Questions & Answers


We receive hundreds of questions about gear every year.  Here are some of the most common with some helpful answers.

We teach respect for gear. This camper is cleaning tents on returning to camp.

We teach respect for gear. This camper is cleaning tents on returning to camp.

Q. How to size a paddle?


A. Generally speaking you should put the tip of the paddle on the floor/ground and the end of the handle (grip) should come to somewhere around your mouth.  If it just reaches your chin it’s a touch too small.  Above your nose then too big.


Q. What type of white water paddle should I get? (You need a white water paddle for Pioneer on up)


A. You don’t need to break the bank to purchase a white water paddle.  You can opt for a simple aluminum shaft and plastic blade design or go with a more comfortable and aesthetically pleasing wooden paddle designed for white water.  White water paddles generally have a wider blade to pull more water than a flat water paddle is designed for.  If you want something even fancier then there are many carbon fibre type models to choose from, they are expensive, yes they are nice but very pricy.  The camp does rent the basic aluminum shaft and plastic blade models to campers who need them for a small fee.  Here are some links for you to consider:

Q. What type of flat water paddle should I get?

A. If you are not renting from us I would recommend getting something that is comfortable, fits well and is designed for flat water.  There are many makes and models out there.  You can find a variety of flat water paddles at places like Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) or REI in the US.  There are also places like Algonquin Outfitters, Temagami Outfitters, Wildrock Outfitters, Trailhead, SAIL, Bass Pro  and many small shop paddle makers such as Ray Kettlewell, Turtle Padddles and Oconto Paddles.

Q. What type of shoes should I get?

A. For starters your camper will need a “wet shoe”.  This shoe will be wet most of the time and is used for the day while on trip; campers will also portage in these shoes.  They’ll likely get beat up pretty well so something that is fairly durable, has a closed toe and has a good tread, especially for walking across rocks on portages etc. An old pair of runners is fine.  You can also purchase a pair of “trail shoes” which are a more rugged type of running shoe.  Here’s an MEC link:

The Campers will also need a pair of shoes designated as their “dry shoes” that can be worn around the camp site at the end of the day so comfort is a good idea.  They can be a Keen type of sandal or another old pair of runners.  Crocs can also work but they are really for only hanging out on a site.  Crocs/Keen sandals take up almost no room so having a pair of wet shoes, a pair of dry shoes (both running shoe style) and a pair of Crocs or Keen type sandals for around the camp fire is a good combination.  More links:,en_CA,sc.html?start=12&sz=12

Q. What type of pack should I get?

A. At Wanapitei each campers carries a personal pack on trip that they are responsible for.  This personal pack holds all of their belongings for trip. Its best if this pack is not a water proof pack in of its self but a normal back pack that can accommodate a dry bag full of clothing, therefore making it waterproof (the dry bag is what makes it waterproof – see next question).  These packs tend to be a nylon type material and are quite rugged.   They tend to also provide a wider range of comfort when carrying (ie better straps, more support etc) over a portage.  You want the pack to be of a size where the camper can fit all they need for trip into that pack ie clothing, dry shoes and sleeping bag with some room to spare for that favorite stuffy or book etc. That size translates approxiametly 60-75L (litres). If your camper is a junior camper they might be able to get away with something a bit smaller.  Best if your camper goes to the store to try it on.  Here’s a link for a sample pack:

Q. What is a dry bag?

A. A dry bag is a waterproof bag that fits into your backpack.  It holds all of the things you wish to keep dry.  The key is to make sure it holds your trip stuff and closes so that no water can get in AND fits into your pack.  Sometimes it makes sense to have more than 1 dry bag in case something doesn’t fit into your pack but you still need to keep it dry.  When that happens we can place the item into another pack but it remains waterproof because it’s in a dry bag.  Also some people like to have two dry bags in their pack so not all of their stuff is in one dry bag which can make it easier to find things. They are really useful things to have even for life back at home.  They are generally made of two types of material.  One is a rubberized material and the other a nylon type of material that is fully waterproof. The rubberized ones tend to be less expensive and very effective.   You can find these at outfitting stores anywhere.  MEC makes their own brand as does Sealine, OR(Outdoor Research) and Seattle Sports to name a few.  These bags should roll down from the top and close or they can be a compression style bag so long as it’s a “Dry Bag”.  There are a variety of sizes, 5L to 55L – on average a 30L one works well maybe combined with a smaller one if you don’t want everything in one bag.  Here is a link:



Q. What is quick dry clothing and why is it so important?

A. Quick dry clothing is a term given to clothing that when it gets wet, dry’s very quickly.  Examples of this are quick dry shorts, pants and shirts. Shirts can be long sleeve and short sleeve, one of each is good.  You can also buy pants that convert into shorts by zipping off at the knees – a 2 in 1 concept.    All made from a light weight material that does not have cotton in it, usually a combination of nylon and spandex (97% nylon and 3% spandex). Cotton takes WAY LONGER to dry and in some cases won’t dry.  Cotton should not be what you wear when on the water canoe tripping.  In addition cotton will suck the heat right out of your body when wet – not good for being in the wilderness.  Having a cotton shirt for around the campfire at night can be fine, so long as it stays dry.   You can find quick dry clothing at most outfitting stores. Here’s a link:

Q.  What other types of clothing should I wear? What about layering?

A. When on canoe trip it is best to have different layers of clothing.  Temperature will fluctuate and in some cases fluctuate significantly depending where your trip is located.  Even in Temagami we can experience very hot weather and the next day or same day very cool.  The best way to stay comfortable is to be able to take layers on and off when needed.  Typically it is best to have a moisture wicking thin layer next to your skin, this too should be able to dry quickly ie NOT COTTON.  Merino wool is great for an under layer especially when it comes to warmth and it tends not to smell after use.  There are other materials such as Capiline and polypropylene that can be used.  Moisture wicking material will keep a camper dry and comfortable.   Tops and bottoms can be used when needed, some days you may not need it.  Having a fleece is key as well, or in some cases a wool sweater which stays warm even when wet.  Fleece with “Windstopper” can be really good as it doesn’t let the wind cut through the fleece. The bottom line is NO COTTON for the actual canoe tripping and have the ability to layer with moisture wicking/ quick dry material – in most cases moisture wicking is a quick dry material.


Q. What type of rain gear should I get?

A. Rain gear is something you hope you don’t need but when you need it you want it to keep you dry!   This means finding rain gear, pants and jacket (not a poncho) that do two things.  One they keep water out and two they breathe – allowing our own moisture to escape.  It’s one thing to keep water out but when you get soaked from the inside because your rain gear does not breathe (ie it’s made of rubber) then that can be a very uncomfortable experience, especially when exerting any kind of energy.  There are a variety of materials on the market that say they are waterproof and breathable.  The best material in our opinion is Gore-Tex.  Unfortunately Gore-Tex is expensive so if you can find another similar material for less money it may be worth investigating.  Having a waterproof, windproof breathable outer layer can make a huge difference to a campers well being.  Being wet and cold is NOT fun.  Now having said that, there are some inexpensive waterproof rain coats found at places like MEC that would be good for younger campers (7-9) as they sweat a lot less than the older campers and therefore moisture build up from the inside is less of a concern.   As for pants they can either be Gore-Tex or rubberized.  Gore-Tex for older campers really makes sense, again for the reason of moisture build up on the inside.