11 Things to Take on a Canoe Camping Trip

From tents and tarps, to knives and firestarters, here are the essentials you need for a comfortable camp

I love the way a canoe camping trip seems to fast-track my escape from stress. A few paddle strokes down the river or across the lake, and worries fade away like ripples. The other big plus is that I can bring half the contents of my basement along for the ride. It’s nice to be able to spread out under a soaring tarp or sleep with a thick cushy pillow after long hours in a canoe, and the ability to cook a great fish dinner with kitchen equipment designed to do more than boil water is reason enough to load a boat instead of a backpack. These pieces of gear are particularly suited to what you’ll need on a canoe trip. They’ll make life in the boat—and in a riverside camp—luxurious enough that you might decide just to keep on paddling a few more days.

Grundéns Charter Gore-Tex Jacket

The Grundéns Charter Jacket Amazon

BUY NOW

A super-compressible, easily stowed rain shell is the first thing I pack on a canoe camping trip, no matter the weather forecast. Known for their bombproof commercial fishing gear, Grundéns gets it right for serious anglers with the new Charter jacket. The Paclite Plus material packs small but still has a good feel so it won’t seem like you’re wearing a plastic bag. There are zippered hand pockets which are great for carrying sunscreen and bug dope, raglan sleeves for comfort during active movements such as paddling and portaging, and a smartly designed hood that pivots with your head—a critical feature when you’re bashing through wind-whipped whitecaps. The jacket comes in dark gray or Glacier camo, in sizes up to a hefty 3XL.

Grayl Geopress Purifier

The Grayl Geopress Purifier Amazon

BUY NOW

It’s all too tempting to dip a water bottle into the stream or lake beside the canoe and take a drink. That’s also dangerous and dumb. This new water-bottle filter borrows from the French press approach to ditch the straw and hand-pump systems for a push-press that will turn creek and lake water into 24-ounces of clean, potable water in 8 seconds. Independently tested and certified, the Geopress removes viruses, bacteria, protozoan cysts, microplastic, pesticides, and heavy metals through both activated carbon and electro-adsorption ion exchange. The best part of the device? You don’t have think about any of that stuff. Just fill, press it, and slug the water down. It’s good for 350 cycles, then you simply replace the filter. Comes in a great range of colors.

Eureka Camp Café

The Eureka Camp Café Amazon

BUY NOW

When you need to pry open the eyeballs of a dozen campers pronto—or half that number of serious coffee drinkers—this is your java jam. A 2.5-liter hard-anodized aluminum boiling kettle is outfitted with a heat-holding Flux Ring that enables the device to boil water twice as fast as most other kettles, and the pour-over filter nest holds enough grounds for 60 ounces of hot coffee. The kettle, carafe, filter holder, and coffee spoon nest together for easy packing, and the kettle can also be used to quickly boil water for other culinary applications, from hot chocolate to freeze-dried meals. It’s also outfitted with an integrated lid strainer for cooking large portions of rice and pasta.

Sierra Designs Full Moon 2 Tent

The Sierra Designs Full Moon 2 Tent Amazon

BUY NOW

An upgraded and reconsidered version of its popular Summer Moon tent, this brand-new design gets double doors and a vestibule to make it easier for each sleeper to store their own gear in a dry spot. I love the ease with which it goes up. The tent poles are the same length, so no college-level geometry is required when you’re already beat down from paddling. It’s freestanding, so it’s no trouble to assemble the tent and then fine-tune placement. And all that mesh! That’s one of the biggest advantages to this tent—the walls are made of what seems to be acres of netting. On sweltering nights, you’ll catch the lightest breezes and watch the stars and still turn away the biting, stinging, buzzing hordes of summer. It’s a lot of tent for the money.

Big Agnes Deep Creek Tarp

The Big Agnes Deep Creek Tarp Amazon

BUY NOW

Big Agnes has modernized the monster tarp. The basics are still there—in the large size, there’s 275 square feet of rain-shedding polyester taffeta, a pair of adjustable aluminum poles, and a build with sealed seams for a no-drip experience. But the Deep Creek is also cut into a six-sided shape for multiple set-up configurations, and outfitted with pre-cut reflective guylines with tensioners, stash pockets at each corner so you can stuff guylines out of the way for quick setup, and neat accessory loops along the underside of the ridgeline for stringing up camp lights and hanging light pieces of gear. It’s like an ultra-luxe version of all the tarps you’ve ever cursed.

Benchmade 202 Leuku Knife

The Benchmade 2020 Leuku knife retails for $165. Benchmade

BUY NOW

You could carry a half-dozen knives for all the cutting tasks you might run into on a canoe camping trip: batoning firewood, cutting tent stakes, cleaning fish, sparking fire… Benchmade’s brand-new bushcraft knife can handle them all. With a satin-finished 5.19-inch blade, there’s ample cutting edge for slicing and sawing tasks. The tough CPM-3V tool steel can take any pounding you throw at it, while the drop-point profile sports a sharp tip for piercing tasks. The rubber-like thermoplastic elastomer handle is nicely textured for a grip in wet hands, and keeps the weight down to a friendly 5.31 ounces.

Thermacell Radius Zone Gen. 2

The Thermacell Radius Zone Amazon

BUY NOW

There’s really no easier way to ban mosquitoes from a campsite than this one-touch wonder. Powered by a lithium-ion battery instead of the standard Thermacell fuel cartridges, the Radius Zone runs for more than 6.5 hours on a single charge. The proprietary DEET-free formula repels mosquitos in a 15-foot-square area and, unlike the fuel versions, the Zone is airplane-friendly so you can fly it to far-off paddle destinations. Thermacell products have changed the game for early season hunters. This even-more-portable and easy-to-use version should be just as useful on the water.

Toadfish Non-Tipping Can Cooler

The Toadfish Non-Tipping Can Cooler Amazon

BUY NOW

It’s not the biggest problem in the world, but it’s up there: What to do with your beer while you’re paddling hard? Or fishing harder? This innovative koozie does more than keep your drink cold. Its tucked-away suction cup bottom sticks to any smooth surface, such as canoe and kayak hulls and cooler lids. Made of stainless steel, with an included adapter that will cradle slim cans and bottles, it’s built with a rubber gasket to hold your can tight when you hit a rock or bump your beer while fighting a fish. And you can feel even better about knocking back a cold one: For each can cooler sold, Toadfish supports efforts to replant 10 square feet of new oyster beds. Winner, winner redfish dinner.

Klymit Drift Pillow

The Klymit Drift Pillow Amazon

BUY NOW

An awesome camp pillow sounds like no big deal until you crank out a couple of trail nights with an un-awesome camp pillow. Or worse, cradle your noggin on a wad of underwear crammed inside your raincoat. Klymit’s latest pillow design is its most plush. The Drift is filled with shredded memory foam, and clad in an innovative double-duty sleeve. It morphs from a durable water-resistant outer shell for when you need to cram and stuff it in a duffel into a plush cotton jersey pillow case that even your grandmother would love. Pretty sweet. It’s not the smallest or most compressible camping pillow on the market. But it could be the dreamiest.

Duraflame Outdoor Fire Log

The Duraflame Outdoor Fire Log
The Duraflame Outdoor Fire Log Amazon

One of the biggest knocks against fire logs is this: You can’t roast a hotdog or toast a marshmallow over their chemically-compromised flames. But it’s now time to bust out the S’mores fixings. Duraflame’s new OUTDOOR Fire Logs are roast- and toast-friendly. They still don’t pump out hot coals required for Dutch oven cooking and meat searing, but these new logs burn brightly and cleanly and they’ve been tested safe for campfire cooking. Traditionalists might smirk at the notion of a manufactured fire log, but these things have their place. Since they light so quickly, they’re great as an emergency backup in a canoe in case you flip and need fire pronto. And transporting fire logs between states and parks that tightly regulate firewood movement is no problem. Now you use them to cook a biscuit on a stick. It’s a wonderful world.

Orvis PRO Approach Shoe

The Orvis PRO Approach Shoe Amazon

BUY NOW

Just about any outdoor shoe will suffice when you’re sitting inside acanoe. What matters is what you wear when you are in and out of the canoe,time and again, launching, getting out to sneak on a great fishing hole, scouting for campsites, and relaunching yet again. This new boating and wet-wading shoe is a super solution. A seamless, perforated PU cage allows water to drain quickly, and nearly wraps your entire foot, dramatically reducing all the mud, slop, water, and weeds you typically drag back into the boat. A breathable Ariaprene sock keeps all the gunk from getting inside the shoe,while a specialized Michelin rubber outsole is designed to pair slick-surface traction with abrasion resistance. There’s even an integrated lace hood so you can tuck laces out of the way where they won’t snag on fly lines. Smart.