8 Essential Nonessentials for Your Grand Canyon Whitewater Rafting or Kayaking Trip
I recently published Pearce Ferry Rapid: Then and Now, in which I discussed some awesome nonessential gear for your Grand Canyon (or, really, any) trip. I thought some of these items deserved their own post, because they are that incredibly awesome.
Without further ado:
1. Water Sports Lighted Bocce Ball Set, $49.99. Probably more suitable for rafters than kayakers, due to size constraints. But perfect for nighttime entertainment.
2. Luci Lantern, $10-14.99. Inflatable, solar-rechargeable, waterproof, ultralight and cheap, these lanters are perfect for both camping, entertaining in your backyard, and, of course, night kayaking.
Also -- with an artistic eye, your Luci Lantern will help you take some gorgeous photos, like this one, taken at the Nankoweap Granaries:
3. 14mm Wide Angle or Fisheye Lens, $200-350. If you've got a DSLR, you will kick yourself if you don't bring your wide angle on this trip. There are so many gorgeous shots in the Grand, like this one:
It's so beautiful, you don't even realize how much is missing. Imagine capturing the entire bend of the river, from the river to the sky. Amazing! This single photo has caused Justin to kick himself more times than I can count.
Even if you're not going to take night shots, your landscapes will be infinitely more beautiful when you can capture the whole scene. This photo is great:
But with a 14mm or fisheye, Justin could have captured twice as much wall and sky. This is a small fraction of what Justin saw. I recommend these Rokinon aftermarket lenses, which provide high-quality images at a fraction of the price. Just be prepared: they are all fully manual (which shouldn't be a problem for most landscape photography).
For Canon full-frame: Rokinon FE14M-C 14mm F2.8 Ultra Wide Lens for Canon
For Nikon full-frame: Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 IF ED UMC Ultra Wide Angle Fixed Lens w/ Built-in AE Chip
For Canon, Nikon or Pentax crop sensor: Rokinon HD8M-C 8mm f/3.5 HD Fisheye Lens with Removeable Hood
4. Gorilla Tape, $8.47. This is more of an essential than a non-essential if you're doing a self-support kayak trip. If your kayak cracks, you can use Gorilla Tape for a makeshift repair.
5. SeaSpecs Extreme Sports Sunglasses, $24.95. These glasses are designed for kiteboarding, surfing, jetskiing, windsurfing, snowboarding and other extreme sports. I've only ever used them for whitewater kayaking... but for me, eye protection is important enough that I almost didn't want to include SeaSpecs on a non-essential list. I sincerely don't understand how other kayakers can kayak without eye protection.
At the very least, pick up some Chums. They cost $5-8, and they'll keep your glasses on your face pretty much no matter what. And remember: polarized is SOOOOOO much better than non-polarized, whether you're going to be around water (where there is a ton of glare) or just driving around town (I can see out of my windshield much better in polarized lenses).
6. Kayak Tow Tether, $29.95. Again, I feel weird putting this on a "non-essential" list. Because, yes, you can kayak the Grand without one. But if you have a swimmer in the middle of a rapid, you'll be glad to have a tow tether.
7. Lightweight Collapsible Bowl, 3 for $9.99. Technically, this is a "dog bowl", but it does the job! Lightweight, machine washable, and compact.
8. The Emerald Mile: The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Through the Heart of the Grand Canyon, by Kevin Fedarko ($10.11)
This is pretty much a must-read for anyone who loves adventures and the outdoors. And the best possible time to read it is either right before or during your trip down the Grand. You will enjoy every word.
However, if you're only going to bring ONE book on your trip, it should probably be Colorado River in the Grand Canyon RiverMap Guide.Or, if you've got space for a larger, more detailed guide, order a copy of Belknap's Waterproof Grand Canyon Guide - All New Edition, which provides detailed information about each rapid and is better for a self-support trip.
Rafters and kayakers: What are some of your favorite nonessential items for kayak camping or multi-day rafting trips? Share in the comments!
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