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Cute vs. Practical Clothing for Camping and Canoeing

I might not be ready for my canoe trek yet. But I will be! I am now diligently cramming for my introduction to white water canoeing course this weekend and the big trek to come in the Northwest Territories.

After going out for a canoe via Britannia Bay on Monday night with Hubby and the kids, I swooped into Bushtukah, a local outdoors and sports store in our neighbourhood, one hour before closing. I wanted to find some clothing for camping and canoeing. Normally I find clothes shopping very discouraging since most clothes just don’t seem to fit right or if they do, they are the most expensive ones on the rack. But, somehow, I lucked out!

I found a very cute shirt and pants. I thought these were a very good find because the shirt has nice pleating (meaning that is doesn’t cling tightly around my stomach) and the pants have a wide elastic waist (again, the stomach area).

The Cute Outfit

Top: Helly Hansen. Women’s Odin T-shirt. Size L/G in Essential Purple. Regular price $45. Sale price $29.
Pants: The North Face. Women’s Out the Door Capri. Size L/G in Asphalt Grey. Regular price $75. Sale price $60.

I came home and immediately shared my happy finds with Hubby. His response: “That’s not for our trip, is it?”

He shared these tips with me about the shirt: that shirt exposes too much skin so you will have issues with sunburn and bugs. Also, probably chafing around the arm pits.

As for the pants, he noted: You will want to be wearing quick dry material. Plus the large waistband will absorb a lot of water if you get wet and then you’ll be uncomfortable around your middle for the day. Quick dry is the key to comfort.

So this is the practical outfit. You’ll see that my shirt has full sleeves now to prevent sunburn as well as to keep the bugs off of my skin. It also has breathing panels (shown in the close-up photo) to help keep you cool. As for the pants, they are made of quick dry material and have a simple waist band that will also dry quickly. I do not find this waist band particularly comfortable but this is my compromise, I guess. You’ll also note that these pants are full-length for the same reason as the shirt. Plus, they have a cuff at the ankle to further prevent bugs from getting to your skin (see close-up photo).

The Practical Outfit for Camping and Canoeing

Top: Royal Robbins Light Expedition. Size Women’s XL in Soapstone. UPF 50+. Regular price $79.99. Sale price $56.
Pants: MEC R2K Pants. Size Women’s 16. Price: $49.

So there you have it, friends. The cute versus the practical clothing for camping and/or canoeing. (I ended up keeping the cute outfit to wear for everyday life, but will use the practical outfit for canoeing and camping.)


  1. Ok. I see how practical that long-sleeved shirt and those long pants are, but is there nothing that’s closer to the cute side of the fashion spectrum being made out there nowadays?? :)

  2. you can get quick-dry shirts in the sports/workout stores, too. you may find the long sleeves too hot – I have a simple short-sleeved shirt (cover shoulders for sun protection and enough under-arm coverage so lifejacket doesn’t chafe). The long sleeves will be good for evening camping, but bugs shouldn’t be bad on the water during the day and you can wear sunscreen.

  3. Both are great and I’d bring both just in case you have to make a dash into town to replenish supplies. Nothing wrong with a little bit of cute while camping too.

  4. OK, I love the “cute” and I totally get the “practical”. I need one of those practical shirts for my baby, easily burned skin. I would have kept both too. 😉

    • I wore it in the blaring sun for a canoe ride yesterday. So great to have the skin covered and to not even apply sunscreen! (I hate putting sunscreen on. Naturally, I had to put some on my face and hands, but that’s it!)

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