Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Solo canoe camping -- equipment checklist

I've been on several wilderness canoe trips, including some in Minnesota's Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Canada's Algonquin Park, and Montana's Upper Missouri River.  I've also gone on plenty of weekend adventures to local rivers or lakes.  

Whether you're planning a lengthy wilderness canoe trip or just an overnight campout on your favorite lake, it's a good idea to develop an equipment checklist so you won't overlook some essential item necessary for a safe outing.

It also makes sense to be sure everything will fit in your canoe.  A few days before leaving on a trip, I always pack my gear in dry packs and position them in my canoe.  Be sure to weigh your packs to make sure your equipment doesn't exceed the total recommended weight capacity of your watercraft.  The last thing you want is to arrive at a lake 300 miles from home and then discover it won't all fit or that you forgot your sleeping bag.

As you can see in the photo above, my 12' Old Town pack canoe doesn't have a lot of extra space.  There's just enough room left for me and my fishing tackle.

It's important to lash your gear in and keep the center of gravity low to avoid problems in the wind.  I use a couple of 25' lengths of 1/4" bungee cord and aluminum carabiners to lash everything to the thwarts and carry handles.

My solo canoe camping checklist

• 12' Old Town Pack canoe or 14' Old Town Hunter canoe
• carlisle wood paddle and carlisle double paddle tied to thwart with bungee
• wear: nylon underwear, polyester undershirt, wool or nylon shirt, wool whipcord pants, 
  web belt, and Columbia water shoes
• wide-brim felt hat and polarized sunglasses on lanyard
• bear spray on belt (bear country)
• .45 caliber, 20" barrel puma carbine; scabbard; ammo; and cleaning kit
• Fenwick spinning rod with Mitchell 300 reel rigged with Rapala lure --alternate-- 
  Kencor trolling rod with Penn Mag 10 reel rigged with lead-core line, Dave Davis flashers, 
  and Rapala lure (depends on time of year and depth of lake--sometimes I take both)

essentials bag (large green dry pack):

• pfd with knife, whistle, compass, watch, and waterproof camera with extra battery
• two painters and bungee ties
• seat back with seat pad
• bailer and sponge
• topographic map in waterproof case
• fishing net and fish billy
• Scotty clamp-on fishing rod holder
• extras bag (see below)
• fishing tackle bag (see below)

extras bag--inside essentials bag (small blue dry sack):

• Gore-Tex paddle jacket, nylon rain pants, and polyester gloves
• plastic trowel, and toilet paper in ziplock bag
• mini roll duct tape
• small orange dry sack with wallet and keys
• mosquito net
• wool watch cap

waist pack (inside extras bag)

• first aid kit and survival booklet
• headlamp
• air horn in ziplock bag
• sunblock
• insect repellent
• magnesium fire starter
• lip balm
• handkerchief
• survival fishing kit
• folding knife

Flambeau Kwikdraw fishing tackle bag, and carabiner--inside essentials bag

• 3 plastic tackle boxes
• extra flashers, line, and leader
• stringer
• needle nose pliers with bungee tie
• extra spinning reel
• fishing license

sleeping gear bag (large yellow dry pack)

• tent with fly, poles, stakes, ground cloth, mosquito net, and stuff sack
• folding camp stool (optional)
• rain fly and 100-feet para-cord
• camp axe and folding saw
• sleeping bag
• air mattress
• rain parka with hood in stuff sack--also serves as a pillow

large clothing stuff sack (inside sleeping gear bag)

• nylon undershorts, 1 per day
• polyester undershirts, 1 per day
• wool socks, 2 per day
• moccasins (in ditty bag)
• nylon or wool shirt, 1 per day
• wool whipcord pants, 1 pair
• bandanas, 1 per day

kitchen bag (medium clear dry sack)

• Katadyn water filter pump and quart bottle (replaces 2 gal jug in plastic box--photo above)
• small flashlight
• fillet knife, sharpening stone, and cutting board
• kitchen knife, fire starter, and can opener
• aluminum grill and copper wire
• garbage bags and ziplock bags (large and small)
• matches, lighter, and candle lantern
• nesting pots, 10" fry pan, and spatula
• plastic plate, bowl, cup, knife, fork, and spoon
• measuring cup
• coffee drip cone and filters
• salt and pepper shaker
• camp suds and pot scrubber
• dish towels and pot holder
• collapsible bucket
• 50' rope to bear-proof food bag (10’ up - 10’ away - 4’ down, dark color)
• Mountain House Freeze-Dried meals, coffee, Tea, and snacks (in dry bag)

 personal toilet items in ditty bag (inside kitchen bag)

• medicine: aspirin, prescriptions, and ibuprofen
• toothpaste and brush, hair brush, and deodorant
• Malox and Benadryl
• sewing kit and extra batteries in plastic jar
• camp bath towel
• stuff sacks with fresh and freeze-dried food

mesh bag

• Peak One camp stove in a case, fuel bottle, and funnel
• rod and gun oil in ziplock bag

14' Old Town Hunter canoe pack check.


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