Grand Canyon National Park is a 277 mile long, up to 18 mile wide, and one mile deep chasm that has been efficiently carved by the river’s meandering channels. Rock/Creek’s Daxton Bacalman, store manager at our Riverside SUP and kayaking store, is a devout adventurer and is returning for 21 days this November to paddle what he calls “the big ditch” for the 4th time. We’re going to check in on him after his trip, but here are his thoughts before leaving.
Daxton’s Grand Canyon Float Trip Gear List
Basics for your paddling trip:
- tent (as large or as small as needed)
- sleeping bag (rated to at least 15 degrees)
- sleeping pad or travel cot
- two camp chairs (good to have an extra)
- camera (we recommend a GoPro)
- camp shoes (to wear around camp)
- rain boots (something that can get wet)
- hiking shoes
- day pack and/or Camelbak
- base layers (2 minimum)
- mid-layer (2 minimum)
- Patagonia Down Sweater
- swim trunks
- rain gear (rain jacket and rain pants)
- water bottle
- camp pants (something very tough…thick canvas pants)
- socks (7-10 pair)…Merino is the best
- underwear (7-10 pair)…synthetic/capilene
- river hat
Essential river gear:
- dry top or dry suit
- base layer
- paddling gloves
- skull cap
- splash wear
Be comfortable…bring a stuffed animal if it helps you sleep better, bring LED party lights…hell, a Christmas tree and decorations if you want! Basically, whatever items you need to make your experience that much better!
Other rafting trip essentials:
- personal first aid kit
- hand salve
- cotton gloves (to sleep in after hand salve applied)
- toiletry kit
- wash cloth/small towel
- sanitary wipes
- Dr. Bronner’s magic soap
- fun outfits/costumes for a party
- party supplies (glow sticks, LED lights, music, etc.)
- book(s) (plan your next National Park trip with this book)
- games (cards, board games, frisbee, wiffle ball, bocce…lots of down time!!)
- solar charger (for batteries, electronics, etc.)
- some form of wilderness rescue insurance
- waterproof/floatable container to hold cash, phone calling card, credit card, ID, insurance card*
*This last item is important…The historic Phantom Ranch located at the base of the Grand Canyon, along the confluences of Bright Angel Creek, Phantom Creek and the Colorado river, is the quintessential camping/resting/hanging out spot. While deep within the canyon, it is the only place that allows backcountry traveller’s to remain, somewhat, connected to the outside world. It contains a small grocery store complete with souvenirs, beer, and other backcountry essentials. This guest ranch does NOT accept credit cards. As there is not really cell phone reception in the Grand Canyon, there is a pay phone at the ranch that allows visitor’s to make outside calls— hence, the recommendation to bring a phone card.
Needless to say the gear is essential. But Daxton is quick to point out that these raft trips are very similar to car camping, or more aptly, “barge-boat camping…because there is no reason to be a minimalist when you have a raft!” Extended rafting excursions are not about speed, weight, and the efficiency of gear. You are surrendering to the movement of the water, to the flow of it’s current and its strength, therefore, let the water bare the brunt of your weight. Comfort is key to life on the water. Daxton quips, “Be comfortable…bring a stuffed animal if it helps you sleep better, bring LED party lights…hell, a Christmas tree and decorations if you want! Basically, whatever items you need to make your experience that much better!” A checklist of gear that Daxton gave the crew for his trip is as follows…
Daxton emphasizes that it is not only important to have the right gear, but that it is even more necessary to pack it correctly. He suggests that everything should be packed into a couple of bomber, high quality dry bags. Have one bag for those items that you may need when you first get to camp. This includes such things as tent, sleeping bag, dry clothes, camp shoes, headlamp, and jacket. In the other dry bag you can put all those items that you may need later in the week or want to rotate in/out. Having such a system allows you to spend less time rummaging and spend more time actually preparing camp and enjoying your beautiful camping spot!
[Tweet “Wondering what to pack for your Grand Canyon #rafting adventure? Check R/C’s gear list.”]
When asked what is his favorite piece of gear for this trip, Daxton doesn’t hesitate, quickly responding, “without a doubt…my Patagonia Down Sweater. It’s lightweight and warm, perfect for cold nights along the river.” And what is the most essential piece of gear for this trip? It is something that Daxton believes is the most important—something that can make or break the entire experience…Hand salve and cotton gloves. “Remember, it is the desert and you are in water all day…your hands crack severely. It is imperative to keep your hands in good shape. The best remedy is to lather your hands up and sleep in cotton gloves to allow them to replenish…and to keep your sleeping bag from getting all greasy. I also use Dermatone on my face. The desert will age you quickly if you’re not careful!” Rock/Creek has a full complement of Patagonia sale items along with other gear deals from top brands like Marmot, Boardworks, and NRS, so you don’t have to break the bank preparing for your trip of a lifetime.
Gary Puntman says
I’m planning a trip to the grand canyon next summer. I would love to go rafting there. I know I will need to make a list of the supplies I need. I want to be prepared and have these before I go on my trip.
Mark McKnight says
This is on my bucket list. I’ve been through the canyon on the R2R2R course and will never forget it. Now I just need to spend more time down there!