There are many different ways to approach packing for a multi-day paddle trip. A lot of depends on the location of your trip, what type of boat you'll be in, the amount of available storage, whether or not you'll encounter rapids, the time of year and weather, and personal preferences for comfort and food. Listed below are items that we almost always bring on overnight floats and encourage you to do the same. Feel free to cross-reference this list with others you may find online or elsewhere and let us know if you have any questions.

Note that several options exist for how to actually store and pack the gear listed below. We often use large dry bags to keep things from getting wet in the event of splashing or tipping, but people have also used barrels, buckets, trash bags, and other items to organize and keep things dry.

If you need to rent or buy any paddling or camping equipment for your trip, check out the Outfitters & Retailers page for a list of local businesses that might have what you're looking for.


  • Boat! Most folks use a canoe, plastic kayak, or small raft, but we've also seen people camp from stand-up paddle boards, inflatable kayaks, packrafts, and more. 
  • Paddles: Canoe, Kayak, SUP, etc., plus an extra.
  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD): Also known as a "Life Jacket." Make sure it fits! Not a bad idea to bring an extra.
  • Shoes: Sturdy and water-oriented such as Astral, Chaco, Keen, etc.
  • Helmet: If paddling whitewater, such as Section 9.
  • Sun Protection: Hat, sunglasses, long sleeves/pants, sunscreen, lip balm.
  • Waterproof Rain Gear: Rain jacket, but also rain pants (super nice in a canoe). 
  • Print Map: Riverkeeper's Guide to the French Broad River (8th Edition)
  • Phone/GPS: Packed in a waterproof bag and/or case.
  • Camera: Ideally waterproof.
  • Naturalist Guides: Fun for identifying plants, animals, fish, etc.
  • First Aid, Safety Gear & Repair Kit: Basic bandages, blister supplies, medications, tweezers, knife, whistle, duct tape, string, extra boat hardware, etc.
  • Long Rope & Carabiners: For rescues and unpinning boats in whitewater, but also helpful for securing boats at campsites, hanging tarps and items to dry, etc.
  • Snacks & Water: Don't get hangry or dehydrated!
  • Money: Cash and/or credit card in case you pass a brewery or need a lift.
  • Small Dry Bag: Great for carrying all the stuff listed above.


  • Dry Clothes & Camp Shoes: We recommend at least one set of clothes for camp and a separate set for sleeping. Crocs work well for camp shoes since they're closed-toe, lightweight, and easy to rinse off. Jack loves Crocs, Hartwell does not.
  • Camping Equipment: Tent, hammock, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, pillow, etc.
  • Cooking Equipment: Stove, lighter/matches, pot/pan, utensils for cooking and eating, plate/bowl, cleaning equipment.
  • Food: Up to you, depending on how fancy you want to get, and what cooking gear you want to bring. Suggestions include pre-made food that just needs to be heated (or not), simple meats/veggies to cook on an open fire in foil, "just add water" meals such as ramen noodles, backpacking boil-in-bags, etc., or something much more elaborate such as tacos. Meals often depend on whether you bring a cooler with temperature-dependent stuff or go for dry/non-cold items.
  • Drinking Water: We recommend bringing a large container of potable drinking water (or multiple, depending on your group size) of to cook with and refill personal bottles from. 
  • Toiletries: Toothbrush, toothpaste, etc., but also toilet paper and hand sanitizer. MountainTrue's campsites have composting toilets and toilet paper, but it's good to bring your own just in-case. It's also not a bad idea to bring a small shovel for burying human waste at campsites without toilets, along with "WAG Bags" in case you need to poop while on the river.
  • Other Items: Muck boots (great for getting in and out of the river), towel, bug repellent, camp chair, firewood, folding hand saw, flashlight/headlamp, trash bags, tarp, rope, games, lantern, etc.