Packing List & Tips for Self-Guided Multi-Day Canoe Trips…
On a Self-Guided Trip, it is your responsibility to be prepared and ready to go when you arrive at our shop the day of your launch. The following is condensed list of suggested items.
River Map: Belknap’s Waterproof Canyonlands River Guide, sold at our shop for $20 or San Juan River Guide by Lisa Kearsley, for the San Juan River
Paracord/Rope, 50+ ft to tie up canoe(s)
Camp stove with gas/propane
Lantern and/or headlamp with extra batteries
A bandana or scarf
Sunglasses with a safety strap
Sunscreen & lip balm with sunscreen (Both will be much appreciated by the end of your journey!)
Wide-brimmed Sun Hat (for sun protection, and with a tie down – helpful when running the rapids or on windy days)
Trash bags and trash bucket (We have recycling bins back at the shop when you are done with your trip.)
Various sizes of Ziploc bags
Toilet paper, paper towels, handi wipes, and hand sanitizer
Hiker first aid kit
Dry Bag and/or Dry Box
Insect repellent, especially for July trips
Individual water bottles – everyone needs to have their own water bottle at hand.
Cooler (Ice and dry ice can be purchased at the grocery store in town.)
Powdered Gatorade (It is very important to get those electrolytes, especially in the high temp. summer months!)
River shoes (with secure ankle straps for support)
Hiking shoes/boots – you may want to have a pair for day hikes or for around camp. Flip flops can be worn around camp, but not while out on the water or hiking trails.
*Note on footwear: All river shoes will get wet and probably muddy too, so an old pair of sport shoes will work well. You may also want to bring a spare pair of river shoes…something always happens!
Large Car Sponge (to wipe away all the mud that will get inside the boat)
Camera, spare batteries, SD cards (Ziploc bag or other additional protection)
Binoculars if you like, but beware. It is a sandy environment.
Journal or book (Don’t forget to bring a pen!)
Extra pair of prescription glasses or contact lenses
Firewood (We sell this in our shop. Know if there is a current fire ban in effect.)
Multi-Tool (i.e. Leatherman)
*Optional, but highly recommended, rental of a Satellite Phone from WF Communications. Know your own abilities. Chances are if you ask if you need to bring a Sat Phone, you probably do!
Day Dry Bag (things you will keep close at hand during the day):
Rain gear – Even though this is the desert, it can rain at any time.
*Note about rain gear: A quality 2-piece rain suit is highly recommended throughout the season; pants and a jacket with a hood. Ponchos are not recommended. Select a good quality rain suit to ensure durability on the river. It will be your outermost layer and protection from waves, spray, rain, and wind.
Sweatshirt, sweater, and/or warm jacket (fleece, pile, polyester, wool, or Primaloft) for cool mornings and evenings (Spring and Fall). Wool Thermals/base layers are a necessity in the Spring and Fall! Down is light and warm, until it gets wet! Avoid cotton.
Socks – Wool is better than cotton, even in the summer.
Long sleeve shirt and long pants for sun protection (Cotton is only good for summer trips, or for around camp.)
Warm hat & mittens: For Spring and Fall nights, a lightweight ski or “watch cap” can be worn while sleeping for extra warmth!
Camp Dry Bag (things needed at camp):
Tent, tarp, sleeping bags, pillows, sheet, sleeping pads (Sleeping pads and tents do not need to go into a dry bag.)
Flashlight with extra batteries
T-shirts & shorts/change of clothes while on trip made with quick-dry fabric works best!
Recommended Personal Items/Toiletries
Toothbrush and toothpaste
Hair tie, brush/comb
Medication, if needed
Small, quick dry towel or washcloth, hand towel, beach towel
Biodegradable soap (i.e. Ivory or Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile)
And/or, disposable moist towelettes, i.e. “baby wipes.” They work well to clean you off at the end of the day; however, they make for more waste and must not be put in the river toilet.
Dish washing system:
______River water pots
______Washing pans & strainer
______Scrub brush & pads
______Bleach & dish soap
______Zip ties or lacing
Equipment we rent for the trip:
______ River toilet & seat (You will need to **bring your own toilet paper.**)
______5 gallon Water jugs (You may fill water jugs at our location. )
______Dry bags (s-xxl)
______ 60 qt. Coolers
______Roll up tables
______Propane 2 burner camp stove (You will need to supply your own Propane)
Equipment included with canoe rental:
Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), Paddles, Bow & Stern lines, Throwing device, Bail bucket, Whistle, and Fire pan (one per group/trip)
One gallon per person per day of drinking water is the recommended minimum. The simplest and surest source of clean drinking water is to bring lightweight, 5 gallon plastic containers. **YOU MUST PLAN TO PROVIDE (carry in) ALL OF YOUR POTABLE WATER NEEDS…yes, really!** The river water is extremely silty and not considered drinkable without treatment. Consider your food menu when calculating your water needs. Account for meals that use water in preparation (dehydrated foods, pasta, etc.) and increase your water supplies, as appropriate. Having a quality water filter and enough fuel to boil river water as a back up is a good idea, even if not used.
When packing for a trip, you need to think about how many folks are going to be on the trip and how many days your trip will be. The summer heat plays a big part in what you bring and how much ice you will need. You may want to think about pre-cooking some of your food beforehand. Serve energy packed meals. Breakfasts could be juice and hot beverages, fresh fruit, bagels and cream cheese, hot and cold cereal selections, or pancakes. Lunches could be buffet style with sandwich makings, plus a high carbohydrate selection, like pasta salad. Trail mix and beef jerky are nice for snacking. For dinner, it is a good idea to always have plenty of fresh salad or vegetables to go along with hearty main dishes such as Pasta Marinara, Teriyaki seafood kabobs, or chicken fajitas. Or, if you are really low-maintenance, they make some great freeze-dried food these days!
Trash bucket with a leashed lid (Dry bags rented from MRCC are NOT for trash.)
Packing your gear for canoe trips
To avoid the loss of equipment, we recommend that you tie all of your gear into the boat when canoeing. We will have two #12 Cam straps for your canoe to tie-down all gear. However, you are welcome to bring more “tie-downs”. Each boat will carry enough water to provide for all your own drinking needs plus food or kitchen gear along with camp gear. Canoes can hold a lot of gear and still be fun to paddle. Also, remember you will have a paddling partner that may not be as happy about hauling your hardback library down the river. You can still bring things to make life comfortable at camp. You should plan on packing all gear that you want to remain dry in dry bags; especially clothes and sleeping equipment. You need to consider how you are going to organize your belongings in the dry bags. Stuff sacks or small duffle bags fit nicely and keep things together.
All solid human and pet waste must be carried out! The National Park Service did a study on urination concluding that “the solution to pollution is dilution”; so, as we travel down river, we “pee” into the river or in the wet sand along the river. Because of our concern for the impact that we contribute by being both users and outfitters on our favorite rivers, we rent portable river toilet systems (“groovers”) for all of our multi-day trips. They are convenient and easy to use. We will go over their set-up and use with you when you arrive at the shop. You will need to bring your own toilet paper. When feasible, place the toilet near the river’s edge to encourage urination in the river unless there is adequate groover volume to urinate in the toilet. The number of containers needed is dependent on the number of people and the length of the trip. It is easy to contain about 50 uses in a container measuring 2,000 cubic inches.
A fire pan is mandatory and is required for all wood or charcoal fires and one can be provided for you with your boat rental. This will replace the use of fire rings or pits. To prevent scorching of the ground beneath the fire pan, elevate it slightly by placing it on several small rocks taking care that it is well balanced and will not tip over while in use. All of your fires must be contained within the fire pan and all remains packed out. Please make sure that your fire is completely extinguished before disposing of the ash and coals in a plastic garbage bag. We would like to encourage you to bring a camp stove and use if for most, or all of, your cooking. Dead and down wood provides habitat for many creatures and can add to the scenic qualities of campsites. So, it is best to purchase firewood in town or we have some for sale as well. Know if there is a current fire ban in effect!
Please, pack out everything you pack in. Leave no trace of your stay! www.lnt.org
How much experience do you need?
Some previous canoeing experience is necessary to participate in this adventure. As with most outdoor activities, the better shape you are in, the more you will get out of the experience. You can travel 10-15 miles a day on the river, which is a leisurely pace for most groups. The river does a good part of the work for us, but plan on sitting in the boat for hours a day and some easy to moderate upper body use. Hikes are optional and range from easy to somewhat strenuous.
We CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH: This is a Self-Guided Trip and it requires a high level of responsibility and your due diligence in research, as you will be going into and camping in backcountry wilderness. There will be discomforts that come with this type of trip. As navigator, you will have to pay attention to river mileage and your travel speeds. You are your own captain! The area is remote and services are non-existent. Your group must be self-contained and self-reliant to deal with emergency situations. Cell phone service is not available within the canyons. If this is looking like too much responsibility, you should really start with a Guided Green River Canoe Trip.
Rental safety talk
Locations of river trips in this area can be extremely remote. Emergency evacuations can be lengthy. There are a few remote roads leading to the river. Do not attempt to hike away from the river for help. Your best chance for getting help usually is to stay on the river.
Listen/think/be responsible. BE PREPARED! Have an emergency plan in place. ALWAYS tie the canoes so they do not float away when you are not in them!