Travel by Water With Kayaks or Canoes

Gain access to remote areas with the right kayak or canoe.

Photo by Dana Benner

People often ask me what I consider my most important tool. I’ve learned that the most important tool is the one you need at that moment. One item that could be useful to many people is a canoe or kayak. When a disaster hits, your life may depend on your ability to move quickly and silently. A canoe or kayak will allow you to do this. Since neither needs fuel, they’re always ready to go.

Historically, waterways were the highways, and canoes the vehicles, long before pavement crisscrossed the landscape. Both canoes and kayaks have been around for thousands of years. These watercrafts were used to haul people and supplies from one place to another, and no home was without a canoe. In the case of Indigenous peoples in the Arctic, the mode of travel was a kayak.

Our ways of using canoes and kayaks have since changed. Instead of being used for work, they’re mostly operated as recreational crafts. Canoes and kayaks have been designed for everything imaginable, and for every skill level. There are crafts made for whitewater and open-water touring; ocean kayaks; kayaks and canoes designed for racing; and canoes for weekend warriors at lakeside campsites.

Both canoes and kayaks have their place in a survival stockpile, but which one is best for you? Well, that depends on what you want to do. A canoe or kayak is a major purchase, so before you rush out and buy one, you’ll need to know more about the strengths and weaknesses of these vessels.

Some areas of North America aren’t easily accessible by land. “You can’t get there from here” is an old saying in Maine. And in some cases, that may be true. In a backcountry setting, your travel from point A to point B could be blocked by a river, lake, or pond. Anyone who lives in or has visited Alaska, Maine, Montana, or any other remote area can attest to this. Getting supplies to your remote cabin, whether in the Maine woods or the far reaches of Alaska, might require traveling by water. No craft will be perfect for every situation. So, do your homework, and find the one that will best suit your needs.

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