Canoecopia – Guide to the ULTIMATE Paddling Expo

Canoecopia 2023 - Canoes on display at the largest canoe expo in the world

Are you a canoer, kayaker or stand-up paddle-boarder? Are you interested in learning more or expanding your gear collection? If so, you must attend Canoecopia!

What is Canoecopia?

Canoecopia 2023 - Standing in front of the giant Save The Boundary Waters inflatable loon

Canoecopia is an paddlesports-specific trade show that is put on by Rutabaga Paddlesports. It is held at the Alliant Energy Exposition Hall in Madison, WI every March and is the World’s Largest Paddling Expo!

Canoecopia is the largest paddlesports consumer event in the world. The Alliant Energy Center Exposition Hall is more than 250,000 square feet, and the main hall contains more than 100,000 square feet of kayaks, canoes, stand up paddleboards, outdoor equipment and clothing, with the best selection of the season, make Canoecopia “must go” place for gear!

With over 100 presentations and clinics, Canoecopia is also an educational event where you can learn about specific gear for your style of paddling, develop skills to get you where you want to go, and discover some of the many places to paddle, both near and far. If you’re interested in experiencing life on the water, Canoecopia is the best place to spend the weekend!” – Canoecopia Website

Read More: 22 BEST Restaurants Near Monroe Street in Madison, WI

Why We Loved it and YOU will too!

Canoecopia 2023 - Beautiful Fishell Paddles on display

2023 was the first year that we attended. Our good friend Scott Oeth from Bull Moose Patrol had been talking the event up for years and finally convinced us to attend. We are so glad we did. The event showcases pretty much ever manufacturer in the space, from large boat builders to cottage-industry custom paddle makers. Canoecopia is a great way to shop for new gear and to mentally prepare for the upcoming paddle season.

The event also includes over 100 presentations and clinics from experts in the sport. We had the great pleasure of meeting Cliff Jacobson (yes… you should read his books) and Kevin Callan (of Happy Camper fame). They are both towering figures in the backcountry canoe scene and are very generous with their wealth of knowledge and experience. Other clinics cover a broad range of topics including specific gear for your style of paddling, skills development, and overviews of canoe/kayak destinations both near and far.

Canoecopia is Kid Friendly

Canoecopia 2023 - Sanborn Canoe Company canoes and paddles on display

Our only complaint? Like many outdoor activities, the average attendee age is creeping up. There just are not enough families dedicating time to wilderness activities. As a society, we are hitting a crises point where outdoor adventure is being rapidly replaced by everything else. It is up to us to stop it before it is too late!

Please add Canoecopia 2024 to your calendar and consider bringing your friends AND your kids! Let’s be honest, kids can’t handle three days of a canoeing expo. They can however handle a couple of hours interspersed with Madison’s other kid-friendly activities (and a splash at the hotel pool)!

Maybe if we can get enough like-minded parents together, we can start putting on some classes designed just for kids! How fun would it be to have Northstar Canoes give a canoe-safety class? Or Cliff Jacobson a fire-starting for kids class? Maybe Bull Moose Patrol could put on a knife safety course designed for even the youngest of campers? The opportunities are endless. We just need to show up!

If you have interest in getting more families involved in canoe culture, please reach out. It is our number one passion and we could use all the help we can get!

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The Quill Family

We are the Quills! An ordinary family sharing our extraordinary travel experiences. 


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