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What could you leave at home?

Nov 30, 2017
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First off, I realize that what one brings depends on many variables. I wasn't expecting to get instructions on how to make specific lists for specific conditions, but now that they've been posted, I am finding them useful. I was hoping to get the answers like: "electronics" and the "extra food", "extra clothing" type entries. BUT I LOVE THE EXTRA INFORMATION, thank you.

When I started serious 14-28 day trips in the days before cell phones, internet, home computers, etc., my main book was Rugge and Davidson's The Complete Wilderness Paddler. They have a good section on calories/weight, so I have that down pretty well. I do think it is important.

I do weigh everything.

Johnny5, I appreciate your categories. The most useful suggestion you have made, for me, is to practice the packing ahead of time. I think I did this a bazillion years ago (I have recollections of stuff ALL OVER THE LIVING ROOM, and repacking many times), but of late have been shoving things in at the last minute. This also results in taking too much. I get it. (My excuse is I own and manage a small business that many people depend on and free time has been hard to get.)

Without home computers, I made my lists with pencil and paper. Also, there were no readily available scales for the variety of things purchased, so only heavy items were weighed.

Then I had a long hiatus in real wilderness tripping, more or less when I moved to Florida and no longer had easy access to the north woods.

So I missed the gradual transition to home computers, spreadsheets, etc., etc. I now work on computers many, many frustrating hours per day, due to the state's lousy computer systems (can anyone spell DOS? or how about LOWEST BID?) So, the suggestions I am taking very seriously, but I will probably still use pencil and paper. Or at best, some simple task tool like Trello, which I use in work already. I can see the value of having every piece of equipiment with weight logged into a spreadsheet. I'm not sure I have the temperament to create that spreadsheet though.

My exact trip keeps changing due to variables in real life, but it will probably be 2-3 weeks long, probably in southern-middle Ontario or Quebec. Canada, and with luck, as far away from other people as possible. It is a solo trip. So there is no seeing if your buddy happened to bring a whatsit.

Nov 30, 2017
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I bought a GSI canister stove for backpacking a couple of years ago. Much as I hate to admit, it works out lighter than alcohol for two after 5 days as it uses so little fuel. I added a second GSI but with a remote canister system last fall. I've used successfully at temps below zero and that will likely be our paddle tripping stove on longer trips where fires are banned. With our style of cooking we only need one 8oz canister for 8 days, so stove and fuel are around the weight of a bare white gas stove.
Could you explain a bit. The canister stove is lighter overall for trips of 3-5 days or for longer trips?
Sep 24, 2018
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Brewster, New York
Depends on what kind of trip it is and which canoe I am using. If I am base camping and just taking daily excursions, I have no problem bringing extra gear, including cooking items (reflector oven, fry pan etc.), fishing gear, photo/video and field recording equipment. If there are multiple or long carries, I do like others are saying, I take just the essentials. For trips on larger lakes, I tend to take my Sawyer Autumn Mist. If there aren't a lot of carries or long ones, more gear goes with me. Most of the time I am base camping on those trips. If I am taking my Hornbeck, which is my usual choice for small ponds and rivers, I take less gear.
Aug 10, 2018
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Blairsville, PA (about 30 mi E of PGH)
Now if I could arrange a parachute drop of fresh fruit and non-sweaty cheese for the last few days of a trip that would be another thing altogether.

Ah, but would that resupply somehow diminish the enjoyment of real food once you return to civilization?

(on the other hand... regular resupplies might make the return altogether unnecessary... now there's a thought...)
Dec 19, 2021
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On cell phones- I plan on bringing mine this summer. Why? Well, I'll be lightyears away from any cell tower coverage. It is simply that my cell phone is smaller, and lighter, than the camera I used to bring on trips. It is arguably a better image-maker, and quicker and easier to use.

Shut all apps down. Go airplane mode. Do everything to save its battery, and just take pics.
So, yeah. I'll be bringing the cell phone.
Jun 3, 2015
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Anchorage Alaska / Pocono Mts.
I have also left the camera home and relied on the cell phone for pictures. We have a charging device called, MY CHARGE, Adventure. It weighs 8.5 ounces and can recharge my phone about 4 times. We have another one that is smaller and cheaper and will charge my phone about three times. I think we paid 40 bucks for one and 25 for the other. It's not a bad investment in money or weight and it will allow you to look at and edit your photos while still out there.
Jul 6, 2021
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The Hereford Zone along the Mason-Dixon Line
“First off, I realize that what one brings depends on many variables. I wasn't expecting to get instructions on how to make specific lists for specific conditions, but now that they've been posted, I am finding them useful. I was hoping to get the answers like: "electronics" and the "extra food", "extra clothing" type entries. BUT I LOVE THE EXTRA INFORMATION, thank you”

Erica, as mentioned I have a master packing list that contains every item I might want or need for canoe tripping, car camping or travel. Trying to make a new list each time, specific to a particular place, season or type of trip, would involve me somehow remembering to add every item to the newly made list. I would be as likely to forget an item when making the list as I would be if packing without a check list, and making a new list for each trip seems a waste of time, with potential for critical omissions.

Or maybe I’m just not smart enough pack and not forget something with a list. Well, not “maybe”, especially if I am packing gear for a family trip or a multi-week cross country ramble including truck camping, paddling and other activities.

My “Master List” is organized less in type-of-gear categories than by home storage locations, so I don’t waste time wandering back and forth from basement to bedroom. Less than 50% of that gear comes on any trip, but 90% of it comes at one time or another throughout the year, depending on season, venue, solo or family trip, etc.

The actual printed Master List is two columns on a single 8 ½ x 11 inch piece of paper. The “Day Paddling” list is likewise two columns, one column for paddling gear, one for hunting and fishing gear. I don’t hunt or fish anymore, but it didn’t hurt to leave that gear column included.

I just grab the list and a clip board and cross items off as they are packed , or nope, nope, nope, don’t need it this time.

List checking is also an opportunity to make needed notes, usually “Buy beer” ;-) I have forgotten “Stop mail delivery” before some long family trips; I should add that.

That Master Packing list. YMMV


Tent and ground cloth
Tarp & poles
Sand stakes
Rope bag
Sleeping bag
Pillow case/Sheet
Light weight shoes
Spare clothing in car
Wind Breaker
Rain parka
Rain pants
Rain mittens
Large cookware set
Trench Grill
Pie Irons
Scrub brush
Paper towels
Large water container/dromedaries
Dr Bronners/Camp Suds/Bleach
Coffee cup
Plastic cup/Poly mug
Cooler chest/Mylar cover
Wash bucket
Water filter/Iodine solution
Day pack
Spare bulb/Batteries
Compass/Temp gauge/Whistle
Weather Radio
1st aid kit(s)
Matches & lighters
Spares & Repairs kit
Glasses/Sun glasses
Small ground cloth
Plastic bags
Maps & trail guides/Permits
Field guides
Pen/Steno pad
Pipe & tobacco
Swiss army knife
Sheath knife
Multi-tool pliers
Pack towel
Duct tape
Groover bucket/Seat/Scat spade/TP /Wag bags
Camera gear
Fishing gear/Net
Duckhead flag/coffee flag
Shock cords
Fire starter
Wind chair/headrest/foam pads
Single blade paddles
Double blade paddles
Deck compass
Push pole
Cushions/kneeling pads
Car-top racks
Water shoes/Mulkuks
Water proof bag(s)
Extra lines
Spray covers/Storage covers
Pelican box
Sponge/bailer/bilge pump
Back Bands
Navigation lights
Suntan lotion/Bug spray
Can coolers/stabilizers
Hip waders
Pack cover
Cookware & gripper
Bear bells
Reading material
Gun & ammo
Playing cards
Campground atlas & guides
Truck cassette tapes/CDs
Spotting scope & tripod
Bocci, toys,Kite & string
Fire in a Can/Firewood
Nov 7, 2013
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south of Winnipeg
Could you explain a bit. The canister stove is lighter overall for trips of 3-5 days or for longer trips?
Depends a lot on exact stove type. Alcohol stoves are light, we use a Flat Cat Gear/ zelph stoves combo, but the fuel is heavy. Canister stove is a bit heavier and if you factor in the weight of the fuel container they are very heavy. However the alcohol stove uses 20g of fuel per 2 cups of water where the canister stove can boil 2 cups with just 6g of fuel. Once a trip gets longer than a certain length the weight of the extra alcohol cancels out the weight saving of the lighter stove system. It’s a bit more complicated as once the trip extends further you then have to add a second canister which adds more weight. Additionally the alcohol system loses weight faster, so a trip where there are a few short ports at the start but more and longer ones at the end would be great for alcohol as you wouldn’t be carrying those empty canisters along.
One takeaway would be to know your stove system and take only the fuel you need(plus a small reserve) and not carry along an extra canister or pint of fuel “just in case”
Nov 7, 2013
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south of Winnipeg
Got it right off the packages. Brown rice has more calories than white. 1g protein per serving difference.
We have a box of instant white and instant brown in the our store and both show the same calories. I must be misunderstanding because it seems to me that if you need X calories you’ll need Y grams of food and as at best/worst they are similar in calories/gram you would need the same weight of pasta or rice. Rice is certainly more compact though, unless you choose orzo or couscous.
Nov 30, 2017
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From Google: Healthline, based on 1/3 cup cooked long grain rice. (That said, I'm sure there is a lot of variation in types of rice AND labels on food are permitted to be rounded off in various manners also. So, labels on food packages are not necessarily accurate.)

Nutrient proximatesBrown riceWhite rice
energy82 calories68 calories
protein1.83 g1.42 g
total lipid (fat)0.65 g0.15 g
carbohydrates17.05 g14.84 g
fiber, total dietary1.1 g0.2 g
sugars, total0.16 g0.03 g
calcium2 milligrams (mg)5 mg
iron0.37 mg0.63 mg
sodium3 mg1 mg
fatty acids, total saturated0.17 g0.04 g
fatty acids, total trans0 g0 g
cholesterol0 mg0 mg
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Nov 30, 2017
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Pasta vs Rice: Google


  • Calories: 160
  • Fat: 0.7g
  • Carbs: 32.5g
  • Starch: 31g
  • Fibre: 1.4g
  • Protein: 5.1g


  • Calories: 117
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Carbs: 25.1g
  • Starch: 24.9g
  • Fibre: 1.2g

    There is a very fine angel hair pasta that cooks in one minute of boiling water. I think even instant rice takes five minutes, but I am not sure if there is a faster rice.

Apr 27, 2020
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Items to leave behind and misc. ramblings

The items I could leave behind are somewhat different than most folks choices, but an 8 pack of small diet cokes, booze, and my portable fish finder would be my best fix for an solid weight savings.

I don't bring a bunch of booze when soloing, but a 1/2 pint of Jack Daniel's is a nice addition. Sometimes consumed straight around the evening fire, sometimes straight while looking over the water at 6:00 am, (NEVER have a desire to do this at home - I'd probably throw up) but mixing some JD with a diet coke sometimes is nice at nite or for an afternoon cocktail. Plus, this is the diabetic loophole, so at least I can have some alcohol while tripping.

My fish finder is a stalwart companion in the ADK's. I do locate fish with it of course, but I also have spent some time mapping bottom depths and structure which has given me intel on different bodies of water and the best possibilities for fish. As an example, mapping Round Lake has provided a location of a LARGE lazy S pattern where the fish congregate year after year. They will be at different depths in this S curve but they are there. And the location to the naked eye is not given away by any landmarks or identifiers. Without paddling these bodies in a grid pattern I would not have found them. I have never seen another person fishing this area.

I have mentioned this before, but Rock Pond is a bit deceiving. Working the grid illustrated that much of that pond is 4' deep. You can tell in many areas, however there are many areas where the depth is not obvious while paddling. Once I was able to eliminate these large areas I keyed in on the smaller ones and presto! - fish on.

For those of you into a fishing quiz, think about the top line characteristics of fish. ID that characteristic and apply it to any body of water to improve your catch rates. Apply it to Rock Pond and you will locate 2 very productive areas to fish - in fact, these are about the only 2 areas I even fish on Rock.

Just from reading the posts on here I am certain many of you know this already, so I won't just throw it out there. But for those who want to improve their catch rates this can be good info.
Jul 23, 2020
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SE Wisconsin
Items to leave behind: my wife.

I don't mean this sarcastically, let me explain.

We have been together for over 50 yrs and happily married for almost 48. While we dated we car camped, day paddled and day hiked. Once we got married I had big dreams of turning this city girl, who never spent a night outdoors until she hooked up with me, into an outdoor woman.

On our first whitewater experience (Cl 1-2) together we dumped and swam the rapids with her losing her cherished high school grad ring (she might have been the first in her family to graduate, but I'm not sure) and one contact lens. I donated my eyeglasses and my shoes to the river. The 300+ mile drive home from NW Wisconsin in the dark was challenging due to my nearsightedness and her one-eyed vision. On our honeymoon later that summer backpacking on Isle Royale National Park she developed bleeding blisters within the first 3 miles and real nasty looking small mashed-potato-like zits on her face which a friendly hiking dermatologist we encountered diagnosed as harmless dermatitis and likely to quickly clear up once she stopped using biodegradeable camp soap on her face.

Other than a few years of state park car camping (mandatory requirement: flushers and hot showers) with the kids when they were young, she has rarely ventured into the "outdoors" with me again. I have always envied the couples I see on some of my trips, but at least her steadfast refusal to join me on any trips eased my transition into solo tripping.

I love you Lynn and always will and will be sure to call whenever I can get a connection.
Jul 6, 2021
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The Hereford Zone along the Mason-Dixon Line
“I am planning a trip this summer and wants to travel as lightly as possible.

Of all the things you take with you on an extended canoe trip (more than a week), what would you be willing to leave behind? Or what do you think you could safely skip taking with you?”

Erica, IIRC you are thinking of a trip a considerable distance away. I differentiate my needs and wants and maybe wants between what comes along in the canoe and what comes along in the truck.

I don’t always want an axe on a paddling trip, but I like having one in the truck. Same for a gun. And other always-there travelling stuff; not just jumper cables, but a tow cable, air compressor and tire patch kit, jack stand, pad lock and cable, etc. Some paddling stuff that likewise lives in the truck; a stuff bag with a spare throw bag & PFD and extra rope.

On trips far from home there are a number of things I want duplicated, canoeing gear checked and packed in a dry bag, and gear packed for travel. I want tripping and travelling food and clothes packed separately, so I’m not eating into my tripping grub while camped along the road, or delving into a dry bag for a spare pair of socks that I’ll discover I neglected to repack on day 5 along the river.

“Spare clothing in car” I on both my tripping and day paddling lists -. I want my tripping and travelling clothes segregated, but I also want a change of clothes left in the truck for day trips; if I arrive at the take out wet or muddy (who me?) that ready change of clothes is handy. That precaution may be even more important if paddling with kids; on one long ago day trip both of my sons ended up falling in the river before we had the canoes off the car. Boys will be boys.

For off-season tripping or just day paddling I pack a small dry bag with a complete change of warm (dry) clothing in the fall and unpack it in early summer. Easy to grab that already-packed dry bag and toss it in the canoe, everything head to toe complete and easy to unpack if standing cold and saturated beside the river. Including a garbage bag to stand on while changing, and to contain the wet clothes when done.

I’ve dressed myself, and a fair number of day trip companions, in those clothes. Sometimes comically.

On travelling trips with the little CR-V, without the home-away-from-home truck bed & cap, I would pack a spare car camping tent. It could be larger/heavier than the tent in the dry bag, but if I had to break camp wet along the way I could dry it out at the launch while packing tripping gear, or even leave it spread it out still damp in the car, knowing it would be dry by the time I returned.

A sleeping bag for tripping, a separate sleeping bag for truck camping, sometimes two. One truck camping episode I was under a sheet, then a summer bag, then a winter bag, all within a few days without ever leaving the area.

A book for the river, and books for the truck. A flashlight for the truck, and one in my paddling essentials bag. A tiny pillow or at least a pillow case to stuff with fleece for tent sleeping, a couple of big, thick pillows for luxurious truck camping. Tripping coffee mug packed in the food barrel, road mug in the truck console. Same for reading glasses and sunglasses.

A lot of stuff gets duplicated, some goes in the canoe, some stays in the truck; I’d rather not rob Peter to pay Paul. Hence a master packing list of everydamnthing.

And even with that list stuff happens. On one trip, a 2000 mile drive west and 11 days downriver in hot weather, I somehow ended up with a single pair of shorts. The other pair later appeared, back at home in a friend’s truck. WTF, I was never in his truck, much less in there naked.
Nov 30, 2017
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Keeled over:
I appreciate the information on the fish finder. I wouldn't use on it on this trip. I have never used one, but it sounds kind of cool to be able to map the bottom of a body of water. The only place I reliably catch fish up north is at the bottom of falls.

I understand completely. Enough said.

Once again, great information, if somewhat overwhelming. I haven't traveled much with children. My son finally told me at one point that he did not like canoeing and camping, so that was that. I had a foster child for many years and she loved paddling. Or rather, being in the canoe, because she didn't do much actual paddling. But when push came to shove, she added enough power to get us off the rocks one time. She was only about six at the time.
She also makes the most diabolical imitation of loon calls.

In summary, I am leaning toward doing the Marshall Kap loop end of July and in to August 2022. So I will plan carefully to use up everything useable before the last portage going out.

The trangia uses one little can of fuel, alcohol, per day if I cook breakfast and dinner. I almost always have a cup of hot cocoa for breakfast, but sometimes I don't eat a regular dinner. Just a protein bar. But I have never weighed or measured the fuel and bottle. The trangia fuel bottle is plastic. I need to weigh it too. My guess is that overall this is about the lightest I can go with cooking, unless I do I twig stove, which I have never done before. My biggest fear, as posted here in the fear thread, is hypothermia. So I worry about depending on getting a fire going in the event of an emergency, to get some hot drink into me.

I don't bring booze or fresh food. I tend to bring three paddles, so I will reduce that to two only. I usually have a set of heavy long underwear, socks and hat into a sealed bag that is never opened, except in case of an emergency. I need to find out how much that weighs. In the event of cold weather and rain or a capsize, I would always have dry warm clothes available. I have never had to use this package.

I only need very basic clothing, as described by others here. I do have two pairs of shoes: water shoes and hiking boots. I can't do the portages on this trip without serious boots.

I'm definitely leaning toward the OR bivy and a very light weight tarp and maybe a light hammock. I'll have to weigh these to figure it out.

I have a 3/4 inch thick, 3/4 length thermarest pad which I like a lot. it has developed a leak and I have tried to find and patch it but it still flattens out by morning. Not sure if I should try to fix it again or buy a new one. I do not like the new inflatable pads.

The first thing to do is find that hanging scale we had, or buy a new one so I can start weighing.

Thank you all for your input. I find it helpful to hear different perspectives. At this point, I am thinking out loud, so to speak.
Jun 12, 2014
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NW Iowa
I have a 3/4 inch thick, 3/4 length thermarest pad which I like a lot. it has developed a leak and I have tried to find and patch it but it still flattens out by morning. Not sure if I should try to fix it again or buy a new one. I do not like the new inflatable pads.

Just curious what you don't like about the newer inflatable pads. I have a NeoAir Trekker and love it. Very thick (when inflated), very light, takes up very little room, and is very comfortable. I'm on my second one. The baffles on the first one started to let go after 150 nights or so. I'd heard people complain about the noise when moving around on them but never found it objectionable at all. My newest one (bought a year or two ago) has been redesigned and is quieter.

I've been unable to get a good night sleep on my old style 3/4" pad since my early 30's.

While hypothermia isn't something to take lightly I wouldn't be very concerned about it in July/August. I know the weather can still get chilly but most likely it will be warm, or at least warm enough to give you plenty of time to put on some dry clothes and start a fire. I figure that during weather that's most prone to make me hypothermic (extended cold, rain, wind followed by an unintentional swim) I'm likely to be hunkered down in camp rather than out on the water anyway.

I always have some lightweight long underwear, toque/stocking cap, and thick warm socks I use for sleeping on cold nights. These are always tightly rolled in a dry bag and I never wear them when paddling, mostly because that way I'm assured of having something dry to change into if I need it. There's usually an extra long sleeve shirt in that bag too because I won't need all my layers when actively paddling. Once in camp I break into all my clothes as-needed figuring the chances of my falling in the water are pretty slim at that point.

If you don't mind cooking over a fire and getting some soot on your pans you might look at a twig stove. I really like them a lot, especially for things like breakfast coffee/tea/hot chocolate where all you need to do is boil water. Most of them draft really well and it takes no time at all to get a roaring little fire going. It takes some practice to figure out feeding them (they light fast and die fast because of the small sticks). I start up my twig stove and cook oatmeal or boil water for tea just before I start breaking camp. The water will be boiling after a few minutes so I take it off the stove and let it cool while I finish breaking camp. Then I eat my hot breakfast, wash out my bowl/pot. By this time the twig stove fire has burned out to nothing but cool ashes so I pack the stove inside the pot, toss them in the bag, and hit the water. I generally cook 3 meals/day on the twig stove and it doesn't take long to get very proficient at it but I do remember the first few times I used it were frustrating.

I prefer cooking this way and carry the alcohol stove mainly for the hypothermia scenario in rainy weather where fire starting would take extra time. I'd either put on a pot of water to boil while I changed clothes or else, in more dire circumstances, put the entire alcohol stove under a bunch of branches to get a bigger open fire started in a hurry. On my 43 day trip I think I took 12 or 16 ounces of alcohol and had plenty left over at the end of the trip. I didn't use it at all until something like day 35 when a long stretch of windy, wet, and cold weather had set in and I was just plain sick and tired of walking around in the wet collecting wood. It was a real treat to pull out the alcohol stove and cook in the tent opening.


Glenn MacGrady

Staff member
Oct 24, 2012
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I tend to bring three paddles, so I will reduce that to two only.

Yes, paddles is where I accomplished weight reduction . . . for a price.

My primary propulsion on flat water is with a bent shaft, but I like a straight paddle for river currents and when leveraging the canoe in wind and waves. If there are rapids on the trip, I used to be tempted to take a third paddle, a long and heavy whitewater paddle. That was a lot of paddle wood weight, and three paddles were very annoying to carry.

I solved my paddle selection issue and simultaneously cut down weight by getting two ZRE carbon paddles, one a 48.5", 12° bent shaft that weighs about 11 oz., and the second a 57", straight, whitewater blade paddle that weighs about 14 oz. With these two implements, I can paddle any kind of waters in the style I want to.

The price for these ZRE carbon paddles, however, is now over $300.