We asked Mike Lynch, a lifelong paddler and the author of Canoe Camping with Kids: An Overnight Adventure on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, for the key guidelines every first-time canoe camper should follow—especially parents heading out on the water with kids. For more tips on introducing your children to canoeing and kayaking, check out An Introduction to Paddling with Kids.
1. Do keep your gear in dry bags. It might sound obvious, but lots of folks skip this step. If you don’t want to invest in dry bags, you can rent them from an outfitter or you can use large plastic bags.
2. Do wear synthetic clothes that dry quickly. Even if you follow tip number 1, getting wet on a canoe trip is inevitable, but quick-dry material will help keep you happy and having fun.
3. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen, hats, and lightweight long-sleeve shirts. You’re prone to sunburn when you’re on the water all day long.
4. Don’t skimp on supplies but do make sure everything in your boat and pack has a purpose. Remember: At some point, you’ll have to carry everything you bring.
5. Do learn how to properly pick up and carry a boat on your shoulders before leaving home. Portages are often the hardest part of a trip, and you don’t want your first run to come on the trail.