Paddle Packing
Paddle
Paddle Packing
Everything you need from float to finish
By Scott Bish
Canoeing is a great way to take in the great outdoors; paddling along a river or in a lake can give you a new perspective you just can’t get on the road or trail.
Whether it’s your first time on the water or you’re preparing for your annual family canoe trip, it’s a good idea to put extra thought into what you’re packing and how you’re carrying it. Before you set out, consider these tips on what to bring to keep your trip afloat.
Lubrication Specialties
Lubrication Specialties
/ GET YOUR ADVENTURE IN GEAR /
Like any excursion, several key items will help make your canoe trip a success. Sunblock, sunglasses, hat, insect repellent, personal hygiene items (such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer), and high-protein snack bars should all be on your list. You’ll be able to protect yourself from the outdoor elements while staying comfortable and maintaining your energy. And don’t forget drinking water: You can bring water in canteens or gallon jugs, or you can use water purification tablets if you’re trying to cut down on the amount your packing into your canoe.

Be sure to check the weather forecast before you head out. Even if temperatures look high, you can usually count on them dropping in the evening. To prepare for a range of temps, it’s best to dress in or pack layers.

CONSIDER THESE ITEMS:

A bathing suit

Quick-drying shorts

An ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) shirt

A windbreaker

An extra pair of socks

Water shoes for added safety and stability when walking over rocks

If you’re going to a cooler area, you may want to consider an extra thermal layer, convertible pants, a beanie, and a bandana.
/ STAY SAFE AND SOUND /
Safety is key to keeping your canoe trip a positive experience. Before you head out, make sure you have one well-fitting life jacket for each person on board. These should be worn for the duration of the canoe trip.

Next, get at least a couple roll-top dry bags (more if you have a large group) to keep items from getting wet. One of the bags should have a first-aid kit with bandages, antibiotic ointment, aspirin, and antihistamine. You’ll want to keep this bag under your seat for easy access.

YOU MAY ALSO WANT TO CARRY:
Depending on your destination for the day, here are few additional items to consider.
A MULTITOOL
This is good to have in case you need wire cutters, a knife, a saw, a can opener, a bottle opener, or a screwdriver.
A WHISTLE
Be sure to choose one that blows wet or dry.
SIGNAL FLARES
If you get separated from the group, flares, along with the whistle, could be crucial in getting you to safety.
A MAP AND COMPASS
Don’t plan to rely exclusively on your smartphone, especially if you’re heading into an unfamiliar, remote area.
EMERGENCY SET OF PADDLES
These are especially important if you’re venturing into rough water. Spare paddles should be secured in the boat. The ideal location is flush against the inside wall of your canoe.
HOW TO:
LOAD A CANOE
BALANCE
Once your packing list is in order, focus on keeping your gear secure and well-balanced inside your canoe. To do this, place the heaviest gear in the center of the boat. The bulk of the weight should rest low and along the center line of your canoe; you’ll want your boat to lie as flat and level in the water as possible without tilting.
WEIGHT
It’s also important to pack items tightly. They will be less likely to shift around and cause your boat to become unbalanced. If you have any light, bulky items such as blankets, keep them in the front or back of the canoe. Keep in mind that your own weight—and that of your fellow canoers—will affect the levelness of the boat. So once everyone climbs in, they should move gear around as needed to create the best equilibrium possible.
HOW TO:
LOAD A CANOE
BALANCE
Once your packing list is in order, focus on keeping your gear secure and well-balanced inside your canoe. To do this, place the heaviest gear in the center of the boat. The bulk of the weight should rest low and along the center line of your canoe; you’ll want your boat to lie as flat and level in the water as possible without tilting.
WEIGHT
It’s also important to pack items tightly. They will be less likely to shift around and cause your boat to become unbalanced. If you have any light, bulky items such as blankets, keep them in the front or back of the canoe. Keep in mind that your own weight—and that of your fellow canoers—will affect the levelness of the boat. So once everyone climbs in, they should move gear around as needed to create the best equilibrium possible.
Now that you’re packed and ready, all that’s left to do is get out there and enjoy your voyage. Take in nature’s sights and sounds as you paddle downstream.
Need help choosing your canoe gear? Visit your local Tractor Supply and ask an associate for recommendations.
About the Writer

Scott Bish is a writer who hails from Ohio.

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