Your Ultimate Canoe Camping Packing Guide

Your Ultimate Canoe Camping Packing Guide

Are you ready for an unforgettable backcountry camping adventure in North America this summer? Whether you’re a seasoned camper or a first-timer, planning and packing for a canoe trip can be overwhelming. But fear not! We’ve got you covered with our comprehensive canoe trip pack list. With over 65 essential items, this guide will ensure you have everything you need for a safe and enjoyable experience. So, let’s dive in and start preparing for your exciting journey!

Canoeing Trip Packing List

Sleeping and Shelter

When it comes to overnight camping essentials, items for sleeping and shelter are of utmost importance. After a long day of paddling, having a comfortable and safe place to rest is crucial. Here are some must-haves:

1. Tent

Selecting the right tent is key to a comfortable camping experience. Look for a durable and waterproof tent that can accommodate one more person than your group size. This extra space allows for easy movement inside the tent. Consider the weight as well, as you’ll need to carry it on your canoe trip. Need some recommendations? The MSR Hubba Bubba 3-Person Tent is excellent, with options like the NEMO Aurora Tent for budget-conscious campers and the MSR Hubba Bubba Tent for those seeking luxury.

2. Trekking Backpack

Since your canoe trip may involve hikes and portages, a large backpack is essential. Look for one that provides enough space for your essential items like sleeping bags, tent, equipment, and emergency supplies. Opt for a backpack with padded shoulder straps for comfort and a waist strap to support your back. Gregory Stout 60L Backpack is a great choice.

3. Sleeping Mat

A good night’s sleep is crucial, and a sleeping mat can significantly improve your sleep quality. You can choose between a regular sleeping pad or a self-inflating sleeping mat for added comfort. Budget-friendly options include the Stoic Groundwork Sleeping Pad, while the Therm-a-Rest Prolite Sleeping Pad offers a luxurious experience.

4. Sleeping Bag

A high-quality sleeping bag is a must-have for any camper. Consider factors like the lowest suitable outdoor temperature and gender suitability when choosing one. The NEMO Disco 30 Sleeping Bag is an excellent 3-season option available in both men’s and women’s versions.

5. Camping Pillow

Sleeping on a rolled-up piece of clothing is far from comfortable. Bring a camping pillow to ensure a good night’s sleep. The NEMO Fillo Backpacking Pillow and Sea to Summit Aeros Ultralight Inflatable Camping Pillow are great options.

6. Rope

Pack a long, strong rope to hang your food barrel from a tree branch. You’ll also find it useful for setting up clothing lines or other campsite needs.

7. Tarp

A tarp is a versatile item that can provide additional shelter or keep your belongings dry in case of rain. Invest in a heavy-duty, waterproof tarp like the Amazon Basics Waterproof Camping Tarp or Sea to Summit Escapist Tarp.

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Food and Water

Proper nutrition and hydration are essential during your canoe camping trip. Here are some items to ensure you’re well-prepared:

8. Water Filtration System

Having access to clean drinking water is critical. Consider using a gravity bag like the Katadyn BeFree 3.0L Water Filter or Platypus GravityWorks 4.0L Filter System to filter water from lakes and make it potable.

9. Water Purification Tablets

Water purification tablets are a low-cost backup option for purifying water. Carry Aquatabs 49mg Water Purification Tablets as a safeguard in case your gravity bag fails.

10. Camp Stove

A camp stove is essential for cooking and survival. The MSR Pocket Rocket 2 Stove and Jetboil MiniMo Camping and Backpacking Stove are reliable options for your cooking needs.

11. Kitchen Cookware

A good set of cookware, including plates, utensils, and pots, will make meal preparation a breeze. Look for compact cookware sets like the Stove and Cookware Bundle or the Jetboil Frying Pan for added convenience.

12. Knife

Don’t forget to bring a sharp knife for cutting food and other camping needs.

13. Bear-Proof Food Containers

Ensure the safety of your food and other scented items with a bear-proof food container or food barrel. MEC Canada offers great options.

14. Water Bottle

Staying hydrated is crucial, so bring a reusable water bottle for refilling along the way. Opt for a lightweight, wide-mouth bottle for easy drinking and adding electrolyte tablets.

15. Empty Plastic Bag

Keep your campsite and the wilderness clean by packing an empty plastic bag for waste disposal. Remember to pack out everything you bring in.

Safety Items

Safety should be your top priority during any camping trip. Here are some essential safety items:

16. Canoe

Rent or bring a canoe suitable for your trip. Make sure it’s in good condition for a safe canoeing experience.

17. Paddles

Don’t forget to bring paddles for steering and propelling your canoe. Each person should have their own paddle.

18. Personal Flotation Device

Wearing a personal flotation device (PFD) is crucial for your safety while canoeing. Check if they’re required by park regulations and make sure to have them readily accessible.

19. First Aid Kit

Accidents can happen, so be prepared with a well-stocked first aid kit. Consider the number of people and the duration of your trip. The Adventure Medical Kit is a reliable option.

20. Map

Even if you’re familiar with the area, bring a map in a waterproof case for navigation and emergency situations.

21. Lights

Ensure you have reliable lights for navigating in the dark and finding your way around the campsite. Pack a flashlight or headlamp for personal use and a lantern for general illumination.

22. Hatchet and/or Sledgehammer

These tools come in handy for various camping needs, from preparing firewood to hammering tent pegs.

23. Compass

A compass is indispensable for navigation, especially when you have no cellular service.

24. Firewood

Check for fire bans in the area, but if allowed, bring firewood for cooking and warmth. Ensure you purchase wood from the park office and follow local regulations.


Proper clothing is essential for comfort and protection while camping. Here are some clothing items to consider:

25. Dry Bags

Invest in waterproof dry bags to keep your clothes and valuables dry during your trip. SealLine Dry Packs with various sizes are ideal for this purpose.

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26. T-Shirts

Bring sweat-resistant t-shirts made of lightweight, quick-drying fabric. Lululemon and Adidas offer great options for both men and women.

27. Shorts

Pack quick-drying shorts for daytime comfort and easy movement.

28. Warm Sweater

Bring a warm sweater or fleece for cooler evenings and mosquito protection.

29. Long Pants

Consider bringing lightweight, non-cotton pants for cooler evenings and protection against mosquitoes.

30. Leggings or Long Johns

Leggings or thermal pants are great for sleeping or added warmth during cooler nights.

31. Bathing Suit

Don’t forget your bathing suit for refreshing swims and outdoor bathing.

32. Daytime Socks

Pack enough moisture-wicking socks to keep your feet dry and comfortable during the day.

33. Warm Socks

Bring thicker socks for cooler evenings and to keep your feet warm at night.

34. Underwear

Bring enough underwear for the duration of your trip, and consider sports bras for ladies for better comfort.

35. Rain Jacket

Always be prepared for rain by bringing a lightweight, packable rain jacket. Check out options from Arcteryx and The North Face.

36. Hat

Protect your face and neck from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat or a baseball cap. Lululemon and Roots offer great options.

37. Sunglasses

Don’t forget to bring sunglasses with UV protection for eye safety.

38. Old Running Shoes or Hiking Shoes

Choose comfortable, water-resistant shoes that can withstand getting wet. Merrell and Keen offer reliable options.

39. Campsite Shoes

Pack sandals for relaxation and freedom for your feet. Teva and Keen sandals are popular choices.


Proper hygiene is essential, even in the backcountry. Here are some toiletries to include:

40. Biodegradable Soap

Bring biodegradable soap to stay clean while respecting the environment. Campsuds Biodegradable Soap and Dr Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap are excellent choices.

41. Toothbrush and Toothpaste

Maintain your dental hygiene with a manual toothbrush and travel-sized toothpaste.

42. Sunscreen

Protect your skin from harmful UV rays with high SPF sunscreen. La Roche Posay and Cetaphil offer excellent options.

43. Deodorant

Stay fresh with unscented deodorant to avoid attracting insects.

44. Antihistamine

For allergy relief from mosquito bites and other allergens, consider bringing antihistamines.

45. Bug Spray

Keep mosquitoes and other insects at bay with insect repellent like OFF! Deep Woods Insect Repellent.

46. Medication

Bring any necessary medication, including prescription drugs, for personal needs.

47. Antiseptic Cream

For minor cuts and scrapes, have antiseptic cream like Polysporin or Neosporin on hand.

48. Toilet Paper

Pack biodegradable toilet paper in sufficient quantities for your trip.

49. Tissues

Carry a small travel pack of tissues for various needs.

50. Hairband

If you have long hair, bring a couple of hair ties to keep your hair out of your face during activities.

51. Hairbrush

Pack a compact hairbrush or comb to keep your hair tangle-free.

52. Towel

Bring a microfiber towel for quick-drying after swimming or bathing.

Personal Items

While not essential, these personal items can enhance your camping experience:

53. Portable Power Bank

Bring a portable phone charger to keep your electronic devices charged throughout your trip.

54. GoPro Camera

Capture your memorable moments with a GoPro or any other durable camera suitable for outdoor adventures.

55. Mosquito Net Hat

Protect yourself from mosquito bites with a mosquito net hat.

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56. Belt Bag

A fanny pack or belt bag is perfect for keeping small essentials like lip balm, tissues, and your camera or phone within easy reach.

57. Backpack

If you plan on day trips away from your main gear, bring a backpack for food, medical supplies, and other essential items. The Osprey Tempest Hiking Backpack is a reliable option.

58. Fishing Rod

If you enjoy fishing, bring your fishing equipment and make sure you have the necessary permits.

59. Camp Chair

If you have space and don’t mind carrying it, a camp chair can add comfort to your camping experience. Ultralight Compact Camping Chair and Lightweight Folding Camping Chair are popular options.

60. Secure Case

If you’re carrying expensive camera equipment or phones, ensure their safety with a shockproof and waterproof case like those from Pelican.

61. Playing Cards

Bring playing cards to enjoy games with fellow campers during downtime.

62. Book

Take some time to relax and unwind with a paperback book during your camping trip.

Canoe Trip Pack List FAQ

Q: Are there any food restrictions while camping?

A: While there are no specific restrictions, it’s essential to pack food that aligns with your dietary needs and preferences. Consider any allergies or dietary restrictions when choosing your camping meals.

Q: Can I bring my pet on a canoe camping trip?

A: It depends on the park or camping area. Some places allow pets, while others have strict pet restrictions. Check the park’s regulations before bringing your furry friend along.

Q: How much clothing should I pack for a canoe trip?

A: Pack the minimum necessary to keep your luggage lightweight and manageable. Choose versatile clothing items that can be layered for different weather conditions. Consider quick-drying and lightweight fabrics for increased convenience.

Q: Do I need a permit for a canoe trip?

A: Some parks or camping areas may require permits for overnight canoe trips. Check with the specific park or land management agency to ensure you have the necessary permits and to familiarize yourself with the regulations.

Q: Are there any safety tips for canoe camping?

A: Safety should always be a priority. Ensure you have the necessary safety equipment, including personal flotation devices (PFDs) and a first aid kit. Familiarize yourself with the area, including potential hazards and emergency contact information. Be aware of wildlife and follow proper food storage guidelines to avoid attracting animals to your campsite.

Q: What’s the best way to dispose of waste while canoe camping?

A: Follow the “Leave No Trace” principles and pack out everything you bring in. Use designated waste disposal areas or carry out your waste in a sealed plastic bag for proper disposal.

Q: Can I bring electronic devices on a canoe trip?

A: Electronic devices can be useful but remember to protect them from water damage and ensure you have a reliable power source, such as a portable charger.

Q: Can I make a fire during a canoe trip?

A: Fire regulations vary depending on the specific park or area. Check for fire bans or restrictions before your trip. If fires are allowed, purchase firewood from the park office and follow the designated fire pit guidelines.

Q: How can I prevent mosquito bites during a canoe trip?

A: Protect yourself from mosquitoes by wearing long sleeves, pants, and closed-toe shoes, especially during peak mosquito activity. Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and consider using mosquito nets or hats for added protection.

Q: What should I do if I encounter wildlife during a canoe trip?

A: Stay calm and respect the animals’ space. Do not approach or feed wildlife. Follow proper food storage guidelines to prevent attracting wildlife to your campsite. Familiarize yourself with specific wildlife safety guidelines for the area you are visiting.

Now that you have a comprehensive canoe trip packing guide, you’re well-prepared for your backcountry adventure. Remember to plan ahead, pack wisely, and prioritize safety. Enjoy the tranquility of nature and create unforgettable memories on your canoe camping trip in North America!

East Coast Paddle Sports

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