Category Archives: Canoes

Cold Water Survival

Be Prepared: Cold Water Can Kill

Cold Water Survival

Cold water is extremely dangerous.

Cold water quickly robs the body of its strength, diminishes coordination and impairs judgment. Immersion in water as warm as 50-60 degrees can begin what is termed Cold Water Shock. When a paddler capsizes and is suddenly immersed in cold water, the first reflexive action of the boy is to gasp for air, this is followed by increased heart rate, blood pressure and disorientation and possibly cardiac arrest. Without proper equipment and apparel, the paddler’s body can become incapacitated in a very few minutes. Without a lifejacket, this can be a very dangerous and often fatal situation. If you’re paddling in water with a temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, wearing a wetsuit is a neccesity, and a drysuit is highly recommended. It’s a good idea to follow this rule if the combined air and water temperatures are below 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Cold water shock

cold water survivalCold water shock is the rapid development of a number of shock responses caused by cold water immersion that can result in sudden drowning. The symptoms are:

    Initial cold shock (the first 3-5 minutes)

Short term swim failure (3-30 minutes)

Long term hypothermia (+ 30 minutes)

Post immersion collapse.



Cold-water shock symptoms

The reactions of the body may be muscle spasms and/or hyperventilation. Other symptoms include an increase of pulse and blood pressure. Sudden immersion into cold water can cause cardiac arrest. The shock of the cold water can also cause an involuntary gasp reflex that might cause victims to swallow water and drown. Cold water can paralyze the muscles instantly.

Cold water shock: Prevention and Survival

Wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD). If you are wearing a PFD before falling into the cold water, it will keep you afloat while you gain control of your breathing and help prevent drowning from loss of muscle control. Trying to grab a lifejacket while in the water, let alone putting one on, will be extremely difficult because of the changes your body will be experiencing.

If you end up in the water, do everything you can to conserve energy and body heat. It’s difficult to know how long you can survive in cold water, but here are some tips to increase your survival time in cold water:

  • Try not to panic, and try to control your breathing.
  • Cold Water Survival Swim only if you can join others, safely get ashore or aboard a boat.
  • Do not swim to keep warm.
  • Climb onto any nearby floating object to get as much of your body out of, or above the water, as possible.
  • If possible, adopt a heat escape lessening position (H.E.L.P.): cross your arms tightly against your chest and draw your knees up close to them;
  • Huddle with others; make sure that everyone is close together, with arms around mid to lower back, and legs intertwined.



Another dangerous condition that can be caused by cold water or cold weather is hypothermia. Hypothermia literally means below temperature,and occurs when exposure to the elements prevents the body from reheating and maintaining its core temperature. The typical symptoms of hypothermia include: shivering, impaired judgment, clumsiness, loss of manual dexterity and slurred speech.


  1. Plan your trip and think smart.
    • Know the water temperature and weather forecast before you set out.
  2. Fuel Your Body!
    • Keep your body well fueled with high carbohydrate foods and lots of water.
  3. Insulate your Body
    • Avoid wearing cotton clothing when on the water in cool temperatures.
    • Dress in layers using synthetic fabrics such as polyester fleece to prevent getting overheated or chilled from perspiration.
    • Carry a waterproof jacket designed for splash and/or rain protection.
    • Anytime the water temperature is less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit, wear specialized insulating clothing (wetsuit or drysuit) capable of protecting you while in the water.
    • Keep in mind that the warmth and comfort range of a dry suit can vary based on the clothing worn underneath it.
    • Wear a warm hat that will stay on your head in the water. A fleece-lined skullcap is best.
    • Have spare, dry clothing stored in a sealed dry bag while on the water.
  4. Observe your Group
    • Know your own and your group’s emotional and physical limitations.
    • Group members need to constantly assess the behavior of others in their group.
    • Look for changes in behavior, withdrawal, sluggishness, talking less or a member not eating enough. These are all symptoms of fatigue and may suggest a problem that the group needs to address.


Assess The Situation

The typical symptoms of hypothermia (in the order of onset) are:

  • Shivering
  • Impaired judgment
  • Clumsiness
  • Loss of dexterity
  • Slurred speech
  • Inward behavior
  • Shivering stops
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Unconsciousness
  • Death



Mild hypothermia (victim shivering but coherent):

If possible, take action before this stage. You may still have time to either stop the trip or take out early. Planning for an early take out and/or shuttle half way pays dividends. Move victim to place of warmth. Remove wet clothing; give warm, sweet drinks; no alcohol or caffeine. Keep victim warm for several hours. The window of opportunity is closing fast. By this time you are already well on your way to experiencing hypothermia.

Moderate hypothermia (shivering may decrease or stop):

Cold Water SurvivalThe victim may seem irrational with deteriorating coordination. Treat the same as above but no drinks. Keep victim lying down with entire body (torso, thighs, head and neck) covered with dry clothes, coats or blankets to prevent additional heat loss. Seek medical attention immediately.

Severe hypothermia (shivering may have stopped):

The victim may resist help, be semiconscious or even unconscious. Removed from water, victim must be kept prone, on back and immobile. Victim must be handled gently. Cover torso, thighs, head and neck with dry covers to stop additional heat loss. Arms and legs must not be stimulated in any manner. Cold blood in extremities that suddenly returns to the core may induce cardiac arrest. Seek medical attention immediately.

Victim appears dead (little or no breathing, no pulse, body rigid):

Assume victim can still be revived. Look for faint pulse or breathing for 2 minutes. If any trace is found, do not give CPR. It can cause cardiac arrest. Medical help is imperative. If pulse and breathing are totally absent, trained medical personnell should start CPR.


The lake can offer lots of enjoyment in colder conditions, but make sure that you enjoy it safely. Don’t let your outing turn into a tragedy.

Plan, Fuel, Insulate, Observe… and have fun.

Gift Ideas For Canoers

Gift ideas for Canoers

Finding great Christmas gift ideas for a canoer can be made easier by thinking about the paddler’s canoeing interest. When buying a gift for someone who enjoys canoeing, here are a few ideas for canoeing related gifts.


Canoeing Gift Ideas

Although canoeing is a sport that seems to need little or no equipment, the truth is that it is much more than just a paddle and a canoe. There are items that will make the sport easier, or more enjoyable, or just provide a reminder of canoeing while at the office. Here are some potential gift ideas for the canoer:



Canoe Art

There’s a variety of posters, prints, paintings and knickknacks that are great gift ideas related to canoeing. Canoe artwork can transport the canoer to a more peaceful and happy place while stuck in the office.

Browse examples of Canoe Artwork.

Gift ideas for canoers - Canoe art





Books about canoeing and kayaking are great gift ideas, and there’s a variety of books to improve canoeing technique, making your own canoe and paddles, as well as, books about canoeing and canoe trips.

To browse a list of books about canoeing Click Here.

gift ideas for canoers - books about canoeing

Far Distant Echo: A Journey By Canoe From Lake Superior To Hudson Bay

Here are a few of the most popular canoeing books. Click on the title for more details:






Yokes - Gift ideas for canoers

Rockwater Designs Canoe Yoke Pad on wooden yoke

This yoke has nothing to do with eggs (that yolk is spelled differently anyway). A yoke is a device that attaches to a canoe to make it easier to lug it around. Usually made of wood, the yoke is mounted perpendicular to the length of the canoe and is often padded.

When it is connected to the canoe, the yoke allows the boat to be flipped over and carried by placing the padded yoke on your shoulders.

A yoke is almost a necessity for getting to and from the water or for bypassing low water areas on rivers. Yokes typically cost between $25 and $80.

Click here to view different types and styles of canoe yokes.









Canoe carts - gift ideas for Canoeing

Malone Clipper Deluxe Universal Kayak Cart

Canoe / Kayak Carts

Canoe/kayak carts are a great gift idea – canoe carts offer an even easier way to transport your canoe or kayak short distances.

Most canoe/kayak carts are of lightweight aluminum construction that can be collapsed for storage in your canoe while paddling, or in your car while en-route to the water. Air-filled tires with rugged tread provide easy movement over uneven ground, sand or even rocks.

Although you can find a cart for around $50, the better models will cost only $80-120 and will be much more durable and reliable. Check out our review of the top brands at Canoe/Kayak Carts Review.








Canoe Back Supports

canoeing gift ideas - canoe back supports

GCI SitBacker canoe back support

Sitting in a canoe for a few hours can be rough on the lower back. Back support, sometimes called canoe seats, are curved devices that create or support the existing seating in the canoe. They are designed to fasten to canoe benches, and some offer adjustable reclining positions.

Back supports are a must for weekend warriors who only canoe once every month or so. It is hard to enjoy canoeing if your back is killing you! Pricing here runs from about $20 to $60.

GCI’s ‘SitBacker’ model is lightweight, portable and is ideal for canoeing, but can also be used for watching sports, camping and picnicking. It sells for about $35.





Paddle journal -  Gift ideas for canoers

BookFactory® Paddle Sport Log Book / Journal / Logbook

BookFactory® Paddle Sport Log Book / Journal / Logbook

BookFactory® Paddle Sport Log Book / Journals allow canoers to keep notes during and after their trips. They’re great for writing down impressions, routes taken, things seen, people met, alternative routes to paddle in the future, and so on.

Smyth-sewn, so the book lies flat when open; the 81/2″ by 11″ ruled pages with page numbers provide fields to record subjects, dates and book numbers. The hard bound book features a reinforced imitation leather cover and a placeholder ribbon. The journal is of archival quality- with acid-free paper.Click Here to order.

>>> Visit The Lake Life Canoe Shop <<<


>>> Paddle Over to The Lake Life Kayak Shop <<<

If you’re buying gifts for a canoeing enthusiast, the above list is a good place to start.



Canoe Trip: Equipment Checklist

Canoe Trip Equipment

Canoe and kayak trips require as much planning and pre-trip preparation as a vacation; in fact, sometimes they require more. When you vacation, you can usually pick up a toothbrush at the front desk or the corner store. When you’re camping on sand bars in the middle of nowhere, that just isn’t possible.

Be Prepared – Stow Your Gear in Waterproof Containers

The following general check list can be used on trips lasting two or more days. Here’s a helpful hint on meal planning: prepare each meal, on paper, for the entire trip. You’ll be able to include a good variety, eliminate duplication and make sure that you don’t leave at home that one ingredient needed for that special meal.


Tip: Print out this form and use for your next trip!




Canoe Essentials

Basic canoe equipment you will need for a one-day trip

camping canoe trip equipment



PFD (life jacket), 1 per person

65 ft. throwline

Maps in waterproof case

Signaling devices

Flashlight or headlamp and extra batteries and bulbs

First Aid Kit

Pocket knife

Matches in waterproof container and firestarter


Drinking water

Canoeing/hiking clothing

Sunglasses and sunscreen

Required licenses, permits and I.D.


Additional Canoeing Gear

canoe trip equipment checklist

Extra paddle

Canoe chair/back rest

Plastic bailer and large sponge for bailing

Bow and stern painter (rope), 20 ft.

Canoe repair kit and/or epoxy

Waterproof gear bags (dry bags)

Float bags

Extra plastic bags

Fishing gear

Duct tape


Camping Clothing

Quick-drying pants/shorts

Quick-drying swimsuit

Sun hat (with brim)


Waterproof jacket and pants

Waterproof sandals or booties


Camping Gear

Select the items to fit your particular trip needs and the level of comfort that you desire

canoe trip equipment list

Tent, tarp or bivy sack

Ground cloth

Gear repair/sewing kit

Sleeping bag in waterproof stuff sack

Sleeping pad/air mattress

Stove and fuel

Cook set, dishes and utensils

Liquid, biodegradable soap and pot scrubber

Garbage bag

Water bottles

Be sure to review your checklist
before leaving on your canoe trip

Collapsible water container (2-3 gallon capacity)

Lantern w/extra mantles

100-ft. accessory cord

Backpacking shovel


Field guides

canoe trip equipment needed to enjoy trip

Camera and film w/waterproof case

Notebook and pencil

Watch/alarm clock

Lip balm

Mosquito repellent

Toilet paper

Toothbrush and toothpaste

Small bath towel


Other personal toiletry items

Camping/fire permits, if needed


Map and itinerary of trip


Cooler/ice chest (optional)


Oven mitt

Paper towels

Prescription medication

Aspirin and antihistamine


Are you looking for an easier way to move

your kayak or canoe to and from the water ?

Canoe & kayak carts offer a safe and easy way

to walk your craft to the launching site.

Check out this comparison of the top canoe & kayak carts.


Other Canoeing and Kayaking Articles:



Canoe Forward Stroke: Perfect This Basic Paddle Stroke

Perfecting the Canoe Forward Stroke


image of Canoe Forward Stroke techniqueAlthough some people consider canoeing a simple or natural activity, proper form can make the sport safer, easier and more enjoyable. The canoe forward stroke is the first stroke that a beginning paddler should learn.




Seven Steps to Perfect The Forward Canoe Stroke:

  • Be sure to hold the canoe paddle properly and to sit up straight while paddling.
  • Begin the canoe forward stroke by raising the paddle out of the water and bringing the top hand up high (at or above head-high). The shaft of the paddle should be nearly vertical to the water and not diagonal across the body.
  • Push the lower hand forward, reaching the paddle blade toward the front of the canoe. Again, be sure to sit up straight.
  • Place the paddle blade into the water ahead of your body. Keep the face of the blade perpendicular to the direction of the forward stroke.
  • Pull the paddle along the side of the canoe in a straight line. Allow the top hand to push forward and down while the bottom hand pulls back.
  • Use your torso and upper body rotation to aid in the stroke and give the most power. You should not use your arms as much as you use the rotation of your body.
  • When the blade is past your body, bring the blade out of the water and return to step #1 to begin the canoe forward stroke again.



Canoe Forward Stroke: Perfect This Basic Paddle Stroke

  • In a 2 person canoe, the person in the front should paddle on one side of the canoe, while the back paddler should keep the canoe moving straight by paddling on either side of the canoe, and by using other strokes such as the ‘j-stroke’.

  • By switching sides often you don’t put too much stress on one arm.

  • Switch whichever arm is the top arm and whichever arm is the bottom arm as needed to give yourself an even workout.

  • It is most efficient to paddle on the left side of the canoe when the right hand at the top of the paddle.

  • It is most efficient to paddle on the right side of the canoe when the left hand at the top of the paddle.


Are you looking for an easier way to move

your kayak or canoe to and from the water ?

Canoe & kayak carts offer a safe and easy way

to walk your craft to the launching site.

Check out this comparison of the top canoe & kayak carts.


Equipment needed:


Canoe Paddle

PFD or Life-vest



Other Canoeing and Kayaking Articles:



Carry A Canoe? Do It Right!

How To Carry A Canoe

Get Your Canoe to the Water

How to Carry a CanoeUnlike larger boats, which can be moored or put up on boat-lifts to avoid damage from wind and waves, canoes are typically stored out of the water. they need to be moved to the water to be used. Here’s how to carry a canoe.

First, be sure that the canoe is empty. Although most modern canoes are made of aluminum or plastic, one person usually can’t carry it alone, so two or three people should help move it to and from the water.


Two Person Carries

Some modern canoes have handles fore and aft. If there are two people and the carry distance is fairly short, this offers a simple way to carry a canoe. If there are no handles, it is still possible to move the canoe by each person standing on opposite sides of the canoe and lifting the canoe by the gunwhale (the reinforcing strip running along the top edge of the hull) at the center of the canoe. Then,  simply walk the canoe to or from the water. This, too, works best for short carries.


The Portage

How to Carry a Canoe

The more traditional portaging technique should be used for longer distances, or carries over uneven terrain or around obstacles like trees. In this case, the canoe is turned upside down and one-person lifts the bow off the ground. The second person (the one who’ll do the carrying) walks underneath and positions himself, allowing the yoke to settle on his shoulders. If there’s not a yoke in the canoe, one can be fashioned by securely lashing the paddles to the thwarts with the painter. The painter is a line (rope) attached to the painter rings fore and aft in the canoe. It is used for “lining” (walking) the canoe or for tying up.

With the yoke resting on her shoulders and one hand on either side of the canoe, the person carrying the canoe lifts it with their legs and balances it. The weight  of the canoe is carried on the shoulders; the hands are used strictly for balance and steadying the canoe. When doing a solo carry, keep the canoe balanced. Let it ride a little down at the stern; it will be easier to see ahead.  There’s no hurry,  take your time, and be sure to watch where you step! The canoe is then carefully walked to the desired place, and the entire process is reversed.

Are you looking for an easier way to move

your kayak or canoe to and from the water ?

Canoe & kayak carts offer a safe and easy way

to walk your craft to the launching site.

Check out this comparison of the top canoe & kayak carts.

Let’s Do Launch

Where possible, load your canoe while it’s floating in shallow water. If that’s not possible, load it on the beach – as close to the water as you can get. If you load your canoe in the water, tie a painter to a tree along the shore to keep the canoe controlled. On the other hand, if loading on the beach, don’t over-pack. You’ll need to be able to carry the loaded canoe the last few feet to the water. Modern materials are certainly strong, but dragging a loaded boat over sharp rocks won’t do it any good. Treat your canoe as if your life depended upon it. It does.

Other Canoeing  Articles:


Proper Technique to Paddle a Canoe

Paddle a Canoe

Canoeing can be enjoyed by people of all ages. To get the most enjoyment from canoeing, you’ll need a properly fitted paddle and knowledge of the proper techniques to paddle a canoe.


The Fit

It is difficult and inefficient to paddle a canoe with a paddle that is too short or too long. Fortunately, fitting a paddle is very simple. Place the blade of the paddle on the top of your foot. Letting the blade touch the ground is not a good idea; it can easily damage the surface of the blade.

With the paddle standing vertically, the handle should be somewhere between your nose and chin. A paddle that is too long will be difficult to manage; a paddle that is too short will not provide enough thrust, and you’ll feel as if you have to bend down towards the water to paddle.



Are you looking for an easier way to move

your kayak or canoe to and from the water?

Canoe & kayak carts offer a safe and easy way

to walk your craft to the launching site.

Check out this comparison of the top canoe & kayak carts.



The Grip

Hold the paddle, one hand firmly on top of the handle.Grip around the handle; your thumb should be underneath and pointing towards the front of the canoe. Your other hand should be a shoulder’s width away from your top hand. It should grip the shaft of the paddle securely.

The Stroke

When actually paddling, the most important thing to remember is to use your back; do not rely solely done on your arms to paddle a canoe. You can visualize the perfect form by imagining that a string is attached your nose to the top of the paddle’s handle. Doing this insures the proper amount of back movement and twisting.

Canoeing is a wonderful sport and hobby. With a properly sized paddle and some simple techniques, miles of effortless paddling can be achieved by anyone.

Other Canoeing and Kayaking Articles:


Canoeing Tips – Keep Your Trip Fun & Safe

Canoeing tips for beginners:

canoeing tips

Canoeing tips are better than tipping a canoe

First, know your equipment well. Don’t go into the water without the proper knowledge or without taking the right precautions. A haphazard canoeist can endanger not only himself, but his fellow paddlers as well.



Inflatable Canoes

If you’re using inflatable canoes and floatation devices, be sure that you inflate them well at the start of the day; inflate them again after spending some time on the water. On spring days, the air bags will appear to deflate after a few minutes on the water. This is because the water in the spring is still cold. Remember that heat expands and cold contracts. the colder water temperature will contract the air inside the inflatable, causing it to deflate somewhat.

In hotter weather, the reverse will occur. When you put the inflated canoe into the water, the air inside it will expand due to the warmer temperature of the lake or river. To avoid bursting or over-inflating your canoe or floatation device it is best that you let some air out over the course of the day.



Proper Stroke

If you’re handling too large a canoe, you might find that you have trouble reaching over the gunwale. In this situation your strokes will be too far away from the canoe. This will force the canoe to turn, rather than having a forward-driving force. The technique we recommend involves shifting weights.

[important]Canoeing Tips: Bring your knees together and shift your weight to the paddle side while paddling.[/important]

By shifting your body weight, the gunwale is lowered as you make each stroke. If you’re a beginner, don’t be surprised or scared. This position is actually very stable and the chances of capsizing are very slim.

From this position you can reach over the gunwale and keep your paddle in the vertical position. You’ll find it easier and more efficient to propel the canoe forward when you execute your strokes in this fashion.



Get a Grip

canoeing tips

Finally, paddling a canoe can be easy or hard depending on your grip on the paddles. More often than not, holding a paddle with a relaxed grip will have better results. Holding the paddle too tightly can cause the blades to twist and turn on the water surface, which will affect the movement of the canoe. For more information on paddling technique see: Proper Technique to Paddle a Canoe.

[important]Canoeing Tips: A loose grip improves your feel for the paddle and, more importantly, reduces the tension in your arms and shoulders.[/important]

A loose grip will improve the way you bring the paddle blades over the water surface and will improve the way you steer your canoe.

These are only a few canoeing tips. There are more that will answer specific needs of paddlers. Canoeing is a skill that can be learned and enjoyed more with practice.




Are you looking for an easier way to move your kayak or canoe

to and from the water?

Canoe & kayak carts offer a safe and easy way

to walk your craft to the launching site.

Check out this comparison of the top canoe & kayak carts.




Other Canoeing Articles: