Two Dudes, One Canyon: Gear Talk

Going on a 7 day self-support kayaking trip is going to be different than those 21 day raft excursions that are so popular. You can take that whole living like a king notion and having steak dinners and just throw them out the window or leave them in the truck at the put-in. Efficiency and “KISS” a.k.a. keep it simple stupid were the goals I was shooting for, outlined here is my try at that.

Be sure to to do test packs at home before you go. You’ll get better at the packing process and have far fewer surprises and frustrations when out there!

Here is a breakdown of what I took, where and how I located it within the boat and finally thoughts on what I wish had brought and wouldn’t take again. I will start at the bow of the boat and work my way back to the stern.

  • 2 Watershed Futa dry bags in the bow, one contained a Mountain Hardwear Optic 3.5 tent and the other my clothing. Clothing consisted of a lightweight poly long sleeve shirt, one cotton sweatshirt, one fleece long sleeve shirt, one pair of cotton sweatpants, fleece gloves, down booties, and 4 pairs of socks/underwear.

The Futas are made to fit in the bow and these are items I wouldn’t need to access until camp. It was easy to unscrew the bolts on the footplate, remove it, and then pull the drybags out, allowing me to immediately get to the tasks of getting dry and establishing shelter. The Watershed Futa has a feature where it acts like a float bag, there is a tube with a valve with which you can inflate the bags. I on the other hand, chose to use this a vacuum function and stuffed them full and then sucked the excess air out. This allowed them to fit into the bow easier and with less friction, which combined with constant sand in the boat, helped me feel like the abuse on the dry bags was lessened.

  • 1 Watershed Goforth dry bag tote which functioned as my “miscellaneous” bag. It had the GravityWorks water filter, Jetboil Flash cooking system, 3 100g cans of fuel, an electronics bag with 16 AA batteries, battery powered USB charger, headphones and cell phone, headlamp, two plastic bags of oatmeal, two small bottles of Jack Daniel’s, a bag of instant coffee packets, breakfast waffles, bag of gummy bears, bag of assorted chocolates, oral hygiene kit, and my plastic silverware.

This sat in between my knees where the front pillar normally would go, which I left at home. It was nice to have a single bag that I could grab easily and walk away with and have the ability to take pictures, filter water, make coffee/food, etc.

The Groover acted as the rear pillar of the boat with the top and bottom of the rear pillar glued on it. It never had to be taken out of the boat with the manner in which I used it. I used “doggie” bags to collect my waste (lavender scented, which my wife was happy about) which I put into the Groover by hand…. This was well worth the inconvenience if you can stomach the process required. A 3” foam plug separated the waste from the tissue paper and hand cleaning kit.

The Groover, shown here, acting as the rear wall.
  • 1 Sea to Summit 35L bag with my 35 degree sleeping bag, it went to the right side of Groover.
  • 1 mesh bag with 4 piece Werner breakdown, tent poles, REI chair, and Groover wrench, this was on the left side of Groover.
  • 1 Sea to Summit 35L bag with portable propane heater and Sea to Summit sleeping pad. This bag lived directly under the hatch opening of the Stinger.

Dehydrated food and orange tarps were simply stuffed into the stern wherever they would fit.

Food went as follows daily:

  • Breakfast: 1 Rip Van Wafel and one serving of Power Oatmeal. I would also make a packet of instant coffee following this.
  • Lunch: A Met-Rx protein bar
  • Dinner: A Backpackers Pantry Dehydrated meal with single serve chocolates or Haribo Gummi Bears for dessert.

Adult beverages: 2 pints of Jack Daniels Cinnamon Whiskey

I also packed a 7 servings of dehydrated mashed potatoes and dehydrated chicken. My original intention was to have this at lunch, but the way I felt while paddling and our time constraints led me to never touching this.

I was definitely in a caloric deficit for the entire trip, but this never bothered me. I had wanted to lose a bit of a weight on the trip, I think I might have accomplished leaning down. I’m a naturally warm person to begin with also, I never seemed to suffer from being cold due to my metabolism being slower.

For a safety backup to the signalling mirror and for a means of communication, I brought along an inReach Explorer by Delorme, now by Garmin. It was incredibly useful for maintaining communication with the outside world with its ability to text and send emails. There are going to be a range of mindsets about “disconnecting” while down there, but I really appreciated being able to let my folks know I was OK and the getting words of encouragement and affection from my wife.

My river kit consisted of the following:

LiquidLogic Stinger XP: The Stinger XP was a great boat for a trip like this, it has the features you want for overnighting out of and dealing with flat water and boils. I wouldn’t ever want to take a boat down the canyon in such a short time without a skeg. Think of the difference between a mountain bike and road, you get much better energy transfer with each stroke and it requires less effort to stopping lateral veer. The rear hatch was nice, but not very dry. In water as big as this, it will find its way into the hatch, there is just no way around that. Just make sure your drybag openings are securely shut and they are in good repair and you should be good to go. I won’t bother describing boat handling, once you put 40-50 pounds of kit in it, it will act differently than anything you’ve ever paddled.

Kokatat Gore-Tex dry suit: The standard by which all dry suits are measured. As gross as this might sound, I wore my unionsuit every moment for the first 6 days, it never got wet. I wore the same socks for the first 3, they never got wet. Make sure you wear neoprene socks over those booties, that will help keep sand damage to a minimum.

G’Power Twister Sickline w/Qnect: Hands down my favorite piece of gear. This is a Polish slalom paddle designed to handle the rigors of creek racing, i.e. Adidas Sickline in Austria. It is a bit aggressive in its handling, requiring a forward stroke with good technique so that it doesn’t bite you back. The best thing though is the Qnect system, this allows you to make it a two-piece, adjust the feather and even adjust the length. Mine was setup with a length of 197 when fully closed and goes up to 202 safely when asked of it. When I would think to do so, I would set the stick to 200 and really appreciated the extra power and leverage.

Check out TCGSport’s online shop if interested in these awesome sticks

G’Power Twister Sickline at TCGSport

The unique Qnect adjustment system from G’Power Paddles

Rounding out the gear were the standard Astral Green Jacket, Shred Ready Standard helmet and IR Klingon skirt.

In the end, I brought too much food. Doing so much paddling, I found I never was very hungry during the day. I wound up bringing about 7-8 meals worth of food back home with me. I also never truly needed the heater I brought, but it was nice to have psychologically, just knowing I could get warm if I wanted to.

I really wished I had brought a sponge and a copper/steel mesh bag. With the way the hatch leaked, it was hard keep to keep the water from filling up the boat. As one can imagine, draining a boat this heavy is not an easy task and you don’t want to paddle with any more weight than you have to.

Having a steel/copper mesh bag would have been nice too, from a pest control standpoint. I wasn’t sure sometimes if the rodents or ring-tailed cats were going to destroy my drybags or not and hanging them up on the shrub like trees was very difficult.

Remember to take quality gear down there, once in, you ain’t coming out of there for a while and you don’t want a tent, sleeping bag or a drysuit full of water. Also practice that packing ritual over and over before hand. Every moment you are trying to solve the puzzle of where and how something will go in your boat is a moment you could be playing in Deer Creek falls or hiking up a side canyon!



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