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7 Things You Need for a Successful Canoe Camping Trip

Every year, I go canoe camping with a few friends on the St. Crois River. If you don’t know what canoe camping is, some people compare it to backpacking but I think it’s more like car camping but in a canoe. I say that because you can fit more than you’d expect inside of a canoe. What exactly you pack is up to you, but there are seven things I bring to make my canoe camping adventures a success. 

A Solid Canoe Chair

If you spend hours on the water, back support makes a world of difference. I like to spend the entire afternoon floating and fishing, so I want to be comfortable. The best chair I’ve found is the GCI Outdoor SitBacker. It’s easy to adjust the back angle, and the split contour seat works well on both molded and flat canoe benches. It’s a must-have when I’m canoe camping.

Sponge

No matter how good your paddling skills are, you’ll still get water in the canoe. Keeping your space clean and dry with an oversized sponge makes for a more pleasant afternoon. You’d also be surprised at how fast you can remove a few gallons of water after you pull the canoe on shore.

Plastic Totes

Plastic totes are a canoeist’s best friend. Water will most certainly collect on the canoe’s bottom, so they’re a great way to keep everything dry. Having your gear in a large tote also means fewer trips to the campsite when you’re unloading gear.

Dry Bags

I recommend keeping on hand dry bags of various sizes. I keep my sleeping bag in a large dry bag, and I like to keep a small one under my seat with items that I use throughout the day.

Bungees and Gear Ties

I’m notorious for bringing too much gear on canoe trips, which means that things tend to pile up. I use bungees and gear ties to secure everything. Bungee cords are also great for connecting two canoes side by side for a relaxing float down a mellow river.

Google Maps Offline

Did you know you can use Google Maps with zero cellular reception? It’s true. The trick is to download the map for offline use before you leave the house. Another tip is to create a custom map so you can add campsites and essential waypoints. When I’m on the river at the end of the day, I need to know how many campsites are in the next few miles.

Synthetic Clothing

When cotton gets wet, it stays wet, especially in a humid climate. That’s why I only bring synthetic shirts and convertible pants with me on a canoe trip. They dry quickly, so I’m more comfortable throughout the day. Convertible pants are nice to have, too, in case the temperature drops when the sun goes down. Changing clothes in a canoe is a tricky affair, but zipping on pant bottoms can be done quickly.

What are some things you bring with you on your canoe trips? Tell us in the comments below. 

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