Have you ever experienced going on a canoe trip? Instead of the usual RV road trip or camping in the woods this summer, why not go canoe camping? Be more mobile, get more exercise, and see more nature this year on your annual camping trip. Here are five steps to help you prepare:

1. Map Your Route

Just like any other road trip or camping trip, you need to prepare your route before you head off. In mapping out a canoe camping trip, keep in mind portages as well as campsites that you will need to stay when you want to rest.

Take care of any reservations and make sure that you secure permits for your stay. Usually, you could move about 10 miles daily on smooth water and around 12 to 15 miles on gently-flowing rivers.

Take planning off your list and look for campsites and parks that offer canoe camping.

2. Prepare Your Canoe

Do you plan to rent a canoe or you have your own? Ff you are planning to rent, take care of this ahead of time. Consider the amount of gear you want to bring when renting a canoe. And if you have your own boat then it’s high time to check for leaks and anything that may need emergency repairs. Remember, the lighter you pack, the easier it will be to paddle the canoe!

3. Pack Smart

You will be limited to the amount of load that you can carry in your canoe so it’s always best to pack light. All your things should be in an easy to carry pack. Everything you need should be able to fit inside your canoe.

Your clothes, as well as your sleeping gear, should be placed inside waterproof bags. All food items, kitchen utensils, and food containers should also be inside waterproof packages. Some canoe campers use a wanigan which is a wooden box that’s specially made to fit inside canoes. A wanigan also has a leather line that is fastened around your head during portaging. If you don’t feel like investing that much money and effort into specialized equipment, find a cheap, lightweight cooler that will seal tightly instead.

A very important tip:

When placing your gear in your canoe, be sure to place the heaviest things first. Make sure to place these inside the vessel where they will least interfere with your balance like the center and the bottom part of your canoe.

Place the lighter items on top and along the end of the canoe to keep it balanced. Do not place too much weight along the aft and fore. Always place your gear under the edges and the sides so they won’t catch wind.

Secure your gear using easy to remove knots, straps or bungee cords. This way, setting up camp at the end of the day won’t be such a hassle. As much as possible, place important items within arm’s reach like your water bottle, maps, snacks, sunscreen and insect repellent.

4. Prep Your Fishing Gear

If you’re into canoeing, chances are you are also into fishing. Be sure to secure your fishing licenses before you cast off. Use a clamp-on fishing rod holder to steady your rod on the gunwale for easy casting. And of course, bring enough food in case you don’t catch anything. You don’t want to go hungry during your trip, right?

5. Get Your Safety Gear Ready

And possibly the most important part of canoe camping is to bring your safety gear with you all the time. Always wear a well-fitted life vest when you are on your canoe. Take updated maps, a handy compass, camping permits and all other paperwork you need for your trip and place them inside a ziplock bag. Place these items just underneath your seat for easy access.

In case you lose your paddle, secure a spare one using a Velcro strap. Your canoe should have a bowline for easy anchoring or hauling.

Be sure to take a first aid kit, spare batteries for your phone or a power bank and flashlights. Lastly, inform your family or relative where you’ll be heading off and update them regularly of your safety and progress.