One of the best things you can do to ensure a safe and enjoyable wilderness canoe trip is to plan ahead. As Bill Mason wrote in Song of the Paddle:
"Adversity is usually the result of poor planning, inadequate equipment, incompetence or a combination of the three. . . One way to avoid adversity is to stay home. Another way is to learn the skills and acquire the equipment that will make adversity a remote possiblity."
- Use suitable equipment: choose light and compact equipment; reduce to basic necessities; use as few packs as possible.
- Plan the menu: appropriate foods, packed properly, can not only keep you from starving, but provide you with enjoyable mealtimes
- Become familiar with the area you will travel through: the weather, wildlife, water levels, fire history and conditions, and remoteness.
- Plan your route: order maps and route descriptions, study the maps and descriptions to ensure that this is a trip you and your partners are capable of.
- Get into shape: request a physical from your doctor, then begin a regular exercise program. To test yourself, try carrying your canoe and packs for a distance.
- Increase your knowledge: take courses in wilderness survival, first aid, weather forecasting, paddling techniques, swimming.
- Register your trip: make sure your friends and family know your route and return date; register with the local visitor information centre, an outfitter, or with an office of Environment & Resource Management.