Yukon River Expedition Gear List
Currently we have decided upon Delta Kayaks, specifically the 15.5 model. This model was chosen after careful consideration and has a number of things in its favor. Specifically, we were after three things: cargo capacity, durability, size. We needed a kayak that could carry enough gear for an extended expedition, while at the same time being highly durable, and with a long enough waterline to be quick, but short enough to still be somewhat maneuverable. The Delta 15.5 meets all of these goals and so far has exceeded all our expectations. They are incredibly light weight coming in at only 53 pounds and due to their thermoformed construction, virtually indestructible. Finally, with a whopping 28.1 gallons of storage in the bow and 39.1 gallons in the stern along with large hatch openings, they are able to swallow mountains of gear. They are an ideal kayak for this kind of journey and we would not have been able to do it without them. Please check out our full review for more details.
We are taking the usual list of items… drysuit, PFD, Sponge, booties, etc. However, a few items bear mentioning.
- Paddling Suits – We will be wearing full Gore-Tex paddling suits from Kokatat. These lightweight paddling suits are ideal for this kind of trip were immersion can be an issue due to water temperature, but the waterway is not as demanding as kayaking in the ocean. The Lightweight Gore-Tex paddling Suits are highly breathable and more comfortable to wear because of the neoprene neck as opposed to latex. As with all Kokatat drysuits, the lightweight paddling suit is made in the US to exacting standards and suits are tested to be dry before being shipped to retailers. Please check out our full review for more details.
- Paddles – We will also be testing a new paddle on this expedition. Bending Branches has been kind enough to provide their new Navigator Paddle. The Navigator utilizes a polished carbon shaft with a three piece ferrule, and black willow blades with their rock guard technology. In addition, each blade is fiberglassed reinforced for enhanced durability. Preliminary testing has been very positive and the paddle is absolutely beautiful. Again, another product made in the United States and of very high quality. Please check out our full review for more details.
Typically camping out of a kayak presents little problem as you are able to carry quite a bit of gear for shorter trips. However, packing for a 16 day expedition in remote country with very limited options to replenish supplies presents a problem even when using larger craft like canoes or skiffs. When utilizing a kayak, it presents a very real challenge that needs to be overcome. The best way to overcome this is to utilize as light and compact gear as possible while still offering safety and redundancy (when required) for the conditions we will be facing. This becomes even more of a challenge when utilizing bear barrels for food and toiletry storage.
Our goal was to maximize storage capacity and to limit the amount of gear on deck to an absolute minimum. With smart planning, packing only what is necessary, and utilizing high quality ultralight equipment, we have been able to pack all of our gear inside the kayaks with no use of deck bags or strapping gear to the hull.
- Dry Bags – I would like to add that this would not have been possible without the high quality dry bags that Outdoor Research manufactures. Utilizing both their Durable Dry Sacks and AirPurge Dry Compression Sacks has been wonderful and really enabled us to maximize the amount of gear we were able to fit into the kayaks. Often, dry bags are made from really stiff, material, which may have slightly higher durability, can be a real challenge to pack and fit in the hatches of kayaks. The Outdoor Research Durable Dry Sack is made of a tough Antron nylon with a durable, waterproof Hydroseal® coating. All seams are taped for complete protection. A roll-top closure provides reliable waterproof performance. An external daisy chain and a webbing bottom handle simplify carrying. Outdoor Research also has an Infinite Guarantee. There is some small print with that of course. But any time I have had a rare occasion when I needed to send a piece of equipment back. It was taken care of swiftly.
We have reviewed both of these items in the past if you are looking for more details.
For a complete list of camping gear along with images please see the gear page.
Safety during the expedition is of the utmost importance. The Yukon is in effect wilderness area with limited access. It is imperative that individuals come prepared to deal with a variety of situations, from fast changing incliment weather to animal encounters to potentially life threatening injuries.
- Communications – We are utilizing both a Satellite Phone and a Spot Device for keeping in touch with people and for emergency purposes. The Spot device is currently paired up with our Delorme GPS PN-60 Unit and is able to send back real time data feeds to our tracking map. We are also able to send messages back to people via SMS, email, Facebook, or Twitter. Look for a more formal review later this year!
- Bears – Bears are a very real threat in the Yukon and it is best to take prudent steps when dealing with food preparation, storage, disposal of garbage, and camp set up. Pay attention to where you pitch camp. Try and avoid game trails and other well traveled areas. If you see a lot of tracks, move camp to somewhere with less sign. If you get a bad feeling about a place, follow your gut and move on. Never eat where you plan on camping. It is best to stop an hour or two before for supper and then continue downstream to setup camp. Bears have a notorious sense of smell and can be drawn to camp from the odor of your food from miles away. Always store your food and toiletries in bear proof containers and store it a safe distance from camp. In this case, we are are utilizing bear barrels by both Garcia and Counter Assault. All food items and toiletries are stored in these barrels. All garbage will be burned when possible. Keep smells to a minimum and blend in, unscented items are preferable. Absolutely do not take food items or toiletries into the tent with you at night or store such items in your kayak! Finally, for women paddlers, remember that menstruation has been seen as a possible attractant to bears. Make sure to take additional precautions around the disposal of feminine products when in bear country.
- Redundancy – Where reasonable we have some form of redundancy in our equipment and supplies. So if a stove breaks down and a paddle breaks, we have a backup unit. In addition we always bring the old staples… parachute cord and duct tape.
- Medical Kit – We are utilizing an Adventure Medical Kit on this trip. We decided to go with the Mountain Series Comprehensive Kit as it was small enough to be compact, but had enough items in the kit to cover most situations. We supplemented the kit with a few additional items, like a bigger bottle of ibuprofen, some allergy medication, some anticoagulants, etc. Look for a more formal review later this year!
Besides the usual array of GPS, cameras, and other ancillary devices, for the first time we are doing a number of interesting things with technology to provide power and recharge capabilities. We are utilizing a compact solar array and battery pack by Goal Zero. More specifically we are utilizing their Sherpa 120 Adventure Kit and their power inverter to recharge the satellite phone, the GPS and Spot, cameras, etc. A number of recent expeditions have been using these devices in places like Nepal on Everest Expeditions and in Africa on First Ascent Whitewater Kayak expeditions. The Solar setup is amazingly compact, extremely durable, and is able to keep our electronics up and functioning in the remotest of locales. Look for a more formal review later this year!
Spending up to 16 days on an expedition really makes one think about their clothing choices and how best to satisfy the need for comfort and cleanliness with the need to pack in a minimalistic fashion. One of the best ways to do this is with smart layering choices.
- Base Layers – Today’s modern base layers come in three typical choices, synthetics, wool, and silk. In this instance we are utilizing merino wool blended base layers by SmartWool. The benefit to going with a merino wool base layer is excellent wicking ability, very good temperature regulation, and excellent odor resistance. Clearly all very important things on an extended expedition in the wilderness. When travelling with partners, the odor resistance of merino wool is especially appreciated! Please refer to our Base Layer Primer for more information.
- Outerwear – In addition good base layers, it is important to have durable, quick drying outwear. On this expedition we are using a mix of Mountain Hardware and ExOfficio clothing to cover all of our needs. Specifically the ExOfficio clothing is nice because a number of the pieces are impregnated with insect repellant. Something that is appreciated in the Yukon.
- Other Pieces – Finally, bring some good rain gear, a good wind layer, sun protection in the form of some kind of hat, and depending on the time of year and how far off the river you plan on travelling, an original bug shirt. A staple of river travellers up North. The bug shirt is compact, durable, and can make what would be a miserable trip, a pleasurable one.
Books and Guides:
Mac’s Bookstore in Whitehorse is an excellent source of materials for paddling down the Yukon. Specifically we are using these resources:
- Exploring the Upper Yukon River – Part 1 – Whitehorse to Carmacks – Gus Karpes
- Exploring the Upper Yukon River – Part 2 – Carmacks to Dawson City – Gus Karpes
- Yukon River (Marsh Lake-Carmacks) – Mike Rourke
- Paddling the Yukon River and it’s Tributaries – Dan Maclean
- Exploring the Yukon River – Archie Satterfield
- Yukon River MapBook Part 1: Whitehorse to Carmacks – Borealis Geomatics
- Yukon River MapBook Part 1: Carmacks to Dawson – Borealis Geomatics