11 Questions To Answer Before Your Overnight River Trip

CKS Squad Favorites, Gear, Paddling Tips
Victoria Ohegyi

Looking to plan a sweet overnight river trip? Great call! Answer the following 11 questions using Google and your noggin before you even get in the car to head to your river section destination.

Photo Credit Sallie Holmes
  1. Is this river section open to public access? Find out if you need to apply for a permit or not. Check if put-ins and take-outs are on public land. American Whitewater (AW) is a great resource for finding river accessibility information.
  2. Is this section runnable right now? Check AW for ideal flow information for the section of river you’d like to run. Check current CFS and historic flow data on the USGS Daily Streamflow Conditions Map. Check the snowpack and/or weather conditions depending on the region you plan to paddle. Certain flows on the West and East coasts are controlled dam releases, so check those too.
  3. Can I run this section? Ask yourself this question at each step. Is this section too difficult for me and my group? If a rescue scenario would be needed, could I be prepared to save a life and/or gear? Can my paddle crew set safety?
  4. Do I have the right gear? For an overnight trip, you are going to need to first ensure you have the right vessels to paddle. Depending on what you are using to physically get down the river will influence how much you are able to pack. For example, rafting trips can fit much more gear and have sitting room for passengers as opposed to a SUP exclusive expedition.
  5. Do I have the right safety gear? Safety gear is very important on overnight trips. Ensure you and all of your paddlers have PFDs and helmets. It is best practice that everyone carries a whistle and a knife with them, but make sure everyone knows how to use them. Rescue equipment, like throwbags, z drag kits, and first aid items are also necessary.
  6. Do I have the right knowledge? Make sure you are trained in CPR and have river rescue/swiftwater knowledge. Get a guide book to learn about the section you are about to run. Find beta from online forums or directly ask seasoned paddlers what they know. Triple check if there are any strainers you need to be aware of and portage around.
  7. Can my vehicle complete the necessary shuttling between put-in and take out? Shuttling is always a mess at the beginning and/or end of the trip. Make sure the right vehicles are in their proper positions before you end up wasting an extra hour or three after you take out. This has happened before.
  8. Do I have enough food? Always important and always bring snacks.
  9. Do I have enough water, beer, etc.? Stay hydrated, Be responsible, Know your limits and Don’t overdo it.
  10. Do I have the correct kitchen gear? Depending on your vessel and size of your group, you will know if you need to bring an entire kitchen camp or if you can get away with smaller/ultralight cooking setups.
  11. Are my friends the right people to paddle with? Are my friends the right people to primitive camp with? Ask yourself if your friends are the right people to be on the river in a remote area with. Make sure they are responsible and are not the type of people to fall into a fire pan because they’re too drunk at camp or can assist in a rescue situation if needed. For more information on trip planning, read our blog about How to be a Good River TL.
Photo Credit Amanda Castle
Photo Credit Jack Brown

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