-Water If you are going to be paddling for any length of time (30min or more), bring some kind of water bottle filled with good clean water or a sports drink of some kind. And if you can, figure out some way to tie it into the boat in case you tip over.
Having owned a Nalgene and a Klean Kanteen water bottle for years, I can honestly say both brands are durable enough to last for many years, and have a lid that can be easily tied to your boat in case you capsize. -Food If you are going to be paddling for an hour or more, particularly on a river where you have no access to civilization ’till you reach your destination, bring some food. Sometimes your last meal disappears quicker than you expected and you run out of energy half way through the paddle, and you never know if you might get stuck and be out there for longer than you anticipated.
Energy bars are my favorite choice for canoe trips because they’re easy to eat on the go and if I don’t end up needing food that trip, a bar can easily be saved to take next time. -Shoes Shoes can be very important depending on what kind of paddling you are doing. If you’re going out on a little lake on a nice calm day, you can get away with going barefoot – in fact, barefoot might be best if you flip and have to swim the boat to the nearby shore. If you’re on a river then your shoes matter a lot. Some old tennis shoes you don’t mind destroying, or even loosing, will work fine. Water sandals or water shoes are even better. Word to the wise: flip flops are not canoeing shoes, in fact any shoes that won’t stay on firmly or that you don’t want to get wet should never be on your feet when you go canoeing.
If you decide you really love canoeing and want to invest in canoeing appropriate shoes, there are lots of great water sandals and water shoes to choose from. Whatever you get, look for something with an open heel. When you’re sitting in the canoe, you really want the water to drain out the back of your shoe so your feet have a chance to dry out at least a little. -Clothes Think about the weather and how long you will probably be paddling. Wear clothes that are comfortable, that you don’t mind getting wet, dirty, and perhaps torn, and that won’t be too heavy or too light for the weather. Even in the middle of a hot summer, if the water is cold, it would be wise to bring a light jacket in your dry bag.
-Dry Bag A dry bag is sort of a stuff bag made of thick, durable plastic with a clasp to keep it closed. You put your stuff inside, try to get all the air out you can, then carefully fold over and roll down the top of the bag and then join the clasps. (By the way, I would recommend that you clasp it right around one of the thwarts in your canoe so it will stay attached to your boat if you happen to flip.) A dry bag is not garanteed to keep it’s contents 100% dry if the bag is submerged under water, but it does a really good job most of the time, and it does fabulously at protecting from splashes and the water that kinda gathers in the bottom of the boat. If you need to bring stuff with you such as food, jackets, cell phone, etc.—you should get yourself a dry bag. Dry bags are available at most sporting and outdoor stores, they range from $10—$50 for a descent quality bag that is big enough to hold your stuff for a typical day trip. The CKS Tuff Sack is a great example of a basic, no frills dry bag that will do a fabulous job, while the Sea To Summit brand has multi-purpose uses and a variety of sizes to choose from. – Sun Protection Unless you are especially sensative to the sun, you will probably be OK for up to an hour or so without a hat, sunglasses, and sun screen. For extended trips, make sure you have these things – preferably a cheap hat and sunglasses in case they get lost. Sun exposure can make a really fun canoe trip miserable, and leave you dealing with the consequences for days or weeks afterward.
You may not like to wear hats, but it really can make the whole paddling experience so much better. It’s amazing how much it helps your comfort level, and your energy level, to give your head some protection from the sun. Hats are equally valuable if it starts raining on you, if not more so.