If you’re doing one of our Upper or Lower Canyon trips — those that require either a hike in or a hike out of the canyon — you definitely will need a backpack. You’ll hear us say things like “internal-frame” and “hip belt” and “sternum strap.” What do those things mean, and how can you be sure the pack you’re looking at will suit your needs? Nearly all modern hiking backpacks have an internal frame; you would have to look pretty hard to find a new pack with an external frame. The old Army or hiking packs had rigid aluminum frames on the outside of the pack; the frames fit against your back. If you have one of these old external-frame packs and you want to bring it on our trip, you can — but you’ll be much more comfortable in a smaller, internal frame pack. The internal frame packs have a much more flexible frame built into the pack, so it fits against your back much more comfortably. The internal frames just provide a little structure to the packs, which you’ll want, but the packs can still be squished around to some degree — to fit inside our dry bags, for example. A hip belt is just what it sounds like: a (usually) padded belt that fits around your hips and helps stabilize the pack on your back. The sternum strap is the small strap that buckles across your chest and serves the same stabilizing purpose.
If you’re going on any other type of trip with us — a 7- or 8-day motorized trip, a 13-day oar trip, any of our Full Canyon trips — you will definitely want some type of soft-sided bag, rather than a backpack. Again, if you have a backpack, and you want to bring it, you can — but we think you’ll be happier with a duffel bag. So what do we mean by “soft-sided bag”? Just what it sounds like. Anything you’ve got will probably work. What we don’t want you to bring is your luggage or suitcases. And we want you to stay within some size (and weight!) guidelines. Your bag should be about 12x12x24 … which is about the size of a gym bag. In fact, a gym bag is a perfect bag to bring on your river trip.
We include our size and weight guidelines in your trip info packet so, if you have more questions about those, please refer to your detailed info packet or check with us here in the office. If you’re exceeding those size/weight guidelines, or if your stuff won’t fit inside the appropriately sized bag/pack, chances are you are WAY over packed.