old town maine

Photo: Gabor Degre/Bangor Daily News

The list of ingredients you need for a successful canoeing trip is remarkably simple. Water. A paddle. A Canoe. A life vest. There isn’t much more in the way of necessities for canoeing. And while it’s simplicity is charming, that doesn’t mean that all gear is made the same. Use our gear guide to make sure you get all the essentials you’ll need to get the most out of your canoe trip.

ESSENTIALS

Rather than the traditional straight-shaft canoe paddle, consider a bent-shaft paddle, which helps produce a shorter, faster, and less fatiguing stroke as the blade is perpendicular entering and leaving the water. 

Sawyer Glide bent shaft paddle canoe paddle wooden paddle

Pictured: Sawyer’s Glide Bent Shaft paddle is a perfect paddle for the beginning canoeist that will hold up to years of use, featuring a moderately narrow 8-inch blade great for all-day cruising. Made with light and sturdy Douglas fir, the Glide is slightly angled for improved stroke efficiency on flatwater. ($90, paddlesandoars.com)

A personal floatation device (PFD) is the one keystone piece of equipment you need for every paddlesports discipline (aside from the boat and the paddle). Donning a PFD, otherwise known as a life jacket, should be as second nature to paddlers as wearing pants to school. Get a comfortable, USCG-approved Type III vest you can wear for any style of paddling. You don’t need an overly bulky one with a floatation flap behind the head.

MTI Java Life Vest Gear Guide Canoe PFD

Pictured: The low profile MTI Java won’t weigh you down with its mesh side panels, and is a good fit for the entire family whether you’re canoeing, kayaking, or standup paddling. ($90, mtiadventurewear.com)

Now that you’re ready to day-trip, you should consider how to rig all your stuff—sunscreen, extra layers, snacks, keys, cameras, etc.—to your boat, and to keep it dry.

Seat To Summit Hydraulic Dry Bag Canoe Kayak Paddle

Pictured: The new Hydraulic Dry Bag from Sea To Summit is completely waterproof, PVC free, UV resistant, and packs neatly into a canoe or kayak hatch. Sizes range from 5-120 liters. ($17-$85, seatosummit.com)