This article relates to the kit I carry in my boat or on my person when I am heading out on a river. For playboating, I carry a lot less. If I attempted to fit all this stuff in my playboat, it might fit in but I probably wouldn't be able to as well, and if I could, the boat would probably sink.
Maybe it is the fact that I am an old Boy Scout but I do like to "Be Prepared". I'm not saying that you need to carry all this kit in your boat but you should be looking at carrying a lot of this stuff within your group when heading out.
CAP members were even capable of surprising the White Water Warriors at a recent Pyranha Fest when we showed them the amount of kit we take.
One of the most imporant things to ensure that you have got in your boat before setting off are airbags. I paddle with an old beach ball inflated in front of my footrest and an airbag either side of the rear pillar.
Airbags serve three purposes:
a) Reduce the amount of water that can get in your boat when you capsize which makes the boat lighter and easier to rescue.
b) They increase the buoyancy which means that there is less chance of your boat getting damaged when it decides to descend a Grade V rapid without you.
c) You can inflate them around all the other kit that you pack in your kayak to stop all your kit moving around when you are paddling and falling out while you are swimming.
On my person, I wear a Palm Zambezi belt with a 15m throwline and screwgate karabiner attached. In the pocket on the belt is a sling attached to the belt by a screwgate karabiner and a large karabiner that will fit round a paddle.
This gives me the option of towing while also allowing me to clip a boat or paddle to me if I need to get out at an awkward spot.
In my BA, I have a 4m open sling and another large karabiner. This comes in handy as whenever I am getting out of my boat, I just unzip my pocket and clip the karabiner onto the front of the boat. That way, if I do happen to fall in the river while trying to get out I have just slightly longer before my boat flows off down the next grade IV drop without me.
I also carry a river knife attached to a lanyard. Some people will tell you that it is dangerous to have your knife on a lanyard as it may come out of your pocket and open itself while you are swimming. What are the chances of that. If I find myself in the unfortunate situation of actually needing to use my knife the last thing I want is to drop it and not be able to reach it.
So that is enough about me, what do I actually take on the river with me.
Well first up is a pin kit for extracting boats when they are stuck on the river. I use DMM I Beam revolver Karabiners as they are light. Three of them are normal screwgates while the one in the top left corner is a quick lock that can be used with a paddle hook.
The other stuff I carry in my pin kit is a couple of swing cheek pulleys and prussik loops and some bungees to help make a paddle hook.
Next up is my repair kit which is kept in a peli case. This consists of a multi tool, duct tape, needle and thread, storm sure neoprene glue, turbo lighter and dental floss (which can be used instead of thread as it is a lot stronger and will not rot).
I also carry a compass, torch and a couple of glow sticks incase the group ever has to walk out. There is also a small pot of kindling to help light a fire in an emergency.
Last up, I carry a BDH bottle which contains a first aid kit, spare inhaler and survival blanket. I also carry a hand warmer which comes in handy while waiting in the depths of winter for the shuttle to be run at the end of a trip.
There is also a waterproof marker which comes in handy for marking boat etc and a filter drinking straw so that river water can be drunk in an emergency.
In the back of my creek boat I carry a length of rubber tubing which has got a snorkel mouth piece attached incase anyone becomes trapped in their boat.
So that is it nearly. Depending on the weather, a flask of hot drink might find its way into the back of my boat and a 20m throwline strapped in between my legs.
If you regularly paddle with a group of people then you will know what they are carrying and adjust your kit accordingly but it helps to "Be Prepared" before you get to the river and discover that everyone has left their pin kit at home.
As I want to be able to access most of this kit fairly easily, I keep it stored in the back of the boat. With the extra weight of all this kit, I have moved the seat forward to balance the boat and improve handling.