The Happy Camper Pack Returns Along With Two New Canoe Packs From Recreational Barrel Works

Image Via: Kevin Callan

A few years back, the Canadian company Recreational Barrel Works released a large-volume (125 litres) canoe pack made specifically for the experienced canoe tripper who heads out for multi-day wilderness excursions. It’s been a top seller for them ever since. This year, however, they put out two similar designs in a tad smaller size—The Paddler and The Camper. I can see these quickly becoming top sellers as well.

They’ve also released a second SPECIAL EDITION The Happy Camper pack to once again raise money for Camp Outlook.

The Paddler

Recreational Barrel Works—Paddler & Camper Canoe Packs

The Paddler is now Recreational Barrel Works’ second-largest pack, with an overall volume of 105 litres. That’s 20 litres less storage space than their Expedition pack, but it still has all the bells and whistles.

The pack is made of tough 1000 Denier Nylon material, with the bottom layer doubled up for extra durability. The padded shoulder straps and back foam pad are extra comfy, and a hip belt and adjustable sternum strap helps to snug up the load. A bonus: the adjustment straps are extra-long and bright yellow to make them easy to locate when needed. Don’t you hate trying to find black coloured straps on black coloured shoulder straps and hip belt?

The side of the pack has a number of compression straps to squeeze in the contents of the pack. There are also bottom pockets and a number of daisy chains on the lid if you’re looking for somewhere to attach items like a water bottle or map case outside of the pack. I’m not a fan of having gear dangling on the outside of my pack, however; I much prefer to stuff daytime gear like bug repellent, T.P., GPS and sunscreen in the large, zippered lid pocket. It’s pleated, which gives you extra room and less tension on the zipper. I love that addition.

Image Via: Kevin Callan

There’s also a grand total of seven padded handles, (front, back and sides) so you can easily lift the pack in and out of the canoe with ease. That’s a lot of handles, and they’re amazing to have.

The Paddler Canoe Pack comes with an optional tumpline. Some paddlers love a tumpline and some despise it. Personally, I wouldn’t go across a portage without one.

Another great option is the ability to place an internal frame in the back of the pack. It’s a rigid but flexible frame sheet with two aluminum stays that slide securely into the built-in pocket inside the pack. You can adjust the metal stays to conform to your back. That’s just cool!

Take note that the pack isn’t waterproof, so you’ll need some type of waterproof system. I use a pack liner to keep everything dry inside. You could choose to use a series of separate waterproof storage bags.

The Camper

The Camper Canoe Pack drops down to an overall volume of 76 litres, making it the smallest pack in Recreational Barrel Works pack series. This is a perfect pack designed for smaller adults or youth. I can see canoe camps loving this one.

The pack has all the add-ons of the Paddler and Expedition packs—cozy padded back, shoulder straps and hip belt. And it has the adjustable sternum straps and side compression straps. There’s also the pleated lid pocket, as well as a multitude of grab handles. You can also get the optional tumpline.

However, this pack doesn’t have the option of an internal frame. But quite honestly, it doesn’t need one. The pack is too small to require the extra support.

The Happy Camper SPECIAL EDITION Tripper Canoe Pack

Recreational Barrel Works “The Happy Camper” Canoe Pack #2—Full Details (2024)

Last year, I partnered up with Recreational Barrel Works to produce The Happy Camper SPECIAL EDITION Tripper Canoe Pack—a straightforward 105-litre volume pack with similar features to the aforementioned packs. The main purpose was to help raise money for Camp Outlook—a camp based in Kingston, Ontario, which takes youth out on extended backcountry canoe trips. The participants are made up of 13- to 17-year-olds who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go backcountry canoe tripping. The trips are free, the staff are all volunteers and the program—founded in 1970—is an amazing way to give youth a way to develop their inner strength, self-worth and capacity to succeed in life.

The Happy Camper Canoe Packs sold out in just under 48 hours. Wow! Profits went to Camp Outlook. It was such a success that we decided to do it again this year—this time with a nice Georgian Bay Blue colour. We also added on three compression straps on each side of the pack.

The 2024 pack will also be a limited edition so get ready to make your order on Recreational Barrel Works web site (priced at $129.95 to $139.99). It should be on sale mid-March.

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