Monty Cerf

Monty Cerf Discusses How to Prepare for a Long-Distance Wilderness Canoe Trip

Long-distance paddling trips are a great way to bond with family and friends and build both physical and mental endurance. Within the United States alone are hundreds of rivers that offer wilderness canoeists views of untouched backwoods, access to charming small towns, and challenging waters. A long time lover of wilderness canoeing and long-distance paddling, Monty Cerf has spent more than 20 years exploring numerous lakes and rivers within the eastern United States. After introducing family and friends to the sport, Monty Cerf now hopes to build public interest in long-distance canoeing and showcase the many personal benefits the sport offers. Today, Monty Cerf will discuss long-distance canoeing and how to pack for your first trip. 

Pack Light

It can be all too easy to bring a surplus of gear on a canoeing trip. Unlike hiking, many first-time canoeists believe that they can store heavier equipment within their canoe because they won’t be carrying their packs themselves. This is a mistake, as the more weight a canoe stores, the harder it will be to paddle. Long-distance canoeists should instead strive to pack one or two dry bags filled with two sets of clothes and one cold and wet weather layer. When packing, it is important to stick with the basics and remember that whatever is put within the canoe will increase its overall weight. 

Have a Resupply Plan 

It can be difficult to resupply in the middle of a long-distance canoe trip. However, all paddlers must have one or two stops within the route that can be used to resupply. If a canoe tips over and supplies are lost downstream, canoeists must prepare for the worst-case scenario and know where they can resupply food, water, and clothing. If you must leave your canoe to gather supplies, having a cable lock or extra buddy available to watch over the canoes will help reduce the likelihood of the canoe being stolen. 

Prepare for Different Water Levels

If you are planning your trip for the summer months, canoeists are encouraged to check the weather and USGS Water Data for future rainfall as well as water levels at different points of the trip. While June and July tend to be the best months to go on long-distance paddling trips, these months coincide with the rainy season in many US states. After a rainfall, many river’s CFS and gage height will spike and then settle. Keep in mind that rivers will become unpaddleable once CFS reaches below 300, so when possible, try to plan a canoe trip early in the season.