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Owning good equipment doesn't guarantee the user a good trip. However, using poor equipment will almost certainly ensure that you'll have problems and adversity while you're out paddling.

There are two things to consider:

  • Have I chosen the right type of equipment to bring along on my trip?

  • Have I worked from a check list to ensure no important items get left behind?

Equipment selection is to some extent determined by personal preference, but there are still a number of sensible, widely  accepted guidelines that we should follow. 

We have seen dramatic improvements in the quality of equipment available to wilderness paddlers in the past 30 years.  There is no doubt that it has made our lives easier, and made canoe tripping a more comfortable experience.  

Not so long ago, if you were wilderness paddling, you would have used a canvas tent with no floor ...and roll out a ground sheet under your sleeping bag to keep it dry if it rained (no thermarests then!).  This kind of setup kept out neither bugs nor rain!  Sleeping bags were waterproofed for travel by rolling them tightly inside rubberized canvas ground sheets, and these ground sheets were also used to sleep on.  The packs were canvas, and canoes were cedar-canvas.  

Everyone should have an opportunity to portage a waterlogged cedar strip canoe over a difficult portage to put the current state of paddling gear into the proper perspective.

Do any of us miss those days?  Maybe from a nostalgia point of view, but certainly not from a comfort perspective.  Waterproof packs, Kevlar canoes and nylon tents are a luxury that today's paddlers expect and take for granted.

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