View Full Version : I'm going camping! (Please help me)

February 5, 2007, 04:16 PM
Note: Mods, I'm sorry if this is the wrong forum, but this one seemed to fit my survival-type questions/scenario. If I made a mistake, please feel free to correct me.

During the week of July 4th, I will be going on a fishing trip with about 9 other guys up in Canada. I don’t know the name of the place, but it’s an area located above Minnesota. My brother went last year and this is what he told me to expect:

-once you park your vehicle, it’s approximately an hour and a half hike to reach the camp site
-it is a pure wilderness area (no electricity, outhouse, or other amenities)
-we will be in teams of two, with each team carrying a canoe during the hike
-we will be camping and fishing for three days, three nights
-no firearms are allowed

Since I haven’t been camping in roughly 20 years, what do I need? I was sitting around yesterday during the game, and talking with my cousin (he’s one of the guys going) discussing what to bring. We spouted off the usual stuff: sleeping bag, bug spray, extra fishing pole and spool, etc. Then I realized, we hadn’t even thought of water. And I vaguely remembered (might be wrong on this figure) that an average person needs about a gallon of water a day. I started thinking about how much three gallons of water must weigh, plus my gear, plus the canoe; all of which must be carried during our hike to the site.

Then he asked, “What if it rains?” I assumed we would all just carry sleeping bags and was left without an answer. A bunch of questions then started coming fast from the ladies who were listening to our “I’m a macho, outdoors, tough as nails” talk:

“Are there bears there?”
“Are you guys going to eat fish for all three days?”
“What are you going to do if someone breaks their ankle and needs to go to the hospital?”
“How are you going to take a bath, brush your teeth, take a poop, etc?” (great questions from my little niece:D ).

It made me realize, I was totally out of the “roughing it” game. Like I said, I haven’t gone camping for 20 years, and even then, we were right next to dad's car with its stores of food, water, clothes, supplies, etc. So, anyone here camp enough to give me hints on what to bring and what NOT to bring? I’m assuming I could carry one or two backpacks at the most (I’m a little out of shape I must admit, but just a little). Also any general hints or tips to make this a great trip would be appreciated.

Capt. Charlie
February 5, 2007, 06:17 PM
I think this one's more appropriate for the hunting forum.

Quite frankly Lee, the way you describe it, it's a recipe for disaster. Even in July, and even if things go 100% right, it's still going to be an uncomfortable trip without the right knowledge and equipment. And if things go wrong, what would be an inconvenience for a seasoned outdoorsman, could very well be life threatening for the inexperienced. Take that question "what if it rains?", for example. Ever spend a night in a wet sleeping bag? Miserable at best, and the serious possibility of hypothermia, which can easily be fatal, at the worst.

I spent 5 years as a back country Ranger with the National Park Service, and I can't begin to tell you how many "day hikes" I've seen go sour and end up in serious injury, or worse. All of them thought they could substitute "macho" for experience. The backcountry is totally unforgiving of mistakes, and the stakes, even if only an hour and a half hike out, are still high.

My advice? If no one going on this trip is a seasoned outdoorsman, try to find one to go with you, even if it's a paid guide, and listen to him. If you can't do that, forego this trip & schedule a few overnighters in a less remote area, just to get your feet wet, so to speak. Each trip out will be a learning experience and will prepare you for the more remote areas.

If you do this right from the beginning, you'll be entering a whole new world to explore & enjoy, but if you're first experience is a bad one, you'll likely not want to repeat it, and miss out on a lot of future enjoyment.

February 5, 2007, 06:50 PM
Wow Inspectorlee! That is quite a trip you are planning. I don't like the no firearms part. Especially that far out in the wild. (I would probably carry a pistol anyway just for personal protection, to say that you can't is just absurd. You don't want a vicious animal charging you with nothing to throw at it but rocks....and as for dangerous people...ever seen Deliverance? :eek: You never know what kind of weirdo might to walk up in your camp Since you would be violating the law in carrying, I would find another location where you CAN carry. You certainly don't want to wind up in jail especially in a foreign land.)

Survival in the wilderness is VERY important. It isn't a walk through the backyard. I don't go camping as often as I'd like to (Probably should make the time) but when I do it's usually within a few minutes walk to my truck parked somewhere.

Like Captain Charlie said, find a knowledgeable man to go with you who does this frequently. Also, you have 5 whole months to study up on the great outdoors. Read up on what you will need and survival tips and take short weekend trips to the local state parks between now and then.

Other than that, sounds like a good adventure.

Off the top of my head, I would say bring a flare gun and a short wave radio so you can contact a ranger station if you are in trouble.

February 5, 2007, 07:15 PM
There is no way anyone should try and bring a handgun into Canada, They sure are stinkers about guns!
Bears, aren't much of a problem if you keep your camp clean, food stored in lines up in the tree.
Water? you will need a filter and pump to fill jugs for drinking.
Bathing; have a swim. its a great time of year for that, Don't soap up in the lake, keep a jug in the sun for scrubbing, one wash cloth for your soap, another for rinse. most bath water is wasted rinsing soap out of a washcloth.
Actually a couple of swims a day and you won't need much of a bath. I bring Fels-Nappa laundry bar along and use a good garbage bag for a washing machine and hang them on a bush. extra medications, epi-pen for allergic, butterfly's for cuts, lots of dehydrated meals for the poor fisherman,
You are going to have a great time. follow the other posters suggestions and take a couple trips etc.

have a great time, I go up to Lac Soul every july...
But keep in mind Canada would just as soon have you through your wallet across the boarder and you stay home!

February 5, 2007, 08:43 PM
first off, an hour and a half portage from a parking lot(even in Canada) is not really wilderness. But to most of us midwesterners it seems like it.

That time of year you best take a good headnet....spray don't work on all the bugs they have up there and even when it does, when the bugs are really thick, the headnet keeps em from gettin' into your eyes and mouth when you are moving across the water. You can boil your water iffin you don't want to filter it, or mix with whiskey to kill the bacteria. Take your fish entrails, bacon grease, used cooking oil and other food scraps far, far away from camp or burn completely. Bears can smell this stuff for miles and once they come to it, it's dang hard to get rid of them. Don't worry about takin' a lot of food, you can live for a good week without food and it takes a damn poor fisherman not to be able to catch anything. (besides without your packs and canoes, it's only a hour to the car.) Canada is a beautiful place, but the wardens are buggers. They'll fly over you without notice and land right beside you with a float plane. They'll make you take em back to your camp and they'll search everything. Don't get greedy and fudge the limit and slot sizes. Don't be taking any alcohol in the boat either (it's illegal in some of the areas), save the beer for when you get back to camp. Days are very long up there at that time of year with darkness probably after 10 at night. But when it gets dark up there it is dark. The only lights on most of the lakes up there are the stars and they aint much of a navigation aid....make sure you head back to camp in time, cause it's hard to find even a campfire on the shoreline on most of those lakes. Most of all, have fun.

February 5, 2007, 09:04 PM

I would like to second Capt. Charlie's remarks. He's right on the money. A good guide can teach more in three days than most can learn in three un-tutored years! All trips into the woods, desert and mountains are equally serious. How many "day hikes" have turned into epics where people come out on stretchers and gurneys, if they come out all? Pick up a copy of "Accidents in North American Mountaineering" if you want some good, jaw-dropping reading about just how bad things can go. How many nasty epics happen within just a few miles of the parking lot?

Having canoed several thousands of miles in my lifetime, I would say that the mix of water, wind and wilderness is as satisfying as it is dangerous. If you must go without a guide, the following, at the very least:

1. Maps of area and and surrounding area; a very clear and well planed itinerary (and backout plan if wind is too much). Topo maps: study them very carefully before departure. Miles per day: If you have two experienced paddlers in a canoe, and the winds are favorable, you can make 20 miles or more over lake water, per day. Wind of course, changes all that. Perhaps plan on making no more than 10 miles per day. Scale of maps? Map datum? Date of maps? Prevailing wind? (Very important). A good compass that you know how to use. If you have never used a compass before, that is one of the things that a professional guide could teach you on the days that you are windbound. ;-) I can't stress the map:compass:gps thing enough. The area to which you are going is replete with zillions of little lakes and portage trails, old logging roads and streams and yes they all look alike... ;-) You really need to know where you are at all times. GPS can give you your position, but you'll need to translate that position into a spot on the map. Please know how to do that before you go!

2. Schedule in a few extra days (2 per every 5 days on the water) for being wind-bound.

3. Gear: the beauty of canoeing: if you don't have a lot of portages, you can take a lot of gear. What ever you take, put it all into waterproof bags that were made for boating. Garbage bags will not work like proper boating / marine storage bags.

4. Hypothermia is the number one danger to your safety. Good rain gear is 100% essential. Gortex rainpants, shell with hood, and even an extra poncho (why not, your canoeing, not hiking!) are recommended. Rubber boots are great around camp, but not in the boat. During the day, stow the boots in a waterproof container to keep 'em dry.

One full layer of long underwear, poly-pro (not cotton).
One layer of warm, non-cotton pants and top for the night-time.
Light down jacket, cap.
Light zip-up pile jacket, just in case.
Smartwool or wool socks for nighttime.
Tevas or sneakers that can get wet for the daytime.
As little cotton as possible.

5. Keeping dry = keeping warm = keeping happy.
Being wet = miserable (at best) = dangerous, hypothermia (at worst).

Safe trip.

And really heed CaptCharlie's advice. He's dead on.

Let us know how it goes.

Oh, and I think you'll need your passport. Rules for trips to Canada and Mexico have changed, I believe. (It's getting back to the US where the passport is needed, if I'm not mistaken.)

PS: The web has lots of gear lists. Here's a list that a quick search yeilded:

February 5, 2007, 09:12 PM
As part of the "Homeland Security Initiative", you're going to need a passport to get back into the US. Get one now, because they're fairly inexpensive (~$75) if you get one with 3-4 months to spare, but very expensive (~$375) if you wait until the last two weeks.

February 5, 2007, 09:45 PM
Congratulations!!! You'll have a blast.

We camp/canoe all the time & It's not all that tough. First I'd recommend that you get yourself a book. I have 2.

#1) Canoeing & Camping Beyond the Basics by Cliff Jacobson. ($14.95)

#2) The Complete Book of Canoeing by I. Herbert Gordon ($16.95)

Jacobson is considered by many to be the foremost expert in canoeing, wilderness navigation and camping. I actually like Gordon's book better. Both books can be a little "preachy" at times but Gordon's isn't as bad about it. Both books have great gear/equipment list and should get you set up like you need.

2nd. Don't worry about a bath. It's only 3 days and you can go for a swim to get the bulk of the grim off. We take along baby wipes to wash hands, arm pits and other areas that need daily cleaning.

3rd. I'd recommend you get out at least TWICE on local camping trips before you go. It will put you miles ahead.

4th. I'd recommend that when you get back that you get your backside out at least once a month!!!!


February 5, 2007, 09:55 PM
Did anyone mention a tent for shelter?

February 5, 2007, 10:31 PM
Tents are covered in the books I mentioned so technically yes, I did mention tent. :)

But for the record: Eureka tents are great. If you're on a budget get a Eureka Tetragon 7 (considered a 3 person but don't try to get more than 2 in it). I think you can still get them for between $65 and $75 and mine has been thru thunderstorms with 70+ mph winds without even thinking about folding up.

It could take me hours to type what gear we take and why we take it. Some of it goes along with the books, some of it came from great forums like this (and others) and some we came up with on our own.

I would however love to go over gear list and ideas. It's dang cold out and if I can't (i.e. WON'T) go camping at least we can talk about it!!!


February 6, 2007, 01:30 AM
Inspectorlee, I wanna see you come back safe & sound, so make sure you get this book - VERY WORTH IT, AND A FUN READ!!

98.6 Degrees, The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive. By far the best survival book I've ever read. Forget all that nonsense that most survival books teach you - this is the real, practical deal. I promise you that you won't be disapointed.


February 6, 2007, 10:03 AM
Get some bear mace. Also, get a good wilderness knife (like a Rambo knife, one that has all the stuff in the handle), but be careful to select a good carbon steel blade, none of the stainless steel junk.

Don't forget rope. Take some good, all-purpose rope, about 100 feet of it. And a roll of duct tape... And a box of really expensive waterproof matches.

Concerning dying of starvation, etc..., it's definitely a concern, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. Carry some water, and a box of granola bars (or MRE's!), in addition to your regular food rations. In 3 days, you'll get awfully hungry, but you won't die. And, in that terrain, if you NEED water, you'll find it.

Take a cell phone, but leave it turned off through the trip to save the battery. Also, take a topographical map of the area, and a compass. If something horrible happens, climb to the highest point you can, and try to get a cell phone signal. Also, tell folks where you're going, and make sure they understand to come looking for you THE DAY you turn up missing. And, above all else, STICK TO THE PLAN. Only go where you tell people you're going. And, if any of your essential gear breaks, if you break the cell phone, lose the water, drop the duct tape, etc... TURN BACK IMMEDIATELY.

Good luck! It sounds like an awesome trip. But, make no mistake, this one is going to test your mettle...

Art Eatman
February 6, 2007, 11:55 AM
A 16' fiberglass canoe weighs 80 pounds. Plus paddles and some rope. It is among the most awkward of all manmade devices for two people to carry. It balances well for one person. Padding for your shoulders are your best friends.

It's time now to start working on your own body. You have four months to get all the other questions answered.

Work on your wind and legs. Quit smoking, if you now smoke. Stairsteps are your new friends. Use about 70 pounds of bar bell and do 3/4 squats, ten reps a day. Doing some curls and presses won't hurt, along with some strengthening of your lower back muscles. Shrugs are good.

Don't worry so much about carrying water as having the stuff to guard against giardia. Canoe = water somewhere, and it's drinkable with minimal treatment. Same for food: Freeze-dried is good. Think starches and carbohydrates for energy. Protein is sorta heavy to carry, and not necessary, really, for a mere three days.

Just for starters...


February 6, 2007, 02:22 PM
Samurai, you should read the book, too...

February 6, 2007, 05:28 PM
Sounds like a good book... I might need to check it out.

In all reality, though, the Smokies are so cultivated these days, it's awfully hard to get lost out here. You have to REALLY try to wander off the trails, and that's something that I simply don't do.

Still, I totally get off on this MacGuyver wilderness-survival stuff, and I used to disappear into the woods all the time. I'll check that book out, see if there's anything fun in there...

February 6, 2007, 10:48 PM
I think you will likely have a great time. A 1.5 hr hike is not really wilderness in the true sense of the word even if there are tiolets, electric, etc. You might even still have cell phone coverage? Little charger with extra batteries. Radio.

I would get a good map of the area and have it laminated. Several copies are probably in order. Definitely carry a compass and if you have a GPS, take it. You will be with other people, so some things can be shared. There is your key.

If you hike in on a trail, I'd get one of those "wheeled things" (boat dolly?) that are sold to help wheel your canoe along rather than having to carry it all the time. It fits on the front end of the canoe and is designed for one man to be able to move a canoe around easily... say from your car to the water and so forth. IF this is practical, then you can stash most of your stuff inside the canoe and carry it in perhaps a bit more easily.

Tent, sleeping bag and pad. You could get by with a tarp, but there will be a lot of insects and you'll want to be protected at night from the skeeters.

First Aid Kit. Don't do anything stupid and be conservative about where you walk. You don't want to get hurt beyond bandaide levels.

Water jugs. Water filter. Cooking materials. Insect repellant (lots). Camp stove unless you plan on cooking over a fire. Couple of changes of clothes. Extra socks. Good comfortable hiking boots. Shoes to wear inside the canoe (sandals or whatever that can get wet.) Several knives (one fixed blade and a swiss army knife). Small Axe (Gerber works). Zip lock and trash bags. Tarp or two. Good hat (with wide brim for sun protection). Sun screen. Shorts and long pants. Jacket and something like a sweatshirt to wear under it if it's chilly at night. Waterproof gear bags, especially for clothes. Rope (cord). Extra fishing rod and reel. Lures. Extra line or carry extra spool for reel. Long sleeve shirts for sun and insect protection. Food-pool your resources on this one. Paperback book for boring times. Digital Camera. Extra battery charged or a film camera. Suitable back pack.

Just think what you need if you go fishing during normal warm weather conditions and can't go home. I know.... LOTS OF BEER. :)

Fat White Boy
February 7, 2007, 01:04 AM
Toilet Paper

February 7, 2007, 01:46 AM
If you're new to camping (which it sounds like you are), you might want to start by searching here:


It's hardly definative, but it's a beginning. It took me many years to assemble all of the right equipment for me! You'll have to make up your own mind what you need to take. As someone mentioned earlier, a GPS is good to have. Even a bottom-of-the-line Garmin eTrex (that's what I have) is useful, as is a cellphone (provided you're in an area where it will work).

February 7, 2007, 04:34 PM
Thanks for all the replys. I"ll do some reading and check what I have equipment-wise and make my purchases in a few months. My brother said that cell phone coverage is sketchy at best and that there are frequent portages depending on where you want to fish that day, so he recommended that I start working out now. I hope to have a great time catching big bass. Thanks again.

Capt. Charlie
February 7, 2007, 04:59 PM
My brother said that cell phone coverage is sketchy at best...

I was wondering about that. I think the solution to that might be to rent or lease a satellite phone (http://www.gmpcs-us.com/index.htm?gclid=CLftmKCfnYoCFQ30JAodZFsMmg). No worries about no service with these, and you definitely want some form of communication.

I hope to have a great time catching big bass.
Buzz baits work great up there, but don't forget the leaders for all them Pike & Muskie. ;)

February 7, 2007, 11:07 PM
Here is a list that might be useful to pick and choose from.

February 7, 2007, 11:42 PM

Water: Use a filter. you can get the backpacking ones and they work pretty well and if you are only up for three days might not need any extra filters.

Food: Bring one MRE or a freeze dried meal per day you will be out. Will help with eating only fish if that's a problem.

Bears: CS spray (not that you didn't think of that)

It's good to split up the load as well. have one person with the food/water and any extra gear for cooking (leave the propane cooker), another with clothing, and another with the camping tents (backpacking tents). The last person can have the fishing gear

Now for fishing gear:

Northern Pike: Dare Devils are awseome (green is reccommended) although the rapalas work well (original color is good) and jitterbugs/poppers for topwater. Get a golden spoon if you don't have any (weedless:D ). Fast retrieve is recommended for the spoon

bass: same as above. Will simplify what you carry. Since you are backpacking Buzzbaits are kind of a problem, but the rocket shad is small enough and works very well.

Cats: anything you don't eat they will

Crappie: Maribou jigs (black is a good color)

Since you are backpacking maybe one tackle box per person. one of those two sided pocket variety small ones. Just IME it is easier with the portages

Onle last thing: Bear bells = dinner bell :D A big stick to the nose helps too.

And hoist up your food to about 20 ft above the ground.

Edit: Leaders will cut down on the number of bass you catch since they see and feel the steel cable and can shy away. the leader also interferes with the action. Tying on the lure is good unless you have a spoon (line twist. ugh.) since the fish are less likely to spook. But if you want leaders take em. It's mostly a preference.

Fat White Boy
February 8, 2007, 08:35 PM
I read a study on bears. It said that you should make lots of noise in bear country and maybe put a bell on your pack, so you don't walk up on a bear and startle it. You can tell what kind of bears are in the area by their scat- Black Bears will have grass, berries and small rodent bones, etc...Brown or Grizzly scat will have grass, berries, small rodent bones, shreds of repellant spray cans and little bells in it...

Baba Louie
February 8, 2007, 09:21 PM
All advice is spot on. Since you have some time, once everything thaws out up thataway, take a couple of "practice" camping/canoing weekend 2 day jaunts to sort of "shake things out". Ask your brother to go with you.

Find a good used bookstore nearby and buy an older Boy Scout Handbook (I've got a 1961 edition... you can find several on ebay). It's an encyclopedia of outdoor knowledge and good to have in your library at any rate.

Don't forget some type of first aid kit (keep it simple).

Sounds like a blast.

Ben Shepherd
February 10, 2007, 04:33 PM
While all advice here seems good, Art REALLY hit the nail. Physical conditioning is critical for this.

If you are in top shape your odds of getting injued go way down.
If you do get injured it will most likely be less severe.
And also if you get injured you'll recover faster as well.

Not to mention it will be a much more enjoyable trip if it doesn't seem like a 24hr a day workout.

As mentioned already, a GPS unit is a very good idea.

There will be three things that are mandatory for survival if the unfortunate should happen:
1. The ability to think.
2. The ability to stay warm
3. The ability to stay dry.

If you can do those three things your chances go way up. So plan/pack accordingly.

If it really goes downhill, you'll most likely lose them in reverse order:

If you can't stay dry, you'll have a VERY hard time staying warm.
If you can't stay warm, you WILL lose the capacity for rational thought(you won't know this is happening by the time it gets to that point) as hypothermia sets in and you body temp drops.

February 10, 2007, 09:10 PM
Forgot the a very important thing:

It is possible to take too much. Loading up with gear/food that you don't use is the quickest way to ruin a canoe/hiking trip. Don't go so light that you risk life and limb but analize your gear very carefully and if you can live without it, leave it at home!