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Your Guide To Canoe Camping

Your Guide To Canoe Camping

Camping is a pastime that’s as old as time itself, so when we hear about new and inventive ways that people are getting out and into nature it’s pretty exciting stuff. Canoe camping is a relatively new trend that combines the best parts of camping with the best parts of riding in a canoe, and if you haven’t given it a try yet then you don’t know what you’re missing.

With any new style of camping though there are things to learn, new equipment that you’ll need, and some know-how that you should have in order to get the most out of your experience. This quick guide can show you how to canoe camp and where exactly to go in order to try this fun way of camping for yourself.

What Is Canoe Camping?

If you’re completely new to the term ‘canoe camping’ you could be scratching your head right about now. Although the name might be misleading, it’s not actually about camping inside a canoe but rather about using your canoe instead of your hiking boots or car to get to where you want to go.

Canoe camping.

Canoe camping trips are all about using the boat to take you on your trail and also using it as a pretty reliable way to carry your gear around. Although you might be tempted to just throw your belongings in and see where the water takes you, there is a lot of planning involved to ensure that you have a safe and comfortable trip, just as you would do with normal camping.

The best canoe camping trips are those where you’re prepared and you have a quality boat that can fit everyone in safely and soundly. Some might like to use one larger family canoe or give everyone their own to direct, but as long as everyone is safe, protected, and comfortable on their journey then it can be a magical experience.

Canoe Camping Vs Backpacking

So, what is about canoe camping that would make someone want to throw in their lifelong passion for backpacking? Obviously, this style of camping wouldn’t always be suitable depending on where you camp or what the conditions are like, but here are a few ways it can be beneficial.

  • Less effort: rather than hiking for hours, a leisurely paddle in a canoe can be quite relaxing compared to backpacking, and there’s somewhere to hold all of your belongings.
  • New areas to explore: It can be limiting to only have your feet to carry you, as getting access to streams and lakes will open up a whole new world to explore.
  • Teaches a new skill: Learning to paddle and manage a canoe gives you a whole new skill that you can use later in life.
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    More activities: When you add a boat to your arsenal you can do other things on your camping trips like fishing or swimming.

Should You Use Canoes Or Kayaks?

One common question that comes up with this style of camping is whether a canoe or kayak is best. To figure out which one would be best for your camping trip, you should take a look at how they differ and what effort is required by you if you use one.

  • Kayak: These are best for people who prefer to do the paddling and they used sealed compartments for storing your gear. Their stability can differ depending on the size and there is the fear that you will capsize and not be able to get out of its closed design.
  • Canoe: A canoe is a larger and open style of boat with no closed in areas for storage, but usually more space. They’re relatively easy to use and not as dangerous for beginners and they help you catch the wind more readily so there’s less paddling.

​Top Canoe Camping Locations

The United States is home to such a diverse range of locations for camping and luckily enough many of these have water close by. Here are some places you might want to explore if you’re planning on taking the canoe or kayak along on your next trip.

  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Superior National Forest, Minnesota - One of the biggest and most famous places to paddle in the country, this spot is home to over 2,000 camping sites and 1,200 miles of canoe routes.
  • Juniper Run, Ocala National Forest, Florida - Set on the Ocala National Forest is the Juniper Run which features seven miles of beautiful forest landscapes and crystal clear water.
  • Eleven Point National Scenic River, Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri - Home to eight different camping sites and the Ozark hills, this is a long run of canoe paddling fun that will take you through a wild and scenic river.

How To Prepare For Your Canoe Camping Trip

People assume that a canoe camping trip must require a whole new list of equipment, but there’s not that much difference in what you’d take on a regular camping trip. Just be sure that your belongings are covered and wrapped in waterproof bags so that if they do fall into the water they’ll be safe.

Two canoes from a bird's-eye view.

Another assumption about this style of camping is that because the boat is carrying the load you can pack heavily, but you don’t want to add too much weight to it. You’ll also need to learn how to pack the load on the boat so that you keep balanced, just like you would when backpacking.

Provided you take the time to do it right and plan your trip, canoe camping can be a wonderful spin on your favorite hobby. Adding the magic of the water and taking some of the stress and strain off your feet can make for a very relaxing camping trip, so why not consider it for your next outdoor adventure.