As opposed to “roughing it,” I’d much rather “smooth” it on my kayaking trips. You know, take it easy, relax and enjoy the simple things in life on those trips in a big boat, on easy water, and without portages or time constraints. Sure, it may be the difference between kayak camping and tripping, but so what? You’ll be comfortable doing it. In no particular order of importance, here is my top 10 list of canoe camping creature comforts imperative on any outing:
Full Service Kitchen
I like to be able to cook a hot meal, not just reheat something. I’m not asking for much here – a small portable stove with 2-3 burners and a griddle is all I need. Plus, it’s nice to have a sink (or two) nearby to clean dishes and myself. And, of course, a place to store food and cooking gear.
Warm Sleeping Bag
I’m a cold sleeper, so this is key for me. Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the conditions you’ll be encountering on your trip – and bring a liner if necessary.
There’s nothing worse than trying to sleep in an uncomfortable tent. Make sure you bring along a tent that’s big enough for you and your gear, and one that is easy to set up.
I like to have a dry set of clothes to put on each morning, especially if it’s going to be chilly outside. Make sure you pack some extra clothes – including a rain jacket – just in case.
Plenty of Waterproof Storage
I like to keep my gear organized and waterproof storage is the best way to do that. Bring along a few storage containers – I like ones that are at least 16 liters in size – to keep your food, cooking gear, clothing and other essentials dry and safe.
A Good Knife
A good knife is essential for any outdoor adventure, and that includes kayaking trips. Bring along a sharp knife – and make sure you know how to use it – for everything from preparing meals to carving wood.
A comfortable chair
Creaky joints, aches and pains; I need the comfy camp chair. And, to keep the kids from laying claim to my comfy chair, a hammock.
A tarp and poles
Especially last year, since it rained on us in the course of canoe camping in seven states from South Carolina to Maine.
A cooler chest
Might as well have good food to go with that fancy kitchen set up. Cocktails, anyone?
Something appropriate for the place (Never Turn Back–The Life & Times of Whitewater Pioneer Walt Blackadar (Waters), The Wilderness Life (Rutstrom), Great Heart (the Hubbard/Wallace journey), Beyond the Hundredth Meridian (Stegner).Still, one of my all-time favorite tripping memories is being windbound on a Maine lake and being astounded when one of my companions pulled a complete Sunday New York Times from a dry bag.
A self-inflating mattress
Nothing beats a good night’s sleep. I sleep better on my Therma-rest than on the mattress at home.
A pillowcase and, on warm weather trips, a sheet. Nothing beats resting your weary head on a clean pillowcase instead of filling yesterday’s dirty T-shirt with your spare clothes.
A small bottle of Dr. Bronners
Cleanliness is next to….well, read the label.
A 5-gallon bucket with a screw top, gasket-seal lid
For food storage. For a dishwashing bucket. Fill it with lake water, let it warm up a bit and pour it over your head as a mini-shower. Use it to douse the fire pit before leaving camp. Use it as a silt-settling bucket before filtering water. Also makes a handy camp stool or side table.
An all-terrain bocci set
We use a golf ball for the object ball and some old croquet balls as bocci balls. The all-terrain version is much more fun and challenging than the civilized, groomed-court version. Love those bank shots off the tree roots.