We asked our expert team of paddlers to tell us which products they didn't think they'd need on a river trip, but use all the time. From safety items to products for a better night's sleep, check out the top 5 things things you may want to add to your checklist:
First and foremost, you’ll need a onesie. Your onesie says a lot about you, it’s your animal side. It’s also a great ice breaker to show people who you don’t know on the trip that while you’re a bit crazy, you’re not totally lame.
Our onesies make it on every multi-day trip we go on, and often live in the Watershed Colorado Bag that my sleeping bag, pillow, and tent are packed in.
The onesie is especially awesome for shoulder season trips. You hardly have to layer underneath them on 40 degree nights.
Additionally, They work awesome as a sleeping bag liner that you can take with you when you go to the bathroom at night. Some require modification for that maneuver… time to hit up that friend who is handy with the needle and thread!
The next most important thing we never go on a river trip without is a musical instrument… or like seven, because why would you bring just one?
Our coworker Jake carries a small ¼ size guitar that fits in his Eddy Out Drybox, and an amp that fits in his captain’s box.
We've seen carbon fiber fiddles, ukuleles, harmonicas, tambourines, and egg shakers make their way onto trips as well. There’s nothing that brings a group together more than everyone, regardless of musical talent, jammin out around the fire together.
3. Dope Lighting
When you get to the beach after a long day, it’s time to set up the same amount of stuff that you would find in an 800 square foot apartment, from the kitchen to chairs, and even the fireplace. When that’s done, though, you are still left with a dark beach that needs some life.
Our coworker Jake has several sets of the Goal Zero Light-A-Life Quad lights with the multicolor shades. Hang these from trees or oars and you’ve got better kitchen lighting than any headlamp or lantern will provide. Each light is as bright as the average headlamp, there are four per strand, and you can chain them together to all run off of one battery bank, like the Goal Zero Venture 70.
Don’t forget to pick up some solar panels to keep battery banks charged on longer trips! The Luci LED Solar Inflatable Lanterns are awesome too. They provide a lot of light for the fact they are inflatable lanterns that you never have to replace batteries on. They are great for lighting the way down the groover path, and usually last all night if you remembered to leave them out on the boat during the day.
4. Beach Games
Beach games are critical for an awesome river trip. There are several manufacturers that make light up bocce sets that are really cool.
Glowing Poi sets, or LED batons are pretty cool to have too, in case it turns out that the quiet girl on your trip went to college on a marching band scholarship for baton twirling (seriously, this happened once and it was awesome).
An item like the NRS Pro Compact Rescue Bag is awesome for safety during the day, but features a glowing rope that is perfect for the game “Hunker Down” at night (waivers required…). Also needed for Hunker down are two Rocket Boxes.
LED frisbees are always a fun, easy thing to pack if space is an issue as well. Playing beach games doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down!
5. A Good Attitude!
Lastly, the most critical thing to bring on a river trip isn’t something you can buy. You need to bring a helpful & respectful attitude.
River trips are a group effort and everyone needs to pitch in. When you hit the beach, the place you are camping should be your last concern. There are boats to unload, a kitchen to set up, a bathroom to set up, and chairs to set up - there is no shortage of work to be done before the fun can begin.
This tip extends beyond being helpful, though. NRS had a good duct tape diary earlier this year about “Miltons”, which are the Jerry’s of river trips. I’ll borrow that term as well. For a quick summary - Milton doesn’t help out, Milton complains a lot, Milton overindulges on adult beverages and canyon enhancers, Milton hits on your girlfriend in front of you, and Milton’s debauchery gets him injured (frequently).
Don’t be Milton. Milton doesn’t get invited on the next trip, and everyone who does talks about how glad they are that Milton isn’t there this time. You can’t buy your way out of being Milton.
Bring things like these and you are bound to have a blast on the trip and leave a lasting impression on those you are floating with. River folk are a family, and having a few extra things that make the trip that much better for your new family will help solidify your place in it.