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. Your Shuttle Driver will not make any “pit stops” between our shop and the river. We advise against traveling to and from Moab on your put-in and take-out dates.
The following is condensed list of suggested and/or required 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
- BLM Permit and/or Canyonlands National Park Permit
- Water (MUST BE carried in!) 1 gallon per person is the minimum required amount, figure extra for cooking
- River toilet system
- Rope, 50+ ft to tie up the canoe(s)
- River knife
- Camp stove (don’t forget gas/propane)
- Lantern and/or headlamp with extra batteries
- Trash bags and trash bucket (LEAVE NO TRACE…We have recycling bins back at the shop for your trash when you are done with your trip.)
- A bandana or scarf
- Sunglasses with a safety strap (We sell this, CHUMS brand, at our shop)
- 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 on windy days)
- Insect repellent, especially for July trips
- Various sizes of Ziploc bags
- Toilet paper, paper towels, handi wipes, and hand sanitizer
- Hiker first aid kit
- Water-resistant watch
- Dry Bag and/or Dry Box
- 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.)
- Staples/dry goods
- Powdered Gatorade (It is very important to get those electrolytes, especially in the high temp. summer months!)
- Kitchen commissary
- Kitchen utensils
- 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 at our shop. Be aware if there is a current fire ban in effect.)
- Multi-Tool (i.e. Leatherman)
- Emergency Mylar blanket
- Signal mirror
*Optional, but highly recommended, is the 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, Merino wool, or Primaloft) for cool mornings and evenings (Spring and Fall). Merino Wool Thermals/base layers are a necessity in the Spring and Fall! Down is light and warm, until it gets wet! Avoid cotton. We like Smartwool’s 250 midweights or Woolx’s heavyweights.
- Socks – Wool is better than cotton, even in the summer. We love Darn Tough Merino wool socks!
- Long sleeve shirt and long pants for sun protection (Cotton is only good for summer trips, or for around camp.)
- For Spring and Fall nights: warm hat & mittens (a lightweight ski or “watch cap” can be worn while sleeping for extra warmth!)
- ID and BLM Permit (if stopped by a Ranger) and Cell phone in a small dry bag or box
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.
- Body lotion/moisturizer
Dish washing system:
- River water pots
- Washing pans & strainer
- Scrub brush & pads
- Bleach & dish soap
- Duct tape
- 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 boxes (various size ammo cans or 8 gallon and 24 gallon Rubbermaid Action Packers)
- Dry bags (s-xl)
- 60 qt. Coolers (You will need to bring ice.)
- 30 Degree Sleeping bags
- Sleeping pads
- 2 Person Tents
- Camp chairs
- Propane, 2 burner camp stove (You will need to supply your own Propane.)
- 5 gallon Trash bucket with a leashed lid (Dry bags rented from MRCC are NOT for trash.)
- Kitchen sets
Equipment included with canoe rental:
Personal Floatation Devices (PFDs), Paddles, Bow & Stern lines, Throwing cushion (emergency throwing device, not a seat cushion!), 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…yes, really!) ALL OF YOUR POTABLE WATER NEEDS!** 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!
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 to have on your river trip (even if there is a fire ban in effect) and is required for all wood or charcoal fires. One will 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 with water 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.
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 is to stay on the river.
GREEN RIVER TRIP SAFETY POINTS
1) Listen/think/take responsibility. BE PREPARED! Have an emergency plan in place. ALWAYS tie the canoes so they do not float away when you are not in them!
2) Know your canoe equipment
- PFD (Personal Floatation Device or Lifevest) – When your PFD is not on you, clip it to the canoe, a tree, or something so it isn’t lost. *Those 12 years old and younger must wear their PFD at all times while on the river.
- Paddles (3 per tandem canoe, 2 per solo canoe)
- 1 Throwing device per canoe (throw cushion)
- Bail bucket (to scoop out any water that may get into the canoe)
3) Know the area, river conditions, weather forecast
- Follow along the whole way with your River Map, as there are not any river mile markers/signs out in the backcountry
- C.F.S. :Cubic Feet Per Second (the way the river industry measures river flow)
AND WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW THIS?
The Green River’s flow is ranges from 2,000 – 45,000 + c.f.s. So, the time in the river season that you are taking your trip, along with the length of time you are out on the river, will play a big part regarding the river flow. 5,000 c.f.s and under, will be a “slower moving” river and it will take longer to make up river miles. However, the same river miles at 15,000 c.f.s. and higher, will take less time. The c.f.s. will also play a part in how big and where “camps” will be.
Spring run off = high water and is mostly in May and June.
- Plants – Avoid poison ivy and poison oak.
- Insects – Use insect repellent for mosquitoes, deer and horse flies, and gnats (usually in July and some of August).
- Poisonous insects – Do not reach into holes (or anything) without first shaking (ex. shoes) and dumping out to check for spiders, black widows and brown recluses, or scorpions.
- Lightning – If present, get to shore. Stay in low, flat areas close to the ground. Avoid large trees and overhangs.
- Flashfloods – Avoid wash bottoms and stream mouths.
- Animals – This is the desert and backcountry wilderness…so yes, there are rattlesnakes, mountain lions, big horned sheep, frogs, lizards, etc.
Do not step on the Cryptobiotic soil crust! This is biological soil made up of living organisms and responsible for creating the oxygenated atmosphere on our planet that supports all life today. It can take hundreds of years to form a thin layer usually less than eight centimeters thick. Unfortunately, it is extremely delicate and can be destroyed by something as innocuous as a footprint.
4) Know your own physical demands & conditions
- Hypothermia – Even though air is warm, the water may be cold. In the case of hypothermia due to swimming, take off ALL WET clothes and put on DRY clothes, with windbreaker or rain gear (top & bottom) as the last layer. This can help you warm up faster.
- Dehydration – DO NOT GO INTO THE DESERT WITHOUT WATER!! ALL WATER MUST BE CARRIED IN!! Evidently, this must be stated! No, a water filter will not suffice! Drink plenty of water…often! Minimum 1 gallon per person per day is recommended to prevent dehydration.
- Sunburn – Use plenty of sunscreen and wear protective clothing and a brimmed hat.
- Ask if anyone in your group has any medical conditions (allergies, bad back, heart condition, etc.)
On your Self-Guided Canoe Trip…
You will be required to load and unload your gear, paddle, load, and maneuver your own canoe. This includes pulling the boat up parallel to shore and unloading.
5) Launching/landing/tying up/loading canoe
Put canoe parallel to shore (do not beach it, bow-first like a cabin cruiser).
With canoe parallel to shore, you can get in and out on the shore side. YES, your feet will get wet. Balance your canoe by putting gear weight from side to side and front to back. Load all gear in canoe & strap it in, in case of upset.
6) Paddling strokes: basic paddle strokes – forward, backward, know how to steer and hold paddle
7) Be familiar with: Eddies – currents of water running contrary to the main current
Strainers (AVOID) – a hazard formed when an object, ie Tamarisk, blocks the passage of larger objects but allows the flow of water to continue
8) Self-Rescue (in high or low river levels) – Stay on the up stream side. Swim canoe to the nearest shore. Keep your feet up and in front of you to not get caught in submerged rocks and pulled under. Hang on to the paddle and canoe. Wear your PFD.
9) Paddling in the wind – Strong upstream, gusty winds are common, especially in the afternoon. Do not get crosswise (to avoid capsizing). It is best to paddle parallel with the shore and within a few feet of shore. Stay balanced and do not try to fight the wind. Kneel in the canoe for a lower center of gravity. If wind is severe, get to shore.
10) Swimming (NO DIVING!) – Always swim wearing your PFD. Swim from a beach or shore. Swimming from canoe can cause capsizing when entering or exiting boat. AGAIN, DO NOT DIVE!!! Silty waters do not allow you to see hidden objects, such as rocks or shallow bottom, and may cause back and neck injury, including paralysis or drowning.
11) Fire pan – Only build fires in a fire pan at camp. Your group will be provided with one fire pan with canoe rental. Douse fire with water and dispose of all remnants in your trash. Know if there is a fire ban in effect.
12) Garbage – All goes in trash bags or bucket, DO NOT throw in the river or on land. ALL trash must be carried out, including micro-trash (i.e. stickers off fruit, bottle caps, crumbs from food, wrappers, etc.)!! Leave NO trace of your stay!
13) River toilet or “Groover” – Know how to set-up the river toilet. When on the river, find a location by the river so you can still pee in the river or wet sand. POOP AND TOILET PAPER ONLY are to go in the groover! Wipes and feminine products clog up the dumping station! Put those in your trash bag. Don’t forget the toilet seat!
14) Pee into the river (What??!) We do not get a lot of rain in the desert, so “they” say to pee in the river or on the wet sand. The river will then dilute it. This goes for when you are hiking, too: Pee on the trail or on the floor of a dry wash, NOT by the big old tree…
15) Dry bags – Properly close them every time to keep gear dry and anything from crawling in. The dry bag that you rent from us SHOULD NOT be used for garbage!
16) Complete the BLM paperwork (carry your Permit with you on the river)
17) Sign the Release and Equipment Rental Forms
18) Pay your bill in full
19) Load your gear into the vehicle – When loading your gear into the vehicle, please put the heavy gear in first (water jugs, cooler, dry good box, etc.) and dry bags and light stuff go in last.
20) Let’s get going to the river and have some fun!
LEAVE NO TRACE OF YOUR STAY! PACK OUT EVERYTHING YOU PACK IN!