Gear Advice for a Grand Canyon Self-Support Kayak Trip

by | January 29, 2015

6 things I wish I had brought on my Grand Canyon self-support kayaking trip

1. Longer paddle
My shoulders hate me right now for trying to save money by using a 194cm paddle that I already had.  Lesson learned:  when paddling a longer and heavier boat, a longer paddle is also necessary.
2.  Seat cushion
No matter how much of a dirtbag you are, sitting on the ground every meal for 12 days straight is not awesome.
3.  Face wash
Sometimes girls just need some quality spa time.
4.  Fruit
I went through some serious fruit withdrawals during the trip.  I had a few dreams about apples and bananas dancing through a field of orange trees.
5.  Raincoat
Oops!  Left that one in the car.  Luckily, the only rain we had was just a slight drizzle and I was fine without my raincoat.  However, had the rain been any worse, I would have been living in my drysuit day and night.
6.  Bowl with a lid
It is never fun to wake up in the morning and find that your bowl has been turned into a public toilet for all the mice that live within 3 miles of your camp.  Lesson #1 learned: always put your bowl in a drybag overnight.  Lesson #2 learned:  bring a bowl with a lid so that mice cannot get into your bowl in the first place.

5 things I wish I had left home on my Grand Canyon self-support kayaking trip

1.  Most of the alcohol I brought
I am not a big drinker, so this is entirely from my own experience, but I found that after paddling 20-30 miles each day, I had zero interest in drinking when I got to camp.  Changing into dry clothes, eating a giant meal, and crawling into my two sleeping bags that I brought were the only activities I had any interest in partaking in most nights.
2.  Neoprene kayaking mittens
I had been told that the water in the Grand Canyon is freezing cold, so I came prepared with both pogies and mittens.  However, after paddling for most of my life in Montana, I found the water to be moderate in temperature, and I never used my mittens once.  I did, however, use my pogies.
3.  Front foam pillar
There is no longer a requirement in the Grand Canyon rules and regulations that states that kayakers must have front and back support pillars in their kayaks.  I did not fiddle with the outfitting in my boat long enough to figure out how to remove the front pillar, and therefore I struggled with packing all my gear in my kayak every single morning.
4.  Cotton t-shirt
Winter trip = long sleeves and fleece worn at all times.  Cotton t-shirt in 30 degree weather = completely pointless.
5.  Several Wag Bags
This trip was my first experience using a groover (glorified word for poop tube), so Wag Bags (poop bags for humans) were a completely new thing for me.  I purchased way too many, thinking I would have to use one for each deuce.  Much to my grossed-out surprise, Wag Bags are multi-use!  I could have saved a lot of money and groover space had I known this in advance.