Canoe Camping Gear Checklist: The Bare Necessities For An Exciting Trip

If you’re a regular camper or backpacker, you’re probably thinking of ways to spice things up. Sure there are always new trails to explore and new paths to walk but it isn’t the same as trying something new. Camping and backpacking can be combined easily and you’ve probably done both for years.

But how about canoeing? You might have tried this recreational activity before but maybe not with camping or backpacking. We know all the excitement can make you frantic and forget things so we’ve put up a canoe camping gear checklist so that you will have the bare necessities for your trip to make it exciting and enjoyable.

Canoe Camping

Checklists are a great tool for staying organized. It also lets you plan ahead so that you won’t forget everything that you need during your trip. Running out of clean clothes or forgetting to pack dishwashing soap can make life harder in camp and a checklist will ensure that you are prepared days or weeks ahead of time.

Checklists are also a great way to ensure that you complete all the necessary tasks you need to accomplish before leaving for your canoe camping trip. You might need to make important phone calls or book a campsite and a checklist will guarantee that you were able to do this and increase the chances of your trip being successful.


Contrary to popular belief, checklists for any kind of trip are not very hard to do. Essentially a checklist is just a list of errands you need to do or things you need for your trip. If you’re new to making a canoe camping gear checklist you’ve come to the right place because we will be talking about how you can plan for this vacation and what equipment you need to make this trip an enjoyable and memorable one.

How To Make A Checklist

As stated above, checklists are easy to make. You just have to make a list of things that you need for camping or backpacking and then add everything you need for canoeing too. Seasoned campers and backpackers probably have all their gear organized and ready for the next adventure but some of us still need a little bit of organizational help. If you’re new to checklist-making, here are some of the basic necessities you will need for your trip.


It is easier to divide a big task into sections to make it more doable. Smaller tasks are easier to accomplish and prevent you from getting frustrated while you organize other details of the trip.


Let’s start with what you need for the trip. This is what you need to make your backpacking trip comfortable and successful.

  • Sleeping Bag or cot – bringing your own personal sleeping bag is better; unless of course your sharing with your partner. However, it is still better to include this in your checklist especially if you were the one assigned to bring it.
  • Sleeping pad or mattress pad – for added comfort at night especially when it’s cold.
  • Pillow – optional but will make you more comfortable
  • Hiking boots – also another optional item but will make hiking easier
  • Sneakers
  • Wading Shoes/Sandals – also optional
  • Clothing – your clothes should be enough to last your whole stay. It should include pants, shorts, t-shirts, socks, underwear and thermal underwear (if needed). The clothing you bring should also reflect the season. If you’re camping during the summer shorts and t-shirts will suffice but you will need pants, sweaters and jackets for cold weather camping.

Canoe Camping Gear

  • Bandanas and handkerchiefs – to wipe the sweat or dirt away
  • Bathing Suit
  • Towel – a bathing towel and face towel can come in handy. You can also bring a beach towel for sunbathing.
  • Dirty Clothes Bag – nobody wants to deal with the sniffing game of clean or dirty
  • Clothes Detergent
  • Pocket Knife or sheath knife – can be used for survival or personal defense
  • Whistle – always keep one with you to signal for help or to announce your presence to wildlife
  • Pin – on Compass and or orienteering-style compass – because digital GPS can fail
  • Waterproof Matches or fire starter – it’s always good to have your own stash that you can keep with your person
  • Toilet Paper Wad
  • Sierra Cup
  • Water Bottle or personal hydration device – you should also bring a way

Water Bottle

  • Flashlight or headlamps
  • Spare Batteries and Bulb
  • Personal First Aid Kit – should also include your personal medicine. For example, diabetes medication, or anti-allergies
  • Toilet Kit – should include your toothbrush, shampoo, deodorant and other personal hygiene items
  • Insect Repellent
  • Watch
  • Personal Medicine
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen – should be at least SPF 30 and waterproof
  • Rainwear – you might not need it but it’s always good to have. Check the weather forecast before leaving the house every time you go camping or backpacking
  • Fishing Gear – the fish might be biting!

Canoe Fishing

  • Camera gear – a way to record your canoe camping trip
  • Reading Material – it can get boring at night
  • Notebook and ball pen – inspiration might strike you and need a place to write your thoughts down or it can serve as a camp/backpacking log
  • Binoculars – bird watching is another great camping/backpacking activity
  • Bug Net – a way to keep nasty mosquitoes and bugs away from you as you sleep
  • Maps – very important for backpackers going from one place to the next
  • Alarm Clock – it can be very quiet in the woods and the morning sun might not be enough to wake you
  • Facial Tissues
  • Dry Bag – pack all of your gear and clothing in a dry bag to prevent them from getting wet in the rain or while crossing streams and rivers

Choose your Dry Bag

  • Day Pack – a smaller version of your backpack for day excursions
  • Field Survival Kit – should contain a fire starter, whistle, parachute cord, water purification tablets, duct tape, weather protection, compass and map

You might not need everything in this checklist but it never hurts to be extra thorough. For example, you might not need clothes detergent if you’re only staying overnight. You can also leave the rain gear if the forecast is sunny for the days that you’re camping or the fishing gear if you’re not into this activity.

Base Camp Gear Checklist

This is essentially your camping gear. It includes your tent, the tools you need to set up camp and other necessities. This portion can be divided by other camp members but it is always better to bring your own. For example, you can assign the water pail

  • Tent – should include the poles, stakes and lines, rain fly
  • Stools or folding chairs for seating

Folding Stool

  • Folding Saw – you might need to saw branches for firewood or to clear an area
  • Axe – for personal defense or to be used to clear an area or chop wood
  • Lantern
  • Folding Shovel – you have to go to the bathroom in the woods
  • Thermos or vacuum bottle – for hot water storage
  • Fire Gloves
  • Water Pail – this should always be filled with your water and placed near your kitchen or campfire
  • Group sized first aid kit – it never hurts to have extra
  • Camp tool kit – things break down in the woods too. Should contain sealant, bailing wire, nylon cord, putty, replacement nuts and bolts, duct tape and scissors
  • Stove and lantern kit – a way to mend broken lanterns or stoves
  • Sewing kit – you might need to sew something like your tent floor or a piece of clothing
  • Toilet paper – again, extras don’t hurt

Toilet Paper

  • Flashlights
  • Spare batteries and bulbs
  • Rubber mallet – it can be hard to drive down stakes on a cold ground
  • Camping shower – because hygiene is important
  • Whisk broom – so is cleanliness
  • Fire wood – always buy a bunch so that you won’t have to forage for firewood. Buy endemic species only.
  • Games – so the nights won’t get boring
  • Duluth pack – a waterproof pack you can store items while canoeing

Kitchen and Cooking Gear

The outdoors can make you very hungry. When camping, you are relying on your hunting (you can also bring your own food) and cooking skills to nourish you so it’s best to bring everything important. Here are some things you might need.

  • Ice Chest – for ice and other perishables
  • Dry Boxes – for snacks or dry foods and canned goods

Plastic Food Boxes

  • Stove Fuel
  • Fuel Funnel – so you don’t waste a drop of fuel
  • Griddle
  • Fire Grate
  • BBQ Grill
  • Charcoal
  • Fire Starter/lighter fluid
  • Pots, frying pan, baking pan
  • Plates, bowls and cups
  • Silverware (or plastic/disposable)
  • Steak Knives – optional
  • Spatula
  • Serving Spoon – optional
  • Ladle – also optional
  • Kitchen Knife

Kitchen Knife

  • Can Opener, cork screw, bottle opener (or a Swiss Army knife or equivalent)
  • Tongs
  • Pot Gripper
  • Pliers
  • Measuring Cup
  • Cutting Board
  • Reflector, baking or Dutch oven – also optional
  • Coffee Pot or coffee maker – there are many camping varieties for people who can’t start their day without a cup of java
  • Wash Tub – for washing dirty clothes
  • Dish Towel
  • Paper Towels
  • Dish Soap – should be biodegradable

Biodegradable Dish Soap

  • Sponge with scouring pad
  • Matches (strike anywhere)
  • Stove Igniter
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Trash Bags
  • Stove Stand
  • Table Cloth – optional if you don’t want to “rough” it
  • Collapsible Water Jugs
  • Water Purifying Tablets
  • Water Filtering Pump
Water Filter
Image credit:
  • Food – bring enough to last the duration of your trip
  • Bear Canister – some camping grounds require you to bring or rent for your safety (and the bear’s)

Canoe Gear Check List

You can’t go canoe camping without a canoe! If it’s your first time, it’s better to include all of these items on your checklist

  • Canoe
  • Paddles (2 or 3) – very important even if you have an outboard motor
  • Type III Life Vest (one for each person) – best for open, rough or remote water, where rescue may be slow-coming.
  • Sponge
  • Bailer – all types of boats need a bailer
  • Bow and Stern Lines (15ft)
  • Lashing Rope (50 ft)
  • Anchor and Line (optional)

Anchor and Line

  • Seat – there are many varieties online
  • Cushions – you might as well be comfortable
  • Canoe Repair Kit – canoes can get dings, gouges or punctures and you need to have a way to repair them especially when you’re outdoors. You can buy one online or at a sporting goods or outdoors store.
  • Outboard Motor
  • Gas and Oil
  • Outboard Motor Kit – motors can break down and you might need to repair it.

Wrap Up

Some of the things mentioned above are often repeated; for example, spare batteries and bulbs, matches or fire starters, water and toilet paper. When it comes to these essentials, it is better to have more. You can lose matches for instance while crossing a stream because they got wet.


Having more than 1 box of matches and a fire starter can save the day. It is also good to note that you’re miles away from civilization so having extra items is better than falling short. In time your experience will not only tell you what to bring but how much to bring too.

Canoeing can make your camping or backpacking trip more fun and exciting. It is another way to enjoy the wonders of nature. However, not bringing the right equipment can make the journey the longest one you will ever make.


A canoe camping checklist can help make your life easier. It can help you prepare and organize for the trip. Making a checklist will become easier as you get used to packing the things you need when you go camping or backpacking. While you may not need everything on this checklist, the list above can serve as your template for your own personal canoe camping or backpacking checklist.

Have you tried making a camping or backpacking checklist before? What do you think of our checklist? Will you be bringing any of our suggested essential items?

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