Canoe Trips - FAQ
Canoe Trips - FAQ
This page contains some questions and answers regarding the canoe
weekend. Since questions tend to repeat, I believe that browsing through
this page should be useful. All the questions are genuine, although
stripped from the names and politeness forms. The answers are not
original, but rather kept up to date as more (or better quality)
information comes along. Send e-mail to
if you have a question that
has not been covered here or if you have a better answer.
You don't need to swim, but I would advise you wearing a life jacket
at all times when on the water. The river is quite peaceful and people
don't fell off the canoe too often. If they do, they can usually hold
on to the canoe, but you never know. There are rather few deep places
and places with strong current, but I would not take a risk of being
without a jacket if you cannot swim.
As Lao Tzu said, "A journey of a thousand
miles must begin with a single step." You need to start at some point
to gain experience. It is not a difficult trip and you should be able
to manage with no prior experience.
Most of the useful equipment, such as rope, plastic bags, or a
flashlight is easy to find at home. There are two things that will
require some organization: a tent and a sleeping bag. These two can
be borrowed, rented, or bought.
Since I have my own equipment, I am not familiar with the rental market.
One place that people used was Outdoor Experience in Shadyside, which was
an excellent store for all kind of camping stuff, and had tents for rent.
The store went out of business, regretfully. The prices of
Friday to Monday rental (three days) were $18 for a two-person tent,
$24 for a four-person tent, and $33 for a five-person tent. If you find
a place that rents equipment, please let me know and I will post it here.
Sears, K-Mart, or Dunham Discount Sports both periodically run sales
on tents. A simple 1-2 persons tent may sometimes cost you as much as
a weekend rental (a very basic one or two person tent may cost as
little as $20-$30). Outdoor Experience used to rent sleeping bags at
$7 a day. In this case
I strongly believe that it may be cheaper (at least in the long run -
you can use a sleeping bag as a comforter even if you never go camping
again) to buy a simple sleeping bag than to rent it. A simple sleeping
bag should cost not more than $20-$30.
Another handy thing is something to cook your dinner on, but this is
not necessary -- you can take something that you will just warm up at
the fireplace. Fresh corn and potatoes are usually very easy to bake
in a fireplace. People have brought many creative things with them:
burritos (they can be warmed up at the fireplace after opening and the
shells can be baked above the fire on a stick), bagels baked on the
fireplace, hard-boiled eggs, cold Oriental noodles, beef and vegetables
(onions, paprika, and champignons) for shish-kebab on a stick, and many
others. In fact, very few people brought stoves with them and most
people used the campfire to prepare their dinner.
The canoes are pretty large and can easily accommodate two adults and
a lot of luggage. I will be going with three children this year (one
adult). My wife and I went with two adults and two children before,
but to make more room for the children to sit and move we gave some
of our luggage to other people (when you go just with two adults, you
have usually plenty of room). Anyway, I would suggest taking not too
much stuff. When the weather is nice, you don't need much. Please,
look at the checklist of things to bring for some ideas.
Own canoe means some trouble. One of the participants took his own
canoe in 1994, brought the canoe up the river himself leaving his car
there for the weekend, and then asked somebody to give him a ride to
his car on Sunday afternoon when everybody wanted to go home. It is
possible that he did not ask the outfitter if they would transport his
canoe for some small amount along with ours. Or, perhaps he did ask
but they wanted too much for that. Another problem is that if the
water level is low, you may damage the bottom of your canoe on the
rocks -- the outfitter has quite robust aluminum canoes that can handle
that. You might want to ask the outfitter whether they would be
willing to transport your canoe with our group and for how much.
Another downside of own canoes is that if we have rent less than
eight canoes, we will be paying a higher rental rate ($25 plus tax
instead of $20 plus tax a night per canoe, 1995 data).
Forget about bringing your own wood -- there is plenty of wood in the
Usually a cooler works best. We have been taking a large plastic
cooler with us -- there is enough room for it in the canoe. With a
couple of bags of ice cubes, the meat stays cool until Saturday night.
Friday night we have a fireplace too, but there is usually less time
and a half-ready dinner is the best solution.