Getting in & out of the canoe - like a pro'



With summer and warm weather approaching, I really hope that some of you wants to go paddling! Today I want to share  a great hack for getting in and out of the canoe. This particular momentum is a risky one, and the most common time for that involuntary swim... 

The technique I'm about to show you, can be used on a long canoe trip in the wild or by the pier back home. I'll talk you through it - just give me a minute to share some more thoughts on the topic. 

If I'm stepping into the canoe from a pier I like to sit down on the pier first, so I don't have to stand like a Swiss knife. If you and your comrade are going out on running water, the one sitting downstream enters first, if you do the opposite the current will grab the upper stem and there's a risk the canoe will dig itself down and fill up with water. Been there, done that ...

It's not always possible to get in or out of a canoe with dry feet. That's why we always recommend our guests to wear water proof shoes or shoes that doesn't really matter if they get wet. It could be a pair of worn out sneakers, converse, hiking boots with high shafts or rubber boots. Don't go in the water barefoot, you never know if there's anything sharp on the bottom. However, in general it's easier to dry a pair of shoes than mending a canoe out in the field. And remember, it's water we're stepping into - not sulfuric acid. 

Another detail before we jumps right in, is to make sure the entire canoe is on the water. It might feel safe to have the stern a little on shore or on to a rock when entering the canoe. But it's a false sense of safety. Actually it's the other way around - it will only get wobblier. Finally - this habit also makes unnecessary damage to the canoe when you're shuffling off that rock. 

Now, let's get on with it!


When entering the canoe. Put your paddle across the canoe. Hold on to the paddle and put all your weight on it. 


Put one foot in the middle in front of where you want to sit. Still with all your weight on the paddle. 


Put your other foot right next to your first.


And sit down. I like to sit, leaning my bum against the seat, my knees at the bottom of the canoe and feet under the seat. This way I'm both very stable and have full contact with the canoe. If you have problem with your knees, try putting a piece of plastic sleeping mat under your knees. Or swap between correct position and sitting on the seat like you would on a chair. The latter will be more unstable though and you can't really work out those badass core muscles of yours - as you want in order to paddle effectively.

Okay, but how do I get out of this thing? 

When getting out of the canoe, you do it the exact same way but reverse. For pictures, just scroll back through pic 4-1. You put the paddle across the canoe. Hold on to the paddle with all weight on it. Stand up - slowly if you're new to this and your feet is asleep. Step out one foot at a time, still with all your weight on the paddle. I know I'm repeating this over and over, but it's important. It's your best friend to keep your balance. Most involuntary swims are due to the paddler grabbing the gunwale instead. 


Sometimes it can be hard to get close to shore, so that both of you can get in or out from where you sit. if so, the one on the further end can climb with all their weight on the paddle, like my partner Erik kindly demonstrates in the photo above. They simply push the paddle in front of them, stepping in the middle of the canoe - as long as it works with backpacks and a dog in the canoe.  

Now I'm curious - how do you enter or step out of your canoe? Did you like this hack? Or do you have a wet canoe-memory you'd like to share with the world? Please share on Instagram and tag us @tracelessintiveden so that we may join you in your virtual canoe. ;)

Paddle in peace!


Would you like to learn more about canoeing, but in real life? 

Please, check out our tours! 

(We also runs two courses, but only in Swedish this year due to the pandemic.)