Entertainment in the Far North

Kite flying is a great activity for wind-bound or layover days. Photos by Brian Johnston.

Whether you’re wind and weather bound, or simply exploring, a few key essentials will make your trip more comfortable and fun.


Chairs are a bonus in bug shelters and in tents on weather bound days. I’ve even used mine to shore up uneven sleeping sites. Crazy Creek chairs have long been the most common tripping chairs. Alite Designs Monarch Chair is a newer product that some people find very comfortable, but note that it has a lightweight aluminum frame so you can’t kneel on it or sleep on it.

Fishing Gear and License

I trip with avid fishers who bring fishing gear. It is easier to obtain a fishing license online before you leave home then in a northern community.


Flags add color to your outfit, indicate wind direction and speed, and are in the spirit of explorers.


If you are not an avid reader or sleeper, games are a great way to pass time when weather bound or on lay over days. A couple of decks of cards can provide endless hours of socializing. I bring cards, dice and a small, folding nylon frisbee.

Hiking Poles

The tundra is renowned for hiking and some days I hike more than I canoe. I don’t use hiking poles but some people love them.


Kite flying is a fun activity for wind bound or lay over days. Kite Aerial Photography (KAP) will provide a unique perspective of the land—see photo below.

Photography Equipment

I love the Pentax point-and-shoot waterproof camera but it has limited zoom capabilities. With open spaces and vast distances of the far north, many paddlers bring DSLR cameras.

Personal Reading, Journaling and Reference Materials

I bring a small variety of novels, a flora book (I love Page Burt’s Barrenland Beauties), a journal and mechanical pencil because it never needs sharpening. You may want to bring a bird or fauna book, and I often bring historical and cultural reference books that pertain to my route.


Years ago my partner introduced me to over-proof alcohol—the higher the alcohol content the less you have to carry. Platypus or similar containers are collapsible once emptied.

Headlamp and Power Sources

With the increased number of electronic devices that are finding their way north on canoe trips there is a need to consider battery power. You can bring extra batteries or charge the battery via a solar charger or a battery pack. For short trips, I bring extra batteries. For trips longer than 3 weeks, I pack a small solar panel. I also bring a headlamp for lower altitude trips and trips that run late in the season.

Wind Gauge

When wind bound a wind gauge is an easy way to keep track of the real wind speed—the longer you wait the more you think the wind speed has dropped. Two wind gauges are the Brunton (electronic) and the Dwyer Air Meter or Portable Wind Meter (not electronic).

Next: Far North Trip Logs



Brian Johnston, Editor of the Paddle Canada Canoe Program. Brian has paddled Far North rivers of all kinds: swift descents from the mountains into the Mackenzie Valley, subarctic rivers emptying into the Arctic Ocean, traverses from the Northwest Territories to Nunavut, and drainages into Hudson Bay.

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