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Less is More: What Not to Bring on a Trip

Packing can be stressful while getting ready for a vacation. Packing for river trips can be especially stressful since you are packing for the unexpected.

Western River provides a great packing list that everyone should review before a trip. It’s important to remember that the list was thoughtfully put together by input from everyone in the company and if an item is on that list, it’s probably there for a great reason. Trust us, we’ve done this a time or two. There are plenty of lists on what to bring, but very few lists advising what to leave home. Leaving a few things home can simplify your life and lead to a smoother care free experience.

Solar Showers: One of my least favorite articles brought down the canyon is the solar shower. I’ve actually never seen a solar shower last an entire river trip, if it makes it through the first 5 days it usually winds up in the garbage on the 6th since it is such a pain to lug around the owner decides to abandon it out of frustration. Attempting to find a safe place for the shower can be tricky since it’s sensitive to popping and it takes up additional space needed for other waterproof day bags provided by Western. It’s also just large enough that you’ll need an extra arm to carry it on and off the boats. If you need to make 2 trips to get your stuff off the boat in camp, you brought too much stuff.

Speakers: Take advantage of the opportunity to check out of the real world. Do yourself and your fellow travelers a favor and leave the speakers at home. There are few things as memorable as staring at the stars from a cot to the background music of the nearby Colorado River. If you feel like you need music bring some headphones but please be considerate of others by not subjecting them to your personal tunes. Besides, a week away from your favorite playlist will provide newfound love when you return home.

Spray on sunscreen: It might seem convenient for yourself but it inevitably will wind up in someone else’s eyes and mouth when it gets sprayed up-wind. The compressed sprays don’t last as long so you’ll need to bring twice as many bottles to compensate for what inadvertently ended up on other guests. They also break and can leak all over everything. Furthermore, the spray actually melts plastic, so when it does land on sunglasses and lenses, the pitting is permanent. Save space, cash, and keep friends by leaving spray on screen at home for the pool.

Being prepared is important, but bringing to much stuff will complicate your trip and make life harder. Western’s bag weights and size rules are for guests benefit as much as anyone else. Having a camp bag and day bag within the size and weight limits will make life much easier on your next trip.

Sam Hansen

Sam is an Idaho native who fell in love with desert redrock, guiding there the last 6 years while pursuing a degree in physics - and starting a ski guiding business in West Yellowstone.

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