Gear List for Flatwater Canoeing and Kayaking

There are many amazing places, near and far, to go canoeing or kayaking!

Among our favorites for a backcountry paddling trip are the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Wilderness in northern Minnesota and Quetico Provincial Park just north of the BWCA in Ontario, Canada. Below is our comprehensive recommended gear list for any flat water paddling adventure.

The Essential Stuff

Be Sure to Have These Essentials Along

□ Fire – matches or fire starter
□ Shelter – tent, tarp, bivy
□ Navigation – map, compass, GPS
□ Weather protection – for sun, precipitation and cold
□ Illumination – flashlight or headlamp
□ First aid – appropriate for the activity and group size
□ Repair supplies – multi-tool, duct tape, sewing kit
□ Hydration – water bottles and/or bladders; filtration
□ Nutrition – one day’s extra calories for an emergency
□ Emergency "Wallet" – ID/money/credit card/car keys; and a zip-lock bag to store all of these items

Primary Gear List

What to Pack

□ Portage packs
□ Small day pack and/or fanny pack
□ Portage packs
□ Canoe or kayak with portage yolk
□ Life jackets
□ Paddles
□ Spare Paddle
□ Whistle
□ First Aid (including footcare)
□ Duct Tape
□ Waterproof stuff/compression sacks (for clothing and other gear)
□ Zip lock bags
□ Rope (bow/stern line for canoe and bear hang for food)
Bear Box(es) (if you prefer not to do a bear hang)
□ Tent
□ Spare tent stakes
□ Equipment repair supplies
□ Matches in waterproof container
□ Sleeping Bag and pad
□ Waterproof Bag for sleeping bag
□ Water bottles
□ Water purification system
□ Mosquito head net


□ Maps
□ Map Case – waterproof, can get one that hangs off of thwarts
□ Compass
□ Backup compass and maps
□ Pedometer (optional)
□ Field Guide (optional)

Cooking & Kitchen Items

□ Stove
□ Fuel for stove
□ Matches in waterproof container, lighter
□ Cook set/pot grip/fry pan
□ Camping kitchen and/or cooking supplies – spatula, large spoon, pot holder
□ Knife – Swiss Army™ or other quality folding model
□ Cup, plate
□ Utensils – knife, fork, spoon or spork
□ Dishwashing supplies – remember to only use biodegradable soap, if anything
□ Trash bags
□ Supplies to prepare fresh fish (optional)
□ Flask (optional)
□ Coffee pot or camping filters (optional)
□ Food (see food suggestions below)


□ Waterproof boots
□ Water shoes
□ Camp shoes or sandals – you'll want to try to keep one pair of the above footwear dry at all times
□ Spare laces (optional)
□ Socks that wick moisture – hiking weight, liners. Forget all cotton socks! Use merino wool or synthetics.
□ Bandana
□ Waterproof hat
□ Brimmed hat (may be same as above)
□ Stocking cap or ear band (depending on weather and location)
□ Gloves
□ Raingear – waterproof, breathable jacket and pants
□ Fleece, or wool shirt or sweater
□ Long sleeve, light weight shirt – great for sun and bug protection
□ Long sleeve, medium weight shirt
□ Light weight camping pants
□ Shorts
□ T-shirts – synthetic, wicking are best in most situations
□ Underwear
□ Light weight synthetic thermal underwear
□ Swim suit
□ Belt (optional)
□ Watch – waterproof
□ Eyewear – sunglasses, prescription glasses, contact lenses and supplies
□ Glasses band


Personal Hygiene

□ Personal medical supplies – prescriptions, inhaler, antibiotics, etc.
□ Pain reliever
□ Sun screen
□ Sunburn cream
□ Insect repellant
□ Lip balm – with SPF
□ Bathroom supplies – trowel, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products
□ Toothbrush & toothpaste
□ Hair brush/comb
□ Pack towel
□ Antibacterial gel (optional)
□ Moist wipes (optional)

Optional Items (Nice to have, but each adds pack weight)

□ Camp pillow
□ 1-2 gallon water bag/carrier
□ Candle lantern/candles
□ Book
□ Journal & pen
□ Playing cards
□ Binoculars
□ Camera, memory cards and spare batteries
□ Waterproof camera bag
□ Music player
□ Fishing gear
□ Hammock
□ Spare eyewear

Food Suggestions

□ Breakfast foods – instant cereals, breakfast bars, high energy bars, etc.
□ Lunch foods – peanut butter, crackers, beef jerky, cheeses
□ Snacks – trail mix, nuts, granola bars, high energy bars, etc.
□ Dinner foods – freeze dried dinners, rice, easy to cook entrees
□ Beverages – powdered drink mixes such as Gatorade, Crystal Light or Tang, coffee, tea, hot cocoa
□ Optional food choices – camp oven, fresh veggies, meat, eggs or fruit for start of trip, spices