Top 10 Essentials for Your Next River Trip: Grand Canyon Edition

Published:
June 13, 2024

Here are the 10 must-have items for your Colorado River adventure.

Floating down the Colorado River through the majestic Grand Canyon is an adventure of a lifetime, typically spanning 16-26 days depending on the permit you pull. The breathtaking views, exhilarating rapids, and serene moments of floating under the sun create an unforgettable experience. However, to make the most of your trip, there are certain essentials and fun additions that you should definitely bring along. Here are the 10 must-have items for your Colorado River adventure.

1. Quality Gear 

PFD (Personal Floatation Device)

Your safety comes first, always. A reliable and well-fitted PDF is non-negotiable for any river trip. Rapids can be unpredictable, and a good life jacket ensures your security in the water, no matter how daunting the conditions. Opt for one that’s comfortable for extended wear, rowing and meets all safety standards. Don’t forget to have a whistle and a rafting knife handy too! 

Durable Waterproof Dry Bags 

Protecting your gear from water damage is crucial, and that’s where durable waterproof dry bags come in. They’re essential for keeping your clothes, cameras, phones, and other valuables dry and safe. Available in an array of sizes, you can pick the ones that best fit your needs. After all, there's nothing worse than waterlogged gear to dampen your adventure spirits.

Footwear 

When it comes to navigating rocky shores and slippery surfaces, having the right footwear can make all the difference. Trusty water shoes or sandals with a solid grip are invaluable for daytime adventures and even fit seamlessly over your drysuit booties. If the weather's colder and wetter, tall waterproof boots are a lifesaver, letting you walk to your boat without a second thought. And let's not forget the joy of slipping into camp slippers after a long, exhilarating day on the river—pure bliss. 

Dry Suit 

If you’re hitting the rapids in the colder months, a dry suit is more than just a recommendation—it’s a necessity. These suits are meticulously designed to keep you warm and dry in the face of icy waters and crisp air. During colder stretches, you might find yourself practically living in your dry suit. It's a crucial piece of gear for warding off hypothermia and ensuring a comfortable adventure. Even in warmer seasons, the chilling river water can sneak up on you, making dry suits a common sight for most rapids. 

Proper Clothing 

Comfort is the name of the game on a river trip. Packing the right clothing was high on my priority list, and it should be on yours too. Stock up on plenty of socks, undies, and base layers—these are the essentials. Comfortable camp clothing is your best friend when the day's adventures wind down. And remember, layering is key to tackling whatever weather conditions might come your way.

2. Skin Care 

Nothing puts a damper on a river trip faster than cracked hands or a nasty sunburn. Trust me, you'll want to arm yourself with ample sunscreen and hydrating cream. Daily applications of a high-quality product—like Full Spectrum Salve, Working Hands, or Cerave—can be lifesavers. (If things get really rough, a little superglue or liquid skin can be a real game-changer.) 

3. Cannabis Flower, Edibles, or Vapes 

For those who enjoy a bit of cannabis, bringing along your preferred flower, edibles, or vapes can elevate your river trip experience. Just imagine the extra laughs and relaxation under the stars! Make sure to adhere to local laws and regulations regarding cannabis use and possession. Opt for discreet and portable choices like edibles or vape cartridges for convenience. And if you’re a fan of flower, Juniper Cannabis offers handy 5-packs of pre-rolls in their own tins—perfect for an easy-access option! 

4. Fun Equipment and Yard Games 

No river adventure is complete without a splash of fun. Whether it’s a deck of cards, cornhole, frisbee, or spikeball, these games can bring an extra layer of enjoyment and camaraderie to your campsite. To add a whimsical twist, why not plan a themed costume day? Whether you go as pirates, superheroes, or fantastical sea creatures, you'll create unforgettable memories and capture some fantastic photos.

5. Portable Speakers

Imagine you're drifting down the river, the sound of water mingling with your favorite tunes. That’s the magic a waterproof portable speaker can bring to your adventure. Whether you want to mellow out at camp or get hyped for the next rapid, music sets the perfect tone. Remember, though, nature deserves respect, so keep the volume at a reasonable level. I personally recommend Turtlebox speakers for their superb sound quality, waterproof durability, and overall toughness. 

6. First Aid and Emergency

Life on the river is unpredictable, and being prepared is essential. A comprehensive first aid kit is a must-have, filled with bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, tweezers, and any personal medications. We swear by Backcountry Medical Supply for their specialized outdoor first aid kits (bonus points for being a woman-owned business based in Bozeman, MT). Don’t forget to include antibiotics from a medical provider—you never know when they might come to your rescue. Furthermore, a Garmin inReach or similar satellite communication device is your safety net in emergencies, offering a vital connection when you're far from civilization.

7. Camping Gear

Good camping gear can make or break your trip, significantly impacting your comfort level. Your needs will vary with the seasons; a winter trip might call for a wall tent equipped with a stove to stave off the cold, while summer adventures might be perfectly catered to with just a cot and a lightweight sleeping bag. Choosing the right gear tailored to your trip’s conditions ensures you stay cozy and ready for whatever the river throws your way.

Sleeping Gear 

When it comes to catching those precious Zs under the desert sky, quality sleeping gear is a must. A durable tent or a comfy cot, teamed with a cozy sleeping bag and a reliable sleeping pad, can transform your nights in the wilderness. Personally, I swear by the Paco Pad. Its versatility is a true game-changer; it doubles as a sleeping pad and a flotation device during the day, even adding a bit of cushioning to your raft seat. And hey, if you need a little help unwinding before bed, don't forget to pack a few Juniper Cannabis Sour Berry Sleep Gummies. Sweet dreams, indeed. 

8. Camera and Battery Bank 

Documenting the breathtaking vistas and magical moments of your river adventure is a must. Whether you’re wielding a professional camera, a GoPro, or just your phone, capturing these memories is priceless. But let's not forget the need to keep your devices juiced up! A hefty battery bank, like the Goal Zero Yeti 400, paired with a solar panel to recharge it, ensures that you won't miss documenting a single splash or smile. 

9. Quality Group of People 

It’s no secret that the company you keep can amplify the joy of any adventure. Having a crew that's enthusiastic, encouraging, and fun-loving can elevate your trip to an unforgettable journey. Whether you're sharing laughs with old friends or forging new connections, the camaraderie on the river can create lifelong bonds and memories that you’ll all cherish forever.

10. Food and Drinks 

This is definitely not the area to cut corners! Ensuring you have enough food and drinks is vital for keeping up your energy and spirits throughout the trip. Bring multiple water bottles for convenience and consider hydration packs for ease of use. Don’t forget a mix of beverages—like sports drinks for electrolyte replenishment and perhaps some refreshing bevvies or local brews from Mountains Walking Brewery in north Bozeman, MT. We've been loving their Sky Flowers line—an Indica Hybrid Pale Ale bursting with tropical, berry, and citrus flavors that even snagged a silver medal at the World Beer Cup Awards this year! 

Thoughtful meal planning is key, mixing easy-to-prepare, nutritious foods with some comfort items. Our go-to for a savory morning treat on the riverbank has been the Gastrognome Biscuits and Gravy—another delightful gem from Bozeman! Fresh produce, protein-packed snacks, and a dash of comfort food can make all the difference in your enjoyment. Don’t forget essential cooking equipment and utensils suited for camp life. Alternatively, consider partnering with an outfitter like Moenkopi Riverworks—they handle all the planning, and the food is absolutely phenomenal! 

Conclusion 

Setting off on a journey through the Grand Canyon on the Colorado River is an unparalleled experience requiring mindful prep. With the right combination of quality gear and fun touches like Juniper and costumes, these 10 essentials will pave the way for a safe, joyful, and unforgettable adventure. So pack smart, respect our beautiful environment, and brace yourself for the trip of a lifetime!

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