Voyageur II Clothing and Equipment
Click here for a PDF printable version of this list.
Clothing and equipment is incredibly important on all V2 trips. You will be traveling for 7 weeks in a far-north, remote wilderness environment. The environment here is particularly unique (ie. Weather is varied and extreme) and gear takes a beating. It is critical that your clothing and equipment is up to the task. You can expect temperature extremes from 0C to 30C or even -5C. When its hot it can be really hot – remember there is close to 24hr sun and often no trees for shade, when it’s cold it can feel really cold. Rain and high winds (typical in the Barrens) can make a chilly day feel downright frigid. If you are properly prepared then you will be able to truly enjoy this incredibly beautiful and varied environment, if you are not then it becomes a safety issue.
You will want to focus on packing light as well as warm. Huge heavy packs are not fun to deal with. If you are bringing any treats make them small.
You may find you have much of your equipment already. Not all of it needs to be brand new. Certainly many layers of clothing can be purchased at Value Village or other second hand stores. It is true you will likely not find a good Gore-Tex jacket and rain pants used but many things you will. We will also be sending out an email in the coming weeks with information about pro-deals that can help off-set the cost of more expensive items.
☐ 1 PFD – ensure it is in GOOD shape, comfortable and government-approved. Check seams and quality of material for sun damage.
☐ 1 flatwater paddle
☐ 1 whitewater paddle
☐ 2 whistles – one on your lifejacket and one for around your neck/wrist
☐ 1 whitewater helmet – make sure you can fit a light fleece/wool hat or helmet liner underneath
☐ 1 sleeping pad (Thermarest) and repair kit – we recommend a full-length sleeping pad as it offers more insulation from the permafrost ground. If you sleep cold, Exped makes down sleeping pads that are lighter weight and warmer, but cost more.
☐ 1 sleeping bag – aim for a bag rated at least -7 to -12. A down bag will pack smaller and is warmer, but will cost more. If you sleep isn’t quite warm enough, bring more long underwear/fleece wear).
☐ 1 sleeping bag liner (optional) – a fleece or silk liner is good if you sleep cold. Also helps keep sleeping bag cleaner.
☐ 1 pack – EVERYTHING you bring must fit into this pack. Your sleeping bag and sleeping pad may be able to be carried in food packs if there is space. NO BARRELS, mini or otherwise. If you are considering bringing a barrel as your personal pack, please don’t. Boats are incredibly full and barrels take up too much space.
☐ Dry bags – make sure they are in good shape and of good quality (welded seams, good closure, good material). Do NOT bring garbage bags.
Feet are important! 52 days of whitewater, upstream, portaging etc. is very hard on shoes. Footwear will take an incredible beating on a trip like this. You (and the rest of the group) cannot afford to have your shoes fail. Make sure soles, seams, etc. are all in top shape. Brand new footwear is often ready for the trash after a VII.
☐ 1 pair of light hiking shoes/boots – to be your wet shoes. Look for something with durable but good grip soles – you are going to do an awful lot of wet walking. They should be comfortable to wear and fit over neoprene/Gore-Tex socks. If ankle problems are not an issue, trail runners can be very light-weight and have good traction.
☐ 1 pair of runners – to be dry shoes/back up wet shoes. Hiking opportunities await you!
☐ 1 pair of plastic clogs (Crocs) or Keens – nice around the campsite.
☐ 1 pair of neoprene socks – MUST HAVE. You will be traveling upstream in very cold water and you will want your feet to stay warm. The neoprene socks should be large enough to wear over your wool socks. Alternatively, dry pants with neoprene booties would be ideal.
☐ 1 pair of Gore-Tex socks (optional) – great for keeping feet dry and foot-rot-free, but they are expensive. Great for campsites on wet days when you want dry feet.
☐ 5-8 pairs of mid-weight Smartwool or wool socks – NOT COTTON. Some prefer 100% wool, others prefer mostly-wool blend.
Make sure you bring enough warm wet clothing (clothing that is warm while wet – wool is best for this). You will find that you need more than you think – bring enough! Remember: think layers. Just to be cautious, you will be sleeping in clothes that you have not been cooking in. Keep this in mind when packing. Don’t forget – it gets VERY cold at night in the far north.
☐ 2 pairs of quick dry pants – 1 pair should be heavy duty or quick dry and the other pair fleece pants. Bringing only 1 pair of pants is not an option.
☐ 1 pair of quick dry shorts
☐ 2-3 t-shirts – one of these should be lightweight wool (e.g. Smartwool), second should be polypro/synthetic
☐ 2-3 long sleeve tops/long underwear tops – at least one should be wool (e.g. Smartwool) as it is warmer than polypro. Second can be polypro, silk works well as a third. NO cotton.
☐ 2 pairs of long underwear bottoms – at least one pair should be wool (e.g. Smartwool), second can be polypro/synthetic)
☐ 1 fleece/wool jacket
☐ 1 fleece/wool sweater
☐ 1 synthetic (i.e. fake down) jacket or pullover with a hood – HIGHLY recommended as this will keep you warm at the campsite during the cold and windy days.
☐ Underwear and bras, etc.
☐ Waterproof jacket and pants – Gore-Tex is a good option, but make sure it is durable and actually waterproof (old Gore-Tex is often not). MUST be big enough to fit warm layers underneath it.
☐ 1 paddling jacket (optional) – allows you to change into a warm/dry sweater and dry roomier raincoat at the end of a wet day.
☐ 1 older raincoat – as an alternative to paddling jacket, you can bring an older raincoat as your ‘dry’ raincoat to wear on the campsite after a day of rain. It is great to be able to put a dry raincoat over the dry clothes you’ve changed into.
☐ 1 pair dry pants with built-in booties (optional) – will be available through pro-deals.
☐ 2 toques – fleece or wool
☐ 2 pairs of mitts – fleece or wool. Note: mitts are warmer than gloves. Also consider a pair of winter waterproof gloves or waterproof over-mitts).
☐ Neoprene mitts (optional) – good on cold and wet paddling days. You do need mitts/gloves you can paddle in that are warm when wet.
☐ 1 scarf or neck warmer – fleece or wool.
☐ 1 sunhat with a brim
☐ 1 pair of sunglasses – bring a solid case for them or they will probably get smushed and a glasses safety cord. Remember – when it is sunny, it is REALLY sunny.
☐ 1 bug jacket – THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL. Get the good ones – they are more expensive but worth it. Bugs can be horrible. If you can get one that is roomy enough to get your arms and a dinner plate inside, it is very helpful (allows you to eat inside your jacket). You will have a storm/bug shelter, but sometimes it is nice to be outside, even when it is buggy.
☐ 1 flashlight/headlamp – you likely won’t need this until the second half of trip, if at all.
☐ 1 mug
☐ 1-2 1L water bottle – metal or Nalgene
☐ 1 group treat – discuss with your leaders first if you are stuck on what to bring.
☐ Suncreen – must have.
☐ Lip balm with SPF
☐ Moisturizer – a good one, especially for your hands
☐ Bug spray – no aerosols
☐ Toothbrush and toothpaste
☐ Soap – liquid, biodegradable soap (i.e. Campsuds). Please bring scent-free – better for bugs and bears.
☐ Tampons and/or pads or DivaCup
☐ Contact solution/extra contacts/extra glasses
☐ Personal medications – we require you to have at least two sets of any prescription medication you are bringing. One set will remain in the emergency barrel. This is VERY important for things like inhalers, epi pens, etc.
☐ Multivitamins (optional)
OTHER OPTIONAL ITEMS
☐ Sewing kit
☐ Guitar or other musical instrument – talk to the group if you plan on bringing an instrument, we don’t need 12 guitars!
☐ Art supplies
☐ Camera – stored in a Pelican case
☐ Extra batteries
☐ Small dress up clothing – for Halloween
☐ Pictures of loved ones
☐ Fishing gear – you are traveling to one of the best fishing areas in the world. The more rods the better, as some will inevitably fail. Even if you’ve never fished, it is an experience worth trying on this trip.
WHAT *NOT* TO BRING
Drugs or alcohol. There will be more on this in a future mailing closer to the summer. Suffice to say that it would not be worth ruining the experience of a lifetime, not to mention the financial investment your family is making plus the huge cost of flying you off trip (this cost will be billed to your family and no refund will be given). Do not make this mistake.
Food other than the group treat. It is totally unfair for the group to carry personal food and we cannot have the food in any of the personal bags. Not to mention this will attract animals. You will be well-fed on this trip.
Cotton stuff. It is useless at keeping you dry and warm. If you are on a budget, try shopping for wool and fleece clothing at Value Village.
SOME GEAR SUGGESTIONS
If you are looking into a new sleeping bag, but down is not an option, here is a more affordable option from MEC. It is half down and half synthetic bag.
Warm jackets are a staple on northern canoe trips. It will keep you warm, especially from the cold wind of the barrens. Here are some options for synthetic jackets. Down is an option as well, but there is quite a price jump.
FAVORITE WEBSITES FOR GEAR
These websites are great places to shop for deals. The Last Hunt, The Van and Live Out There often sell name-brand gear at a steep discount (it is usually last season’s colours, but identical in quality). Check the clearance section at MEC as well. Early-winter is a good time to start looking for deals – many stores are already moving in their summer clothing and most of the items on your packing list are considered “fall and winter” gear.
www.liveoutthere.com – free shipping, no minimum
www.thevan.ca – free shipping for orders over $200, $10 otherwise
www.thelasthunt.com – free shipping for orders over $200, $10 otherwise
www.mec.ca – free shipping for orders for $50