Gear Up for the River

Mar 28, 2022


As the temperatures get warmer, there’s no better way to spend a hot day than floating down the river in a kayak or canoe. Before you set out, though, put some thought into what you need to pack and how you plan to secure those items to your boat.
 
What to Pack
There are several essential items you will need to pack with you to keep you protected and comfortable throughout the day. Items include sunscreen, lip balm, sunglasses, a hat, and insect repellant. Don’t forget to pack a few high-protein snacks for the trip as well, plus lots of drinking water. If you don’t have enough space in your canoe or kayak for multiple bottles of water, consider using water purification tablets.

Check the weather forecast before you go and dress accordingly. To be prepared for a range of temperatures, consider dressing in layers. Even if it’s supposed to be a warm day, you can count on the temperatures dropping in the evening, especially as fog rolls down the river. Layer a bathing suit with quick-drying shorts or convertible pants, an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) shirt, a windbreaker, a pair of socks, water shoes, and an extra thermal layer. Pack these clothes in a roll-top dry bag to keep them from getting wet.

Safety should be a top priority for your trip to ensure a positive experience. Make sure to bring a life jacket for every person on board and wear them for the duration of the trip. Use an additional dry bag to store a first-aid kit packed with bandages, antibiotic ointment, antihistamine, and aspirin, and keep this bag under your seat for easy access. Depending on your destination and the anticipated duration of the trip, consider packing a multitool, signaling whistle, headlamp, map and compass, and a spare paddle as well.
 
 
How to Pack
Packing a kayak or canoe is all about balance and weight distribution. Place your heaviest gear in the center of the boat, positioned along the centerline. Be tentative to what is likely to shift around when navigating the river and throw you off balance, such as a heavy cooler. Keep these items in the lowest part of your boat, and store mid-weight items on top. Pack your gear tightly so that it is less likely to move; use the seats of a canoe to lodge items in place. Lighter-weight items can be stored at the far ends of the canoe or kayak since they are less likely to affect the maneuverability of the vessel.

Use tie-down straps and bungee cords to secure your gear but allow for easy access. If you plan on fishing, use a clamp-on rod holder to keep the poles secured and out of your way until you need them. As you pack, remember that your own weight and the weight of others will affect the weight distribution and balance, so your gear may need to be adjusted once everyone climbs in. 
 
Your local Co-op has many of the supplies you will need for your next excursion down the river. Stop by any of our convenient locations and let us help your trip stay afloat!
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of the Cooperator.
 
 

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