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Canoe Camping Check List

The following is a list of items frequently used on my canoe camping trips. Of course not all the gear is brought on all trips, but is adjusted for the specific area and length of the trip.

Travel & Navigation
Canoe (s)
Paddles (take an extra along in case one is lost or broken)
Life jacket
Map (s), if your maps are not waterproof, use zip lock bag.
Compass and/or GPS

Tent (s) with rain fly
10' X 12' lightweight tarp
First aid kit
Rope (100')
Toilet paper (in zip lock)
Sun block
Insect repellent
Flashlight and or headlamp
Duct tape
Small sewing kit

Buffalo River, Arkansas
Buffalo River Arkansas

Backpacking stove
Extra fuel
Fire-starter sticks or cubes
Lighter in waterproof container or waterproof matches
1-litre water bottles (2 per person)
Collapsible water bag
Water purification filter or boil all water for 7 minutes (requires extra Fuel and time)
Stainless steel cookware (preferably nesting type)
Non-stick frying pan
Pot gripper (usually comes with cookware)
Sharp knife
Plastic mugs (can double as bowl)
Plates (often lids of cookware pans can double as plate)
Lexan cutlery
Biodegradable dish detergent
Nylon scrubber
Drying towel
Nylon mesh bag (for chilling water bottles in the lake/river)

Personal Gear

long-sleeved shirt
jacket (if weather demands)
rain gear
bathing suit
hiking boots or running shoes
Water Sandals
sunglasses with safety strap

Fishing rod, lures, license, etc..
Camera and film
Lantern & fuel
Lightweight folding saw
Deck of cards
notebook & pencil

Sleeping bag (in waterproof bag such as garbage bag)
sleeping pad
Cell phone (not to call your friends, but in case of emergency)
Spare set of car keys (have two people carry car keys on the trip)

Leave in Car
complete change of clothes
snack and drinks to leave in the car for the trip home

Double bag it!

Most backpacks will leak if exposed to rain for any length of time or dropped into the water. This double-bagging system will help to keep your gear dry under any conditions, I use it for both canoe camping and backpacking:

  • Seal articles that you do not want to get wet in clear, heavy-duty freezer bags (e.g. Ziplock bags). You might want to pack socks in one freezer bag, underwear in another, t-shirts in another, camera in another, etc.
  • Line each backpack compartment with a large, thick, plastic bag (e.g. a garbage bag or commercially-available waterproof camping gear bag), pack each lined compartment with as many gear-filled freezer bags (above) as will fit, and then tie or twist-tie the liner-bags shut to provide a second barrier against water.

Related Links & Resources:
Camping at Mammoth Cave National Park
Camping at Big South Fork NRRA
Camping Games
Car Camping Check List
Smoky Mountains Camping
Kentucky National Parks


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