Packing list for rafting

Summer camping on the river

Packing for rafting

Here’s my packing list for an overnight rafting trip. (There’s no rain forecast and someone else is looking after the raft!) Off down the Ngaruroro river tomorrow.

Newbies often asked what to pack for a multi-day rafting trip. You need to be fairly tight, to fit in on the raft, but weight is not as issue like it is for a tramp. Here you are:

Dry bag (and wetbag to go inside it). I don’t know why the call the thick one the dry bag and the thin one the wetbag, except it does seem to end up that way. The raft has water-tight barrels for big things like tents and sleeping mats.
River boots.  I’ve sat in cold sandshoes and lost crocs and jandals and cut my feet barefoot. Whatever you call these neoprene things – surf shoes, wetsuit booties beach shoes –  they’re the best. Old thick woolen socks are good, too.
Life jacket. Needs to fit well so you can paddle freely.
Swimsuit under a long sleeved rashvest and a pair of shorts is all you need for summer. Wetsuits are for winter, woosies.

Tie your water flask to the boat and sun hat and sunnies to your shirt (or your ponytail if you’re a horse). Tie them on. Yes. Tie your glasses on. “Oh, they fit me really firmly.” Tie them on, mate.

Lunch goes in a cool bag with some ice – hard cheese, salami and bagels for day one (might last two days if it’s not sweltering hot). Take  Billtong, nuts, raisins etc, snack bars if you can stomach them, or those frooze ball things (yuck). Best if someone else has made a big German apple cake they bring out last stop of the afternoon. Cross your fingers.

When you pull in for the night you’ll need a towel and complete change of clothes, including two layers – with one long sleeves and legs to sleep in. Shoes or crocs for scrabbling around the campsite.  And a beanie for the evening/night. If you’re cold in your sleeping bag, put your beanie on. A silk liner adds a few degrees of warmth and luxury to your sleeping bag. Take an inflatable mat. It takes up a bit of space in the raft, but it’s not as if you are carrying it. You’ll thank me in the morning.  An inflatable pillow is as good as goose down after a day on the water. My tiny Vaude tent I got for Christmas a few years back, best present ever. It weighs 1.1kg and fits in a large handbag. It’s in the picture, hardly bigger than the crocs. Inside, it’s a palace.

That clothesline (or its ancestor) has gone around the world with me for 30 years. No pegs, hook it between the trees, magic.

My First Aid kit has biodegradable wipes, plasters, tape, triangle bandage, steri-strips, water purification tablets, tweezers, pain relief, etc. The basics. You’ll also need sun protection and mozzie spray.  I take a spade so we can dig a loo pit well away from the river, and deeply bury our doos. Generally speaking you shouldn’t shit in the woods (unless you’re a bear) but there are no loos along these rivers. We use campsite long-drops where we can. Take a rubbish bag for everything else.

Dinner –  sometimes I get fancy. Not this trip. If you’re only boiling water to pour into a freeze-dried pouch and a mug of tea you don’t need to take washing up stuff. Tiny stove, tin mug which doubles as a pot. Easy.

Put your phone and a map, PLB etc in a zip-lock bag, in a waterproof pouch that ties around your waist.

Assume everything will end up in the water at some stage. I can’t remember a trip when I haven’t fallen in.

Weather forecast, good. River levels, good. Expectations, high. Farewell, land lubbers!

Author: Cristina Sanders Blog

Novelist, trail runner, book reviewer and blogger.

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