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Old 05-17-2011   #1
Join Date: May 2011
Posts: 1
Paddling the Mississippi River

Hey everybody, next summer I'm going to kayak from downtown Columbus, Ohio, down the Mississippi to the gulf and I'd like some advice on what kayak to get for the trip. The last several years, I've been using a Perception Carolina 13.5 for multi-day trips but since the boat will basically be my home for 2 or 3 months, I feel like I'm going to want something more comfortable and something with more storage. Unfortunately however, money is a little tight so I'd like something under $800 or so. (I've been looking at the Perception Rhythm 14.) So what do you think? Or should I just stick with my Carolina?

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Old 05-18-2011   #2
Redpaddle's Avatar
Newport, Oregon
Paddling Since: 1989
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 206
That's a heck of a trip, I think you have some larger considerations beyond boat choice here. The Carolina is an ample day tripper/overnighter and, you're right, might limit you a bit in packing. A bigger boat will give you more room and probably better speed/tracking but I would do two things before investing in a new boat:

1) Look at your maps. for a trip of this size you will absolutely need resupply points along the way. Not a big deal on the Mississippi. What's the maximum amount of time between resupply points you expect?

2) pack your current boat. Just see if it will all fit, and then take it out on the water and see how it handles. Before you can be certain what you want in a tripping boat you have to load it down and see how it handles. load it up with the gear you think you'll need between your furthest resupply points, then add 10%.

I've done a few long trips, one ~60 days, and in the end having the lightest most efficient best looking gear possible is luxury only. Good durable gear that you can afford is all that matters. A few years back I thought about doing the Missouri from source to sea (Mississippi for a big chunk) and ultimately decided not to do it. Mostly, for myself, I just didn't want to paddle the Mississippi for months on end. big slow flatwater through cities and farms wasn't my thing. But hey, maybe it's yours. A few things to consider:

1) there is likely to be little or no camping in long stretches of the river. Some farms will be fine to camp on, other farmers may fire at you with shotguns, who knows?
2) you have to carry all your water between resupply points. The river is not drinkable in any stretch of the imagination. Carrying lots of water is tough in a kayak.
3) Crime/vandalism. Around larger cities I know I'd not be comfortable camping conspicuously out in the open.
4) Barges. these can be hazardous to a kayak and won't be looking out for you.

Not trying to rain on your parade at all, just always better to consider problems than be surprised by them. Good luck!

if you did it this year you'd be making good time!

"Paddle silently, boof loudly"
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Old 05-18-2011   #3
Horserump, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1975
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 458
You'll also have to deal with locks, barge traffic. Camping shouldn't be much of a problem. I've done the Mississippi Winona Minn to Davenport Ia, from where the Ill. comes in all the way to NOLA on a tow boat. Flows on the river are fast because of the volumn of water moving. Just plan your route so you float through a big city and don't have to camp there. You might check in with various cities along the river and they may have canoe/boat clubs that you can stash your stuff and get a shower. Bring lots of bug stuff and sun screen. DO NOT EVEN GET CLOSE TO THE TOW BOATS AND BARGES!!!!!!. You would be like a bug on the windshiled. The big ones take a mile or more to stop. If you stay just out of the channel you should be fine. When I did my time on the Missippi it was one of the most beautiful and blighted places I've ever been. go figure.
Have fun, be safe and good luck
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