We gotta say, the itemized packing list we include in our trip info packets is pretty darn good. No matter how many Grand Canyon trips we’ve been on, we still give the packing list a once-over before heading to the river. There are a lot of must-haves on that list, like baby wipes and good lotion and a sarong. There are also one or two items that aren’t on the list that some of us would never go without, so we thought we’d share those with you here. This is a very personal list — everyone has their own can’t-live-without items on a river trip, and these are just a few of ours. (Note: This list only applies to full-canyon river trips. If you’re going on a hike-out or hike-in trip, you’ll need to forgo the niceties and only pack absolute necessities, because you are going to have to carry whatever you bring with you on the trail, and every ounce of added weight matters!)
- Koozie: You know we keep beer and soda cold by dragging it in the river in mesh bags, right? And, even though the river is always cold, the sun is always hot … which means cold beverages can turn not-so-cold pretty fast. Bring a koozie on your trip and you’ll really be boating like a boatman.
- Hair ties, bobby pins, headbands, etc.: Anything to keep hair out of your face and mouth! Bring lots; the river has a habit of stealing hair accessories.
- Leave-in hair conditioner: The packing list recommends bringing biodegradable shampoo, but some folks find that conditioner is a necessity too. Because it’s much, much harder to find biodegradable conditioner, bring the leave-in kind so you don’t have to worry about polluting the river with it.
- Heavy-duty moisturizer/salve: We recommend bringing a lot of lotion on your trip — the air in Grand Canyon will dry out your skin like nothing else — but we take it one step further and bring something like Super Salve to heal and prevent cracked hands and feet.
- We know some ladies really like to bring pee funnels on the river with them — that’s something you’ll have to consider for yourself.
The next question is … how to pack all your stuff. When you arrive at the launch point, the guides will issue everyone with two dry bags: a small bag that will be accessible throughout the day, and a large bag that only comes out at camp in the evenings. So, it makes sense to have your stuff sorted — at least a little bit — so it’s easy for you to grab your day stuff and put it in your day bag, and then put the rest of your stuff in the large dry bag. What goes in the small day bag? Well, things you’ll want handy throughout the day. That might be things like your sunscreen, camera, an extra hat, and your sarong. With that it mind, you might want to pack those things on the top of your duffel bag.