Label • Plan Ahead • Test Purchases
Canoe Trip Gear Details
Dry Bag/Sleeping Bag/Thermarest
On trips, every boy should have a dry bag for his spare trip clothes and sleeping bag. A size 30-Litre SeaLine bag is right for use with Pathfinder canoe packs. Look for the “SeaLine Baja 30 bag.” If it's easier for you, we have a supply of new dry bags priced at cost, @$28.00 cn.
The sleeping bag itself can be generally speaking a 20-degree F rating that is highly compressible. Synthetic fill retains its loft if wet, dries quickly, and is perhaps the ideal bag for Algonquin Park. Down bags are terrific but must be kept dry. It can be done with care, and they're a beautiful lifetime bag. But, if wet, one won’t hold its loft and becomes useless, so the newest dry bag’s a must. Today’s synthetic bags are top-notch. An important tip: prevent any unwanted bugs or mildew coming to Camp -- please be sure sleeping bags are properly cleaned before sending them. Paying $80 - $200 for a bag is about right. Be wary of chain outdoor stores pushing pricey bags intended for extreme climate mountaineering.
*A note on sleeping pads. Older boys taking longer trips may want to bring an ultralight full-length thermarest or ground pad, provided it packs very small.
A Camper’s rain gear should be waterproof and large enough to be non-restrictive for paddling and portaging, for layering, and to vent body heat. Choose a jacket, and pants are optional except for AA campers. Ponchos are not effective. Do not send ponchos or value-priced rain jackets that will rip on the trail. In general, the jacket will be used a lot and the pants not very much. Invest in the jacket and choose a moderate priced pant. Some families skip the pants altogether but in the event of cold temps and wind driven rain, they're great.
A word about Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex rain gear is expensive, but it can be found at discount outdoor suppliers like Beans, Dick's or Mountain Equipment Co-op at a reasonable price for kids. There is no need to buy the ultimate 3-layer bombproof Gore-Tex shell worn by mountaineers. Remember, there are also decent basic rain jackets that are rubberized, non-breathable but effective in a downpour. No matter what the claims, Gore-Tex won’t prevent perspiration dampness in all situations. It’s your call. Just expect your son’s rain gear to get well used and potentially pine-stained and muddy. After all, they’ll be canoe tripping in the great north woods!
Buy trip boots well ahead of time and wear them in! Wear your new purchase around home for a week. There should be ample room in the toe box up front. Imagine walking down hill with a trip pack on your back. You need the toe-room. Try new boots on with the brand of socks you’ll actually be wearing. SmartWool is smart ! Plan on wearing one pair of quality socks with your boots. Wearing two pr. socks causes blisters.
There are so many boots on the market right now, it's hard to recommend one brand/model. In general, an ankle height trail style hiking boot that's not too stiff is the best call. Gore-Tex-lined trip boots are popular, but can trap stale wetness when immersed – a common occurrence in Algonquin. They can lead to foot troubles unless dried and fresh socks are worn daily. Work boots like Timberlands and other hikers without a Gore-Tex lining are a good value as well being easier to dry. In the end, it's what is most comfortable and fits best that matters.
Open-toed River Sandals or ‘Tevas’ are not permitted on trips or for daily wear at camp, because local conditions (rocks and roots) cause too many foot injuries. These can hamper a trip or ruin a summer. A beat-up pair of sneakers or Crocs are best to change into on the campsite, or to walk on the Island’s trails. A closed-toe sandal like some Chacos or Keens are o.k. Crocs are popular right now. A lot of Campers swear by them because they dry fast and are comfy and ultra light in the pack. Open-toed sandals are permitted for no more than going to Swim Dock.
General Trip Clothes
Other favorite trip clothes are usually a couple of t-shirts, an old long-sleeved flannel shirt for cool evenings, loose fitting tough shorts, and a pair of similar long pants to change into. Denim jeans are not recommended, because they’re heavy when wet, lose body heat, and never seem to dry. Today's base layer shirts and looser-fitting short and long sleeve synthetic shirts can block UV rays, wick body moisture, repel odors, etc. Might be worthwhile to get one l.s. synthetic crew neck for the trip trail. For AA Campers, definitely get base layers and a quality fleece jacket or synthetic fill puff jacket.
Trip Socks, etc.
Trip socks are medium-weight wool or synthetic blends. Bring about a half-dozen pair to camp. SmartWool socks are the best and are worth it. A medium weight fleece or wool blend sweater make ideal layering pieces. An extra fleece vest is also okay. Cotton sweats stay wet and lose body heat, so we don’t use them on trips. A cap with visor is a must. Hats shading ears and neck offer maximum sun protection. Pack quality sunscreen. Try it first. We recommend non-DEET bug repellent, but if you wish you may provide repellents with 50% or less DEET as the active ingredient.
Life Jackets will be worn a lot. Get a good quality vest with minimal straps and buckles. There are generally two styles: vest style with front zipper, or pull-over-head with side zipper. Companies like Lotus and Perception make expensive but excellent paddler’s vests, while makers like Mustang, Salus and Oasis make first-quality front-zip vests. If your camper is a Mic-Mac, make sure his vest is the right style for small kids.
Water Bottle, Sunscreen & Hat!
Research shows excessive sun exposure is not healthy for kids in the long run. Sun glare on canoe trips, especially off the water, can give serious sun burns. Send sunscreen that you have already tested on your camper, minimum SPF 15. Pump spray or lotion ok, aerosol cans prohibited. The Staff will also have sunscreen and use it frequently, and will apply it on younger campers for them.
Also, inexpensive but effective sunglasses that block UV rays are worth it to protect young eyes. Add a neck cord. Either ball caps or hats with brims are okay. Pack a bandana to wet and drape on ears and neck on bright, hot days. A simple hat that has a full brim offers best protection.
For essential daily water intake (hydration) Pathfinder has a great 32-ounce lexan Nalgene drinking water bottle. It sells for @ $15.00. Most of the campers get one. They are hip with Camp’s logo, and they are a sure way to get your camper hydrating all day the way he should. An important skill we teach. You can buy a similar bottle for as little as $10 at the outdoor store.
*Please note: the recent concern about polycarbonate bottles is over whether an ingredient BPA may leach out of the plastic over time when exposed to hot liquids. Pathfinder uses Nalgene products with no BPA.
Camp provides paddles for the season no charge, but if your son would like his own, order a custom Pathfinder paddle in his size. Measure him floor-to-nose and call us with your order. Prices are charged to candy store account and run @$45.00 cn. AA campers seeking expensive whitewater paddles need parent permission.
Pathfinder Early Birds automatically receive a free new paddle when they arrive at Camp.