Packing lists can be a bit overwhelming even though they are created to prepare you for a trip. I just returned from the Grand Canyon and I am happy to point out some important items and their greatness while in the canyon.
These are some of the things I bring and why
- Quick-dry clothing. While on the river, this should be the only material you wear. Cotton has no place while on the raft. Don’t overthink this. I wear a swimsuit and a long sleeve Colombia shirt with built in SPF. I bring two shirts and two pair of shorts for the week.
- Sarong – it has many uses, so I bring two. One for during the day on the raft to cover me from the sun. It’s great to dip in the river and drape on yourself to cool down. The other I use while at camp. It is great for formal wear, a towel, a pillow, etc. You will be amazed at how handy this item becomes down in the canyon.
3. Rain Gear – I hope you don’t have to use it, but if you do, you will be glad you didn’t skip bringing it. It’s not just for the rain. It’s also for cooler mornings that have rapids. A nice insulated suit is ideal to help keep you warm. Yes, a poncho is super cute, so if you still want to be entertaining, don’t forget your child-sized one. It’s better than nothing, as Pier, pictured above, discovered.
4. Camelbak – Hiking with two hands is ideal. As you see above, we do some occasional scrambling. I use a small Camelbak on my trips. Then when I’m on the raft I just clip it onto a rope with a carabiner.
If you do prefer a water bottle, there are options. George (pictured above in the middle) has a water bottle holder that goes over his shoulder/neck that he used. There is also the option to clip the water bottle to your shorts, but only if you like your bottoms to fall down. It is a nice way to cool down I suppose……
5. Back-up Glasses – Sun and Regular. Grandma (pictured above) would agree that things can get crazy down in the canyon.
6. Cotton clothes once you are at camp. These can be the same clothes you sleep in, to help save space. I bring 2 separate sets for the week.
7. Wet wipes – love them! Bathing in the river is great, yet cold. I bring wet wipes to freshen up with at camp. I don’t always want to get in the water, so these are ideal. And don’t forget Q-tips. Those are divine after a day of rapids at the front of the raft.
8. A wide-brimmed hat with a strap and a backup. Some people wear ballcaps or handkerchiefs, and both will work, but don’t forget the sunblock on your exposed areas. You will also want to add a strap if it’s a hat you love.
Helpful Camping Tips
You will have your brown dry bag, your gray bag with sleeping gear (sleeping bag, tarp, and pad), a cot (with pockets), your ammo can, lifejacket and an amazing pee bucket (great to use in the middle of the night).
- Once I set up camp, I store things like my rain tarp, headlamp, toothbrush/toothpaste, and river clothes in the pockets of my cot for easy access. The pockets are actually the bag the cot comes in. Just hook the straps into the poles before securing the cot. Don’t worry, your HE host will show you. I do not open my sleeping gear bag until I’m physically going to bed. I like to make sure I am the only one in the bag…..
- Always close your bags, so you do not have a critter taking up residence in your bags. When taking clothes down from drying places (bushes, rocks, etc.) shake them before putting them in a bag. You don’t want any tagalongs, right Jerry!
- The ammo can is your personal storage that you have access to while on the river. (There is also a community bag where you will store your rain gear during the day). Anything that is in your ammo can will get wet. I put all my items in zip locks or I use my small 3-Liter dry bag. I keep my sunscreen, lotion, and my river guidebook in that can. While rafting, I clip my waterproof camera to my life vest and tuck it in between myself and the vest for easy access, and to make sure it does not get “washed” away or hit me in the face during a rapid.
- Notice the clothes hanging in the bushes in the above picture? There is a free quick dry service in the canyon. Just toss items on a tree, bush, or rock. Then go enjoy happy hour while the dry weather does its part.
Advice to Women on the Tour
- Bring a skirt to wear at camp (or use your sarong). It will make your potty breaks more convenient and discreet.
- If you have long hair, I suggest piggy tail braids to keep the knots away, especially if you like sitting on the front of the raft. Those rapids love to twist your hair into uncountable knots.
I hope this helps prepare you for your tour. You will find your rhythm and figure out what works best for you. You are in great hands while in the canyon. If you don’t have something you need, chances are someone else probably does or you will realize you really didn’t need it. Less is great in the canyon.
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