Originally Posted by Fly By Night
When I do the grand I'm sure I'll rent gear because I have no use for an 18' boat, monster cooler etc outside the grand. Oh I also don't have a walk in cooler in my garage to freeze said giant cooler.
I've never rowed an 18' boat down the canyon...but have rowed my 16' twice and my 136DD(13.5') one year and my 146DD(14.5') the next. I had a lot more fun in the smaller boats. Totally doable to go with a smaller 13-16' raft.
I think only Pro and Moenkopi do the hard freeze thing...and only if you get your coolers to them weeks in advance (or use theirs...for a fee). I know Ceiba does not do that... so if it means a lot to you then they might not be the right fit. I think they do enough other stuff right to recommend them though. I've always wanted to do it that way but like you have never had the chance. It takes a lot of care to get done since you can't just pour water in and let it freeze...you have to add it incrementally.
Getting good solid ice blocks and then fill in all the gaps with cube ice or broken blocks is 80-90% as good as the freeze in method IMHO. One of these days I'll make molds of my cooler and create a silicone mold to make ice blocks in my freezer at home that are the exact shape of my cooler...but that is getting off track. I've always thought that was a sell-able product idea though.
I sympathize with Mr. Hooligan a bit and largely agree with the sentiment...but realize that not every group is prepared or experienced enough to do the Grand on their own and I don't think that should count them out from getting to experience the Canyon without having to shell out for a concessions trip. As much as I'd love to keep the canyon to the uber experienced river peeps... its just not realistic. I've seen a ton of groups down there with basically no river experience with most, or all, of the group. This is one of those trips where non-river people from all over the world know about and will apply without full knowledge of whats involved just because they hear about its epicness.
Despite all that...most of the trips turn out well. Relegating the inexperienced to only go down with the concessions companies isn't fair IMHO. The cost difference is huge...which is reason number one (of many) why you won't ever find me on a concessions trip as a customer (I'd go be a baggage boater if they needed one just so I could go a second time though). Going painless private isn't my favorite way to do it...but I'm accepting of it if the Permit Holder wants to go that way. Better that, then them trying to do it fully DIY and failing.
I know several people that could totally do it and have the gear but always rent boats and go painless private anyways since they prefer the ease of it and prefer to put the wear and tear on someone elses gear. I've never been that guy and will always prefer to have my own gear down there. I've never had any mishaps or major gear failures down there in the 4 trips I've done... and don't notice a huge degradation of gear from each trip...and I'm not easy on my gear either.