Whitewater rafting on the Middle Fork Salmon, America's best wild river trip
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Middle Fork of the Salmon Equipment List

Get ready!

One of the joys of life on the river life is how simple it is. We will be carrying everything we need into the wilderness with us and leaving a lot of stuff behind. Bringing the proper gear will make your trip much more enjoyable. The basic rule of packing for a river trip is: the right stuff, not more stuff. One synthetic fleece pullover is much more compact and versatile than six cotton sweatshirts; a good raincoat is better than twenty ponchos. You should be able to find most of the gear you need in your closet, garage or neighbor's basement and what you can't find or borrow, you can rent from us. Your guides will help you make last-minute decisions at the pre-trip meeting, but please feel free to call us if you have any questions as you go through this list; we want you to have the best trip possible.

What to bring:

This list has everything we can think of for trips in May and August; you can adjust it to fit your departure date (more and thicker fleece early in the season), but you probably shouldn't skip anything.

CAMP ITEMS: These will be packed in your dunnage bag and will generally not be available during the day.

  • *Compact sleeping bag, (down or synthetic, rated to 35 degrees).
  • *Closed-cell foam or self-inflating sleeping pad, (ensolite, Thermarest, or air mattress).
  • *Sleeping bag liner or flat bed-sheet (perfect for hot nights and will add warmth on cold nights).
  • *Small tarp or ground cloth
  • *Compact, lightweight tent, (free-standing preferred, no wall tents please).
  • Your favorite pillow (an extra pillow-case is handy for organizing stuff in your bag).
  • 2 complete changes of clothing (versatile pants and shirts, cotton is fine - something exciting for dinner is welcome!)
  • Extra swimsuits, shorts and T-shirts for in camp
  • Extra socks, (wool or fleece are best), and underwear (wool only for the rugged!)
  • Camp shoes, (flip flops or trail running shoes, ultra-lite boots, tennis shoes, etc. Something you can walk and hike in comfortably).
  • Small towel, soap and shampoo (Campsuds and Dr. Bronner's seem to be the most environmentally friendly; Ivory is fine).
  • Personal hygiene items, including medicine, insect repellent, dry-skin lotion, etc. Please bring twice the amount needed of any essential medicine.
  • Warm jacket, (thick fleece is great - will work on-river as well - or compact/down coat).
  • Rain gear, (can double as on-river gear); top is essential, bottoms are advised before July 1.
  • Small flashlight with extra batteries, (headlamps are great).
  • Book, sketch pad, journal, etc.

RIVER ITEMS: These will be worn, or packed in your personal dry-pack and will be accessible during the day

  • Sandals with heel strap (Chaco, Teva) or old running shoes. NO FLIP FLOPS OR SLIP-ONS! Wool or fleece socks help keep your feet warm.
  • Swimsuit or shorts and T-shirt, (nylon quick-drying shorts are best - women often prefer to wear shorts over their swimsuits).
  • Lightweight cotton clothing, (synthetic long-sleeved or old cotton dress shirts) for sun protection.
  • Sunglasses with strap, (maybe not your best pair).
  • Brimmed hat, (a spare is a good idea, baseball style is fine, kayakers will wear helmets).
  • Waterproof sunscreen/block (SPF 30), lip balm.
  • Polypropylene pile or fleece top (essential).
  • Polypropylene pile or fleece pants (encouraged).
  • Waterproof rainshell (essential) and rainpants.
  • Small water bottle, 1 quart, (essential - even if it's just an empty plastic Gatorade bottle).

OPTIONAL ITEMS: Not absolutely necessary, but you are welcome to bring them.

  • Waterproof camera, (if you want to bring your cell phone to use as a camera, we strongly recommend getting a sturdy case such as an Otter Box or EscapeCapsule)
  • Beer, wine, liquor, or soda in unbreakable containers, (cans or plastic bottles).
  • Fishing gear, (compact, lightweight, minimalist)
  • Biking/Sailing gloves for inflatable kayakers.
  • Carabiner, handy for securing your day-pack.
  • 1 or 2 plastic garbage bags and some gallon size zip-locks for organizing and separating gear.

Underlined items are the choice of our professional river guides.
WE WILL PROVIDE: a chair, cup, plate, and eating utensils for each guest.
PLEASE DO NOT BRING: Valuable jewelry, radios, guns or irreplaceable items.

*Rental gear:

We have good equipment available to rent. Reserve and pay for it in advance, pick it up at the pre-trip meeting, leave it behind when you're done; simple.
---> Sleep Kits (polarguard bag, liner, self-inflating pad and tarp) are $40 per trip.
---> Tents (two-person, free-standing, comfortable) are $40 per trip.
Call us or reserve it when you complete the on-line registration for your trip.

PROFESSIONAL TIP:
'Fleece' is a generic term for a spun, polyester fabric developed for outdoor use. It is thick and fluffy and does not absorb water, making it ideal insulation on a river trip. It is commonly called Polartec or Polarfleece. Polypropylene is a thinner, stretchier, woven variation used predominately for long underwear. Any polypropylene long underwear will work; heavyweight is the most versatile.

How to dress:

ON HOT DAYS you will want clothing that dries quickly (nylon shorts and bathing suits) and something to shield you from the sun, (a high-tech SPF long-sleeved shirt or an old lightweight cotton dress shirt and maybe even lightweight long pants or capris). Also, a brimmed hat and a bandana are helpful for staying cool.

ON COOL DAYS you will want a thick, synthetic fleece top, (pullovers are best) and a sturdy, fully waterproof rainshell. You may also want fleece pants or polypropylene long underwear bottoms and rainpants, particularly before mid-July. Don't bring a cotton sweatshirt and a windbreaker; cotton is worthless when wet and won't work for on-river insulation and you need something waterproof over your fleece.

ON YOUR FEET you will want shoes that stay on if you go for a swim and are comfortable for hiking. Sport sandals with heel straps (Tevas, Chacos, Keen, etc.) work well, (buckles are better than velcro). Old running shoes work well and are easy to find. Neoprene, wool or fleece socks will add a bit of insulation under shoes or sandals. Wetsuit booties work but can be a bit clammy after a full day.

IN CAMP you will want comfortable walking/hiking shoes, (flip flops, lightweight boots or tennis shoes), and versatile clothing, (T-shirts, warm shirts, cotton shorts, jeans or sweats, extra fleece, etc). Cotton is fine for camp stuff, but because it is worthless for keeping you warm on the river, many people bring two sets of fleece - one for the river, one for camp - and have a backup in case one gets drenched.

PROFESSIONAL TIP:
Layering your clothing is an effective way to adjust to the daily weather changes that you will encounter. A light polypropylene layer under a heavy fleece top under a rainshell will get you going on the chilliest of mornings and allow you to shed layers as the day warms up.

Where to find it:

Local outdoor or sporting goods stores should have everything you need and fleece garments are now available at most department and closeout stores. Great selections of river trip gear are also available on-line through:

Columbia Sportswear - 800/622-6953

REI - 800/426-4840

L.L. Bean - 800/341-4341

Campmor - 800/525-4784

Patagonia - 800/638-6464

Cascade Outfitters - 800/223-7238

PROFESSIONAL TIP:
Thrift store.

 

PROFESSIONAL TIP:
Parents will want to make sure that their kids have at least two fleece tops and a waterproof rainshell. Fleece pants and a fleece hat are also recommended. It seems that children always get cold more easily, (and wet more often), than adults. Remember, if you don't bring it for them, they will use yours!

How to pack:

CAMP ITEMS go in a watertight dunnage bag provided by ARTA, (one per person). These are generally not accessible during the day. The bags are roughly 17 inches in diameter and 24 inches tall, (the size of a large duffel bag); plenty big, but you should try to limit all of your gear to about 25 pounds. We'll show you how to close the dunnage bag so that it stays watertight even if temporarily submerged, but packing your sleeping bag in a garbage bag provides extra protection.

RIVER ITEMS will go in a watertight dry-pack provided by ARTA, (one per person). These small packs are 9 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall, perfect for rain gear, fleece, sunblock, and other things you want to keep handy during the day. For expensive cameras we recommend a Pelican Box, which can be found on-line and at most outdoor stores.

PROFESSIONAL TIP:
Our dry-bags are great for keeping things dry but are somewhat awkward for packing and living out of, (they are tall and narrow with a small opening at the top). Compact sleeping bags are much more convenient, and small stuff sacks, pillow cases or zip-lock bags are helpful for dividing up your stuff inside the bag. Trying to put your entire duffel bag or luggage into the dry-bag never seems to work.

 

PROFESSIONAL TIP:
Our girl guides say that one of the handiest things to bring on a trip is a sarong. Versatile, comfortable and colorful, sarongs get used for quick clothing changes, beach throws, sun screens and dinner celebrations. Some of our boy guides bring them too and no one laughs (at least not out loud).

Questions:

Please feel free to call our office 800/323-2782 or e-mail us if you have any questions. We have been on many trips, have tested a lot of gear, and we enjoy talking about what has and hasn't worked.