Green River Desolation Canyon Equipment List and Packing Guide

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: 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.



These items will be waiting for you at the launch site so you don’t have to fly with them.

  • Freshly laundered sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Self-inflating sleeping pad
  • Tarp or ground cloth
  • Two-person tent*
  • Camp chair
  • Plate and eating utensils
  • Mug
  • Waterproof splash jacket
  • Neoprene wetsuit (if necessary)

*TENTS: We will bring one tent for one and two person reservations; two tents for three and four person reservations; three tents for five and six person reservations, etc. Please let us know if you need alternative tent space or if you prefer to bring your own tent.


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

Please limit your gear to around 20 pounds per person (airplane restrictions).

Camp Items

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

  • Your favorite pillow.
  • Two 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
  • Camp shoes. Something you can walk and hike in comfortably (ultra-lite boots or trail-running shoes; our guides wear flip-flops in camp)
  • Small towel, soap, and shampoo (Campsuds and Dr. Bronner’s seem to be the most environmentally friendly).
  • Sarong (great for quick changes and sun protection.
  • Personal hygiene items, including medicine, insect repellent, dry-skin lotion, etc. Please bring double 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 if you get cold easily.
  • Small flashlight with extra batteries, (headlamps are great).


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

  • Sandals with heel strap (Chaco, Teva, Astral, etc.) or old running shoes. NO FLIP FLOPS OR SLIP-ONS! (Add wool or fleece socks if your feet get cold easily)
  • Swimsuit or shorts. Nylon quick-drying shorts are best – women often prefer to wear shorts over their swimsuits.
  • Lightweight cotton or dry-tech style synthetic shirt or T-shirt. Long-sleeved if you want extra sun protection. If you get cold easily, a lightweight fleece top is handy.
  • Brimmed hat (baseball style or visor work best under helmet for inflatable kayakers – and a spare is a good idea).
  • Sunglasses with strap, (maybe not your best pair).
  • Waterproof sunscreen/block (SPF 30), lip balm.
  • Polypropylene pile or fleece top (essential)
  • Waterproof rainshell (essential) and rain pants.
  • Water bottle, (essential), an empty Gatorade bottle is fine.


Optional Items

These items aren’t 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 a Lifeproof or Otter Box)
  • Beer, wine, liquor, or soda in unbreakable containers, (cans or plastic bottles).
  • Book, sketch pad, journal, etc.
  • Biking/Sailing gloves for inflatable kayakers.
  • Locking carabiner, handy for securing your day-pack.
  • 1 or 2 plastic garbage bags and some gallon size zip-locks for organizing gear.

Underlined items are the choice of our professional river guides.
Please do not bring: Valuable jewelry, bluetooth speakers, guns or irreplaceable items.


‘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. 

It seems that children always get cold more easily, (and wet more often), than adults, so 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. 

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, Astral, 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. “Aqua shoes” are great for the water park, not so good for walking on rocks.

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.


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
L.L. Bean
Northwest River Supplies
Cascade Outfitters


Thrift Store

How to pack:

At the pre-trip meeting, you will get two waterproof bags for your personal items.

> A large “Camp Bag” (about 17 inches in diameter and 24 inches tall) will be used to pack your personal clothes and other items that you won’t need during the day. There is plenty of room for everything on the equipment list, but you’ll need to leave space for the sleeping bag that you will get at the launch site.

> A smaller “Day Bag” (about 7 inches in diameter and 12 inches tall) will be used to pack anything you want to keep handy during the day, (rain gear, fleece, sunblock, etc).

If you want to bring your cell phone to use as a camera, please get a sturdy waterproof case such as an Otter Box or an EscapeCapsule.

At the launch site, you will get your sleeping bag to put in your Camp Bag (and we will have your pads and tents packed separately).

Please limit your gear to around 20 pounds per person (airplane restrictions).


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.


If you still have questions, please feel free to call us (209-962-7873) or e-mail us ( We have been on many trips, have tested a lot of gear, and enjoy talking about what has and hasn't worked.