carry my little tri-pod with the seat back built in from REI.

Inexpensive small two man tent from REI.

Never weighed it all but can't be more than 40, 50 pounds max accepting the water of course.

I love to shop for gear and like trying out new hardware. Each trip is a learning experience too. The more compartmentalized I get, the easier it is to set up camp and break it down.

What R U comfortable doing without?

Absolute minimum:

3/4 length Ridgerest pad 9oz

2lb down bag

10x8 silnylon tarp w/mosquito netting 1.5 lbs

tyvek groundcloth 8 oz

Homebuilt alcohol stove 3 oz

1wk fuel @ 3oz a day 21 oz


Homemade zip stove 18 oz

fuel is twigs from the woods

last trip
I was down to 45 lbs. or less not counting boat weight. Almost half that weight was drinking,cooking water. We went on a weekend trip2 days so carried a bit less than longer trips. It is possible just epends on what ya can do w/out.

That includes…
equipment (for two, if you remember Heather -using Amy’s boat- had to put some of her stuff into mine due to lack of room), water (of which you & Ed used some…), food (for two), plus the tent (cause’ Heather didn’t want ot sleep under the stars).

So yes, I had alot of weight in my boat. If I didn’t need the tent (8 lbs), Heather’s mummy bag (6 lbs) & two extra canteens of water (8 lbs) which you & Ed helped consume, I would’ve been down to 80 lbs which included boat weight.

Take into consideration, Longshadow, that Amy’s boat really can’t hold alot of gear due to the foam floataion front & rear. So on the next trip when she comes along, you will be hauling alot of her stuff :wink: which will cause your “portaging weight” to rise…

Paddle easy,


Hey man…
…watch it with that “we’re alike” crap. We have appearances to keep up.

I think you are starting to understand me now. Some gear (A) is worth the expense, some gear (B) is exceptional because it is high quality and low price. But some gear © is low quality and low price. I try to buy as much B as I can get my hands on (used items in good shape fall into this category), I buy A when I deem it worthy, and I avoid C no matter the cost.

Water is the issue
Water weighs 8 lbs/gal. This year I dropped at least 16 lbs from my former 55-60 lbs of gear weight (excl. kayak) just by carrying 1 gal. of water instead of 3 or more and filtering all of it after I used that.

I don’t know how salt-water expedition kayakers do it…

last trip
a few of our number brought purifiers along to replentish water. Day before the trip I found out the DNR used lampreycide to kill eggs in the river we were to paddle. Luckily we had enough water to share w/ others.

If they’ve got bucks, reverse osmosis!
Pur makes two reverse osmosis units applicable to sea kayaking, $$$ I’d carry two on a real expedition although they are so dependable the navy uses them for life-rafts. That’s how pur got started, won the contract. Maybe I’d carry one and supplies for an improvised solar still.

I even saw a pur reverse osmosis unit for sale on about 3 years ago.

28 lbs
The only difference between staying out overnight or for 2 weeks is food and fuel. Although the food pack weight varies, my gear pack usually weighs in at around 28 lbs (+ or - a couple of pounds depending on weather) For food, I generally figure on about another 2 lbs per day.

8x8 nylon tarp, z-rest pad, nylon hammock, 20 degree qualofil bag, small bag of parachute cord odds & ends for tie-downs, backpack stove & fuel, sierra cup, small frying pan with folding handle, spoon, salt/pepper/teabags/coffeebags, folding saw (also Gerber hatchet if going to Quetico - need to split damp wood for fire), breathable raingear, change of clothes (everything nylon), first aid kit, waterbag, solo sunshower, biodegradable soap,towel, and odds and ends like tootpaste & brush, deoderant, medicines,bug repellant, etc.

I’m sure glad that you brought up this topic.Most of our(my wife and I) camping is base/car camping.She always fusses at me for bringing too much stuff.Well,I hope that we get to do a good bit of canoe camping this year.All the replies you have got here has given me some great ideas.I often wonder what number Duluth Packs do most canoe campers use.They must be of good size since one or two people who replied says, they pack their sleeping bag,tent, one and all their food and what-not in the other.I have no special list to offer as far as packing to go camping.I do know that weight does’nt seem to be much of a factor for me while base camping.I think the same would hold true for canoeing depending on portages,weather,and how long of a trip.



I use my…
military issue “medium A.L.I.C.E. pack” (ruck). My sleeping bag is a “snugpack” so it rolls/stuffs down to 1/2 the size of a loaf of bread. My tent is usually one of the two rain ponchos that I carry + an 8 foot piece of para-cord for the “drop line” & I use sticks for “tent stakes”.

I don’t need a big pack for what I carry…

Paddle easy,


We’re always refining our gear.
My wife keeps journals on all of our trips and on the last night of each trip we reflect on the trip. The practical part of this is that we make a list of all gear that needs repair, replacement, or was extraneous. We also think of anything we can refine or simplify. We really try to keep things small and lightweight. Too much stuff takes away from the trip because your always chasing gear, too little can leave you uncomfortable or unprepared. We are always striving to hit that balance and have gotten much better. We started out as backpackers though, so I think that we had a head start when we began kayak camping. We have learned to appreciate quality gear over the years, and really go out of our way to hit the gear clearance sales!

I would
pack a little more than you think you need, then slim down gear as I do more paddles. Better to have it and not need it than the other way around.The list idea is a good 1, if you can remember where ya put the list!

Really good stuff here.
I have archived this thread for reference. Thanks to all. Looking forward to Spring, I did an assessment of the gear and picked up a couple items (thanks Pamskee on the saw), stay warm everyone, (9 weeks until spring).



Sounds pretty serious
Got a big trip in your future? I was running through in my mind weights and what not as well as some random ideas. First the weight. I threw together a quick checklist (that is by no means complete) and came up with 60 pounds

Tent 10

Sleeping bag 4

Thermarest 2

Clothes 5

Tarp 1.5

Camp shoes 0.75

Cook kit 1.5

Stove 1.25

Fuel 1.5

Food 25

First aid 1


Water filter 1

Fishing gear 4

Total 59.5

This is missing some stuff but is the basics my wife and I used for the last summer. The food is up there to, but I like to eat well (as I know you do).

If your not portaging the fill it up and the hell with weight. But the second you need to carry from lake A to lake B, you’ll appreciate all that high tech stuff. Must haves in my opinion: aluminum non stick cookset (MSR blacklite), 2.5-inch thick Thermarest Delux (I know it’s pricey but I never really slept in the wild till I got one), Crazy creek chair (useful as a canoe chair pad, camp chair, or lazing on the rocks near the water), 2 offical portage packs in big and bigger (you can make do with a mish mash of packs and bags but there’s nothing like that huge opening that swallows everything you can throw at it).

Regarding the axe vs saw. The first BW trip we took an axe and never used it. The second BW trip we took the folding saw and spent the trip wishing we had an axe. Go figure.

Take care