The Ultimate Canoe Trip Checklist | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
Canoeroots tells you what to bring on your next canoe trip Photo: Hannah Griffin

Canoeroots' expert canoe trip checklist will ensure you take the essential gear and equipment for camping and paddling in the backcountry

While canoe trips are about enjoying the great outdoors, exploring the wilderness and challenging yourself, packing the necessary gear makes it all possible. Before you head to the put-in, run carefully through our checklist to make sure you have the essentials covered. We have broken things down into kitchen, gear, and safety items and added some of our expert advice along the way.

Kitchen items for canoe trips


Coffee or tea plus apparatus for preparing 

Emergency meals

  • Use your discretion and pack the amount of emergency meals based on the length and remoteness of your canoe trip


Serving spoon




Frying pan

Big pot and lid

  • Look for a lid that fits both your frying pan and big pot

Cooking gloves

  • A pair of work gloves used around the site can also double as cooking gloves

Spice kit

-Tic Tac boxes and pill containers with compartments for each day of the week work well

Small cutting board

Knife with blade cover


Dish kit with biodegradable soap, a dishcloth and steel wool

  • It is a good idea to pack the dish kit inside a mesh sac that can be hung in a tree to easily dry dishes


  • Test your stove before you go and make sure you understand how it works
  • If your stove didn’t come with a wind shield, buy one before you go

Fuel bottles

Stove repair kit

Hand sanitizer


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Gear items for canoe trips


  • Pack clothes based on both the weather forecast and average yearly temperatures in the area

Toothbrush and toothpaste


Food barrel

Barrel harness


-Packing a ground sheet is a good idea if the weather forecast is rainy or if it is a colder time of year

Camping packs



  • Two or three pieces of rope is a good idea so you can have a bear hang, a clothesline and an extra just in case


  • Make sure to set the tent up before you leave to ensure everything is in working order

Sleeping bag

Sleeping pad


Tie-downs for canoe

Paddle for each person plus an extra

  • It’s not hard to lose a paddle, and being on a trip without one isn’t fun

Waterproof map bag


Permits, if needed


Matches and lighters

-Pack redundancy into your trip and put matches and lighters in different place to ensure you never find yourself without a fire source

-Store matches and lighters inside something waterproof

Garbage bags

Sealing plastic bags


Toilet paper

  • Store in a plastic bag to keep dry

Canoe repair kit


Duct tape

Hatchet or small saw with blade cover

Hat with a brim

Notebook and pen


Extra batteries


Sunglasses/sunglasses case

Knife or multi-tool

Water treatment

Water bottles

  • If you are portaging a lot, clip a carabiner onto water bottles

Drybags to line non-waterproof packs or for sensitive gear

Work gloves for around the campsite  

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Safety items for canoe trips

Canoe safety kit

  • Depending on where you live, there are different regulations as to what you need to have in your canoe
  • Check before you go, but in general a floating line, a flashlight and a whistle all packed into a plastic container that can be used as a bailer is a good start
  • In addition to or in place of the bailer you can also pack a bilge-pump

PFD for each person with whistle attached  

Emergency signal/flares

Emergency plan

  • Take a look at your map and make note of roads, communities and other landmarks that could serve as evacuation spots or places to go for help in the case of an emergency


  • See Canoeroots’ expert ditch-kit here

First Aid Kit

  • Pack inside a drybag
  • Go through before and make sure you understand what everything is and how it is used
  • Don’t forget daily medications

A copy of your route and your expected return time and date left with a reliable friend


  • Depending on where you are going and for how long, you may want to consider electronics like a GPS, a spot device or a satellite phone


  • Choose a high SPF and pack more than you think you’ll need

ID, small amount of cash and a credit card

  • In case of an emergency, it is important to have ID on you
  • In remote areas, having both cash and a credit card is a good idea—and you may even paddle past somewhere you can buy a beer or ice cream!

Items that are nice to have on canoe trips

Lip balm with SPF


  • Having a great book to enjoy in the tent before bed or on rainy days is a big luxury, especially one set in or about the area you are paddling through

Small drybag for day items

  • A small drybag you can keep at your feet with sunscreen, lunch, snacks and lip balm will keep you from rifling through your pack during the day. Attach a carabiner to the drybag and latch it onto the canoe during portages

Down booties

Quick-dry towel


Hard case

  • A hard case is great for things that absolutely cannot get wet
  • Electronics, cash, ID, a camera and a backup set of matches or water treatment can be stored here


Bug jacket or mask

Bug spray

Alarm clock

Fishing gear and license

Chocolate—and a lot of it

Follow us on Instagram @canoerootsmag and see beautiful images from canoe trips and the pages of our magazine. 

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