Goods for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail

At 740 miles with 53 miles of portages, you need to pack smart on the NFCT

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By Alan Kesselheim

The Northern Forest Canoe Trail has every imaginable kind of water, from Lake Champlain to the Allagash River, beaver-dam-choked streams to Class III rapids. It is also renowned for frequent portages, 63 of them, some approaching six miles. When Marypat and I decided to through-paddle the 740-mile route from New York to Maine, we took a hard look at our packing list. After months of research and testing, we settled on these indispensable items.

Classic kayaks and canoes The Canoe

Wenonah Spirit II in Tuf-weave

Wenonah’s most versatile, all-around canoe, the Spirit II finds that balance between tracking across lakes and maneuvering through whitewater.

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Classic kayaks and canoes The Packs

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Southwest Pack

There’s nothing worse than humping a one-size-fits-all drysack with a couple of questionable shoulder straps across a swampy, mile-long trail.

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Classic kayaks and canoes The Paddles

Bending Branches Cruiser Plus

Again, varied conditions require a paddle that is comfortable doing it all. My favorite is the Bending Branches Cruiser Plus.

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Classic kayaks and canoes The Secret Weapons

Portage Wheels

Sixty-three portages! The good news is that a great many of those carries are on roads or wide trails, suitable for wheeled carts. We’re actually taking two portage wheel systems.

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Classic kayaks and canoes The Cook-Fire

Slatworx Firebox/Grill

We plan to cook with wood a good portion of the time, and leave the heavy fuel bottles behind.

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Classic kayaks and canoes The Relaxation Station

Grand Trunk Double Hammock Kit 

As the name suggests, the NFCT is forested. One of the luxury items we’re taking is the hammock/hanger kit from Grand Trunk.

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Click HERE to read Alan’s comprehensive test of five portage cart systems. 

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Add a Comment

  • Jason Hightower

    ive now added a nemo bugout to my pack list, its now our sole shelter cooking area and front porch…

  • stephen G

    nice gear. Were you able to complete the trail?

  • R Andrews

    Hi,

    Has Alan written any new canoe books? I have been hoping for some years he was going to publish more.

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