Equipment: Depending upon how long you’re going to be staying in Ontario’s backcountry, how many people you’re going with, and what time of year you are travelling should all factor in to what equipment you decide to bring on your trip.
- Clothing: Ontario boreal forests can drop below
freezing temperatures at any point in the year. Whenever you go, bring layers. I would suggest you bring warm base layers like thermals, slightly warmer shell like a fleece, and an outer layer like a warm jacket. You should consider bringing similar layers for yourlower body. You will also need some water proof clothing in case of rain. Warmsocks, waterproof gloves, and shoes are also important. Bring at least one set
of extra cloths just in case (may get cloths wet, lost, etc…). Other clothing like hats, shorts, and t-shirts are optional. Clothing choices are optional, but be prepared for any situation. When you are 50 kilometers from the nearest road you will be totally self-reliant.
- Tools: You will need an axe (or hatchet) for chopping fire wood. The axe is one of the most important (if not the most important) tools you can bring into the northern woods. It can serve for chopping, hammering, cutting, or for defense against predators. A sharp and durable knife is another extremely important tool. Like the axe the knife can serve many purposes. A multi-tool comes with pliers, smaller knife, file, can opener, screw driver, and other useful tools all built into one very compact tool. Fold up saws are light weight and fold similar to how a knife does. They are capable of sawing through large fallen trees and perfect for crossing through portage areas they may require you to cut through logs.
- Sleep: Depending upon how many people you are traveling with your tent can vary and I would suggest bringing extra tent stakes. I would recommend at least a 20 degree sleeping bag and depending on what time of year you take your canoe trip you may need a 0 degree bag. I have also given a small comparison between synthetic and down sleeping bags.
Synthetic sleeping bags: Keep some heating
properties when wet, but are not as lightweight or easy to pack.
Down sleeping bags: More lightweight,
easier to pack, but loses heating properties when wet,
- Electronics: A GPS is not essential but I would
highly recommend it for this trip. There are so many small lakes, ponds, and
rivers that it can be easy to get turned around. The boreal forest really is a
labyrinth of trees and waterways. Two-way radios are highly recommended as well
as well as lighting (flashlight and/or headlamp).
- Survival: Make sure you have a first aid kit
(with everything from band aids to hydrogen peroxide). Consider bringing
important survival tools like a hand mirror, whistle, matches, and paracord.
There are other survival materials and tools that you will want to consider as
- Food: With a canoe you won’t have to be as picky
about which foods you bring, but still try to be careful how much food you pack
(you’ll be surprised how food can be).
Try and bring non-perishables. Foods like eggs, cheese, bacon, and
salami can last a while in cooler temperatures as well.
- Other: Pick a watercraft (canoe, kayak, etc…)
that will suit your needs and trip preference. There are so many other
important items for a trip like this, but here are some ideas. Sunglasses, dry
bags (very important for this trip), life jackets, binoculars, lantern, rope,
fishing/hunting equipment, maps, sleeping pads, camera, lighters, fuel, extra
batteries, and kitchen utensils are all items to consider.
This list does not cover every essential
item, but it gives you a good idea of many important items to consider bringing
on your canoe trip.
I have provided some basic Canadian government website maps below that will
provide good information to get started, but you will need more detailed maps
for actually navigating through the remote terrain.
Selecting maps for navigating through remote terrain is so
important! I can’t stress enough the importance of self-navigation when
travelling through these desolate areas. One mapping company that can provide
great maps for Ontario’s backcountry is Backroad Mapbooks. These Mapbooks
provide detailed information on all of Ontario’s backcountry. These maps
provide topographic information as well as detailed road information, paddling
routes, fishing information, hunting information, and more.
(There is a full review on these mapbooks on our Equipment Reviews page).
You should also look into bringing a GPS for this trip as
well as buying a GPS map program for downloading detailed maps onto your GPS
(Backroad Mapbooks also provides these programs for the Ontario area).
(This website provides information on the various eco-regions and forest zones
of Canada and the province of Ontario).
(This link will provide large scale road maps for the northern Ontario map
index, Maps 12-19).
(This link will provide large scale road maps for the Southern Ontario map
index, Maps 1-11).
You have all the information you need for your paddling trip through Ontario’s Boreal
Forests. If you need help on anything else feel free to contact us!