River camping is a fantastic activity that combines the best of car camping with the best of backpacking. It allows you to retreat into a remote area, like when backpacking, but bring some of your favorite creature comforts along, like with car camping.
Keep the following tips in mind when planning a river trip and you’ll be happy as a clam.
Everything Will Get Wet.
Notice, I didn’t say “may get wet!” Consider every piece of gear in your canoe or kayak as an object that will be subjected to splashing, small leaks, and even rain. Prepare as needed, and you’ll be a much happier camper, especially in the winter! To make all your gear water resistant, purchase large drybags and use those to pack everything from clothing to sleeping bags, cooking equipment to the tent, and even firewood. Firewood can be double bagged in durable garbage bags and in most cases, should stay dry.
Pro Tip: Bring at least one ‘chemical’ log for each evening fire you plan on having. The chemical logs burn hot enough to help light damp firewood but not hot enough for soaked firewood.
Whenever we canoe camp, we prefer to camp on sandbars and other open areas along the edge of the river where it is possible to drag your vessel up onto shore and tie off. Hauling all your gear out of the boats every night to set up camp and back in the morning to pack up gets old, FAST. With that in mind, keep in mind that sandbars are not static things. Sandbars and related camp areas may move, change, be flooded, or even disappear depending on recent river conditions.
If canoeing in an area where you can talk to a land manager, call them and ask about camping conditions. There may be established camps, like on the Suwannee River, that you can rely on as a backup plan. If not, keep an eye on the time as you paddle. If it is getting late in the day, settle for the best site you can find with enough time to set up camp before nightfall.
Cook Real Food
When river camping, especially in cooler weather, you shouldn’t have to resort to dehydrated food. Bring a camp stove, some pots and pans, even a dutch oven, and bring great food to feast on. Remember, this is slightly less convenient than car camping. With a gas stove and a fire, you can make a large variety of food that will keep any camper happy. I recommend some simple recipes to start, but remember to keep all meat colder than 40 degrees:
Nothing makes for grumpy campers faster than being cold, wet, and hungry. Cook real food. Trust us, these recipes are perfect for your hungry friends and family.http://amzn.to/20PBhOf
Pro Tip: If you’re of age and interested in happy hour, we always plan light hor d'oeuvres and a cocktail to keep our canoe-mates full and happy while we set up camp and cook. Bring some durable containers that are made of plastic - not glass! The last thing you want in a wet canoe is broken glass. I recommend this metal bottle and this plastic flask; they are great for pre-mixed cocktails or for bringing wine/ingredients.
I hope you have a great time canoe camping and enjoy the perks of getting outdoors with a little bit of luxury. If you have any questions, please let me know and I'll be glad to help! Happy camping!
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