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The Essential Packing Guide For Your Whitewater Expedition

Packing for any trip can be a hassle. However, when it involves being outdoors for several days up to a number of weeks, you have limited options for accessing those necessary items that you did not bring along. Of course, your specific needs may differ slightly, but we have prepared a guide with most of the major items you need to think about and pack for your white-water adventure.

Canoe gear

You need the appropriate canoe and outfitting for your trip.

Canoe Gear MHO Adventures

Including paddles, Personal Floatation Devices, helmets, throw bags, painter ropes, bailers, knee pads, thigh straps, possibly float bags (depending on the class of river and personal preference).

Your local outfitter should carry these items and be able to rent them out at a fair price.  You may also want to personally purchase some gear, depending on the frequency of your trips or individual preference.

Safety and navigation

The whole idea of a wilderness experience is to enjoy unspoiled nature, but there are measures to put in place in order to stay safe. These include having an experienced guide on your trip or making sure that group members have the appropriate training and experience for the route you have chosen.

Industry standard is to carry a satellite phone and/or IN Reach device, GPS or compass, whistles and other signalling devices, maps and other resources (in waterproof case); whitewater rescue kit (and the knowledge to use it), a decent repair kit and an adequately stocked first aid kit for injuries and medical emergencies.


Setting up camp is usually a daily affair. You may use a tent that can fit 2 or 3 people, or opt for a tarp shelter or a bivy sack.  You will also need a sleeping bag and a sleeping pad (preferably inflatable).

A hammock is equally good to have for the many relaxing moments on your trip.  Solar Chargers, particularly those with USB ports for charging cameras, etc., are a great idea.  Remember to include tools like an axe and saw. A portable toilet and/or toilet kit will do the trick for sanitation.


It makes sense to set out with filled water bottles as well as lots of water purification (either pumps, tablets, pristine, etc.), snacks (many people favour energy or protein bars), and powdered drinks.  However, real food is required to keep you going throughout your expedition.

Making food in camp requires waterproof matches/lighter, tinder, lots of wood and/or a portable propane stove with extra fuel, pots, cooking utensils, serving dishes, lightweight cups, barrels and storage containers for storing and transporting food.

Clean water is key for survival so decide on the water purification method that works for your trip and carry the appropriate amount.  MHO adventures have special gourmet recipes that make outdoor adventure meals unbelievable tasty and highly nutritious.  It would be our pleasure to supply your team with that goodness. Follow this link to find out how.

Repair kits (for canoe/ camping gear)

Regardless of how careful your team is, some level of damage to your canoe or tent is possible. This is where repair kits come in. A good kit should contain a good sealant, putty, wire (small roll, copper), nylon cords, extra bolts and nuts, duct tape, etc. You should also know how to effectively use these items and have the proper tools to do so.


Your outfit choices would depend greatly on your personal preferences, previous experience, and the time of your expedition.

The following would help you face the elements:

  • Rainwear
  • Waterproof jacket and pants
  • Mittens/gloves
  • Wetsuit (or dry suit for colder weather)
  • Paddling gloves
  • Neoprene boots
  • Comfortable hiking shoes
  • Water-proof sandals
  • Moisture-wicking underwear
  • Short sleeved tops
  • Socks, sun-protective long sleeve top and bottoms
  • Wide-brimmed hat
  • Skullcap
  • etc.

Material is the main thing to consider – cotton takes a very long time to dry, drawing heat from the body and very bulky for packing.  Opt for synthetic materials such as polypro, nylon, wool.

Personal care

Basic toiletries include your toothbrush and paste, (biodegradable) soap, body lotion/cream, tissue paper. You’ll also need sunscreen, sunglasses, lip balm, insect repellant, hand sanitizer, utility knife, and will likely appreciate a quick-dry towel.

Do not forget to carry a credit card, some cash, prescribed medication, camping permits, fishing or hunting licenses, in a waterproof pack. You may also want to bring along some card games or a small musical instrument for entertainment.

You’re all set for your outdoor adventure

As long as you include all these essentials for your trip, while remembering to pack light, you should be able to concentrate on the fun part. MHO Adventures has maintained a reputation of running successful expeditions for the past 25 years. You can trust us to provide full outfitting services, shuttle options, seasoned guides, and give you all the necessary advice you need before and during your trip. We are proud of the fact that we only invest in quality gear.

Our canoes, for instance, are Canadian made and none go beyond 3 years of use before being replaced. We also ensure that all of our equipment and kits are properly checked on a regular basis. Let us help you plan your next expedition, or better yet join one of our all-inclusive guided trips (we supply a detailed packing list of personal items and clothing), the rest is provided by us!