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Tips for Planning a Canoe or Kayak Day Trip

 Posted on: May 27th, 2021

Tips for Planning a Canoe or Kayak Day Trip
Couple kayaking in a lake on a sunny day

A day trip in a canoe or kayak is often the first step for people who are interested in taking longer, multi-night trips. You’ve gotten the hang of going out in the canoe or kayak for a couple hours at a time, and you’re ready to spend a whole day paddling and exploring.

Of course, if you’re going out for a whole day, you’re going to need to put more thought into planning for your excursion than if you were just going out for an hour-long spin. This is especially true if you’re going out by yourself, and not with a guide.

Here’s a quick look at some of the considerations you’re going to need to take into account to get the most out of your day on the water.

Have a route in mind

The kinds of items you intend to haul in your truck will be one of the most significant influences on the kind of truck rack you will purchase.

When you only spend about an hour or two paddling on the water, you’re probably not getting far enough away from your home base where you could easily get lost. But the longer you spend out on the water, the more you’re going to want to make sure you’ve got a route planned out so you can keep track of exactly where you are.

Research and plan out your route using online resources, maps, guidebooks and other resources you can find. Take note of any possible hazards or danger zones, as well as possible spots where you can land and take a break.

Be realistic with the distance you want to cover

The distance you can travel in a single day will depend on currents and tides (as applicable), wind, weather conditions, how much you like to take in the scenery, any portages you might encounter and your general level of fitness. Even advanced paddlers with a good fitness level will have a hard time covering any more than 15 miles, and if you’re going out with family or as a first timer you should stick to no more than seven or eight to start.

No matter what your experience level, though, it’s important to be realistic about how much you can cover in a single day while still enjoying the experience.

A few items you may want to pack for your trip
A few items you may want to pack for your trip

Make sure you have the proper gear

Though you don’t need to worry about bringing camping supplies for a day trip, there’s still other gear you’ll want to take besides your paddles and floatation devices. You should have a pump or bailer, a whistle and a throw bag for safety. Consider packing a tarp to create a makeshift shelter if you run into unexpected bad weather, as well as a map and compass or GPS. Dress in layers that you can easily add or shed, bring some food and fresh water, a first aid kit and a repair kit with a multi-tool, duct tape and other necessities. Make sure you have sun screen and bug spray, and a hat that can provide you with some shade.

If you bring electronics like a camera or phone, make sure you seal them inside a waterproof bag.

Tips for going in a group

If you’re planning on taking a day trip with a group of friends or family members, there are some additional dynamics you need to consider.

First, you should be clear about the expectations for the trip, and what you will be doing. Are you going out to fish? Is it a trip for exercise, or for relaxation? Which sights do you want to see? Let everyone participate in the planning and discussions that happen before the excursion so you can get everyone on the same page and ensure you all enjoy the day.

You can also split up responsibilities for certain items. Have one person handle food, another person who handles logistics like parking and carpooling, etc.

Keep an eye on the weather

You might be willing to go out on the water rain or shine, and that’s great. But there are certain conditions you should not attempt to trek through. If there are going to be lightning storms, hail, extreme winds or possible tornados, for example, you should call it off and plan for another day.

Enjoy your kayak day trip, and when you return, make sure you store away your kayak properly to keep it safe and in good shape for your next voyage!