bwcaw boundary waters canoe trip gear list

Back Country Canoe Trip & Kayak Trip Gear List

Everyone has their own gear list and here’s ours. “Old hat” for a lot of old timers but if you’re new to canoe camping trips this list might come in handy. It’s aimed at longer back country trips and contains what we think are essentials and a few “extras” for our personal comfort. Revise it as you need.

If you’ve got some cool new gear you just can’t do without let us know about it. PDF version of the Gear List.

Canoe & Kayak Items

  • Canoe – You might even want to consider renting from an outfitter.
  • Waterproof maps or maps with waterproof map case
  • Compass – Learn to use it before you go
  • Bow and stern ropes
  • Bailer(s) with attachment clips
  • Throw bag(s)
  • Paddles and spare or alternative paddles
  • Ties for spare paddles
  • Tie down rope or straps for gear
  • Duct tape – Yep, they even make special duct tape for watercraft
  • PFD (aka life jacket), with knife, whistle, fire starter and leash attached

Personal Gear

  • Waterproof small gear containers
  • Waterproof portage packs, plastic barrels with harness, or dry bags for tent, clothes, food, etc.
  • Waterproof fanny packs for survival gear/items to keep handy
  • Footwear that won’t come off in water
  • Hiking boots – some portages can be ankle twisters (doubles for camp footwear)
  • Sunhat or warm hat as appropriate
  • Camp rain/wind gear if needed in addition to paddling clothes
  • Synthetic fiber long undies (as appropriate for climate)
  • Polyester fleece top and bottoms, (as appropriate for climate)
  • Light quick dry nylon pants (zip off leg ones double for shorts)
  • Quick drying light long-sleeve shirt
  • Someone to tell you what to wear
  • Socks – wool or quick dry
  • Bug jacket and pants, if bugs are expected to be bad – check before you get there

Miscellaneous Personal
Items – per person

  • Earplugs (if camp companions snore)
  • Bug repellent (or some Yukon Jack so you just don’t care)
  • Sunglasses or glasses lanyard
  • Sunscreen and lip stuff
  • Aspirin (big bottle if it’s the first trip of the season)
  • Toilet paper
  • Personal wash kit, small towel
  • Water bottle(s)
  • Headlamp, batteries
  • Pocket knife

Miscellaneous Personal Items – per

  • Sewing awl, needles and strong thread
  • First Aid kit with band aids (lots for axe cuts, bear bites, etc.)
  • Misc. emergency kit – signal mirror, flares, notebook, blankets, etc
  • Plastic trowel for toilet

Camp Gear

  • Tent
  • Tarp, guy lines, stakes – unless you like trying to cook in the rain
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • Food hoisting equipment – pulley and throw bag rope
  • Dish washing items and biodegradable soap
  • Water carrier, folding basin
  • Water treatment/filtering device and spare filter for long trips
  • Pots, cutlery, spatula, mugs, fry pan, dutch oven, kitchen sink
  • Condiments
  • Stove and fuel
  • Waterproof matches or waterproof case and matches or lighter
  • Plastic bag(s) for garbage – pack it out!
  • Food

Optional Items

  • GPS (with spare batteries) – Learn how to use it before you go
  • Knee pads (installed in canoe or separate)
  • Fishing gear (for when the bears eat your food)
  • Pelican boxes or similar waterproof containers for cameras, etc
  • Camp saw (or not if you’re camping “low impact”)
  • Boat repair stuff – kept dry in waterproof bag or box
  • Paddling gloves to suit conditions
  • Camera, film, lenses, batteries, solar recharging unit
  • Binoculars
  • Therm-a-Rest type chair