Skip to content

Outdoor Action

Leadership Starts Here

Canoeing Trip Personal Equipment List


Here is all the information you need to pack for your Frosh Trip. When selecting gear for the trip, remember that you’ll be in the outdoors for five days, so you’ll want to bring only those things you need to be comfortable. Leave behind what isn’t necessary—extra stuff just adds weight. This equipment list is based on over 40 years of experience running Outdoor Action Trips. If you bring ALL the gear on the list and ONLY the gear on the list, you’ll be comfortable in virtually any situation you’ll encounter on Frosh Trip.

Check out the OA Video on YouTube to help you pack for your trip:



Fabrics: For canoeing you want clothing that is warm, breathable, and quick-drying. Synthetic fabrics are best because they won’t absorb water, dry quickly, and are relatively windproof. Many people already have synthetic clothing at home, so you may not need to go out and purchase clothing just for this trip. Items like running gear, athletic warm-ups, and skiing/snowboarding gear can easily be used on this trip—so check out your closet or borrow from a friend before going to the store. Lightweight synthetic/cotton (50/50 blend) shirts, underwear, and pants are fine. You should avoid bringing all-cotton clothing since it absorbs water easily and won’t keep you warm if it gets wet. Cotton also retains water so that it takes a very long time to dry. Do not bring all-cotton clothes such as sweatshirts, sweatpants, or jeans.

Dressing for the Weather: Weather is unpredictable, so you’ll need to bring a range of clothing for various temperatures, as well as rain. During the day, northeast temperatures at the end of summer can range from the 60s F at the low end to the 90s F. Temperatures can be considerably cooler at night, though, dropping into the 30s F and 40s F.

Layering: Dressing in layers is the most efficient way to stay comfortable in the outdoors. By bringing several different layers, you can add or remove clothing to match your activity level and the weather conditions.

  • The Base/Wicking Layer keeps the skin comfortable and dry, which is essential for controlling your temperature. Polypropylene or other synthetic fabrics are ideal since they wick moisture away from your skin. Such lightweight synthetics or synthetic/cotton blends provide good ventilation for the skin to keep you dry and cool. During the day you’ll probably be hiking in a T-shirt and shorts.
  • The Middle Layer is made up of a long sleeve shirt and long pants, which provide insulation and some protection from the elements. You may wear these while hiking for cooler temperatures or to protect you from sun, or at camp at night and in the early morning.
  • The Outer Layer—usually a fleece jacket or wool sweater—provides insulation. Synthetic fleece fabrics (such as Polartec) don’t absorb water, so they keep you warm even if they get wet. You’ll wear this layer around camp at night and in the early morning when it is cooler.
  • The Shell Layer protects you from wind and rain. A waterproof rain jacket is vital in case of bad weather. A coated nylon rain jacket is lightweight, inexpensive, and works well. Waterproof-breathable fabrics like Gore-tex also work well but can be expensive. Raingear is not only essential for Frosh Trip, but also will get plenty of use on campus. All rain gear must be tested in the shower prior to arriving on campus.  
  • For the final layer, your Head, bring a wide-brimmed hat for sun and rain protection. At night, you’ll need a wool or synthetic fleece hat to keep you warm—it can get colder than you think at night.

Think Before You Buy! Although backpacking requires specialized gear, you may be surprised how many items you already own or can borrow from a friend or relative. For example, you likely already own the synthetic or 50/50 synthetic/cotton blend clothing that is best for backpacking. Borrowing gear not only saves you money, but also contributes to Outdoor Action’s effort to be environmentally friendly in all our activities. After all, hundreds of incoming freshmen buying hundreds of petroleum-based products for one-time use on Frosh Trip leaves a pretty serious impact on the environment. Borrow (or improvise!) first, then buy used gear if you can so that polluting/non-renewable resources are not being consumed to manufacture your new gear. Items that are most appropriate to buy new are those that require precise fitting (like boots) and those that you will use a lot around campus after Frosh Trip (like a rain jacket). 

Information about Princeton equipment discounts can be found here.  

Packing Your Gear: You want your clothes to stay organized, easily accessible, and dry in your dry bag. The best way to do this is to separate things into plastic bags (gallon-sized Ziploc bags or plastic grocery bags) so that you can compartmentalize your gear and keep things dry. OA will provide the large dry bags that you will store all of your gear.

Canoeing Trip: Personal Equipment List

Please check off each item as you assemble your equipment to make sure that you have everything.

OA is able to lend this item if requested before August 12. Check your requests HERE. Requested items will be distributed on Sunday, September 2 at OA Check-in in Dillon Gym. 

_______        1 sleeping bag with stuff sack: Any summer weight synthetic fill bag will do (fills like Polarguard Delta, CloudLoft, PrimaLoft, Thermic CF). If the bag has a temperature rating, a 35 to 45° F bag should be fine. The bag should have a nylon shell both inside and outside. Down bags are acceptable, but extra care must be taken to keep them dry. Do not bring bags with cotton shell, fill, or lining—if they get wet, you’ll never get them dry.


You MUST bring the following items. Outdoor Action cannot supply them to you.



_______        1 pair sneakers, water shoes, or sandals with a heel strap (such as Keen or Chaco-brand sandals): This will be your pair of shoes to wear while canoeing, and they will get wet. Sandals without a heel strap (e.g. flip-flops) are NOT appropriate.

_______        1 pair sneakers or running shoes: This will be your dry pair of shoes to wear around camp at night and must be closed-toe for operating the stoves.

_______        1-2 pairs of wool hiking socks or athletic socks: For wearing around camp at night.


_______        1 brimmed cap (wide-brimmed, baseball, etc) for sun and rain protection (highly recommended)

_______        1 wool or synthetic fleece hat for warmth at night

Upper Body:

_______        T-shirts: 2 synthetic OR 2-3 synthetic/cotton (must be at least 50% synthetic).

_______        1 long-sleeve shirt: synthetic (like under armour or nike drifit), athletic warm-up, 50/50 synthetic/cotton blend

_______        1 synthetic fleece jacket or wool sweater: The mountains get chilly at night! (no cotton in this layer)

_______        1 rain jacket or poncho: waterproof nylon or waterproof/breathable fabric like Gore-tex. Test in shower to make sure it’s still waterproof—the waterproof coating on nylon rain jackets degrades over time!  Don’t bring heavy rubberized rain jackets; they weigh a ton and you’ll end up getting very hot and sweaty. Be careful with windbreakers and track jackets, most are not waterproof, especially if they do not have a hood. Water resistant is not the same as waterproof.

Lower Body:

_______        Underwear as needed (recommended 1/day for females). Synthetic preferable.

_______        1-2 pairs non-cotton, loose-fitting, athletic shorts

_______        1 pair non-cotton loose-fitting long pants, : nylon, synthetic, fleece, or 50/50 synthetic/cotton blend. Athletic warm-ups are great. No blue jeans or sweatpants—they take too long to dry!

_______        1 pair lightweight polypropylene long underwear bottoms (optional but highly recommended if you get cold easily)

______          1 pair waterproof rain pants (optional)-- see notes on rain jackets

_______        1 bathing suit (highly recommended)


Other :


_______        Any medications you will need to take during the trip (inhaler, allergy medications, etc.)

_______        Glasses, contact lenses, and contact solution as needed. Some people find it hard to keep their hands clean enough to be comfortable handling their contacts, and therefore prefer glasses, so we encourage bringing a spare pair of glasses as back-up.

_______        Toilet kit: Only toothbrush, small tube of toothpaste, comb/brush, sunscreen, and lip balm. Do not bring “smellables” like shampoo, soap, shaving cream, deodorant, etc. Things that “smell good” to us are an attraction for insects and animals. OA will provide biodegradable soap.

_______        Insect repellent. Repellents with high concentrations of DEET are hazardous, so please do not bring products with more than 35% DEET. No aerosols please—it’s bad for the environment.

_______        Menstrual hygiene products as needed


_______        3 one-liter reusable water bottles, such as Nalgene. You must have these water bottles! We recommend plastic bottles (a non-BPA plastic or polyethylene). 

_______        1 small flashlight or LED headlamp with fresh, alkaline batteries (alkaline batteries last longer) Headlamps are preferred, as they leave your hands free. It gets very dark in the backcountry, don’t forget this.

_______        1 heavy plastic garbage bag for storage

_______        5-6 gallon size Ziploc bags or 2-3 plastic grocery bags for packing

_______        1 plastic cup with handle

_______        1 plastic bowl (Tupperware works great)

_______        1 unbreakable spoon

_______        2 bandannas or handkerchiefs. They are useful for many things in the outdoors.



_______        1 closed-cell foam sleeping pad (3/8 in. foam) or inflatable camping pad (like a Thermarest—not a full-size inflatable mattress). OA provides foam pads for all participants, but you may bring you own if you prefer

_______        Camera

_______        1 small notebook and pencil

_______        Sunglasses

_______        Travel size packets of hand wipes/towelettes (like Wet Ones)

_______        1 pair lightweight, synthetic gloves

_______        1 individual bottle of hand sanitizer (2 oz.)


DO NOT BRING: You’ll survive without these things, we promise!

  • Electronics: cell phones, iPods, etc.
  • “Smellables”: deodorant (attracts animals, unhygienic when showers are unavailable), makeup, shampoo, etc.


Sources for Equipment

You may have a local backpacking shop in your town, or you can go to a chain store or shop online. There are also a number of websites that resell used gear, this will save you money and reduce the environmental impact of your gear. Some sources:
EMS -- Suggested items for OA:
L.L. Bean --
Sierra Trading Post --
Campmor --