Okefenokee Overnight Packing

Paddling and camping the Okefenokee Swamp is truly a wilderness experience. Everything you will need must be brought with you… and it all must fit it in the confines of a canoe and without capsizing it! Gear must be kept to a minimum.

Canoe trail directional sign pointing to the Canal Run Shelter for overnight camping by permit. Along the Suwannee Canal orange trail in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia USA. March 12, 2022. ©www.williamwisephoto.com

Of course, we have the essentials – oars and lifejackets are a must, and I never neglect my small Rx pouch of bandaids, allergy medicine, ibuprofen and a bee sting pen (which my daughter actually needed on our last paddle). Yes, there are toilets at the overnight platforms, and sometimes there is toilet paper, but I strongly recommend bringing some extra TP along with you!

All of our snacks and meals must be able to be kept at air temperature, as there is no refrigerator on the canoe! An assortment of protein bars, trail mix, crackers and squirtable “cheese”, peanut butter, bananas and a few other items fill our food bag. We bring a small propane stove to prepare our freeze-dried eggs and coffee for breakfast, and heat our camping meal each evening. Never forget trash bags to bring out all your refuse.

Three days of gear and food narrowed down to fit into one large waterproof box and a few small bags. On Floyd’s Island, March 12, 2022.

Clothing is kept to a minimum (but nobody else is out there to catch our odor anyway!). Although I bring a toothbrush and deodorant, I gladly leave behind my razor. Needless to say, one can look like a true “Swamp Thing” when emerging from the Okefenokee after a few days.

The camping platforms are spacious, but you may have difficulty fitting several large tents on them. We bring a smaller 7′ by 7′ tent and our sleeping bags and tiny camping pillows. The only “unnecessary” comforts brought along are the canoe chairs and the thin camping pads to be used under our sleeping bags.

Since photography is one of the primary purposes of my Okefenokee adventures, I have to keep room for that equipment. But that breakdown is an entirely separate blog. Even with the limited gear, the canoe can sit pretty low in the water.

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