What To Take On A Day Canoe Trip?

What to take on a day canoe trip? Find out the essential gear, navigation tools, clothing, food, safety gear, and personal items to bring for a successful adventure.

Heading out for a day-long canoe trip can be an exciting and refreshing experience, but packing the right essentials is crucial to ensure a smooth and enjoyable adventure. From essential gear to personal items, being well-prepared can make all the difference. In this article, we will guide you through a comprehensive list of what to take on a day canoe trip, allowing you to make the most of your time paddling through serene waters while staying comfortable and prepared for any situation. So, grab your pen and paper, because we’re about to get you ready for an unforgettable day on the water.

What To Take On A Day Canoe Trip?

Essential Paddling Gear

Canoe or kayak

When preparing for a day of paddling, the first item on your list should be a quality canoe or kayak. Choose a vessel that suits your needs and experience level, whether it’s a stable recreational kayak or a sleek and maneuverable canoe. Make sure to inspect your craft for any damage or wear before hitting the water to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.


A paddle is an essential tool for propelling your canoe or kayak through the water. There are different types of paddles available, including single-bladed and double-bladed options. Choose a paddle that is the correct length for your height and the type of water you’ll be paddling in. It’s also important to check the condition of your paddle and ensure it is sturdy and free from any cracks or defects.

Personal floatation device (PFD)

Safety should always be a priority when on the water, which is why a personal floatation device (PFD) is a must-have item for any paddling adventure. Opt for a PFD that fits properly and is U.S. Coast Guard approved. It should be comfortable to wear and allow for a full range of motion while providing adequate buoyancy in case of an emergency.

Dry bags for gear protection

To keep your belongings dry and protected from water, it’s essential to invest in waterproof dry bags. These bags are designed to keep your gear secure and dry during your canoe or kayak trip. Separate your items into different bags, ensuring that each bag is properly sealed. This will help prevent water damage, even if your canoe or kayak tips over.

Navigation Tools

Map of the area

Before heading out on any outdoor adventure, it’s important to have a detailed map of the area you’ll be exploring. Familiarize yourself with the routes, waterways, and landmarks to ensure you stay on track. A map can be a valuable tool in case your GPS device or electronic navigation tools fail or run out of battery.


A compass is a reliable and essential tool for navigation, especially if you find yourself without access to electronic devices. Learn how to use a compass properly and be sure to carry one with you on your paddling trip. It can help you orient yourself, determine your direction, and navigate through different waterways.

GPS Device

While a map and compass are essential, a GPS device can provide additional assistance and increased accuracy in navigation. Look for a waterproof and durable GPS device that allows you to mark waypoints, track your progress, and find your way back to your starting point. Remember to bring spare batteries or ensure that your device is fully charged before starting your journey.

See also  Selecting The Perfect PFD For Your Paddling Trip

Waterproof case for electronic devices

Since electronic devices can be sensitive to water damage, it’s crucial to protect them with a waterproof case. This will not only keep your devices dry but also allow you to access features like navigation apps or weather updates while on the water. Invest in a reliable and secure waterproof case to ensure the safety of your navigation tools.

Weather Appropriate Clothing

Quick-dry clothing

When spending a day on the water, it’s crucial to wear quick-dry clothing that will keep you comfortable and dry. Avoid cotton clothing as it tends to soak up moisture and stay wet, which can make you cold and uncomfortable. Opt for synthetic materials like polyester or nylon that wick away moisture and dry quickly.

Rain gear

Weather conditions can change quickly, so be prepared for rain by packing lightweight and waterproof rain gear. A waterproof jacket and pants will help keep you dry and protect against wind and rain. Look for rain gear that is breathable to prevent overheating and ensure comfort throughout your paddling adventure.

Sun protection gear, like a hat and sunscreen

Shielding yourself from the sun is crucial during a day of paddling, as the water can reflect sunlight and intensify its effects. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to protect your face, ears, and neck from the sun’s rays. Additionally, apply a high SPF sunscreen to exposed skin, and consider wearing lightweight, long-sleeved clothing to further protect yourself from harmful UV rays.

Extra change of clothes

Pack an extra set of clothes in case you get wet or want to change into something more comfortable after your paddling trip. Choose light, breathable fabrics that will dry quickly, allowing you to stay comfortable throughout the day. It’s always a good idea to have dry clothes to change into while keeping your wet gear separate in dry bags.

Water shoes

Invest in a good pair of water shoes to protect your feet and provide traction while on the water. Water shoes are designed to be lightweight, quick-drying, and provide excellent grip on slippery surfaces. They are a great option to comfortably explore the water and easily transition from paddling to walking on land.

Food and Hydration

Water bottles or hydration bladder

Staying hydrated is crucial during any outdoor activity. Bring an adequate amount of water in reusable bottles or consider using a hydration bladder to ensure easy access to hydration throughout your canoe or kayak trip. Remember to drink regularly, especially in hot weather or during strenuous paddling.

High-energy snacks

Keep your energy levels up during your paddling adventure with high-energy snacks. Choose lightweight options like trail mix, energy bars, or dried fruit that are easy to pack and provide a quick source of energy. Snacks with a mix of carbohydrates, protein, and healthy fats will sustain your energy levels and keep you fueled throughout the day.


Pack a nutritious and satisfying lunch to enjoy during your midday break. Opt for foods that are easy to eat and don’t require refrigeration, such as sandwiches, wraps, or pre-cooked meals. Consider packing foods that won’t spoil quickly and can withstand the outdoor temperatures, ensuring a safe and enjoyable meal break.

Water purification tablets or filter

If you’ll be relying on natural water sources for drinking water, it’s important to have a method of purification. Carry water purification tablets or a portable water filter to ensure that any water you consume is safe and free from harmful bacteria or parasites. Follow the instructions provided with the purification method to ensure effective use.

See also  How Long Does It Take To Canoe 10 Km?

What To Take On A Day Canoe Trip?

Emergency and Safety Gear

First-aid kit

Accidents happen, even on the most well-prepared trips. Always have a first-aid kit on hand to treat minor injuries or provide initial care until professional help is available. Ensure your first-aid kit is well-stocked with essentials such as bandages, antiseptic ointment, gauze, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications.


In case of an emergency or if you need to attract attention, a whistle is an invaluable tool. Choose a whistle that is loud and easily heard over the sound of water or wind. Keep it accessible at all times, preferably attached to your PFD, to ensure you can quickly signal for help if needed.

Headlamp with extra batteries

If your paddling day extends into the evening or if unforeseen circumstances delay your return, a headlamp with extra batteries is essential. It will provide you with hands-free lighting and ensure that you can safely navigate in low-light situations. Always carry extra batteries to avoid being left in the dark.

Multi-tool or knife

A multi-tool or knife is a versatile and must-have item for any outdoor adventure, including paddling trips. Choose a tool that includes a variety of useful functions like a knife, pliers, screwdriver, and bottle opener. It will come in handy for various tasks, from cutting rope to repairing gear.

Rope or paracord

Carrying a length of rope or paracord is always a smart idea. It can be used for many purposes, such as securing gear, creating a clothesline, or even for emergency situations where you may need to make a makeshift shelter or rescue someone. Choose a strong and durable rope that is lightweight and easy to store.

Communication Devices

Cell phone

While it’s important to disconnect and enjoy nature, it’s also crucial to have a means of communication in case of an emergency or to check in with someone who is aware of your plans. Carry a fully charged cell phone in a waterproof case. Remember that coverage may be limited in some areas, so don’t rely solely on your phone for communication.

Two-way radios

Two-way radios are a reliable means of communication, especially when paddling in a group or in areas with limited cell phone reception. They allow for easy and immediate communication between paddlers, ensuring everyone stays connected and aware of each other’s whereabouts. Make sure to test the radios beforehand to ensure they are in good working condition.

Emergency beacon

For added safety and peace of mind, consider carrying an emergency beacon. This device can broadcast your location in case of an emergency and can be detected by search and rescue teams. Check that the beacon is registered and properly maintained, and be familiar with its operation before setting off on your paddling adventure.

What To Take On A Day Canoe Trip?

Camping Gear (if applicable)

Tent or hammock

If you plan to extend your paddling trip overnight, a tent or hammock is essential for providing shelter and a good night’s rest. Choose a lightweight and portable option that is suitable for outdoor use and easy to set up. Look for a tent or hammock that provides adequate protection from the elements while also allowing for ventilation.

Sleeping pad

For a comfortable sleep, invest in a good-quality sleeping pad. Sleeping pads provide insulation from the ground, adding a layer of comfort and warmth to your sleeping arrangement. Look for lightweight and compact options that are easy to pack and inflate. Consider the type of terrain you’ll be camping on to choose a pad with the appropriate thickness and materials.

Sleeping bag

A sleeping bag is essential for staying warm during cool nights in the great outdoors. Choose a sleeping bag suited to the expected temperatures of your trip, and consider factors such as insulation, weight, and packability. Look for a bag that is easy to compress and fits well in your backpack or dry bag.

Cooking gear

If you plan to cook meals during your paddling adventure, pack appropriate cooking gear such as a lightweight camp stove, cookware, and utensils. Opt for compact and durable options that are easy to pack and clean. Consider the type of meals you’ll be preparing and choose cookware that can withstand the heat and is suitable for outdoor cooking.

See also  Where Should You Sit On A Canoe?

Personal Items

ID and pertinent medical information

Always carry identification and any important medical information with you on your paddling trip. This ensures that in the event of an emergency, responders have access to your personal information and any necessary medical details. Keep these items in a waterproof pouch or ziplock bag to protect them from water damage.

Cash and credit cards

Having some cash and a credit card with you can be helpful in case of emergencies or unexpected situations. It’s also convenient for purchasing any supplies or refreshments along your journey. Keep them in a waterproof bag or dry bag to prevent water damage.

Insurance, licenses, and permits

If required, bring any necessary insurance documents, licenses, or permits with you when paddling. Some areas may require specific permits for access or camping, so be sure to research and obtain them prior to your trip. Keep these documents organized and protected in a waterproof container.

Bathroom Essentials

Toilet paper

When nature calls, having toilet paper on hand is essential for maintaining hygiene and Leave No Trace principles. Pack a small roll or individual wipes in a waterproof bag to ensure they stay dry and easily accessible. Dispose of used toilet paper properly to minimize environmental impact.

Hand sanitizer

Maintaining proper hygiene while outdoors is important for your health and to minimize the spread of bacteria. Carry a travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer to clean your hands before and after bathroom breaks and before eating or preparing food. Look for a sanitizer that is alcohol-based and kills a high percentage of germs.

Personal towel

A compact and quick-drying personal towel is useful for drying off after water activities or for general hygiene purposes. Look for a microfiber towel that is lightweight, absorbs moisture well, and dries quickly. It should also fold down to a small size for easy packing in your dry bag.

Biodegradable soap

When camping or paddling, it’s crucial to use biodegradable soap to minimize the impact on the environment. Look for soap specifically designed for outdoor use that is free from harsh chemicals and safe for use in natural water sources. Use sparingly and rinse away from water sources to ensure the ecosystem remains undisturbed.

Nature-friendly Accessories

Trash bags for Leave No Trace

Practicing Leave No Trace principles is essential to preserve the natural beauty of our waterways. Bring extra trash bags to pack out any waste, including food wrappers, used toiletries, or any other garbage generated during your trip. It’s important to leave the area cleaner than you found it to minimize your impact on the environment.

Eco-friendly utensils

Choose eco-friendly utensils made from sustainable materials for your meals while paddling. Look for options made from bamboo, recycled plastic, or stainless steel. These utensils can be reused, minimizing the need for disposable cutlery and reducing waste in the environment.

Biodegradable materials

When selecting gear and supplies for your paddling trip, opt for biodegradable options whenever possible. This includes items like trash bags, soaps, and even certain types of toilet paper. By choosing biodegradable materials, you contribute to the preservation of nature and help minimize the impact of human activity on ecosystems.

Wildlife guides for local fauna and flora

Enhance your paddling experience by carrying wildlife guides that provide information on local fauna and flora. These guides can help you identify different species, learn about their habitats, and deepen your appreciation for the natural world around you. Choose guides specific to the area you’ll be exploring to get the most accurate and helpful information.

In conclusion, preparing for a day of paddling requires careful consideration of essential gear and necessary supplies. From the basics like a canoe or kayak, paddles, and life jackets, to navigation tools and safety gear like maps, compasses, and first-aid kits, it’s important to be well-equipped and prepared for any situation that may arise. Additionally, clothing suitable for the weather, food and hydration provisions, communication devices, and camping gear (if applicable) are all vital components of a successful and enjoyable paddling trip. Remember to bring personal items, bathroom essentials, and nature-friendly accessories to ensure a responsible and sustainable outdoor experience. By following these guidelines and being well-prepared, you can embark on an exciting and safe paddling adventure while appreciating the beauty of nature.