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Adirondack North Country Trip Planning

Packing Up

When planning a paddling trip, it's good to begin early. There's a lot to do, not the least of which is deciding what to take. You'll find a suggested gear list below. First, though, you'll want to know if you'll need a permit.


Happily, permits aren't required in most of the Adirondack North Country, and when they are, they're free from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). When is a permit necessary? Broadly speaking, you'll need a DEC permit if your party numbers more than ten, or if you plan to camp for more than three consecutive nights in one place.

Special regulations apply in the High Peaks Wilderness Area (HPWA), which includes the Adirondack Canoe Route (from Long Lake down the Raquette River to Tupper Lake). If this is where you're headed, stop by the HPWA webpage. You should also read the summary of Adirondack rules and regulations, found right here at the Adirondack North Country Paddler's Guide.

For further information, or to obtain camping permits, contact the regional office for the area you plan to visit.

NYSDEC Regions 5 & 6 NYSDEC Region 5 Headquarters
Route 86
PO Box 296
Ray Brook, New York 12977-0296

Stuart A. Buchanan, Regional Director
Phone: 518-897-1211

NYSDEC Region 6 Headquarters
State Office Building
317 Washington Street
Watertown, New York 13601-3787

Sandra L. LeBarron, Regional Director
Phone: 315-785-2239

Lake George If you're going to be paddling on Lake George, and if your canoe or kayak is 18 feet long or longer—or if you'll be using a motor—you'll need to register your boat. For information, contact

The Lake George Park Commission
P.O. Box 749
Fort George Road
Lake George, New York 12845
518 668-9347

Can I Drink the Water?

Treat all water before drinking, and treat any water used in cooking, washing dishes, or tooth-brushing, as well. Even water from posted springs should be assumed to be contaminated. Don't blame the beavers! Most contamination problems are created by human activity. Boiling water destroys all infectious microorganisms, but most folks find chemical treatment or microfiltration more convenient. CAUTION Microfiltration alone will not remove viral pathogens, and halogen tablets cannot always be relied on to kill pathogenic cysts. The best approach? Belt-and-suspenders: use both.

A Less-Than-Ultimate But Still Pretty Good Checklist

OK. You've got your permit squared away and you're ready to make a list of all the gear you'll need on your trip. Here's a checklist to get you started. It does NOT include specialized whitewater, climbing, or rescue gear. Modify it as necessary. Season, personal preferences, group size, and destination will play a role in shaping your ultimate list. Have a great trip!

Shared Gear

  • Boat(s)
  • Float bags
  • Paddle(s) (and spares)
  • Bow and stern lines for each boat
  • Bailer(s)
  • Tracking line (50 ft)
  • Boat compass
  • Pack(s) (waterproof packs are best; waterproof liners are good)
  • Portage yoke (or cart?)
  • Boat repair kit Birch Bark Canoe

  • Topographic maps and charts (in waterproof envelope)

  • Tent, with guylines and stakes
  • Tarp, with guylines and stakes
  • Candle (or gas?) lantern

  • Food, double-wrapped in plastic bags
  • Food-safe (in bad bear years years)
  • Stove
  • Stove fuel (fuel bottles or cartridges)
  • Waterproof match-case(s) and matches
  • Cooking pot(s) w/lid(s)
  • Coffee (tea?) pot
  • Skillet (cast iron best, but heavy)
  • Pot-gripper (plier-type best)
  • Salt-pepper shaker
  • Bowl (one for each person, and spare)
  • Cup (one for person, and spare)
  • Spoon, fork, and knife set (one for person, and spare)
  • Spatula
  • Ladle
  • Tool-roll (for kitchen utensils)
  • Pot-scrubber (not for non-stick!)
  • Dish-cloth (nylon mesh is good)
  • Dish detergent
  • Spare plastic bags (for food and trash)
  • Water purification tablets
  • Water filter

  • Toilet paper
  • Trowel or small shovel

  • Folding saw (or light ax?)

  • Medical kit

Personal Gear

Heading Out
  • Sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad

  • PFD (life jacket) (NB It's good to have a spare in the party)
  • Whistle
  • Eyeglasses (and spares!)
  • Sunglasses
  • Belt- or pocket-knife
  • Watch (waterproof)
  • Compass

  • Rain-jacket and pants (a poncho is a poor substitute)
  • Watch-cap (even in summer!)
  • Insulated vest or jacket
  • Gloves (mittens in spring, fall)
  • Wellies (or pacs)

  • Brimmed hat
  • Headnet
  • Sweater or fleece jacket
  • Bandanna (and spare)
  • Long-sleeved cotton shirt(s)
  • Long-sleeved wool shirt(s)
  • T-shirts Preparing for Portaging
  • Trousers (no cuffs!)
  • Shorts
  • Briefs
  • Longjohns (in colder months)
  • Socks (3+ pairs, wool or wool-blend)
  • Camp footwear (step-in pacs are nice)
  • Running shoes or other light, flexible footwear
  • Swimsuit

  • Water bottle(s)
  • Soap
  • Towel
  • Washcloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Comb
  • Tampons
  • Personal medications
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip-balm
  • Insect repellent (NB 10-40% DEET is best)
  • Sewing kit

  • Binoculars (or monocular)
  • Flashlight or headlamp (with spare batteries and bulbs)
  • Journal, pen(s), and pencil(s)
  • Books
  • Playing cards or board (bored?) game
  • Camera (with spare battery)
  • Film
  • Waterproof safe for camera, binoculars
  • Wallet

  • Fishing rod
  • Fishing license
  • Tackle-bag (or vest)

  • "Safety-orange" vest (spring, fall trips)

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Adirondack Guide and all pictures and drawings within are
Copyright © 2001 by Verloren Hoop Productions. All rights reserved.
Written by Tamia Nelson and Farwell Forrest

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