How to pack for a canoe trip


A great Canadian tradition, canoe tripping is an amazing way to explore our pristine wilderness. But packing for a canoe trip can be a bit much. The idea of bringing everything you need for survival is sometimes overwhelming. But let’s face it, it isn’t actually that hard. And the second you dip your paddle into the water, you’ll know it was all worth it.

The basics

So this is a wilderness trip right? That means no hair dryers, no laptops, no DVD players. You’re heading to your destination to experience the great wilderness. So what do you need? Clothes that will stay dry, or dry quickly, something to cook on, food, shelter, water (or a way to clean water) and something to sleep in. That’s it. No more, no less. Here’s a quick list of essentials:




•First Aid kit


•Sleeping bag


•Water Bottle

•Stove and fuel

•Pots and utensils


•Water filter or purification tablets

•Map and compass

•Rope and bag (to keep food away from bears)

•Matches and/or lighters



If you only bring the stuff on the list above, you’ll be fine in nearly every situation. Everything else that you bring is a luxury. So choose wisely, but don’t stress about it too much: If you have the above items, you’ll have nothing to worry about and are sure to have a great trip.

Staying dry

Keeping everything dry is key to a successful and happy trip. If it rains, or if your canoe tips, everything will get soaked. Even water dripping off your paddle can lead to a wet sleeping bag after a long day on the water, so you need to protect everything.

Yes, garbage bags will work, but they will tear after some use allowing small amounts of water to enter. Your best bet is a dry bag. If you don’t have any yet, buy a large one, or a couple of small ones. They can be a little pricey, but these things last a long time, so if you’ll be doing more tripping they’re definitely a great investment. 

Dry bags are available at all decent outfitter shops. MEC has a range of options here.

Your other option is a plastic barrel. When combined with a harness, this is a great for multi-day tripping. It can also be used as a bear proof container for your food. It’s easy to string up in a tree, and is extremely durable.