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Old 09-29-2007   #1
Emmielou's Avatar
Moab, Utah
Paddling Since: 2006
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 106
Winter Grand Gear List

Ok so my wonderful friend has invited me on a grand trip at the end of November but I have no idea what to expect weather wise for that time of year. I've heard it can be 70 degrees on the beach, but some gear lists recommend bringing TWO sleeping bags for the winter months...seems a little bit extreme. So, those of you who have experienced this kind of a trip...what should we expect? Also, what is on the "must-haves" list for a winter trip? and what can we honestly leave behind?

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.”-Ed Abbey
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Old 09-29-2007   #2
Gnarcissist's Avatar
Boulder / Tennessee, Colorado
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Never been myself, but I would think at that time of the year it's probably a mixture of the two...pretty mild during the day, but pretty cold once the sun goes down.

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Old 09-30-2007   #3
no tengo
mania's Avatar
Baytopia, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1876
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,768
I am working on a list for my December 31st trip, but yeah I am bringing a zero bag with a liner that will add 15 more degrees. a down coat for evening would be a must I think.

On the water I'll will likely be wearing a drysuit most days.

I am even looking into diving gloves and hood cause the standard rafting gloves and caps really don't keep you all that warm if its snowing.

This of course is unlikely on a grand trip but it was very close to snowing for almost a week on us one March and I wished for warmer gear. Also I am getting the warmest mukluk style knee high booties I can find (NRS has a set).

I tend to go on other cold trips so I will certainly be using them.

We are also going to have a big group tent for dinners and breakfast with a propane heater and candle lanterns for ambiance.

Maybe I am going overkill but hey its a long time to be out and you dont want to be miserable.
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Old 09-30-2007   #4
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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For your head you should check this out:

OR Product page: Snoqualmie Sombrero&#8482

It was the best hat for guiding in Alaska. You could also get the one without the insulation (Seattle Sombrero), just buy it big enough to fit over your beanie (there is a internally adjustable size band to tighten down when you aren't wearing the beanie underneath). There is really nothing better in extended rain than a waterproof hat that lets you not wear a hood. My Seattle Sombrero goes on just about every multi-day trip I do anywhere.

Also for Grand Canyon Avg Temps (look at the bottom of the page):

Grand Canyon National Park - Weather Conditions (U.S. National Park Service)
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Old 09-30-2007   #5
Horserump, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 458
stuff to bring

I did a trip in late October and early November last year. We had Halloween at Tapeats creek. First off make sure you guys have at least 2 colman type lanterns for kitchen work. 3 would be better. Lots of batteries for your head lamp, The top part of the canyon will be colder than the bottom. Some kind of warm camp boots, the water and weather won't be much coolder than a mid May or early June trip to Idaho or around Colorado at that time (not the nice parts of the month) You could get dumped on an be cool to cold but not freezing during that trip or you may have lows in the upper 40's and highs in the 80's. You going to be out for about 3 weeks and the weather service best forcast may go out a week. Extra propane and a portable hot water shower system are fantastic. As far as bags go we were sleeping with sheets, a fleece blanket, and a 3 season poly bag on a ground sheet. Most nights we just slept outside. If you sleep down close to the river you will have to contend with dew in the morning but up away from the river it will be dry. Be ready for rain for multiple days and some cold windy wet days on and off the river. Unless you're going with too few boats plan on bringing it. It being anything you think you need. One must have is a dry bag for your chair. There's nothing worse than getting off the river after a long cold day, putting on nice warm dry cloths and getting a wet ass from sitting in a chair that has been soaked all day in the rain and river. Have fun
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Old 09-30-2007   #6
Emmielou's Avatar
Moab, Utah
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 106
Oh this is great, thanks so much! I wouldn't have thought of a bag for my chair, great idea

I think I might just overpack slightly with an extra sweater and a pair of shorts in case of crazy weather. As for the river itself, I don't own a dry suit and don't see a reason to buy one unless to sell it back after the trip. Think a solid dry top and NRS paddling pants, some ankle high booties and solid gloves would suffice? I totally appreciate the feedback. The coldest trip I've ever done was Westwater in late October, and the closest I've been to the Grand Canyon is to fly over it (city slicker here), so I have NO idea what to expect.

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Old 09-30-2007   #7
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 332
Dry Suit

It is even worth paying retail for a good suit. My wife and I both have Kokatat suits with gortex booties. and they are awsome. It make the differenance between surviving the cold and being comfortable. 30 days it a long time to be miserable.

I have a Jan launch and everyone will have Dry suits. I feel that this is essential to maintain good moral and keep the team strong. We will also have extra neck gaskets, OS glue and a spare wet suit for a back up.

I have been down the MFS in May wearing a wet suit and had the pleasure of soaking it in the blaster pot each morning to get the ice to thaw before slithering it to it.

You will be very happy you spent the money the very first time you ware it.
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Old 09-30-2007   #8
Horserump, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
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I think you're going to freeze your tush off with just an extra sweater. Try imagining 45 degree air temp, driving rain, 5-10 mph steady upstream winds, and you're in the shade all day long and you are just sitting there. I agree a dry suit may not be needed..... As long as you don't get flipped or dumped out of the raft. Once you get cold you'll stay cold until you get out of your wet stuff.
I kayak and I've always gotten by with a dry top, neoprene shorts, and fleece lined rubber pants if it gets real cold. But then again I don't go swiming. A nice hat is a must and if you're going to sit on the raft booties are ok but you might condsider some rubber gum boots to keep your feet dry. Take the boots off for the big stuff and then use your booties. Also have you group bring along a case or two of presto logs. They are great for getting a quick fire going and getting wet drift wood to burn.
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Old 09-30-2007   #9
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Wheat Ridge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1995
Join Date: Oct 2003
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I've say now that I've never run the Grand, much less done a winter trip down there. I highly recommend that you to spend the money for a good dry suit / paddle suit. I got a couple for my wife and I and can't tell you how much of a difference it makes. From the time when I was pulling into the current on the Gallatin just as the sleet was coming down sideways to when my wife was rowing through a violent, cold cloudburst / hailstorm on the Upper C, we've gotten our money's worth out of them without even a full season on 'em yet. If you're riding on a raft, you'll be getting soaked with ice water on every substantial rapid (there'll be lots) and then doing nothing but holding on until the next rapid or camp. You probably won't have more than a few moments of sunshine the whole time you're on the trip. Even if you sell the suit later for half what you paid for it, it'll be a deal for the comfort you'll have. If you doubt, do a day in the splash top and shorts just for a reality check.

Kokotat makes a woman's "paddle suit" with a drop seat ( that you'll really like. The neck has a neoprene closure rather than a latex gasket so it'll be really comfortable for long days on the river.
Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending; the soft can overcome the hard. - Lao Tse
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Old 10-05-2007   #10
photo editor
Join Date: Nov 2003
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gc winter

we were on the grand in early april and i lived in my drysuit with a ir thinskin or thickskin over a hydraskin farmerjohn undernearth: i wore heavy socks under my drysuit booties and then was suppoused to be spring after all...even so, there were several days when i just wasn't warm enough. i only got into shorts one day on the river and that only lasted for a few hours. the worst thing was i walked out into the river one morning to burp my drysuit and i'd left my pisszipper open just about a quarter inch...that was a wet, cold surprise and i stayed wet the entire day from that little mistake.

if i were going in the winter i would add a union suit underneath, two pair of warm gloves and two pair of warm boots(like nrs workboots) (to alternate from wet to dry) that fit over the drysuit booties. . . for that late of a trip i'd strongly consider having a spare drysuit and a full wetsuit among the group gear. and as someone above wrote, spare gaskets and repair stuff as well. we had two blown drytop neck gaskets among the kayakers with us but had brought two spare drytops, so no problem. the canyon will test every bit of gear you bring.

a drysuit will be one of the best investments you'll make. not only will it keep you comfy, it can save your life.

at night sitting around we were bundled up much of the time. i took a middle weight fleece jacket and a goretex rain/wind jacket heavy socks to wear with the chacos, a skull cap and fleece pants. and that was pretty much my relaxation beachwear most nights. shorts were good for hiking. the further you get away from the river the hotter it got. with a warm bag i was able to sleep out in a cot all but one night.

for your trip the hours will be shorter, the shadows longer and the temps colder. you're wet just from wave action or splash most of the time. and the water isn't much above freezing. the wind blows. the sun goes behind clouds. it drizzles or snows or rains. there's always a chance for a swim.

pay attention to your feet and hands and head as well. the nrs mystery hat was nice and toasty under a skull cap or helmet. working with cold, wet straps while rigging and packing was a much looked forward to adventure every morning. all of the skin on our hands split open across the knuckles and on the ends of our fingers....lotion became a much sought after item. takes lots and lots of batteries, a tarp/wind fly to cook under as well as to take shelter from the rain and lots and lots of good whiskey and tequila.


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