July 8, 2016

Gear Guide: 9 Paddling Essentials for Lake Powell in Winter

Plotting an epic paddling trip? Whether you're headed to Lake Powell or a river near home, Brendan Leonard's gear guide is sure to steer you in the right direction.

Kayaking on a lake for eight days in winter means you’ll have a few priorities: warm clothing and sleeping gear, dry paddling clothing, lots of food, and keeping all that stuff dry. Here are a few things I used to stay dry and happy during our December trip across Lake Powell.

List of Hiking Essentials for Paddling Lake Powell

maps

1) Map: National Geographic Trails Illustrated Glen Canyon NRA Topographic Map  

Lake Powell has marked buoys every mile along its length, and the buoys are marked on the Nat Geo map, so it’s a good resource to have for an overview of where you are in the canyon. I also used a Gaia GPS app for my iPhone.

bivy

2) Bivy Sack: Outdoor Research Alpine Bivy

We didn’t take a tent (there was almost no rain in the forecast), but I wanted to have a waterproof bivy sack as insurance in case it did rain. It proved to be a good idea, adding a windproof layer over the top of my sleeping bag for those cold nights (which began at 5 every night).

dry bags

3)Dry BagsOutdoor Research Duct Tape Dry Bags

Our boats were watertight for the majority the trip, but I noticed two of my hatches developing small leaks during the last three days. Thankfully, I had all my warm clothes and my sleeping bag packed in dry bags, so I didn’t freeze when the temperature dropped at night.

water filter4) Water Filter: Platypus Gravityworks Water Filter System – 4 Liter

We had heard the water in Lake Powell tasted terrible, so we all came armed with powdered drink mixes, and filters. The Platypus Gravityworks is still my favorite backcountry filter wherever I go, because of the ability to easily backflush it when it gets clogged.

dry bag

5) Dry BagOutdoor Research Maelstrom Dry Bag

I kept my camera in this over-the-shoulder bag for our trip—it kept it dry inside my cockpit, which was always filling with drips from my paddle or my shoes when I got in and out of the boat.

personal flotation device

6) Flotation DeviceNRS Ninja PFD

Because you never know. Plus PFDs provide a great warm spot to stick your hands when they’re cold from paddling.

wet sock

7) Wetsocks:  NRS Wetsocks

Your feet aren’t going to stay dry on a paddling trip, no matter what you do. But these will keep them warm—I’ve used them on a winter Grand Canyon trip as well as this trip and been totally happy.

clean waste bag

8) Waste BagsCleanwaste WAG BAG Waste Bags

Because you have to take it all with you. Eight days of it. Leave no trace.

hiking shoe

9) On Boat and Off Boat Shoes:

I wore Chacos when I was paddling but hiking boots are a great addition for around camp. La Sportiva Primer GORE-TEX® SURROUND® hiking shoes are breathable and waterproof and a great pair to wear on the shore or along the trail.

One other thing you’ll need: a boat. We rented 17-foot sea kayaks from Kayak Lake Powell, and they were great. Check out the feature for the whole story.

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