What Kit do we take on Learning and Wilderness Canoe Journeys?
Who doesn't love Kit...?
For many it's up there with the reason they love being in the outdoors, they get to play with all the shiny shiny!
So we thought we'd get Grant, CAG Adventures Owner and Head Coach to take a look at what kit he takes on a CAG Adventures Learning or Wilderness Journey by canoe.
If you're joining us on a CAG Adventures Learning or Wilderness Journey this is the stuff you'll need to bring, pack and carry yourself.
It's always hard to know how many pairs of socks to pack...
So I like to simplify everything. The first step is to embrace the stink.
On any wilderness trip where we're living out of boats, we're going to end up being a bit smelly anyway so if we embrace it early on it'll make packing our kit much easier. It allows me to use what I like to call the 3 sock system;
One set in the canoe,
One set out of the canoe,
One set spare,
This extends beyond socks to see exactly what I choose check out our blog on what to wear boating, but know that the clothing choices are the same in all three parts of the system.
In the bag
Of course, as a leader, I'll have my trusty leader bag with me but go and check out the "What's a Leader Bag" blog to see what it is I've got packed in there, the big question is what's in the exped bag?
For my exped bag I use an NRS 60L Bill's Bag (if you're coming on one of our trips we can give you a 60L barrel for this), inside this I like to divide my kit into smaller dry bags, mainly for the organisation and to help me get camp set up faster when i get in. These smaller drybags are;
Sleep system - sleeping bag, sleep matt, bivi bag,
Shelter - either tent or hammock depending on where and when the exped is and a trap
Clothing for being off the water,
Warm Kit - either a down or synthetic down jacket and synthetic down trousers,
Bowl, cutlery, mug, lunch box and water bottle,
In addition to this in the big drybag I'll also have my flip-flops and depending on the route walking trainers or boots, if we have a hill day or long portage to do.
This is the stuff that on our Learning and Wilderness Journeys we'll sort out, it might need to go in your canoe during the trip but we'll pack it.
"The kitchen is the heart of the home" so we do our best to ensure it's a big heart on our trips! My needs when it comes to a stove in the outdoors are relatively simple, it needs to be simple to set up, work efficiently and be able to cook things fast! In addition to that because I'm cooking for more than one it needs to be capable of holding larger pots. Over many years of living and working outdoors, I've owned and used many stoves of many fuel types, and it shouldn't come as a surprise that the best stove for a solo mission vs the best stove for group cooking is very different beasts! So what's in the kitchen box? It's the MSR WhisperLite Universal of course! It's that good there are two of them.
Why the WhiserLite? Well, it's famously one of the best expedition stoves of all time, following in reality in 1982 the WhisperLite hasn't changed much yet have been on some iconic expeditions around the world! The Universal version we use is a slight update on the original WhisperLite in that it allows you to not only burn liquid fuels but also gas. The ability to burn multiple fuel types is one of the main reasons we choose to use these stoves as we are always guaranteed to be able to get at least one type of fuel for them. They are also straightforward for us to fix in the field (not that they ever break) and have a superb cooking speed with very little fuel use, what's not too like!
Fuel-wise it's hard to decide what to go with, but we use unleaded petrol.
Before you start stressing about the environmental impact of this decision, it was because we want to help the environment that we made this choice. Let's remember that gas and oil are natural resources that need a lot of effort and have equal challenges to get to us with huge carbon footprints, but unlike gas, which comes in a single-use can that is often not recyclable, our fuel cans for our unleaded fuel are good for hundreds, maybe even thousands of uses. We can also safely store excess fuel and simply top up the fuel cans before heading out and know we're at 100% instead of running the gamble of the partly used gas can. Unleaded also burns so much more efficiently than gas so we use less fuel per meal than if we were singing IsoPro.
On top of the stoves we use, a mix of MSR hard-anodized and nonstick pots with a 5.3L, 3.2L, 2.5L, 1.5L and a Skillit, seems like quite a lot of pots but it's amazing how quickly they get used when cooking for a group of folks. These pots share 3 lids and have the same removable handles so we always have one handy! To protect them we store our DeepDish Plates and Insulated Mugs around them, which also helps stop the rattle when moving the kitchen around.
We then have everything you'd expect to see in a kitchen, sharp knives, cutting boards, utensils, cooking oil and washing up clothes with eco-friendly soup.
And what do we use as the kitchen? A toolbox of course! We have a Stanley FatMax waterproof toolbox, it seals tight so in the event of a capsize everything is safe and if tradies can throw them around I'm sure it'll stand up to any abuse we can throw at it!
I'm not going to give you a full rundown of our menus as they change every trip depending on who's on the trip, how long the trip is, and what's available, but on our trips, we cater from lunch on day one to lunch on the final day with healthy balanced meals using fresh produce where possible. To achieve this we carry a 60L barrel plus a 32L coolbox of food to keep everyone fed and happy. We also take a large water container and water treatment kit.
Other canoe journey kit
To finish off our group kit we have a large tarp which we'll often set up to give us a working area to eat, drink and chat under in the evenings and at breakfast.
We also have wheels, poles and sails for the canoes (if people don't bring their own), depending on the venue
Of course, our canoes make fantastic tables with a little bit of know-how.
Finally, no wilderness or learning journey by canoe would be complete without a wee dram, Slàinte.