Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester Gear List

•  Broken in footwear. Must be good for walking.
•  Sandals or water shoes (can be old sneakers, but these dry slowly)
•  Knee-high waterproof boots (when the weather is cool)
•  Sleeping Bag: rated to 40 degrees
•  Sleeping Pad (foam pad or Thermarest)
•  Tent – Be sure you set it up and stay in it a few times before arriving, and that it has noseeum netting
•  Long Pants
•  Underwear, T-Shirts, shorts, etc.
•  Bathing Suit
•  Other clothing that can get dirty and beat up.
•  Towel
•  Rain Gear, including rain pants (no ponchos allowed in canoes) – should be sized to fit over cold weather clothes
•  Hat with wide brim (for sun and rain protection)
•  Sun Glasses
•  Personal Toiletries, washcloth, biodegradable soap, etc.
•  Head Lamp or flashlight
•  Cup for Hot/Cold drinks (unbreakable, travel mug-style)
•  Plate, bowl, fork, spoon and net bag to hold them (similar to a laundry bag)
•  Cook pot with a bail handle Will be used for cooking food and boiling water in the field, so don’t get one that’s too small (because it’s a pain to boil drinking water a thimble at a time). The link below is to a pail that many have used with us over the years, but there are lots of options for an individual 2-quart pail.
•  2 quart stainless pails (the word ‘pail’ usually indicates that it has a bail handle). These are available from feed stores or Amazon, and are usually used for milking or for pets. They are less expensive than outdoor cook pots. A benefit to a pail over an outdoor cook pot is that they nest: small on the bottom, wide on top. This allows you to take several pots but only taking up the footprint of one. The other pots listed do not share this characteristic. This is important because you’ll be using your pot not only for cooking food, but also for purifying drinking water in the field (by boiling). Consider getting 2 or 3 of them. Another option is a 16 cm Zebra pot. Note that the downside to these is that that multiple pots will not nest.
•  2 quart pail.
Lids for these pails were a challenge to find for a number of years. These stainless 6″ pie plates fit them perfectly, and do double duty as a plate for eating food. They come in packages of 2.
•  Stainless 6″ Pie Plate. These fit the pails perfectly and are used as pot lid, extra plate, etc.
•  1-quart stainless bowl for eating out of. This one nests with the pail and the pie lid. More about this bowl is in this blog post.
•  9″Paderno Bake Pan/Skillet from Ben’s Backwoods. (Alternate source, same pan from Bridge Kitchenware.) We’ve been using these for a few years and really like them. Made from carbon steel, they take a seasoning similar to cast iron. They fit perfectly in the reflector ovens we bring on the trail, and can double as a lightweight frying pan. If you want to get good at reflector oven baking, be sure to bring one of these – we supply the ovens, you bring your own pan.
•  Pot grabber. Useful for pouring, grabbing hot pot lids, etc. Fits inside pot for travel. MSR Pot Lifter.
•  Water Bottle with wide mouth
•  Compass: Suunto A-10
•  Notebook and pen/pencil
•  PFD – Personal flotation device, also known as a life jacket. Get one sized to fit you.
•  Extra closed-cell foam pad (aka camping pad, sleeping pad) – For use as a pad when kneeling in the canoe.
•  Dry Storage For Your Gear – To hold your gear when canoeing. There are lots of options here. The best long-term option is a rigid container, such as this combination of 60 and 20 liter barrels from Recreational Barrel Works. The 60 liter holds your camping gear, the 20 liter holds your smaller items (camera, phone, notebook, etc.) and doubles as a canoe and camp seat. I have had great luck finding these 60L blue canoe barrels via craigslist for a fraction of the price when near an urban area. It might take some driving around, but do a search for ‘rain barrels’ and you will usually find someone who has a bunch of different plastic containers. You have to go and see them to make sure you are getting the right kind that have a waterproof seal, A few years ago I got a bunch of these for $15 each. Other options for dry storage include: canvas pack with waterproof liner, commercial dry bags, army duffel-type bag with waterproof liner, pack basket with liner, or any sack lined with a garbage bag. What you need is a way to keep things dry.
Note: we have a few extra blue barrels that people can rent by the week.
•  Cooler – For keeping perishable foods. We have found that the 20-25 quart cooler size is good for 10-12 days for an individual. You should get this long before your course, pack a weeks-worth of food in it, and see how long the ice lasts. I personally have an RTIC 20 quart cooler, but there are many that work. Hard coolers also are great canoe seats, camp chairs, etc.

A five or six gallon plastic bucket with a Gamma Seal lid (lid that screws on tightly) is a great way to keep things from getting wet or crushed and functions as a camp seat on trips.

Read this article on the topic for answers to questions.

Tool List

•  Sharp Knife, fixed blade (non-folding) – We recommend the Morakniv #106, as well as the Frosts Mora #2 Carbon Steel. There are many options here.
•  Match Case, waterproof – You should always have matches with you. These inexpensive match cases have increased their price 100% in recent years, but they are still only $2. Coghlan’s Match Case. There are lots of others that work just as well, including expensive milled aluminum, etc. Lighters also work, but you should always have something in your pocket to light a fire.
•  Axe with Sturdy Leather Sheath (no hatchets) – handle should not be shorter than 25″. Contact Pole And Paddle Canoe for old, high-quality axes

Optional Gear

•  Fishing Gear
•  Camera

Private community & online learning platform.

JMB Blog & Media Hub
Home to our blog, videos, podcast and photos, going back to 2006.

JMBS Calendar
All of our upcoming events.

Typos, Etc.
Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device demonstrating prodigious artistic prowess.

Fediverse & Mastodon
Follow us and comment on Mastodon and the Fediverse. We’re at https://blog.jackmtn.com/@blog.jackmtn.com

Email List
Join our email list for a weekly recap of our posts.

Featured In:
Jack Mountain Bushcraft Media Appearances Image

Private Community & Online Learning Platform
BushcraftSchool.com graphic
Western Colorado University
Academic Partner

WSU graphic

Maine Wilderness Guides Organization Quality Endorsement Award

Life Member – Maine Professional Guides Association
mpga graphic
Life Member – Maine Wilderness Guides Organization
mwgo graphic