We are waiting

We are waiting. 

It is the time of dry bone-rattles of wind gusting through leafless branches, grey bark stretched tight and cold. The river near my house roils at flood stage (Upstream they have lowered the damsin preparation) as it tumbles in a chill swift race to the Great Lake that will devour it. Meadows and fields fade and lose their colour. The land becomes a complex, sharp monotone. The Earth turns her cold northern shoulder to the sun, which sets earlier each day, as we rush towards Grianstad an Gheimhridh– The Solstace- that darkest of days.

The canoes are put away. A person could lose something … ember, spark, fire. We could stand in the chill twilight (earlier, always earlier) and stop reaching. Turn inward. Hibernate. 

But we don’t. We don’t because soon…. the light will return. The light will return and with it…. incongruously, the cold will come. The cold will come, and the frost some mornings will annoint the trees with silver. Light will colour the bare branches rose and white. And snow will come. Not like it once did…the pole-high drifts so common in our youth seem gone here now…but enough. Enough.

The waiting will have ended, and the blinding sun-drencheddays and breath catching star-cold nights of true winter will have arrived. We will scan the weather forecasts, and plan. From dusty dark closets come the snowshoes and pulks, the canvas and wool. Cross country skies. Mukluks and moose hide mitts.

We are waiting… for now. But not for long.

Paddle In’s gift guide part 1

Tis the season to go mental…fa-la-la-la-la la-la-la-la. Mall Santa’s have come outta retirement , squirrels are busy hoarding Tim Hortons cups and , as my kids say , it’s cold enough to freeze snot out. Yay Christmas..insert thick sarcasm of a tired parent here. But don’t fret! We’ve got you! Team Paddle In will be bringing all our favourite gift ideas all week. Just click the links and support some totally rad local shops.

Up first we have our very own @bearded_portager with his choices for the best stocking stuffers for the paddler on your list.

Stocking Stuffers!

First aid kit – A must have on any camping trip.
Check The Canadian Outdoor Equipment Co.
https://www.canadianoutdoorequipment.com/mountain-backpacker-medical-kit.html

Bellows – Indispensable tool for fire lighting in wet/cold conditions.
https://www.canadianoutdoorequipment.com/eog-v3-pocket-bellows.html

Darn Tough Socks – Comfy, North American made and a lifetime guarantee. As good as it gets! Check Outdoors Oriented Source for Adventure
https://outdoorsoriented.com/collections/darn-tough

There you go less time spent shopping and more time adding rum to egg nog .
Cheers
Paddle In

#foodbarrelfriday

As I transition into the bravado years of tripping, I have started to strive for lighter canoes and longer trips. As I age I see myself fast hurtling towards the line between true canoe tripping and backpacking. Part of this hubris stems from a trip I took four years ago along the Bloodvein River. At the time, my gang of 10 other young men made the rash decision to opt to not take the floatplane into Arterie lake (headwaters of the Vein) but instead start fifty miles east in Red Lake. Sadly, these fifty miles were more overland than via lake or river leading to three days where I often wondered why I bothered to bring the gruelingly heavy Penobscot I so often found on my shoulders. After one such day of back to back to back fifteen hundred-meter portages, I huddled around a fire desperately stirring a pot of macaroni, cursing the fire gods as the water refused to boil. As I waited for the sweet bubbles to rise and indicate it was time to “Send in the Noods,” I began to chat with my fellow paddler and Appalachian trail hiker, Nathaniel Verbeek. It was here nestled high up on an esker overlooking an unnamed marshy puddle of a lake that we forged the idea of the fireless trip.

The concept is simple. Imagine a canoe trip that did not require fire to make your meals. Without the need to make a fire or even heat water, major components of weight are lost, namely hatchet, saw, and grate, which are all pivotal to any cook set . Gone would be the use of pots to make morning oatmeal or heavy cast iron to fry pancakes, replaced by two Nalgenes. Each person would have one Nalgene for water and another for meals. Breakfast would be a simple meal of cold oatmeal or a meal we call power breakfast. Power breakfast consists of grape nuts, oats, M&MS, peanuts, chocolate chips all topped with optional powdered milk, a sweet and long-lasting slurry that would fit well into anyone’s breakfast Nalgene. The lunch would be equally as simple utilizing a staple that I have yet to go away from in my ten years of traveling: PB&J Pilot biscuits. The fallout from the post-WWII era sailor boy Pilot biscuits are one of the most long-lasting staples I have come across and when paired with generous amounts of peanut butter and a rotating door of Malkin’s jam, makes quite the fast meal. While both of these meals are quick and substantive, the ever-present Cliff bar or bannock is equally as important to supplement through long lakes and winding portages. Finally comes the dinner, the crux of any fireless meal plan, and where the trip truly shines. The divergence from the fire requires heavy use of dehydrated food. Meals like black bean chili and lentil soup work well with the crown jule of the fireless dinner…ramen bombs. Ramen bombs consist of instant mashed potatoes mixed with the crushed contents of an entire instant ramen packet.

While this is a vastly efficient food barrel, the folly of it is also quite clear. One must simply look at the desperate circumstances it was born from two tired, hungry, and dehydrated twenty-somethings yearning while plodding across the least forgiving sections of one of Canada’s most iconic rivers. The fireless trip works in the guise of the ultra-gritty super-distance expedition, rather than the pure land paddling trips that I myself enjoy over numerous ventures into the Quetico Superior Country. When portages are few and the lakes fall along with the sloping Canadian shield, the fireless trip is easily replaced by barrels of wine bags and extravagant meals of pizza and corn beef hash.

Written By Ian Patton

Winter Camping Pup Style

INITIAL CONSIDERATIONS

Winter camping is a whole other animal for many of us who were simply use to fair weather camping growing up. I believe the physical demands are increased dramatically and all of that while it’s dangerously cold out. The gear is heavier, there is more of it, clothing choices and layering can have  tremendous impacts on not only the enjoyment of being out in the winter but also to our physical wellbeing. But with proper knowledge and planning it can open up MONTHS of amazing time outdoors during the year when we can’t do our favourite thing at Paddle In: Paddle.

All that being said if I am enjoying time in the outdoors, I want my dog to be out there with me. Nothing makes me smile more then seeing our four legged friends out on trips with their owners appreciating and enjoying the outdoors. So in that spirit I’ve put together a few tips and things to consider in deciding whether your pup is ready to tackle Old Man Winter with you, or whether they are best left in the comfort of your home while you get out during the snowy months. Many of these are the same considerations we contemplate for ourselves before deciding to embark on an adventure.

NOTE: I would suggest having a camp out in your backyard in weather similar to what you plan on going out in with your dog. This is good practice for any new piece of gear that is integral to your chosen activity but I think especially so in this instance.

PHYSICAL FITNESS

We should ask ourselves this same question no matter what activity we or our pups are about to tackle: are they in the proper physical condition to handle the demands. The same way we question “Can our pup handle a 15km/day hiking trip?”, we need to ask ourselves if they are in good enough physical shape to travel through the snow with us. Remember, it can be physically challenging even with snowshoes on trudging through the snow and considering our four legged friends can’t wear them (yet, anyway lol) it can be that much harder on them trying to bunny hop through 3 feet of snow. In this same light ask yourself how they behave on normal days and walks outside in the winter: do they relish rolling in the snow and spending the time outside in the winter? Or do they simple want to go out, do their business and scurry back inside? But I assume if you’re considering taking them with you winter camping you already have an idea of their tolerance for cold.

CLOTHING

A few things to consider about prolonged time out in the winter vs shorter walks.

1) Snow and Ice build up in their paws.

This is something that was not an issue with my lab but has been a constant battle for me the last few years since my Golden started coming with me. I’ve tried most dog booties out there and still haven’t found one that has stayed on her feet. As such you can minimize the buildup by trimming the fur between their pads and around the foot before hand and oddly enough the most successful non-boot option I’ve found is to rub some basic lard in between the pads and on the foot. Not only does it work well at stopping the ice from forming but also gives them a nice treat once they realized they have pure animal fat on their feet!

That being said there are many booties out there people have had success with so have a look at everything from traditional dog sled boots to fancier ones. Find one that works and your pup with thank you! Also, be sure to take a video for me of the first time you put them on inside. Always good for a laugh!

2) Warming Coat

Even though my golden is a long haired dog, after a long day in the snow and playing around, once we stop and sit for an hour or so she will start to feel the chill. Having a coat for her while sitting by the ice fishing hole or simply enjoying a break during a day hike goes a long way in keeping her warm and comfy. The need for a coat is increased exponentially for a short haired dog, which again I’m sure you know if you have one who has lived through Canadian winters.

SLEEPING/BEDDING

Same as us, our dogs need insulation underneath from the cold ground and insulation on top to hold body heat in.

As for ground insulation the simplest and most cost effective is a few layers of closed cell foam. I use 2 layers of a foam thats R value is 2.0, giving a total of 4. If it’s going to get REALLY cold I’ll bring a 3rd layer. The foam also serves double duty if sitting out fishing or for a stop on a hike as I can throw it down on top of the snow for her to give her something Insulated to nap on.

As for top cover there are many options. Synthetic quilt, fleece blankets, or even a down quilt if they are spoiled like Callie is. The choice is yours and it’s warmth and thickness should be based on breed, cold tolerance, etc.

These are just a few tips and things to consider. And as always please make sure you have a dog oriented first aid kit with you. This could be a whole other topic of discussion but a quick Google search can get you started on a few things to add to your human first aid kit for you pup.

Bring your four legged friend on all your varied adventures throughout the year. If comfortable and prepared, like you they will relish exploring the outdoors in all seasons.

#Tipstuesday How to train your dog in a canoe

It’s #tipstuesday and our very own Bearded Portager is here with some tips on how to make your pup and canoe besties.

HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DOG IN A CANOE

Let me start by saying this is obviously not the only way to accomplish this. This is just the method I used to train my last 2 dogs (a chocolate lab and golden retriever) to be my canoe buddies and it has worked GREAT!

I am no dog trainer but I have learned a lot training my dogs over the years and the one thing a professional trainer said that has always stayed with me is that “it is far easier to teach your dog what you want it to do rather then yell at it for what you don’t want it to do”. This is actually a very profound statement. I mean think about it; a puppy is going to do almost exclusively things you don’t want it to do (just like kids) so if you keep yelling “Callie no, Callie NO” then when you go to try and teach your dog to say, recall off leash, the moment it hears its name it will be conditioned to think it is in trouble. In the beginning be sure that everytime you say your dogs name it is in a positive way and praise it! Correct negative behaviors by either giving it a “sit, down, stay” command or if you’re like me and always had a leash on your puppy you can correct it silently by guiding it away from the behavior with the leash. It doesn’t always have to be a treat for positive reinforcement either. You can use the dogs favourite toy as a reward as well for when it accomplishes a command properly. I have always had retrievers so finding a preferred toy they love to chase and bring back or play tug of war with was always a good substitute but lets be honest, retrievers are very food driven so that was my default.  I truly believe the way to train your dog is through positive reinforcement. Sure, you can probably get similar results with fear based or negative tactics but all it takes is one instance of this going wrong and you might never recover your dogs trust.

To start off make sure you participate in a puppy training class with your dog as soon as they are able to. This not only socializes them with other dogs and other owners but, depending on the skill of the trainer, teaches you how to use a positive reinforcement approach. If you don’t have the time or money then simply go to youtube and watch some videos on positive reinforcement and make sure you master the “sit, down, stay and come” commands with your pup. With all training at a very young age I find the best approach is to use your dogs kibble as treats. That way even first thing in the morning when they seem to have unending energy they will still be motivated and they wont be overeating with meals PLUS treats. This also accomplishes the goal of saving “higher value treats” (like liver, bacon, etc) for situations that your dog is struggling with and needs more motivation. Be consistent with your training and start as soon as they are comfortable with you in your home. I spent 15 minutes every morning and night for 6 months, no matter what, working on commands and behaviors I wanted and I feel very fortunate to say that I had people asking ME if they could look after my dog when I went on vacations, not the other way around. 

The approaches mentioned here are amazingly transferable and can be used to acclimatize your dog to everything from the vacuum to riding in the car. If you think about the goal of each step, it is very easy to apply it to any situation you can think of but for the sake of this we will keep it to the canoe. And remember, don’t force the dog through any of these steps! Use a logical approach to make sure increases in comfort with the canoe are on the dogs terms otherwise, as mentioned above, it only takes one negative interaction to ruin weeks of work. In order to complete each step your dog must be able to follow your commands in a calm and settled way as our end goal is to be on the water in a tippy boat so we need a calm dog at all times. 

  1. INTRODUCTION 

I began with my canoe outside in my back yard but this can also be done in the garage, shed, basement or wherever you store your canoe. I then simply had my dog on leash and allowed her to approach the canoe as far as she would naturally. Once she stopped say 5 feet from the canoe and did her puppy downward dog bark thing I simply encouraged her to move a few feet closer with a treat. Once she was close enough to almost touch the canoe with her nose I then placed treats on the gunnel, so if she wanted the treat she had to touch the canoe.

Now with my other dog he was not as brave and I had to up the reward so I stuck some peanut butter to the side of the canoe as this was his favourite treat and I knew he would get to it and lick it off, which he did.

Now your dog may sail through this step or start to get nervous before they are even close to it but the goal here is safe and incremental increases in comfort with simply being as close to the canoe as possible in a calm and ok way. Even if they lie down and chew on their favourite toy beside it with their butt touching it, that’s great!

  1. ME IN, YOU OUT

The next step in the process is for you to get in the canoe while the dog is still on the outside. Again each dog will be very different with this step but the goal is to show the dog that you think the canoe is not only a safe environment, but that the dog should want to be in that environment with you!

Funny enough, my lab who was the most scared of even seeing the canoe flew through this step. We had built such a positive relationship up to that point that he just wanted to be where I was and he jumped right in. So, because I had mastered my commends I had him sit, lie down, sit, lie down, etc over and over again and gave him a treat each time. The goal here is to increase the time between command and reward. So I’d make him sit ,give him a treat; make him lie down, wait 5 seconds then give him a treat. Every few times I’d up the time until he was all treated out and wanted to do something else. But I got him up to almost 30 seconds between command and reward on the first try! A puppy only has so much attention span so when they are done with the drill, they are done. Whether you get 5 minutes or fifteen minutes, take what you can get and pretty soon in all these steps they will become more motivated as you’ve created a positive learning environment.

Increasing the time between command and reward is fundamental in dog training as eventually they can hold a command for 20 minutes before a reward is given, and at that stage sometimes just a pet on the head and a ‘good boy’ is a treat for your dog. 

Now if your dog doesn’t jump in the goal would be to have them comfortable performing sit, down commands on the outside of the canoe while you are in it. What this does is now makes the canoe also a place where the dog should listen to you, not just the same living room or backyard you’ve always trained them in up to this point. As mentioned, we want these skills to be transferable to all environments and all situations.

  1. BOTH OF US IN

Up until now it is relatively easy to work your way up from your dogs starting point to the end goal but this is a very crucial step. As I said above my lab was great, my golden was and is a far more skittish. 

What I suggest is picking your dog up and incrementally working towards stepping into the canoe and sitting down with the dog in your arms (I am assuming they are a puppy but if they are a full grown 80 lb dog, you are going to have to coax them to jump into the canoe with a high value treat). It is very important to read your dogs cues to know when you have reached their starting point. It could be when you pick them up and simply move towards the canoe, it could be your first step in, it could be that the dog is fine with you standing while holding them in the canoe but when you go to sit down the shaking or ‘leap out of your arms’ instinct kicks in. Regardless, we use the same principles of finding where your dog starts to get fearful and making that a positive experience to move that “scared” point closer and closer to our goal.  

Once we can sit down with them in our arms and its no big deal, now we need to get them on the canoe floor and be comfortable there. Again, move to putting them down incrementally and take whatever your dog will give you. I suggest having some high value treats for this as the feel of the canoe floor, the side walls around them and the instinct to jump out onto solid, familiar ground will be high. Remember, we want as little negative setbacks as possible so it is important to set your dog up for success! 

Once we get them ok with being out of our arms and on the floor of the canoe we go through the same sit, down process described above with my lab. Increasing the time between command and reward and making it a positive experience.

  1. BOTH OF US IN…WITH SOME CURVEBALLS

Ok so now our dog is not only comfortable in the canoe but also comfortable following commands in this environment. Now we need to introduce some common things that happen in a canoe, but not on the water where things can go south quick. 

To start I would pack a kong full of treats and leave my dog in the canoe while I put my pack in, slid my paddle in, attached my thwart bag, etc. You know, common loading a canoe things. Next we can sit in the canoe with the dog and gently rock it back and forth. Start with very small rocking motions!! If I rocked the canoe more then an inch in the beginning with my golden it got her attention but my lab was so food driven we could have been in a hurricane and with enough kibble and peanut butter he would have rode it out with me while wagging his tail. The goal is to simulate the environment of being in and around a canoe on a real trip and have the dog be comfortable. 

As with every other step so far, now we introduce “sit, down, stay” commands while doing this. I’ve seen more people with their dogs in canoes get all loaded up, get the dog in, start to push off and jump in right as the dog jumps out onto the shore. The stay command is the most important at this stage, so make sure you practice in in conjunction with “sit, down”. 

  1. HOW DO I CANOE?

At this stage we want to simulate as close as possible every aspect we can of what the dog will actually be experiencing while canoeing with us. This not only applies to what packs will be in the canoe, getting the dog use to our paddle, our fishing rod, etc but also what the dog will be wearing ie life jacket, rain coat, warming coat, etc.

I’m Canadian and we don’t have the longest canoe season so my first trip is as soon as the ice is off the lakes in May and my last trip is usually sometime in November. While it may not seem like a big deal to dump your canoe in August, it’s a life or death situation in the shoulder seasons when the water and air temp are colder. Just like me, my dog ALWAYS wears a PFD and a lot of the time a rain jacket or warming coat. All of these things can actually help you in this training, especially the life jacket because you are smart and you’re both going to be wearing one, right? Even if you don’t think you’re dog needs a PFD (which I will emphatically say you’re wrong if you think that)  I found with both my dogs the life jacket actually functioned like a thunder/anxiety jacket (if you don’t know what this is, Google it and you’ll understand why this is a benefit.)

My golden is still a little more restless without her life jacket but as soon as the put it on her she calms right now and is very complacent.

Take some time to think about anything that you can simulate on dry land that the dog may experience in the canoe.

  1. ITS PADDLING TIME!

It is imperative that you and your dog are 100% satisfied with the completion of the steps above before actually getting into the canoe on the water. As much as we’ve tried, there is nothing like a real canoe on the water. Also, it is NEVER a good idea to leash your dog in the canoe as heaven forbid if it flipped and the dog was attached to it…well, I’m am sure you can imagine how many things could go wrong. This is also the reason your dog should always have a PFD; if you tip and you’re trying to deep-water rescue your canoe, gather floating gear, are far from shore, etc. then atleast you don’t have to worry about you dog panicking and getting exhausted because they will be floating. 

I suggest the first time out you put some gear weight in the canoe as this accomplishes 2 things: 1) A canoe with gear is far less tippy then an empty canoe and 2) It will confine your dog to his/her pre determined space. A wide open canoe means the dog may want to explore, jumping over thwarts and putting paws up on gunnels and this we don’t want.

Now its as simple as repeating all of the steps above, but with the canoe just floating in water but close enough to the shore/dock that if it goes awry you can both abort and if you tip, well atleast you only have wet gear in 3 feet of water, not at the bottom of the lake. 

As you will see its at this point that we really see the reward of teaching our dog to sit and stay in the canoe in a calm way for an extended period of time.

Once you can make it through the steps above, a paddle out on the water should be a breeze and the little things that pop up on the water that need to be smoothed out should be easy as we now have the tools to work our way through it. 

However there are 2 X factors that I encountered that the dog hadn’t been exposed to but if you’ve been working with your dog at home the skills should be transferable. 

  1. Waterfowl – I always trained my dogs to ignore squirrels and other animals while out in the woods or walking the neighborhood unless I said it was ok for them to go investigate. This especially comes into to play when that loon decides to surface only a few feet from the canoe. If your dog is use to chasing these things then they might just decide to jump overboard. 
  1. Catching fish – At home I would practice making my dogs sit, I’d move far away and then throw treats and things on the ground and train them not to go for it until I said it was ok. This paid off huge the first time I brought in a lake trout and my lab wanted to get it at all costs but knew he couldn’t unless I said it was ok. Now imagine being in a canoe with a flailing fish and a treble hook embedded in a dogs lip. Not a good situation.

As a side note, once your dog is close to full grown (or earlier if you can afford to buy multiple packs in the dogs first few years of life) I would train it to wear its own pack. There are many articles out there in the backpacking world that discuss the physical training of the dog to be able to carry its own pack but it is worth it! My dog carries her own food, treats, bowl, leash, collar, coats and sleeping mat. If it’s a cold weather trip (she also winter camps with me) then I will carry her sleeping bag and extra clothing.  As a general rule of thumb, depending on the dogs age and fitness level, is that it carries no more then 10-15% of its body weight in gear. Plus a dog with a backpack is cute as hell. 

I am sure you already know this but if not google search “Dog First Aid Kit”. There are many drugs a dog can take that we humans already have in our first aid kits (like benedryl) but its good to know dosage information and the few dog specific things that should be brought on a trip into the wilderness with our pups to make it as safe and comfortable for them as we can. They are relying on you to keep them safe and comfortable, and that takes a little extra work and more gear, but if you’re like me it’s worth it to have your best friend out in the woods!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. And while it is certainly not an exhaustive guide on how to train your dog in a canoe, I hope the skills and approaches discussed here give you the tools to be able to work through any and all situations that could arise while training your best buddy to be not only your canoe companion, but the best tent/campfire guest around. After all, I even trained my golden to sleep in her own hammock as tents are the devil and why shouldn’t she be able to experience hangers bliss, right?

Cheers!

Paddle In

Backcountry with the kids

Do you bring your kids backcountry?

Having a bit of a walk down memory lane with my son this morning. Eating away at breakfast he asked when and where we’ll be headed out on our first family canoe trip this year. As some of you may remember Finn’s love for tripping really blossomed last year. Spurred on by learning to solo paddle in Temagami and ending in a week long trip across Algonquin , last fall, where he really shone and impressed the hell outta me. As of this morning he’s settled on five father and son trips he wants to do. Three new routes in Temagami, the French River, and anywhere he can catch his first trout. Looking forward to warmer weather and more stories to share with all of you.

The trip posts can be seen here

Part 1: https://www.facebook.com/PaddleIn/posts/1470761652959455

Part 2: https://www.facebook.com/PaddleIn/posts/1471649276204026

Part 3: https://www.facebook.com/PaddleIn/posts/1472602379442049

Part 4: https://www.facebook.com/PaddleIn/posts/1473044886064465

Part 5: https://www.facebook.com/PaddleIn/posts/1474258765943077

Part 6: https://www.facebook.com/PaddleIn/posts/1475494305819523

Any plans to bring your kids out backcountry this year?

Tom’s Tips for Solo Paddling

And we’re back this time with Tom’s tips for Solo paddling .

Tip 1: Proper Position

I can’t count how many times I’ve seen someone solo paddling a tandem canoe as they normally would with someone else in the boat; sitting in the stern, with the result being the front 3/4 of the canoe completely out of the water. To remedy this, sit backwards in the bow seat, which will position you further to the centre of the canoe. Jam your pack and all of your gear at the front of your boat and you’ll now be almost perfectly balanced in the water, making your canoe much easier to manoeuvre in the process.

Tip 2: Extra Ballast

Scenario: you’ve reached your campsite for the day and want to go out for some fishing or just an evening paddle. Your gear is all unpacked, and you don’t have anything to weigh down the bow.

Solution: pack a few extra dry sacks on your trip so you can fill them with water and place them at the front of the canoe for ballast. You may want to fasten them to the front handle with a carabiner and/or some paracord as they’ll roll around on you pretty easily.

Tip 3: Limiting Paddle/Gunwale Wear

I rely heavily on the Canadian Stroke when paddling solo, which involves a significant amount of contact with the gunwale and some heavy prying in high winds. I do a lot of solo trips and noticed that this technique was really starting to show some wear on both my paddles and gunwales. This past season, I experimented with a solution that seems to have solved the issue:

I place a double layer of white hockey tape halfway up the paddle shaft (where the paddle makes contact with the gunwale), and apply a heavy coating of hockey stick blade wax. I had a hard time finding a non-scented wax (Sex Wax, Howies, etc all have a super-fruity smell – not something you want at your campsite for bear precautions), but Ice Wax works excellently and is unscented. Depending on the length of my solo trip, I might have to reapply wax once or not at all.

Canoe tips for paddling with your kids

Welcome to the very first “Tips Tuesday” .

A day to share useful tips that’ll make your trip go just that much easier. Throughout the day we’ll be bringing you a few different themes and I’m here to start it all off…

Up first we have “ Four tips for canoeing with kids”

As you all know our little ones are avid paddlers and portagers but there was a point when we were both new to it. So I have four tips that’ll make your life a little easier.

1) Set appropriate expectations. Your kids are new to paddling and it’s a new experience for you having kids along on a trip. Having your first few paddling trips be frustrating can put a bad taste in your mouth as well as your kids. Don’t bite off more than you can chew and plan an insane portaging and paddling trip. Start small, expect them to get bored, want to swim, ask a million questions. We started off with smaller trips when they were 2-3 years old slowly getting longer and longer. Now they don’t want to go home.

2) Snack Dad to the rescue!! (Or snack mom) . This ones a given. Each day before you pack up to leave take some snacks and add them to your day pack. If you don’t your kids will tell you they’re hungry and the food Barrel will be at the bottom of the canoe in the middle surrounded by other gear. A fed kid is a happy kid. My guys pick their own snacks and select a few to put in their own personal packs . This way if they’re hungry at all taken care of and you don’t have to stop.

3) Buy them a paddle. They want to be involved. A paddle and a small pack can make a world of difference. They’re helping and they don’t feel left out. The idea is to make it an enjoyable experience right? Our kids have their own paddles and small packs which carry their snacks, rain coat, notebook, t.p and bug spray.

4)PFD. It’s a given your child should be wearing their PFD in the canoe. Lead by example and wear yours as well. This way they’re just like you and you shouldn’t have any arguments about them as it will be the routine for getting in a canoe.

These are some basics but there are many more. If you have any questions at all about taking you kids paddling please feel free to reach out to us.

Cheers

Matt

Paddle In