Planning and preparation can make packing a canoe easier. Packing a canoe is not hard to do as long as you don’t try to overload the canoe with too many items. These steps will show you how to properly pack your canoe for your next trip.
Only pack necessary items. Remember, you not only have to paddle the weight of your items, you will also have to carry them to the canoe on the way to and from the water. It is best to do a trial run before your canoe trip. Pack and load all of your items to see how well they fit, making necessary adjustments if needed. Don’t forget to consider the weight and position of people in the canoe. Consider using fewer larger bags rather than smaller bags to make carrying the bags easier. It is much easier to carry a few large bags than a bunch of small bags.
Pack all items in dry bags or other waterproof containers to protect items from becoming damaged in the event the canoe capsizes or to protect the items from water that enters the canoe. A big mistake that people make is underestimating the amount of water that enters a canoe under normal circumstances.
Organize contents in each bag by category so that items will be easy to find. For instance, food should go in one bag, clothing in another.
Consider weight and balance. Never allow packed items to extend higher than the gunnels, which can put the canoe off balance.
The heaviest items should be loaded on the bottom in the center of the canoe. The medium-weight items should be loaded on top of the heavy items. The lightest items should be loaded in the ends of the canoe. Put packs containing essential items such as water, food, sunscreen and a knife within easy reach.
Pack extra paddles within easy reach so that they can be quickly grabbed in the event that they are needed.
Tie all bags down to keep them from shifting. Shifting bags can cause the boat to become unstable and capsize. Use bungee cords, tie-down straps or quick-release knots so that bags can easily be removed when access to items is needed.
If after packing your canoe you realize you need to make adjustments, then do so. It is better to take the time to correctly pack your canoe then to have repercussions later. An ill-packed canoe will at the very least be difficult to navigate. Worse, ill-packed items can fall out of the canoe or cause the canoe to capsize.