The Top 10 Thing to Bring on the Perfect Whitewater Trip
(As seen in the Trowel Times!)
By: Jay Howard
While planning for a paddling trip to the Green River in Saluda, NC, I found myself in a discussion with the other boaters on staff about making a list of the most important, most crucial, gotta-have-it or gotta-quit things to bring boating, so without further ado here’s what we came up with:
1. Kayak: “Everyone is in-between swims,” true. This is an important reality to recognize for anyone hoping to better their paddling skills. You will find yourself outside of your boat, but a kayak is generally a must-have item for… kayaking.
2. Paddle: The possibilities abound: from hand paddles to high-angled carbon fiber paddles to paddles with down-turned blades. A paddle makes an indisputable difference when paddling epic whitewater.
3. Helmet: Because rocks hurt, especially those hidden ones creating the epic boat-flipping river features we love to ride.
4. Skirt: Originally designed for looking pretty while socializing with other boaters, paddlers have since discovered your skirt can actually prevent your boat from filling up with water in the event you must roll or you’re just paddling really big water. Most of us prefer the new high tech NRS neoprene skirts, and there are definitely some brands that do a better job of others.
5. Personal Flotation Device (PFD): Not called a “Lifejacket”. Let’s not fool ourselves, it’s not going to save our lives in a bull fight… However a good PFD with a rescue knife and tow rope can make a huge difference in a pinch.
6. Nose Plugs: Sleek, stylish, and functional! Wear them as jewelry! Block out trail smells! Impress your friends with a great Steve Urkel impersonation! But find yourself upside down without them and you will regret it instantly. No one enjoys a nose enema, as an added bonus it can help you attempt your roll more times because you don’t panic as the water rushes up your nose.
7. Snacks: While traditional trail foods (granola bars, GORP, etc.) are always good options, some paddlers (mainly me) really like to eat well. A Philly cheese steak fits easily in your PFD and a sponge cake can double as a way to fuel up AND get water out of your boat. Having high protein and high carbohydrate snacks can make a huge difference and prevent you from crashing when energy is crucial at the end of a run.
8. Duct Tape: It can fix anything. Seriously…anything.
9. Lots of Rain: To get your whitewater fix, you need lots of rain. Boaters have been known to travel the country in search of precipitation. Forget balmy weather; it’s all about Irish Weather!
10. Your A-Game: Confidence is non-negotiable in safe white water paddling. Know your limits, use your experience, and go with people you trust to show you the best lines when you’re on something new. Occasionally your B-Game is also acceptable and maybe your C-Game.. but nothing lower. Mainly at the end of the day, have a positive attitude and a passion for the GNAR and you are ready to shred!
That’s it. Anything more is excess and anything less is shortsighted. Oh, and our trip to the Green was GNAR-velous. It was a B-Game sort of trip, with a few swims. Maybe next time we’ll bring item #11-a solid roll. But until then…play smart, play safe, and paddle hard!
Leader Jay Howard is a valuable new member of the WAEL team. A veteran of Nature’s Classroom and VA native, Jay has been seen on Base Camp devouring books, building immaculate corn-hole sets, inspiring groups, and delivering wise sermons in the ways of whitewater.