Canoe camping is a timeless American pastime that allows adventure seekers to explore the great outdoors by following the waterways that run like veins all over the country. At Wild Iowa Outfitters, our passion is making sure that all of our customers have the best equipment and information on canoe camping hacks to make every journey a trip to remember for the right reasons.

That is why we have compiled the five best tips and tricks for canoe camping to ensure that you have the best experience possible.

5 Canoe Camping Hacks

Photo by Ariana Kaminski on Unsplash

1. Duct tape has a wide range of uses

Out of all of the canoe camping hacks that any explorer and camper will come across, the wide range of uses that duct tape has to offer is one of the most important. For starters, flies and mosquitoes will be a problem whenever you travel along the waterways or are out camping in the wilderness. Any canoer and camper can easily take out a piece of duct tape, attach it to their person with the sticky side exposed, and watch all of the bugs become trapped to the sticky adhesive.

This way, as soon as a mosquito or fly (especially those bothersome deer flies) lands on you, they will become stuck to the duct tape and never bother you. You can attach the duct tape to your hat, your shirt, and even to multiple parts of the canoe to catch the most amount of insects.

Duct tape is also an effective tool for patching any damage your canoe may sustain on your canoe camping trip. Accidents happen, and while it may not be possible to always avoid damage to the canoe, it is possible to make temporary repairs that allow you to make it out of the wilderness and back to civilization.

Some types of high-quality duct tape provide sufficient adhesiveness to patch holes in a canoe, allowing canoers to continue on their journey as far as they need to go. Damage to a canoe can occur from rocks and hard surfaces while in the water and during the process of pulling the canoe onto land when the time for resting or camping comes, making duct tape a necessary item to take with you. For other camping equipment repairs, you can also invest in tenacious tape.

2. Use Google Maps offline mode

Many people don’t often realize when it comes to canoe camping hacks because Google Maps can work offline if you are prepared. While it is a great idea to bring hard copy maps of a chosen route with you in case technology fails, it is possible to download maps using Google Maps beforehand that you can then access even without the internet. That way, regardless of the internet signal, you can access a detailed map of the terrain that will guide you on your journey.

It is also possible to mark on these digital maps your preferred campsites and waypoints for a customized experience that will be taken everywhere you go.

3. Wear synthetic clothing

It is important to consider exactly what types of fibers you will be wearing when on a canoe camping trip since you might be getting wet but will be exposed to potentially chilly air while riding in the canoe or at the campsite. Natural threads like cotton may keep you warm when everything is dry. However, once wet, they can cool you down and take a long time to dry out, which can become a problem if you are getting wet every few minutes while canoeing down a river. The best option for clothing is to wear synthetic threads. 

Synthetic clothing dries quickly and lasts through the many different environments that you will encounter when on a canoe camping trip. It is also a great idea to bring convertible pants along as well. That way, if things get chilly in the mornings or afternoons, you can easily zip on pant bottoms without needing to leave the canoe. Putting on a fresh pair of pants in a canoe can be challenging to say the least, with all of the wriggling and moving about, so having extensions means you can easily stay comfortable without tipping out.

4. Make portaging easier

Some canoe camping trips will involve portaging, which means you will need to carry all of your equipment along with your canoe over terrain to reach another water source. This can be an enjoyable experience once you get used to carrying the weight of your canoe on your shoulders, and experienced canoers relish the chance to see the surrounding wilderness while traveling over land.

You can make this experience easier by trying not to overpack while ensuring that you take what you need, by using packs that have padded straps, and by choosing a canoe that has a padded yoke with good yoke pads. 

The yoke of the canoe is the cross beam that runs along the center of the canoe, holding the sides together. When the time comes to carry the canoe over land, the yoke will most likely be resting on your shoulders or back while you are carrying the canoe, so some additional, quality padding will make a huge difference in your experience while portaging.

5. Setting up camp safely

One of the best canoe camping hacks is setting up your campsite in a safe manner. For starters, it is good practice to stick to the Leave No Trace principles, which involves taking your waste with you and minimizing environmental impacts from fire and such, but there are some tricks that can keep you safe as well. Regardless of if you are using a tent or sleeping in the open, make sure that your tent or sleeping bag isn’t on top of the roots of a tree that could conduct electricity in the case of a lightning strike, and make sure to check that there are no overhanging branches that could fall on you when the wind blows.

If you are ready to put all of this into practice and connect with other people and the great outdoors on a quality canoe camping experience, then book a tour with Wild Iowa Outfitters. We have beginner-friendly tours where you will receive the best equipment, advice, and guidance for navigating the best waterways in the country.