Trip Planning

There are many great resources to help with trip planning, and here I have pulled information together from a few of them that have helped me over the years.

Of course, the greatest resource of all to me is discovering Sigurd F. Olson (American author, environmentalist, and advocate for the protection of wilderness), and learning his ways of efficiently planning trip. For over 30 years, he served as a wilderness guide in and around the Quetico-Superior country of northern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario.

Olson was of the understanding that everyone had a role to play on trip and each and everyone’s talents were used to get camp ready at each new site.

This is a excerpt taken from his book The Lonely Land published in 1961.

I walked to the end of the dock and looked over the canoes. Their bows were snubbed to the pilings and they floated freely, pulling gently at their moorings. The packs were stowed away and I counted them once more. Extra paddles, tracking lines, map cases tied to the thwarts, fishing rods, axes, all were there. The canoes rode well, not too high in the bows, but just enough…

… Back of the dock, the marsh grass was beaten down where the packs had been thrown. I went over, walked through the patch of sedge, and kicked around with my boots to see if some small item might have fallen out. A package of salt or pepper, the first-aid kit, a compass, a reel, or a box of fishing lures, a hank of rope or twine, patching material for the canoes, the Carborundum stone for sharpening knives and axes-the loss of any one of these would cause trouble from the start. I walked back and forth, explored beneath a willow bush, and satisfied at last, returned to the canoes.

How to Lead a Canoe Trip

With a group of people, it’s good to have a leader. The leader can help bring a group to make a decision by acting indifferent, plan the trip and take charge when needed (if injury or inclement weather occurs).

Event Planning

I find it useful to create an event using social media. This ends up being a place for the group to share information about gear, food, trip planning, photographs and also creates hype about the trip. It is good to keep all information about the trip in one place where everyone can see and have access.  It is also a good place to post trip logs of the route you are planning.

Group Equipment

With a group of people, it is unnecessary to bring more gear than needed. There are items that can be shared and therefore each person can be responsible for bringing along.

Travel & Navigation

  • canoe(s)
  • paddles
  • map (a photocopy of the section you will be using and ziplock bags to seal them in)
  • compass


  • lightweight tents
  • lightweight tarp
  • polypropylene rope (for putting food barrel up in trees, tarps, and tying gear to canoes)
  • lightweight folding saw
  • sunblock & insect repellent
  • first-aid kit
  • sewing & repair kit
  • throw bags


  • 2 stoves (at least, depending on the size of the group)
  • extra fuel canister
  • fire-starters or flint & steel
  • waterproof matches
  • collapsible water bag
  • water filtration system
  • nesting cookware
  • pot gripper
  • fry pan
  • paring knife
  • wooden spoon
  • mugs
  • collapsible sink
  • biodegradable dish soap
  • dish cloth
  • drying towel
  • nylon scrubber
  • food packs or barrels
  • fishing rod, lures, etc

Personal Gear


  • long pants
  • shorts
  • long-sleeved shirt
  • t-shirt
  • rain gear
  • underwear
  • bathing suit
  • hiking boots
  • plastic supermarket bags (to keep your feet dry when you have to put on wet shoes)
  • sun hat
  • sport sandals
  • wool hat (if weather is cool)
  • sunglasses & safety strap


  • headlamp
  • PFD or life jacket
  • backpack
  • sleeping bag
  • thermarest or sleeping pad
  • towel (preferably microfibre)
  • waterproof bags (for your clothes and sleeping bag)
  • toiletries
  • toilet paper
  • whistle
  • identification
  • book
  • pencil and paper
  • camera
  • deck of cards
  • spare set of car keys (have someone else in the group carry the other)
  • complete set of clothes to go in car when camping trip is over

How Money Works

Get deposits from people early on. This will confirm their interest; otherwise you might find people are very eager up to the day before departure, and then bail out.

The deposit can be an arbitrary amount; enough money that people won’t want to forfeit it. In that case, the organizer pays for everything (food, rentals, etc.). When the trip is over, calculate all the costs and get everyone to pay up. I find that having people put a deposit down for food is a good idea. With 6 or more people, it can get expensive!  You could also estimate the total trip cost and have everyone pay up front.

Typically the group shares group equipment costs – canoes, racks, transportation of the canoes, parking fees, food. If you’re carpooling, help pay for gas!

Keep all receipts and keep track of reservation fees, permits, etc.

I found Kittysplit to be a great website to help determine who paid what and how much is owed to each person.


Jeff’s Map

Outers Club

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