Canoe Camping And How To Canoe Camp

What is canoe camping you ask? How do you canoe camp?

As the name canoe camping entails, canoe camping is the act of canoeing to a campsite. Or to multiple campsites via a canoe or kayak.

Canoe camping is also known as touring, tripping, and expedition canoeing. Canoe campers, also like backpackers, carry enough camping supplies for the duration of their trip. The difference being, instead of backpacking, you are using a canoe to transport all of your camping gear.

How Much Does Canoe Camping Cost?

Like any outdoor activity, canoe camping can cost as much or as little as you would like. For most beginner canoe campers, the canoe will actually be the big purchase.

There are different brands and qualities of canoes. There are canoes that can carry more weight, are lighter, and more or less stable.

You can expect to spend a minimum of $400 on a canoe. A camping canoe can get as high as $5000 in price.

After you purchase your canoe for camping, the rest of the gear can be had for rather cheap from your preferred outdoor outfitter.

What Is The Best Canoe For Canoe Camping?

Our preferred canoe for canoe camping is anything from Old Town Canoe. Old town Canoe company has been in business since 1898. Starting with building canvas covered wood canoes.

Now days they make some of the finest canoes and kayaks money can buy. Old Town Canoe is based in Maine, and has been featured on the Discovery Channel.

Old Town Canoe offer multiple types of canoes and kayaks. Ranging from tripping, sporting, and recreational canoes.

They are on the higher end price wise for camping canoes, but their quality are phenomenal. You can expect to pay a minimum of $1000 for a brand new Discovery 158 series Old Town Canoe.

An Old Town Canoe can be purchased from their website at

Why A Camping Canoe Instead Of A Kayak?

The reason you would go canoe camping instead of kayak camping is multi faceted. A major reason for taking a canoe, is the amount of weight you can carry.

An Old Town Discovery 169 Series canoe can carry 1400 lbs. Whereas your standard tripping kayak such as the Looksha T kayak from Old Town can carry 600 lbs.

The camping canoe will generally be around the same weight or less than a touring kayak. The Old Town Discovery 169 series canoe weighs 91 lbs. Whereas the Looksha T Kayak weighs 96 lbs.

How Safe Is Canoe Camping?

Canoeing is generally seen as an extremely safe form of transportation. As long as you take all of the necessary precautions. As well as not taking unnecessary risks.

An unnecessary risk would be something like, trying to float down rapids instead of just taking a portage that will take a bit longer.

Tripping canoes are very stable and are generally harder to flip over than something like a touring kayak. A camping canoe is also easier to control than a kayak.

The drawback, is that a canoe for camping is less agile than a kayak.

What Equipment Will My Canoe Need?

The only mandatory equipment needed with your canoe, will be your paddle. As well as a good life jacket. Most people look for the lightest weight version for both of these items.

Where Can I Camp With My Canoe?

In a National Forest, as long as you‘re 150 feet from water and as long as camping isn’t prohibited in the immediate area (at trailheads, in specially-designated zones, near critical wildlife habitat, or in highly-protected Wilderness Areas), you can throw your tent down and spend the night wherever you want.

Most rivers and lakes will also have designated campsite sites. Some will be in a campground, and some will be in backcountry style camp sites.

Just don’t pitch your tent in someones backyard.

What Other Gear Should I Bring On My Canoe Camping Trip?

Besides a water-proof container of some kind, you will also need to pack the following gear specific to water-travel:

  • Life-jacket
  • Throw-bag
  • Other flotation (depending on state waterway regulations)
  • Extra paddle
  • Map
  • Paddle gloves (depending on personal preference)
  • Seat pad
  • Boat shoes/sandals
  • Plenty of sunscreen

Camping Gear for Canoe Camping:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag/sleeping pad
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp/lantern
  • Stove/cookware
  • Personal mess kit/utensils
  • Water storage/purifier
  • Meals/snacks

Personal Gear: 

  • Raincoat/pants
  • Baselayer
  • Mid-layer insulation
  • Puffy (if applicable)
  • Beanie
  • Gloves
  • Dry camp shoes

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