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.
Wenonah's most versatile, all-around canoe, the Spirit II finds that balance between tracking across lakes and maneuvering through whitewater.
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.
Again, varied conditions require a paddle that is comfortable doing it all. My favorite is the Bending Branches Cruiser Plus.
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.
We plan to cook with wood a good portion of the time, and leave the heavy fuel bottles behind.
As the name suggests, the NFCT is forested. One of the luxury items we're taking is the hammock/hanger kit from Grand Trunk.