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open canoe expedition on loch tay at sunset
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The method in the madness.

It’s about keeping it light and useful, we could pack lots of new fresh layers for each day but that’s going to make our bags larger and heavier which when we’re on a big trip that’s a fairly negative thing.

The on/off method is a great was of keeping the weight and pack size down, it does mean that in the morning you have to put slightly damp gear on but you quickly warm back up and you know at the end of the day your camp clothes will be warm and dry in your pack

For on the water

  • PFD*

  • Helmet*

  • Waterproof jacket/touring/dry cag

  • Waterproof trousers/dry trousers

  • Sturdy footwear (paddling boots/walking boot etc (definitely not flimsy water shoes))

  • Warm mid layer

  • Warm socks

  • Underwear

  • Thermal layers

  • Warm hat

  • Cap

  • Gloves/porgies/mitts

What to bring

Not to much but not too little!?

It’s always a real challenge when packing for expeditions to decide what is needed and what is unnecessary, on this trip we’re going to take care of the food, but you may still want to bring some snacks and extras, but we’ll cover food in more detail in a bit.

We’re big fans of keeping our kit fairly light as if we have to portage the lighter the kit the easier the task, so lets break it down then (everything with a * we can provide for you on request);

For around camp

  • Pair of trainers/sandals/flip-flops

  • Trousers/leggings

  • Warm jacket (Primaloft/down)

  • Thermal layers

  • Warm socks

  • Underwear

  • Sleeping thermals & socks

  • Warm hat

  • Warm gloves

Things we’ll sort out

There’s a number of things that we’ll bring along to ensure a good expedition for everyone.

  • The Kitchen - we’ll talk about what we’ll actually make in a bit but rest assured we’ll bring the kitchen sink, stove, pots pans and everything else we need to make our expedition a well fed one!

  • Big tarp - for a communal area.

  • Emergency kit - First aid kits, group shelters and all those things we will bring along with us.

  • Maps - you’re welcome to of course pack your own map and compass, but we’ll organise all the navigation and ensure that we’re going the right way, you’re of course welcome to get involved in that process if you want to learn!

  • Us! - we will of course be there too! Our team will be there to work with you to ensure we have a super expedition together. We’ll guide and coach you through the day to ensure that you arrive safe and sound in camp each night with hopefully a wee bit know knowledge than when we set off that morning. We’ll also be in charge of organising meals for  everyone, we’ll cook and eat communally so be prepared to maybe help us out around the kitchen.

We are here to help!

At the bottom of this document you’ll find a packing list to help you pack your bag before the trip, but if you’re ever unsure get in touch!

What about the beasties?

Well good question at the times of year we normally run this trip the midge and tics aren’t normally too bad, but it might be worth throwing in your head net and Smidge just to be on the safe side.

The best food on scottish canoe expeditions
Open canoe expedition on the loch in scotland

Other things we’ll need

Along with our clothing there’s quite a few other things we’ll need to ensure a successful expedition (again things with a * are on us if you want).

  • Boat * - Of course doing a canoe expedition without a canoe is pretty hard going, so we can supply one for you unless you have your own that you would rather use.  Our fleet is made up of Hōu Canoes Prospectors which are fantastic expedition boats, so if you’d still like to use one of ours even if you have your own you’re more than welcome too. If you do want to use your own we’ll knock some money off your trip cost, but we’ll still leave space on the trailer so you don’t need to worry about the logistics.

  • Paddles * - Paddles are another obvious thing you’ll need, we have a range of paddle you can borrow from us, but if you have you’re own you’ll likely be much more comfortable with them, we find we can use anyone else boat but using someone else’s paddle is a bit like drinking non-alcoholic beer, it’s kinda the same but also just a but wrong.

  • Trad stuff (poles, sails & rope) * - now we’re getting fancy! One of the joys of open canoeing is that we have more that we can keep the boat moving not just with our paddle and when on expedition often we’ll use more of the traditional skills like poling, sailing, lining and tracking in order to keep our hulls wet and moving. Don’t worry if you’ve never used any of this kit or tactics before we’ll enlighten you into the magic of using trad skills on a journey throughout the trip.

  • Dry bag/barrel* - A 60 litre bag or barrel will be essential to pack all your kit into. We also recommend packing your kit into smaller dry bags to help you organise it all is well worth doing. (If you’re borrowing a bag/barrel from us then you’ll still need to supply your own wee bags)

  • Sleeping system - what we mean by that is your sleeping bag, pillow and mat. We recommend a 3 season bag and a decent mat with some good thermal protection. Pillows (the inflatable travel ones that is) are optional but are great.

  • Tent* - If you have your own great, otherwise you can use one of ours. If you want to be gnarly and bivi under your boat with a trap great you’re more than welcome too, we often do. Hammocks are a great choice on some trips but check with us as trees are lacking on some trips, of course if you can convert your hammock to a bivi great!

  • Head torch - Essential bit of kit! It makes moving around around camp much easier!

  • Lunch container, Bowl and Cutlery - we’ll supply the filling you just need to bring the bits.

  • Water bottle - a 1L bottle should do the trick as a minimum.

  • Personal First Aid Kit - We’ll have a big kit in case the brown stuff hits the wind generation machine, but it’s always worth bringing along a wee kit to deal with things like blisters and small cuts and grazes plus you’ll need any personal medication you use.

  • Wash kit - on this trip we’ll have accommodation on day one so the you’ll want a full wash kit for that but once we head out on the expedition you’ll likely want a basic wash kit to help you stay hygienic and feel human, if you can soap that is environmentally friendly would be great to help minimise our impact as we travel through this special place.

  • Memory capture device - we’re going to be going on a really cool trip so if you want to keep a record of the trip whether that is taking photos, writing poems, making alternative dances you’ll need the kit to achieve that with you.

  • Phones and power banks - okay so you don’t need these things but you’re more welcome to bring them, the signal in the area isn’t great, so don’t expect to be able to FaceTime home, a text might be all you manage.

  • Luxury items - we all deserve a little bit of luxury in our life so why not pack yourself a luxury item to treat yourself when we have a tough day, like a hip flask perhaps…?

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