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Rescue/repair/bailout kit

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Printed Date: 23 Feb 2020 at 11:43am

Topic: Rescue/repair/bailout kit
Posted By: Jeff
Subject: Rescue/repair/bailout kit
Date Posted: 01 Feb 2009 at 10:33pm
John asked me today to post something along this thread and it seemed like a good idea to get people thinking and also see what everyone else carries in their boat, etc..  
Many of the runs we do on a regular basis are roadside runs that are easy to bail out on, but what do you do when the do-do hits the propeller?  Even a minor mishap on a canyon type run can quickly turn into a life threating situation.  Do you know how to escapse the river you are on?  Do you have the necessary gear to deal with common situations that could happen on ANY river run?  I have had more experience in these subjects then I would care to in recent months and here are a few things that I've learned and/or now carry on a regular basis for any run...
Escape - can you get off the river you're on?  Even the Snoqualmie Powerhouse and the Lower Sky can present real logistical challenges if you end up stranded and or injured on the wrong side of the river.  Make sure you know where access points are for the river you're on, and try to end up on the right side of the river if you swim or get hurt (I know, easier said then done).  Would you know what to do if your boat got swept away on the Green Gorge or CC Stilly (just examples of deep canyon runs with VERY difficult access)?  Something to consider before your next run
Repair/Lost Gear - What if your boat cracks in the middle of a run?  On the Sky you can easily just paddle to river left and get back to the road easily.  But what if you're at the bottom of the Tilton River gorge and you have a boat killer crack happen?  You ain't just walkin' out of there!    Oops!  You just swam and managed to get your boat back, but your nice new Werner foam core is nowhere to be found?  Do you have a breakdown paddle or hand paddles (with confidence to use them) to get down the run?  I've found that hand paddles are a reasonable substitute for a breakdown paddle on III+/IV- runs if you know how to use them (try running BD a few times for practice!) but they take skill and a lot of effort to use.  Obvioulsy if your boat takes a ride, you're gonna be hoofin' it.  It can happen.  Again, things to consider before your next run.
Injury - Do you have a first aid kit (or at least minimal equivalent gear that can serve in a pinch) to deal with injuries and the knowledge to use it?  Something to serve as a basic bandage and a sling are very usefull items.  If your partner dislocates a shoulder can you sling it so they can at least walk out with minimal pain?  Do you know CPR?  Respiratory Arrest (i.e. drowning) leads to Cardiac Arrest and that means you're dead (although since it is not due to an underlying medical condition, you stand a decent chance of being revived).  Can your boating friends bring you back?   CPR is not a difficult skill to learn.  Do you know the current protocol?  Consider taking a class!
These are just a few examples of things that could happen to any of us.  Here are a few things that I've started packin' to try and minimize the effects of these situations.  Now granted, these are attached to my boat, so if it's headin' downstream without me, they won't do me much good (next project is to figure out how to safely attach them to my body so I always have 'em!)
These first 4 are in my PFD, the rest are in my boat..
1) - 1" Tubular Webbing loop - Great for a quick anchor point around a tree (also useful for making an arm sling in a pinch)
2) Multiple Carabiners - Useful for just about everything from setting Z-drags to opening beers after a successful run!
3) Whistle (DUH!) Useful for alerting others of danger, swimmers, and deafining the guy next to you.
4) Candy/Energy Bar - I get cranky when I don't eat - Feed me!
***These are in the boat***
4) 50' Throw Bag (Good for retriving errant swimmers, and setting up Z-drags to haul boats, and if necessary a rappell line, also good for rigging up shelter if needed)
5) NRS Hand Paddles - These are nifty neoprene gloves with webbing between the fingers.  They are warm and still provide enough dexterity for grasping things such as the grab loop on your spray skirt if you need out!  No good if you need to pick you nose though.  Not as good as a breakdown paddle, but a lot cheaper and smaller.  I have used mine to run the Sky and the Nahatlatch (after breaking a paddle) and they do well in a pinch as long as you've practiced with them.
6) Sven Saw - This one only goes on Creek Runs where there is wood potential - it is a folding bow saw that has a 21" blade capeable of getting through most reasonable sized strainers (8" or so) and it folds down into a compact size with the blade totally covered so it won't tear up you or your gear.
7) Pellican Case Size 1120 - I just got this baby and am in the process of refining the contents, but here's what I've got so far.  Most items are capeable of multilpe uses and I'll list 'em.
   (1)-Medium roll of Duct Tape - good for patching boats, paddles, drysuits, and
    paddlers (no need for medical tape - if you can't duct it, f&*$ it!)
   (3) Lightload Towels - I pack 3 of them for multiple uses - drying off your boat hull so 
    you can use the duct tape to patch it, sling/bandaging material (it's not streile, but  
    you've got bigger problems to worry about besides infection right now), emergency
    toilet paper (nobody wants poopy butt inside their drysuit!), and also a possible
    firestarter if you're out overnight.
   (1) Emergency Space Blanket - The super lightweight kind that looks like tinfoil. 
   Good for keeping you warm or the basis of a shelter if you're sleepin' out next to the
    fire you lit with the towels!
   (1) Black Diamond Ion headlamp - super tiny 2 LED headlamp to help you find your
    way through the woods in the dark
   (1) Disposable Lighter - I would like to find a more durable option, but it is in a dry
    box, so it works for now.  For lighting said fire with towels next to your shelter for the
   (10) Painkillers of some type - Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Vicodan, etc..  MJ doesn't count!  If
    you're hurting, you need something to ease the pain so you can still function and
     think clearly.
   (1pr) Rubber gloves - I don't want whatever you might have, and vice versa.  Body
    Substance Isolation is always a good idea if at all possible.
   (1) CPR microshield - Again, BSI is good, and if you are doing your CPR wrong, the
    person is gonna puke on you (trust me, it happens!) and you don't want a mouthful of
  (1) Small bottle of hand sanitizer - This one might get the boot, but for now I have the
   room and it is good to have if you get blood, etc.. on you
  (1) Gerber Multi-Tool - Good for doing all sorts of things from repairs and cutting tasks
   to opening beers (hmm... recurrent theme there!)
Perhaps I'm being overprepared, and maybe I'll just be watching as all this stuff floats downstream around the next bend in my boat without me in it, but it is a minor investment that can pay big dividends if and when the time comes to use it.  Hope this is of some use and please feel free to comment with suggestions for improvements or things that you've found useful!

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Posted By: James
Date Posted: 02 Feb 2009 at 11:56am
Great shots of CC Stilly Jeff... how did you like it?

Was that your first time down it?

Posted By: Jeff
Date Posted: 02 Feb 2009 at 3:32pm
No, done it once before.  Loved it.  Wanna do it when there is more water in it.  Also cpnsidering running Granite Falls.  Checked it out yesterday and it looks like it could be done at the right flows.  Know anyone who has hucked it?

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Posted By: James
Date Posted: 02 Feb 2009 at 9:28pm
Egads to the Granite falls... Talk to Etive... He swears he sees a line and if you run it I will make sure he is there so he can go next. He keeps saying he only needs to see someone drop it first.... 

I have heard rumors that Chris Joose ran it and also rumors that it was run by a guy from BC. Neither have been confirmed but I have never really tried to check it out myself. I'm happy to just gaze that that thing after a run on robe chillin with a brew and think of how, why and then whizzz   

Posted By: Jeff
Date Posted: 02 Feb 2009 at 10:42pm

The upper drop looks pretty good, and the 3rd drop looks fine if you take the far right chute.  It's just the drop in between that we couldn't get a good look at (and was possibly the mankiest).  More recon needed!  Hail Fibnok!

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Posted By: Liz
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2009 at 3:00pm

This is great!  Can you fit a steak dinner for me in that little box too? J 


This post got me thinking about what I would want with me if things turn bad.  I wouldnít go on a full day hike in a canyon without some ďjust in caseĒ gear, so I shouldnít go on a paddle in a canyon without the same.  Now usually I am the one NEEDING this kind of stuff, so I go on trips with someone else who HAS it (Jeff).  But, I guess maybe someday Iíll be the someone elseÖ


There are, of course, a hundred different scenarios and you canít plan for all of them, but I think you covered the big stuff quite well. 


For me, I would probably add a laminated instruction card on how to put a dislocated shoulder in.  Iíve learned about it, but never had to do it myself so a crutch would be nice if I get in a situation where I have to do it and Iím all nerves.  Iím thinking about doing the same with some knots.   


Webbing loop Ė In addition to an anchor wrap these can be used as a weight distributing anchor on, say, a pinned kayak.  They can also be used as an impromptu upper body harness.  One of the instructors in my Swiftwater Rescue class last spring related an experience where he went kayaking in Colorado with one of his buddies and used the piece of webbing he had in his PFD to get a friend off a logjam.  Story:  The instructorís friend (letís call him Bob) got pinned on a logjam.  His friends would need to attach a rope to Bob and pull upstream in order to get him off the logjam.  Bob didnít have a rescue belt on his life jacket although his friends could walk on the logjam over to Bob to attach a rope.  So, they put the webbing around his shoulders with a carabiner and rope attached in the back and were able to pull him off. 


Electrolyte drink mix packets Ė such as Vitalyte, NUUN, Gatorade, etc.  This may not be such a big deal in cool Western Washington, but in hot climates where youíre sweating most of the day they can help you stay hydrated, give an energy boost, and decrease muscle cramps.


Petzl e+LITE Headlamp Ė You could use this instead of the Black Diamond Ion.  Itís the same size and weight and has a similar brightness, but it lasts 3-4 times longer with one set of batteries.  However, I donít think it is as cute as the Ion.


Z-Drag kit: Rope and carabiners are the base.  Add prussic and pulleys for a Z-Drag kit.


Contacts - I am really blind without my contacts.  I havenít lost any on a river yet, but I use to lose them all the time in water polo.  Swimming rapids sometimes feels a lot like water polo, so, I carry an extra contact in my PFD pocket.  It would really suck to hike out of a canyon when you canít see anything.


Astral Ė You mentioned wanting to put more of these items on your person.  Astral believes that paddlers should carry a rope at all times, so they have designed pockets for rope.  If you buy into that philosophy, an Astral vest may be good for you.  A waist throw bag is another option.  Astral sells 46 feet of 1/4'' Polypro and Spectra throw rope packed into a flat pouch which fits into or behind the front pocket of many of their PFD's.  Jeff, as you probably know, your Aquavest 300 is compatible with their throw rope pouch.


You could also throw a cell phone, SPOT or ACR Electronics PLB in there?


Posted By: Wiggins
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2009 at 4:35pm
I carry a lot of this stuff.
I am surprised no one mentioned iodine tablets so far!
Small compass.
I also found that Esbit stove fuel cubes are great firestarters. They burn at 1400 degrees for about 15 minutes.
Pocket Chainsaw.
I carry it all in a small dry bag under my drysuit or PFD. The biggest thing is to carry essential items on you!
A good survival kit that can be purchased is the SOL from Adventure Med Kits. It is $20, pocket sized, and comes in its own drybag.

I smell bacon

Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2009 at 5:18pm
I've been working on my kit for awhile.  I don't carry my full camera kit as mush as I used to, and I realized I was not taking some of the safety gear I always kept in that bag. 

Here's my kit:

I keep firestarter and a space blanket in the hip pocket of my Astral, where the tow tether goes. 

I keep flint with my shuttle keys in the pocket, which I can use with my knife and firestarter.  That plus a power bar, locking biner, whistle, and some water is what I have on my person. 

In a Nalgene bottle, I carry the rest of the kit:
bright LED flashlight
hand chainsaw
repair kit
rudimentary first aid
gu pouches
extra screws + multitool
duct tape
hand sanitizer
pain killers

I also keep a sam splint, big extra length of webbing, and a folding buck saw in my camera bag for creeking.

pin kit stays more handy.


Posted By: RemAcct2
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2009 at 8:03pm
...and then Jeff asks "why am I sitting so low in the water"...


Posted By: Jeff
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2009 at 10:03pm
GOOD STUFF!  Glad to finally get some responses here!  I got ideas for more stuff to jam in my boat!  I usually have 3-4 carabiners clipped to my PFD or my boat somewhere as well.
Slickhorn - I like your Nalgene idea (and I actually used it for a while) but I eventually busted the lid on it and all the stuff inside got ruined.  That's why I opted for a more bomber pellican case.  Although it is much bulkier then the bottle, it is also gaurenteed for life.  Not trying to put down the idea, just wanted to pass along what happened to mine..
And Wiggins - Iodine?  Really??  I just find the mankiest looking stagnant water puddle near the closest cow pasture and drink deeply!  MMMM, tasty!  haha!  Just kiddin!  Have you checked out Aqua-Mira?  I used to use that instead of iodine.  Slightly larger packaging and a few more steps involved, but then you don't have to drink funky tasting brown water.  Again, a good idea, just sharing my experiences...  Those esbit cubes are great, and I like the drybag inside the drysuit idea.  Next on the list of things to figure out!

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Posted By: Jeff
Date Posted: 04 Feb 2009 at 10:09pm
...and Kirchoff, I know why I sit so low in the water.  It's 'cuz of my massivly inflated ego! hahahahaha!  Ok, there's no ego that makes my head big, I just got a big funny shaped noggin!! 

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Posted By: Chuck e fresh
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 12:52pm
The moral of this story is.. If you can't help yourself... How can you help others ??!! Some people only rely on other people helping them out and never think of being responsible or prepaired or informed enough to help anyone else !! It's either ignorance, lack of expierience or lack of carring i.e responsibilaty and respect for themselves and other's around them !! This happen's throughout our every day lives not just on the river ! Back country in the mt's, driving on the road unfortuniatly our society promotes lazyness and a scence that someone else will do it or it's someone elses job or it won't happen to me type attitude. The only thing we can do is be prepaired, pass on knowledge and ask question's and pose anwser's to groups your involved with or interacting with when your out enjoying or trying to enjoy this wonderful world we live in !!!  See ya out on the river ....

There's no such word as can't!so stop making excuses!!!!

Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 3:38pm
Catarafters and rafters can afford to carry a lot more gear and they always should.  When I'm in my catboat I bring a climbing harness, 3 10ft lengths of 1" webbing, 3 pulleys, 6 prussiks, 6 biners, a space blanket, a candy bar.  I used to have some handwarmer too but I used them up on a bald eagle float.  On my pfd at all times is 2 caribiners, 1 pulley, 1 rescue ring, 2 prussiks, knife, whistle, candy bar, and lip balm.   Maybe I should put that space blanket on my person.  My glow stick didn't come through for me on the SF Skokomish but it had been in there for about 5 years.  It's probably best to replace those yearly.

All this is in addition to my regular "safety" kit and something to drink.

Does anyone else bring a climbing harness on the river with them??

Last year I saw a video made by Mark Kramer, legendary catarafter, and he explained his essentials that he kept on him when soloing the Stikine, Alsek and Sustina rivers.  It consisted of much of the same things we are talking about here....


Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 3:52pm
Originally posted by franzhorner

Does anyone else bring a climbing harness on the river with them??

One of the reasons I carry a 20' webbing loop is that it can double as a harness in a pinch.


Posted By: jalmquist
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 9:09pm
Great discussion!  I'll just add a few experienced-based thoughts...  First, the difference in what you can do with a 70+' throwbag and a 50' bag can make or break a situation.  I always used to carry a 50' bag until I took a "kayak specific" rescue class with Eric Magneson (how many on this site even recognize that name?).  Anyway, thereafter I quickly switched to a 70' bag, despite the additional weight.  Second, while hand paddles make for a great emergency spare, consider where you'll (hopefully not) be using them.  If in doubt, go with the real thing.  Finally, what's all this talk about water treatment?  Just drink up!  You won't get the squirts until days later when you're comfortably back at work and just seconds from the company restroom... 

Posted By: Jeff
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 9:14pm
I think it's a good thing that I'm limited by the size of my boat as to the extra gear I can carry.  If I had a cataraft, I'd probably figure a way to carry and aid cars worth of rescue gear!  Again, more good suggestions! 

"What could possibly go wrong?"

Posted By: Texas Dave
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 9:38pm
Here's a bunch of good info from some SWR instructors. 
http://whitewatersolutions.net/JS.aspx - http://whitewatersolutions.net/JS.aspx
And I'll second the importance of a 70' throw bag.  Setting up a rescue or z-drag can be tough with a shorter rope. 


Posted By: BRoss
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 10:03pm
Originally posted by Jeff

GOOD STUFF!  Glad to finally get some responses here!  I got ideas for more stuff to jam in my boat!  I usually have 3-4 carabiners clipped to my PFD or my boat somewhere as well.

This is a great discussion. I know i need to include more stuff in my own personal kit.

 One thing that should be brought up is about the biners clipped to your pfd.  Somewhere on Boatertalk is a LOOOONG thread about a guy who flipped on the Gauley and the biner on his shoulder strap clipped into the grab bar on his stern.  So he was clipped in unable to roll on his back deck.  I actually forget what happened, because i think he was fine. 

Anyway, point being, carabiners are good, but sometimes bad, and maybe having them on the pfd isn't a good thing.  i'll try to track down the thread a post a link.

"That boated a lot better than it looked." "It always does until it doesn't."

Posted By: BRoss
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 10:10pm
I kinda messed the story up but here is the linky:

Here is the parent thread too - also interesting:

"That boated a lot better than it looked." "It always does until it doesn't."

Posted By: James
Date Posted: 05 Feb 2009 at 11:47pm
I was on the river one time and a friend had a carabiner on the back loop of his PFD for the tow strap, He leaned back and it locked him into the grab loop... We both very carefully paddled to the side of the river, laughed in a pretty ominous sort of way and then removed all the little boogers from our back side that could do that.

Anyone with about 8 - 10 feet of rope can rig up a swiss seat if they know how. http://www.wikihow.com/Tie-a-Swiss-Seat-Rappel-Harness - It will destroy your balls if you use it too much but it is worth knowing how to do. Like Slick said, webbing is better but the method is the same.

Posted By: 1150lbsofaire
Date Posted: 09 Feb 2009 at 9:48am

GOOD STUFF. after a epic portage on the lower wind last winter i put a harness and a ATC in my rescue kit. i found old not so stiff mountaineering harness kind of like the ones you find at second ascent fold up really nice. also having a petzal jue mar in place of so many prusiks is a good idea to, it makes it a lot faster to set up a one person z drag and it makes it a lot safer to asend a rope if you havent allready broken in your prusik. one last thought, swoop out the candy bar for a small tube of frosting,you wont be so tempted to eat it and with so many people dieing from nuts these days it better to be safe, syotr 

lookin for a bow cap for a storm

Posted By: James
Date Posted: 09 Feb 2009 at 10:38am
Haven't heard anything about Tiblocks either... those are pretty handy little buggers for ascending ....

Oh and don't forget the Tri-Biner grapling hook. Takes 3 biners and some ductape. Great for fishing out boats!!!

Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 09 Feb 2009 at 1:25pm
I like the idea of carrying some jumars for quick set-up of a rescue system.  I never considered using them for that....

Tiblocks are those little triangular looking things with the pin that goes through is that right?  I remember getting trained on those with Chris Jonason but never really got into them...


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 09 Feb 2009 at 1:48pm
Nope... here is a REI page with the petzel one.

http://www.rei.com/product/644068 - http://www.rei.com/product/644068

There are little spikes on the inside to grip the rope. Not the best for longevity of gear but easily the smallest item to pack for the purpose...

Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 09 Feb 2009 at 3:26pm


Posted By: water wacko
Date Posted: 09 Feb 2009 at 7:12pm
First,I like this discussion. Lots of really good ideas. I like to keep it simple, unless on a hard committing run. I normally carry 4 locking biners on the PFD in a little loop of webbing tucked away so it won't catch. I used to even lock them, but not anymore. A 15' bit of tubular webbing with a big paddle biner at the end of it. I also carry a 70' half inch rafting throw bag. I decided to go with the bigger bag after that landslide on the Upper Sultan a few years back. If you're hikin' out half inch rope is nice. And I'm totally guilty of not carrying a first aid kit. The worst I've ever had was a guy partially dislocated his shoulder on the Green. He was able to hike out almost at the site. Maybe I've just been lucky. I've definitely become complacent in this area. On bigger trips I carry more. The swiss seat can also be rigged to bodies needing to get to the other side of the stream.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." ~Howard Thurman

Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 9:01pm
great topic- this is what this site is good for- sharing ideas ect. I enjoy reading everyone's lists of stuff they take with them on those harder, more remote runs.

HOWEVER- and I'm not trying to start one of those famous PP sh*tstorms- I merely feel inclined to balance this discussion out in a few ways...

The most important things every paddler should carry with them into a canyon is among the following:

-A BOMBPROOF roll. nuff said.
-A solid Duffek. Look it up if you don't know what it is. Practice it if you do know what it is.
-A basic repertoire of rodeo skills (because we all get stuck in holes sometimes)
-Solid ferrrying skills.

In other words, err on the side of caution and don't make stupid decisions. Plan your trips. On most class III and IV trips there should be no excuse for getting caught in the dark. Information is abundant now. Plan before you go.

Ok. I know this stuff is assumed for the sake of discussion, but I feel it needs to be mentioned. Most paddlers I see out there have woefully inadequate paddling skill for the class of water they are paddling.

Now on to all of the heaping mounds of survival gear...


Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 9:20pm
Originally posted by wetmouse

Most paddlers I see out there have woefully inadequate paddling skill for the class of water they are paddling.

man o man, I have been that guy.  Great observation JP.

I like to think of it in percentages.  I like to run water that's maybe 75% of what I know I can do.  I can build my skills on runs that aren't at 110% of what I can do, and as my boundaries move, I can choose to step up in control. 

But I've done some ill-advised boating in that 110% zone, and getting off the river okay doesn't mean good judgment was exercised, or that a similar outcome is assured on a repeat trip.  "Survival boating" is rarely fun.

Sometimes the pressures to step up or push oneself on harder water isn't based on the right attitudes, experiences, or motives.  As I've examined my own, I've found my interest in aggressively pushing for harder water has waned somewhat. 

To some people, that means I've lost an edge, quit pushing my own boundaries, or somehow stagnated.  And I suppose that's true if you only see progress as running harder and harder water.  But I enjoy boating as much as ever, and I particularly enjoy the aspects of boating within which I'm challenging myself. 

which is class II swimming lol


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 9:28pm
I am actually very surprised no one has mentioned the true definition of a safety kit yet.... Being a notorious chief of the teepee myself I feel like my tribe is missing some braves!!!!

I am most disappointed in Horner, considering his in depth inclusion of climbing gear with no mention of the elusive spleef. I retract that sentance.... horner, elusive and spleef can't be used together... SOrry!

Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 9:29pm
I hear ya. I'm gonna post my own prioritized list of survival stuff to bring... hold on...


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 9:30pm
I heard Slickhorn! Not YOU, Nutty!! But,,, hee heee


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 9:40pm
Ok-- my list of survival stuff:

EVERYONE should have a throwbag, some biners, a whistle, a knife ect. That's just basic traditional must haves.

But some of these laundry lists are excessively long for all but the most extreme remote near-expedition caliber runs. All that stuff starts to weigh heavy, as Leif's jab illustrates. It takes longer to pack your boat and get on the water, it encumbers you when you need to make twelve heinous portages around log jams you didn't expect to find, thus ensuring that you'll actually need the stuff when you get stuck in there over night. I'm in Devil's Advocate Mode- mostly favoring the Quick and Light approach. In almost 3 decades of paddling respectable whatewater, I've rarely need more than a throwbag and some biners. If you bring all that stuff, DEFINITLEY bring the headlamp too.

I do like this thread, though--it's thought provoking. back to the list...


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 9:58pm
We need to do more than list everything but the kitchen sink (that's in Montana on the Madison, a good class IV, BTW). We gotta try to prioritze the shit.

After your basic rescue kit, (throwbag, biners, maybe a pully, some prussiks ect.), webbing is a good thing to include. It's usefull for all sorts of stuff, as you all have mentioned.

Next up is WATER. I can't believe how seldom I'm on the river with someone who has it. I don't mind sharing, but after a night of drinking, I may need it all, so if you ask for it I may say no. Bring your own.

FOOD. Again I'm surprised people don't pack this lightweight and essential item. When  folks are dicking around as much as they can sometimes do, I get cold waiting around, so I like to have some extra calories on hand.

Safety Kit's optional, but I'm not going into detail here, sorry, Prof.

Probably the next most important item to bring is the breakdown paddle. I'm gonna say one breakdown for every 5 people or so on the trip. Additional hand paddles if that's "how you roll".

A multitool or whatever YOU need to fix YOUR shit when it breaks. Other repair items such as ducktape (QUACK!) and webbing for to rig up a makeshift backband are good to have.

First aide kit--that's a whole thread in and of itself. I'm usually guilty of not bring one, but I've been thinking about it.

Headlamp- esspecially if you paddle with Leif. I love the guy, but he needs to learn to expidite things. oh there I go again. ok, I'll behave.

Firestarter and lighter ain't a bad idea, nor is a compass, but now we are straying from the essentials.


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 10 Feb 2009 at 10:03pm
Now on to the NON essentials...

The space blanket seems excessive to me, but then again, if it takes up little or no extra space or wieght, why should I be against it?

SAWS: I think carrying a saw is almost silly. UNLESS: you are a badass creeking junkie and/or have a specific wood removal mission in mind. Then be sure to bring in a REAL saw to REALLY cut some wood. I mean, if all I need is some swiss army knife to cut through it, I can probably hoof my boat over it and get back in the water quicker than I can get the saw out and use it.


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 8:18am
Since you feel the need to be so dang ornery then I guess I will too.

There is little to no need for a saw in a Rescue / Repair / Bailout kit. Maybe in a river cleanup or run maintenance kit ... some thing you pack after a wind storm on your favorite run... or to clean "that one drop" which you already know has wood. But I can't imagine a rescue situation where a saw is required. Nice to have sure, but not classified under rescue, repair or bailout in my opinion.

Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 8:43am
We had a great day on McCoy Creek a couple years back, But, we had to hike out just above the Yellowjacket confluence as we were losing daylight, and having trouble finding a way back down to the water at the big falls portage. This was, I think, the right call that day. 

When we hit a logging spur road, we sent the one headlamp in the group, mine, on the search for the car.  The rest of us parked in the dark cold woods for 2 hours waiting for the return of the crew and shuttle rigs. 

Why carry a saw?  With a saw, I could have trimmed some medium sized down timber into nice lengths, then split them with my river knife, which would have let us have a fire.  It was too wet, even with firestarter, to get a fire going using just what we could find.  That technique will let you get to dry inner core wood, and make kindling.

One of the reasons I carry so much crap is because it stays always packed.  Adds about 2lbs to my boat, and takes all of 10 seconds to clip in.  Packing beer for the lunch stop takes longer.  Also, I do a lot of multiday boating, and the kit comes with me regardless, so I do have an eye on staying overnight.  The kit serves as emergency backup to gear that might fail or be forgotten on a longer trip. 

Someone mentioned using a peli case instead of a Nalgene bottle due to lid failure.  After trying to get Pelican cases to stay dry for my cameras over the course of a couple of years, I have given up on Peli cases.  They are not for anything that must stay dry.  They simply don't work well enough.  If the box is usually closed, the gasket will compress and leak.  If you are in it all the time, a little grit will get in the gasket and leak.  If you pin a boat and have a bomber peli case, a few hours of getting worked will again lead to a leak. 

The only thing I've ever found to be a truly dry storage system are Watershed drybags.  Roll top drybags leak, and zippered bags like the Seattle Sports or Seal Line zip duffel also leak. 

If I could afford one, I'd use Watershed's deck top drybag for my rescue kit.  Maybe someday.  Until then, the nalgene is cheap and reliable.

Oh, I also carry some wetnaps for, well, the obvious.  And I also carry a little cordage. 

I also love the astral vests because they make it so easy to carry water, which I never boat without.

Okay, yes, I've been busted as a gear head. 


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 9:27am
Gonna call BS on the saw example. Your example uses the thought that it would have helped not actual case example. Bottom line is still that you did not have a saw to test that theory and in all likely hood if your in a forest where it is that wet a saw and a lighter are not going to be all you need to start a fire. This also brings us back to the case of need vs want. I'm sure a fire would have been great but what about hot coffee and smores? Where does it start and end... Life

The whole idea is minimal items that are emergency tools. Now I am ultra salty on the whole posting today since JP worked me into a frenzy but here is the only way I can really contribute to this whole thread, similar to what JP has mentioned were lacking the discussion of skills here.

Do you really want to be prepared?
Go drop yourself off in the woods without all the fancy provisions and make life happen for a week. Just you and the earth. Plenty of people do this in the military because they want to be part of a select group that requires this skill set, plenty of people do this out of the military because they want to have the peace of knowing they can live if required. Nothing and I mean nothing beats experience even in other examples. Get the best gear around and go paddle class V without a roll, perhaps a bad idea. When your in survival mode building tee pees with moss and saplings is not a thought, knowing where to find a dry cave or turned stump is. On day one you might fart around with fancy solutions but after a few days you will be ready to stay alive with minimal effort knowing what is required vs what is desired. Where and What you can eat etc..

I'm not saying you don't need rescue gear etc.. but there is a big difference in packing a rescue kit and a camping kit.

Posted By: slickhorn
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 9:31am
James, I had scone powder, a little strawberry jam powder, and tea packets. 

all I needed was that fire!!!


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 9:44am
hahaha... stop making me laugh. I'm trying my best to top the salty dog -- How can I out grump the wet mouse when your bakin in the woods.

You do know of course that part of a key survival method is sniffing out those bakers and then using a super horner moochin skill to nibble at the crumbs...

Posted By: 1150lbsofaire
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 10:15am
at first i thought the saw was a bit over kill.Now i think its one the most all around tools to have in the wilderness.
saw=fire,shelter,splints, backbords(for none back related injures), heck in the right hands you could build a spare paddle.
although all these tasks could be done with out a saw it would sure make things a lot faster when time is almost always a issue.

lookin for a bow cap for a storm

Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 10:34am
Safety kit includes lighter grinder papers tobacco cardboard for filter and the magic ingredient.  Also a towel or rolling dish is nice to have for your saftey kit.


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 11:56am
As for the conversation of skills that JP mentioned... can I get a witness?

The dood can boof!!!!!


Way to go Buddy... That's one of the cleanest lines I have seen you carve, plenty to be proud of in that shot!!!!

Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 1:47pm
I think a saw is a good idea.  I speak from a different angle though since I catboat a lot more than I kayak.  I think our discussion is influenced by a lot of variables including length of trip and size of boat.  I would never do a Middle Fork Salmon trip without and Ax and saw.  Ax throwing contests are a must on that river.  I have never seen or heard of a saw being used in a rescue scenario but if you have room and its not too heavy I say bring it on multi-day trips or on trips where you may be forced to spend the night. 

As for spare paddles when kayaking:  everyone needs one.  Once when running Yellowjacket Creek at a way high water level myself and Aaron both lost our paddles while getting worked in the Godzilla hole.  Hunter made it through the big hole and luckily had a spare breakdown carlisle.  It took about 20 min for our boats to come out of that hole so we had our boats but no paddles.  First we tried using half of the paddle each but this proved to be futile.  Instead 2 people ran a drop and then one person walked back up to the other with a paddle while the other went downstream on foot looking for the other paddles.  Eventually we found one paddle and were able to continue but if Aaron and I had brought our own spare paddles it wouldn't have taken us as long to complete the run which we did just before dark....


Posted By: RemAcct2
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 1:59pm
You know, Horner - you could just strap pontoons to the Volvo.  That way there'd be plenty of room for folks to snuggle at night  (at least I hear that's what happens...)


Posted By: jihad
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 2:11pm
just a question regarding biners, I have always had issues with the climbing type corroding in my boat after a month or two. has anyone else had this problem. I asume SS biners would solve the issue, however they seem hard to find and heavier.

Posted By: RemAcct2
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 2:15pm
I haven't had a problem - just make sure they are made out of aluminum.  I just transferred two biners out of a broken creek boat hull that had been there for a year and a half (holding in float bags and gear) - they looked good as new.


Posted By: jihad
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 3:47pm
broken? Are you saying it has been broken for a year and a half and in your garage, or you broke it after a year and a half of narr creeking. If the former is the case, it makes sense that they wouldn't corrode if their not on the river constantly (as mine always are)(:

Posted By: RemAcct2
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 3:52pm
It broke at the beginning of January '09, so it was well used.

This is what I use most commonly...an Omega "D"
http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product.asp?pfid=1429 - http://www.nrsweb.com/shop/product.asp?pfid=1429


Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 3:57pm
Head to toe sleeping in the back of the Volvo with my good buddy is hardly remarkable.  What Rick Ridgeway and John Roskelly did on K2...now that's remarkable!

Ask anyone who's spent a night in the back of my Volvo, its a delight!


Posted By: RemAcct2
Date Posted: 11 Feb 2009 at 4:04pm
Don't get me wrong - I didn't say it wouldn't be a delight.

I am just saying that strapping pontoons onto the Volvo and welding a seat and oar locks to the roof would be awesome.


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 14 Feb 2009 at 4:35pm
Ok Ok.
Seriously though I do like this thread (at least topic and the contributions of those who've stayed on topic.)
I'm doing the dual nalgene "dry" storage: one bottle on either side of seat, packed as evenly as possible. These nalgenes are the cheap white plastic ones with the traditional blue caps, surrounded by foam to further chock up the sides of my seat. It's good to fill out the space between your seat andf the walls of your boat to protect the fastening points of your seat to the boat.
As for the professor: what-- you think you can "Out-grump" me huh? Good luck with that. 
As far as Leif's boof, I'm sure it was Photoshopped--. Just kidding, Leif! I believe the photo to be authentic, but a video would be undeniable proof of the boof. I've seen logs "autoboof" before, you know.


Posted By: jP
Date Posted: 23 Feb 2009 at 1:32pm
So last weekend I actually packed a first aide kit. A really small ouch pouch.
And guess what? I actually got to bust it out for someone. Someone who I'd classify as a very solid boater (understatement) got pinned in a class II spot on an inocculous looking log.
Another really good boater just earned some hero points, too, because without his help, we may have been reading about a serious accident.
As it worked out, the pinned paddler  was dislodged and suffered only a few cuts on his hand. Still, it was at the beginning of a very demanding run. I'm glad I was able to provide for his comfort. One of my New Years Resolutions is to be a little better prepared for the unexpected, which is why I think this thread rocks!
Maybe something akin to a sticky thread is in order.


Posted By: James
Date Posted: 23 Feb 2009 at 3:19pm
Ding Ding - Stickied

Posted By: franzhorner
Date Posted: 24 Feb 2009 at 12:15pm
I just got a new first aid kit from Adventure Medical Kits.  I went with the light kit developed by guides in Yosemite.  It will fit nicely in a small ammo can which I have painted white with red crosses and should be attached to my cataraft at all times.  Also in the can will be firestarter, flashlight and whatever else I can fit in there....


Posted By: jimwarlick
Date Posted: 22 Sep 2009 at 9:00pm
My suggestion:  A headlamp carried on your body will still be available for the hike out after a swim/lost boat episode. 

     I knew some guys that spent the night out after swimming and losing their boats.   Their "survival" stuff, including headlamps, was in their boats and thus lost.  Their episode generated a nasty and unnecessary SAR response when a worried friend called 911 instead of gathering a paddler possee to hike in there.  With a light, they could have easily hiked to the car.  With a flashlight, you will just about never need all of the "survival" stuff. 

     Anecdotally, I once found that a space blanket is not that warm and that was at 60 deg not raining/no wind.  I didn't last the night.  It could keep rain and wind off, though.  Sitting still to use it will just make you colder.  I think the two warmest places to be overnight on a river are in the boat with the skirt on, or continually walking around until sunrise.

     Starting a fire in the northwest in the winter can be about impossible, although the esbit tabs are good.    The underside of larger downed trees can contain dry wood.  Mostly, everything is damp.

Hoping to be helpful....Jim

Posted By: dblanchard
Date Posted: 04 Dec 2009 at 11:03am
I have found what I consider the ideal container for first aid/repair/bailout kits. I'm going to order some in the next week or and thought the rest of you might want to look at them.

They are manufactured by CurTec (in Holland, I think).

The US distributor only carries up to the 1000 cc size, though I'd really like a couple 1300 cc bottles.

Marty Kapp
General Container Corp.
Ph:   +732-435-0020
FAX: +732-435-0040

The one liter bottles are $2.25/each; I doubt shipping will add much to that.

I keep my first aid kit in a little roll of fabric so that I can dump it out of my bottle and unroll it and see everything I have without spilling everything all over the ground.

These bottles have no interior lip like my Nalgene bottle does, so dumping my contents out won't be hindered.

Also, these open with a quarter turn and can't be tightened more than a quarter turn. This makes it faster to open, but more importantly means that anyone should be able to open one even after jP has tightened it down.

Posted By: ENDO
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2010 at 5:16pm
Has anyone mentioned a small pulley? When you are lowering or raising a boat out of a canyon, a small pulley that fits to your throw rope can make it easier. Yes, you can usually just use a tree, but at times it just helps to have one. I carry one along with 4 carabiners. Never used them, but rather have them than be stuck without.

Posted By: thad2000
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2011 at 6:41pm
you tube suggestion was to use the ones that screw closed so they can't accidentally grab onto something.

Posted By: thad2000
Date Posted: 20 Jul 2011 at 6:44pm
I was referring to carabiners on life jackets...

Posted By: warlickone
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2011 at 1:34am
In my personal gallery I have photos of what I carry...check it out...

First Aid in an "aloksak" drybag bought from Aquasports in Redmond (ultralight)

athletic tape/duct tape
band aids
surgicel absorbable hemostat (to shove in a wound to promote clotting)
dermabond skin glue (to close or cover wounds)
tincture of benzoin (to make tape stick better)
steri strips (to close wounds)
alcohol pads (to clean oil off of skin so tape sticks)
needle and thread (to fix torn drytops)
compass (little one the size of a dime)
Espit fuel tabs and lighter (firestarter)
paper/pen (to describe location/injuries for anyone hiking out for help)

(I feel, for first aid, very basic is ok. Control Bleeing, treat pain, make fire for cold folks, and lots of tape to make splints and such, with tape you can do anything)

Z drag:

2 Petzl locking HMS carabiners
2 black diamond oval carabiners
3 Petzl pulley wheels
2 Petzl tibloc ascenders
1 Petzl Traxion pulley/ascender
1 anchor sling/runner

I carry the following on my lifejacket so if I lose my boat I can ->

1. hike out in the dark
2. build a fire
3. z-drag or ascend a rope lowered into a canyon to me

in lifejacket:

waterproof princeton tec headlamp
esbit tablets and lighter firestarter in multi-ziplocs (could vacuum seal)
15 feet webbing and biner
3:1 z drag kit (leaving extra mech advantage ascender/pulley/biner in boat)

I also carry spectra throwbags and a breakdown paddle. Spectra is important, as I've broken ropes z-dragging rafts. They failed by melting at the knot, so it's good to use figure eights when loading things up big.

The spectra kayak bags usually have 5/16" rope. This converts to 8mm. The Petzl ascender gear is designed to work with ropes down to 8mm.

Posted By: warlickone
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2011 at 1:49am
Opinion: It's important to have the z-drag gear and technique wired and fast.

I've known of two guys in West Virginia that have died when they were pinned underwater in their boats. Their partners setup z drags and successfully freed them. The time to setup the z drag and free them was too long though and CPR was unsuccessful. Speed and having it well practiced is important.

The case the other day of the guy that pinned in shark rapid on the Cooper is a good example. If he had not been able to exit the boat, a well rehearsed z drag may have saved him.

I hear a lot of people say you don't really need a z drag, and I agree with going simple and using the hand of god first. But a well rehearsed z drag could save a life someday.

Posted By: warlickone
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2011 at 2:29am
For those carrying harness and belay device: Unnecessary...

Belay device can be replaced with a knot called the "munter hitch". A good one to know.


A harness can be made out of the webbing you carry as a "flip line". Also, just a four foot piece of webbing/rope can be tied around your waist as a traditional "swami belt". Early climbers climbed with simply rope tied around their waist. For emergency usage, a loop around the waist will do.

With the loop of rope around the waist, one carabiner (preferably locking), and the munter hitch -> you're rappeling and belaying

If you don't have a locking carabiner, used two carabiners "opposite and opposed"....

See my gallery for a picture of this...

Posted By: warlickone
Date Posted: 31 Jul 2011 at 2:37am
You can also ascend a rope with the munter hitch and one prussic or tibloc and a foot loop (could be the end of the primary rope) . Good trick to know.

This would be useful if you were stuck in a canyon/pothole and your friends dropped a rope from the rim to you.

Posted By: sbeck206
Date Posted: 08 May 2012 at 11:56am
I'm in the process of putting a z-drag/unpin kit together to take when I IK. What are the bare essentials? How much rope should I carry? Is my 75 ft throw bag enough? Also, what kind of rope is best? Does it have to be floating rope or will basic climbing rope do the trick?

Posted By: T4eresa
Date Posted: 26 Dec 2017 at 9:29am
Nice discussion you guys. Of course the answer to the question "what should I bring" depends entirely on what sort of situations you get yourself into. For example, how long a rope to carry depends on size of river, type of boat, your throwing arm, odds of needing mechanical advantage system, etc.

The one thing I haven't noticed mentioned that I use fairly regularly is a mini-torch, used to dry out the surface of a boat/paddle on a cold/rainy day so that you can tape it. Tape works for boat patches and paddle repairs only when you can get it to stick. A lighter is helpful but the mini-pocket-torch heats up a boat quick and warms up tape to get it to seal really well. Can't beat it here in the PNW.

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