Trip Planning/Outfitting

When planning a overnight or multi-day paddling trip it’s essential to spend a few hours, yes hours, planning your trip. One of the first things I do is pour over a topo map of the area and get to know it as well as I can before even seeing it. When I’ve done that I’ll often get on my ‘puter and look for info about my destination. In the west everywhere I go is managed by the feds. I’ll call the agency in charge a find out as much as I can. If possible I see if I can talk to someone who has travelled where I plan on going. There are several groups in the west like Idaho Whitewater, Utah Rafters and Monsoon Warriors who float and kayak most of the western rivers and are a wealth of information. Once I know as much as I can about my planned destination I’m better able to decide what I need to take. Since storage space in my kayak is limited I don’t want to carry any more than I need but still I don’t want to find myself lacking once on the water.

Usually, when I paddle there are at least 12 or more hours of light in the day. The only exception is Baja in Nov. With that much daylight I don’t have to worry very much about time schedules since I normally don’t plan on spending more than 8 hours, including breaks, on the water. That means that usually I can wait for the sun rather than having to dress warmer. There’s no need to carry warmer paddling duds. Summer camping will usually mean going to bed at sunset. My flashlight usually is used for night time nature calls. There’s no real need to lanterns and the such.

I like to cook and hate packbacking stoves. I’ve cooked many a meal on them and have worn out several. None of those meals can compare to the ones I can cook on my two burner propane stove. To make room for that I’ve learned to cut down on other items. To start I never carry denim pants on my boat. I wear shorts over a pair of tights if I need to wear pants. The shorts provide pockets and protect my tights. Don’t laugh. Tights are more comfortable than pants and give my legs support if I decide to go for a hike. I know I look funny but I haven’t worn pants while hiking for years now. My paddling jacket doubles as a raincoat. My palm straw hat shreds waters and keeps me cool in the sun. I have a fleece cap that will fit in a pocket if there’s a chance of cool nights. My tent can sleep two people if they have an intamate relationship. For kayaking I seperate the poles from the shell. That makes it much easier to stuff into my boat. A Thermarest is a must as well as my Crazy Creek chair. The I’ll use under my tent for added comfort and protection. For food I’ll carry the usual camping grub like tortillas, dried meats and fruits, nuts, and other quickies snacks. I carry can good also. I once weighed all the cans I used in a week and found it came to 1lb. By carrying only item that didn’t require draining I’m able to improve my diet without adding much weight. One of my favorite lunches, on extended trips, is canned peaches and a snack bar or some nuts. Another trick I use is to carry some Ensure. I’ll have a bottle in the morning to help get me going for the day.

At night a light fleece top and pants of some kind can come in very handy. They don’t take much room and can be used to sleep in lessening the need for a heavier sleeping bag.

For me a small nylon tarp is a must. I carry a 5’x7’ one that can provide shade as well as be used to protect the bottom of my tent.

I like to chage my socks regualarly. If there is one thing I’ll carry too much of it’s socks. I have nylon and neoprene ones for paddling and cotton one for camp. Got to keep your feet happy.

A pair of low cut lug soled hikers is a must for me. They’re light enough for around camp but are good for an all day hike.

Coffee is the most important meal of the day as far as I’m concerned. That’s why I keep an insulated 32 oz French press with my camping gear. I’ve got a handheld grinder but sometime I’ll grind a fresh baggie full the day before leaving but still carrying plenty of whole bean just in case.

For cookware a set of nesting pots and a good frying pan is all that I need. A coffee pot is handy but can be left behind when using a press.

I sort of hate to admitting this but I use paper plates. After giving it much thought I’ve decided that they are better than trying to clean up along streams and rivers. I’ll burn the plates if it’s safe to do so.

I could go on and on but I’d rather hear from others.

A few points
On the “shorts over tights” : what is much better is the poly pro pants with zip off legs

On the “bunch of socks”: My method is the old one I learned in the Navy: Each night when I take them off I throw one of them against the side of the tent. If it slides down to the floor it is good for another day. If it sticks it is time to change it. Some trips I can get three or four days out of a pair.

On: “Like to cook” For us (wife and me) the meals are just a necessity to keep our energy level up. Our main goal is the exploration, paddling and wilderness, so we just use the tiny butane camp stove and still enjoy a meal cooked using it.

On your trip planning: If you are only “spending a few hours”, you are either a genious camper or you are not spending enough time. We spend a multitude of planning hours.

And finally: we have a “trip list” which we developed many moons ago and it has everything that you would ever need or want for any given trip. We are constntly adding to the master list.

Prior to a given trip we go through it and take off what we won’t need or want for that particular trip we are going on.

Off shore Florida Keys camping is the easiest to pack for since you can get by with the least stuff, and Alaska and other northern climates are the toughest since you need three times the stuff.



difference between canoes & kayaks
I think this thread nicely illustrates one of the main differences between canoe tripping and kayak tripping. When my Ex and I used to canoe camp, there wasn’t terribly much difference between camping out of the canoe or camping out of the car, in terms of what we brought.

Going light in the canoe, might mean taking only one cooler instead of two, or bringing the 2 person dome tent instead of the 4 person, or bringing a BP stove instead of a Coleman suitcase stove & grill and some charcoal. And, we frequently, didn’t go light. (Bear in mind that we weren’t in pristine wilderness areas, but were usually in State or Nat’l parks, just paddling from one campsite to another, where such activities as charcoal grilling are encouraged.)

As for water, I usually bring a hardsided, 5gal jug of it, rather than relying on the ceramic filter gizmo. Try doing that in your forward hatch. :wink:

I’m with the OP on the frustrating qualities of BP stoves. I think I own 5 of them, and I’m actually afraid of the old Optimus 8R and Svea 123 ones, and the sterno one and alcohol one are useless. Somewhere around here there’s one of the newer, modular multi-fuel ones, and it’s a pain to use. (Anybody want a great deal on a collection of mini-stoves?) So, I usually rely on the trusty 25 year old Coleman suitcase one. It’s big. It’s bulky. It works. And I know how to cook just about anything I want on it, so am not limited to some crappy made up “trail” cooking.

I’m also with the OP on bringing enough socks and underwear to always feel clean. If you use the compression bags, and bring no cotton anything, there’s little reason not to bring enough clothes to feel comfortable in all conditions. As far as I’m concerned, modern synthetic outdoor wear is one of the greatest strides forward in modern history. It really is possible to find a garment that will keep you both cool when it needs to and warm when it needs to. To my way of thinking, the place to really spend some money in the outdoor stores, is in seeing that you have adequate technical clothing for all climate conditions. Never mind all the gizmos and gadgets. (Most of which are unnessary and a waste of time and $$$.) Layered synthetics is where it’s at. Quickdry, wicking, breathable, waterproof, windproof, warm-when-wet synthetic clothing is worth whatever it costs.

I gotta disagree on paper plates, though. The less trash to haul out, the better. And even burning trash isn’t a technique I rely on. I figure there’s less environmental impact in using a very little bit of biodegradable soap well away from the river/lake, and cleaning the pans that double as plates/bowls. (Of course, I figure somebody will ding me on admitting to using charcoal, but I really only use it in areas that are set up for it.)

Now, if I can just get my current GF to see the joys of canoe camping… or even car camping. (I know we’re never going BPing.)

Synthetic Clothing
I agree on the use of synthetic clothing except when lounging around camp. After my feet have been soaking in water all day those cotton socks sure feel good. The same goes for a wet butt. I paddle a SOT.

I know the paper plates are a turn off but on some rivers the water is so muddy that cleaning cookware with it isn’t always that great an option. I wipe my pots and pans clean. That’s another benefit of using propane. It’s easier to avoid burning food.

think like a backpacker
In the Canadian Shield, portaging(usually canoeing) is a fact of life.

Go light but go comfy, leave all cotton for home and be prepared to layer up.

A lightweight stove is a fact of life too, especially when there are fire bans. One pot, a cup and a spork and a MSR coffee filter is about all the utensils you need for one

Jugs of water and two burner Coleman stove arent on my packing list! (The water yes, on ocean kayaking trips though)

This could lead to an entirely other section since so much depends on where you are going and how frequently you have to carry.

cast iron
Yes, it totally depends on where you’re going, what your expectations are, who you’re with, and how often you have to portage. On some trips where I knew I’d not be portaging once the boat was on the water, I’ve brought the cast iron frying pan and dutch oven. (Think about the poor explorers who had to drag that stuff along AND had to portage 30-40ft boats long distances. Musta been tough. No wonder they died young.)

But, back on topic, when you have a canoe with an 800-1100lb capacity, if you know you’re not going to be carrying it over land once you put it in, there’s not much reason not to bring along whatever. Well, there is one, and that’s if you capsize, you’ll lose a bunch of stuff. I doubt seriously that I’ve ever had a fullsized tandem canoe up to even 50% rated capacity, and I’m not known for going light. :wink: If I need to, I can live out of a backpack for a couple weeks, it’s just that I rarely need to, given what I actually do, these days.

I think a lot of people, (myself definitely included), get hooked into the idea that we need the latest, greatest, lightest gear, when it’s not really needed for our particular pursuits. For instance, I don’t really need an expedition tent rated to withstand the winds on Mt. Everest. But, obviously, all that depends on where you’re really going and what you’re doing.

Just curious, what backpacking stoves have you used where “several” have worn out?

We cook a ton of food on our trips, not to mention running the stove for many hours using an outback oven cooking cornbread and fresh baked pie.

Our meals have been very gourmet and that’s on a single burner/backpacking stove.

Alaska List?

Do you have an “Alaska” list you could share with me?

Coleman’s were the first stoves with controllable flames. I bought one of the first heavy ones years ago. Before that I owned a Svea, which burst into flames because I added a pump. Those first pumps weren’t all that good. It was a cap with a one way valve. The pump would fit over the cap. Sometimes way too much gas would come out of the stove. When living in Idaho there were several summers I would spend every day off backpacking. Whenever I went skiing I’d carry my stove to make coffee or hot chocolate the same was true while hunting. When working as a surveyor with the Forest Service I’d often brew something up at night by my tent. I didn’t cotton to sleeping in the trailers they provided. As a trail maintenance contractor I lived in the mountains for months at a time. I’ll admit that it was easier for me to buy a new stove that try to fix a problem one. But where I lived spare parts where harder to find than new stoves. By the time MSR started selling stoves with controllable flames I had started using packgoats and switched to propane. These days I’m set up to cook just about anything. I even have a portable slow cooker/smoker that sit onto of my twin 30.000 BTU burner Camp Chef stove. That stove doesn’t go into the kayak BTW. Lately I’ve been cooking on my wood fired grill and loving it. Slow cooked pork ribs are one of myh favorites. A rib roast slow cooked over mesquite and hickory then cooled and slices thin for sandwiches is quite the treat while kayaking.

Add these
AK list would include normal gear, but with the following changes/additions:

  • Cold-water clothing

  • “Alaska boots” or similar waterproof high boots

  • Bug repellant or mesh suit

  • Bear spray; ammonia in spray bottle (one for defense, one for preventive barrier marking around your gear)

  • Face cloths and the like should be made of quick-drying synthetics, not cotton–if you’re talking coastal SE AK, the air is humid and will not allow cotton to dry in time for the next packing

  • Tarp for cooking under when it rains (OR eat energy bars or peanut butter for dinner that night)

  • Spares for all critical items, because there aren’t many towns where you can buy replacements for broken things

    We used all of the above except for the bear spray (which is a Just-In-Case item) on our trip.

    Items that broke/malfunctioned on our trip of 4 people, 29 days: one watch, one water sack, one paddle, one tent floor, one water filter, one pack strap

I need your E-mail address
to send it to you.

Just reply from here and include it in your reply.