Canoeing is a water sport that can take place on flat calm lakes or in white water rapids. Being a water sport, there is lots of equipment needed to keep gear and belongings dry and keep yourself afloat if you were to fall out of the canoe. Canoeing can be an extremely rewarding experience when done safely.
Some specific equipment needed that cannot be left are paddles, a personal floatation device , and dry bags to hold personal belongings. Other items to consider bringing are sun protection, a watch, snacks, and water. For white water canoeing a white water specific PFD and a white water helmet are both needed! This list below compiles the equipment and essentials needed for a canoeing excursion.
Dry Bags are devices that roll and seal items against getting wet. Often made of rubber or other synthetic material, these are essentials to give you peace of mind while out on the water. These can be used to store personal items like phones, wallets, and keys, but can also be used to store snacks as well!
A personal floatation device (a PFD or life vest) is required to be out on the water at most times. At a public lake with boating, PFD's are required or you can be fined. A PFD is a vest made of buoyant material to help you stay afloat in the water. A note, however: PFD's do not take the place of the ability to swim, and that is why they have stopped being called life vests. They help you stay afloat; they do not stay afloat for you. Flatwater PFD's are class three PFD's typically. These are the iconic life vests, and can also be tailored to be sport specific for higher speed water sports.
Without paddles, canoes would be at a stand still. The paddles for canoeing are different than that of kayaking: the two paddles have different lengths. The shorter paddle goes in the front and the longer paddle goes in the rear. The rear rower is typically a power position, providing the thrust, while the front rower guides the canoe.
A long day on the water means you will need to eat! Having snacks available means you get to spend your time out on the water in a more enjoyable way. Good snacks to bring are trail mix, peanut butter sandwiches, and beef jerky. If the trip is shorter, a picnic on the water is a fun way to spend the time, the only concern with food is whether or not it will go bad before you can eat it. For shorter trips, a cooler will keep food from spoiling on the water. These snacks will provide much needed calories that you are burning throughout the dasy.
With the sun beating down and reflecting off the water, sun-burn and injury to your eyes are common ailments after hours on the water. Ways to avoid this are things that will block the sun. Sunscreen is recommended whenever you are outside with at least 30 SPF. A hat will protect your scalp, neck, and face from sunburn, while sunglasses will protect your eyes. Sunburn and sun injury to the eyes can be debilitating for the rest of your trip and ruin the time that you wanted to spend having fun.
With your phone locked in a dry bag in case of emergencies, how are you going to know what time it is? Watches that are made to be waterproof are perfect for the outdoor environment. If you go overboard, or want to go for a swim, you will not have to worry about the device, and you will also be able to tell when it is time to go inside.
Sport watches will often be waterproof to a certain depth that is printed on the watch face. 200 meters, a common depth of waterproofing for watches, is about 600 feet.
Water shoes are shoes that are made of waterproof materials that let water pass through them. Sandals, shoes worn at a waterpark, or even crocs are good examples of these. These are worn so that the bottom of the canoe or anything that is in the canoe will not puncture or injure your feet.
Water shoes need to let water through them instead of trapping the water because water being trapped in the shoe will lead to blisters and discomfort on the feet. The materials being made to be submerged is important because that will make your shoe last longer. What is needed from a water shoe is one that lets water in and out freely without damage to the materials the shoe is made of. If undertaking white water, water shoes should have soles that cover the toes in case of abrasion.
Out in the heat and exerting yourself rowing, you will sweat out a lot of the water in your body. Having a couple water bottles or even a water bladder with you will mean you stay hydrated. Dehydration is a serious issue that is common while doing things outdoors, so avoiding that by preparing in advance is safe! Depending on the length of trip, a liter or two of water is typically enough to get you there and back, but for extended trips where you are canoeing down a river for days at a time more water is better. Water purification is also an essential when it comes to water, because you cannot carry the amount of water you need for long trips, but you can purify the water around you in order to refill bottles and bladders.
When on a raging rapid, there is special equipment that is needed to keep you safe. White water specific PFD's are leaner and give more thrust to conserve more energy. This will keep you safe and from injuring yourself. White water PFD's are called class five PFD's and are extremely different from the class three PFD needed for flat water sports.The design is leaner with specific additions like gear loops and hard points for towing that will aid in rescue if needed.
Being on white water requires a specific white water helmet to protect your head from rocks and from being thrown into objects if you go overboard. Going overboard is not the end of the world, if you have the safety items that you need. A white water helmet is designed and tested to be under the water and protect the top and sides of your head from the impacts associated with the sport. White water is usually tackled by rafts, kayaks, and canoes.