The Gear List

What to bring. A massive challenge is to pack the most basic essentials to survive on the river for 3+ months and still make it all fit in a kayak. This is an ever-evolving list, but here is where it stands 83 days out from the start of the trip:

paddling
boat
seat
rudder kit
paddle
back up paddle
PFD
portage cart
straps/bungees
foam blocks
bilge pump
bail sponge + cup
spray skirt
hatch cover
camping
tent
pillow
sleep pad
sleeping bag
sleeping bag liner
tent footpring/tarp
camp chair
hammock
dry bags/gear bags
deck bag
small dry bag
medium dry bag
large dry bag
cell phone case
backpack/stuff sack
food prep
camp stove
gas
lighter
matches
utensils
ziplocs
dishes
cup/mug
foil
olive oil?
salt/pepper/spices
food
TBD
hydration
5 gal tank
soft canteens
nalgene
life straw/bottle
collapsible bucket
clothing/footwear
Hoka sandal
flip flops
communication
cell phone
garmin inreach explorer+
camera/tech
waterproof camera
bluetooth speaker
rechargeable battery brick
13w solar panel
power cords
ipod?
tablet?
bluetooth keyboard
miscellaneous
PFD knife
leatherman
hunting knife
hatchet?
shovel
para cord
elastic para cord
rope
head light
flashlight
batteries
gorilla tape
epoxy/patch kit
fire starter
binoculars
sunglasses
needle/thread?
fishing gear, hooks, bait
whistle
hygiene
toothbrush/paste
first aid kit
multi-vitamins
towel
rag
soap
anti-bacterial
wet wipes (BD)
snus
solid waste bags
floss
A&D cream
tinactin
sunblock
bug spray
laundry detergent
moleskin/KT tape
essential oils/deep blue
books/maps
L&C journal
personal journal
pens/pencil
The Complete Paddler

mf

Planning a Descent

It’s hard to recall the exact moment I decided I was going to paddle the Missouri River. But suffice it to say, shortly after I made the decision (or maybe even before), I learned of this book.

Complete Paddler

https://www.amazon.com/Complete-Paddler-Guidebook-Paddling-Headwaters/dp/1560373253

Starting in 2002, over the course of three summer trips, Dave Miller completed a descent of the Missouri River, from Three Forks, MT to the Arch in St. Louis. He created what’s widely considered the Bible for Missouri River thru paddlers. It’s a book rich in all sorts of details: preparation for the trip, gear considerations, maps, routes, GPS coordinates, places to camp, historical references (heavy on Lewis & Clark), warnings, directions and all sorts of other practical information.

I quickly purchased the book and hungrily devoured it within a few days. I was even more convinced to do the trip, but also struck by the reality of how much prep would go into this trip. Initially thinking about the trip, I knew I would have to devote quite a bit of time on the following areas – in no particular order:

  • Professional plan: what to do about that pesky job on a 3+ month trip
  • Navigation: river maps, stops, resupply, meeting points, portages, etc.
  • Supplies: what to bring
  • Transportation: getting me, my boat and my stuff to the start
  • Paddlers: am I doing this solo or finding others to join me?
  • Trip budget: what am I going to spend?
  • Money coverage: financial obligations while I am gone
  • Re-entry: getting back to normal after the trip
  • Research/reading: learning as much as possible about the trip and related historical materials
  • Blog/social media: sharing the experience with the world
  • Emergency plan: what will I do when shit happens
  • Insurance: health care coverage in the absence of a job
  • Communication: staying in touch with others while on the river

There may be one or two big categories missing here, but I think I did a decent job of figuring out the big stuff right up front. The bulk of the prep for the last 18 months or so has generally fallen into each of these categories. Later on, I did decide to undertake this trip as a fundraiser for Missour River Relief, so that would have to be one additional area.

The center of all my planning is a massive Google spreadsheet with 8 tabs that generally correspond with the larger categories listed above. Two of my key tabs are my gear list and my itinerary. I will post the content of those in the coming days. I am also tracking potential sponsors for my trip, not so much for stuff for me, but for donations that we’ll eat, drink or raffle off at the kickoff barbeque/fundraiser in April.

Another obsession over the last couple months has been food dehydration. Surely deserving of its own post, I’ve run the food dehydrator almost nonstop since we got it, prepping meals, ingredients and snacks and stocking the deep freeze in preparation for the trip.

Lastly, the Missouri River Paddlers Facebook group is a very active community of 2,500+ people who have some connection or interest in the Missouri River. There’s an almost contact flow of questions, pictures, stories, experiences and resources that get posted and shared about the river. Norman Miller is the administrator of the site and has accumulated a great wealth of resources and materials about trip planning, maps, logistics, photos and stories from those who’ve paddled the river. Along with Dave Miller’s book, I was able to find almost all the information I needed for the trip.

mf