Packing List

I did not succeed in lightening my pack and harness (see my blog entry losing weight). In consideration of risk and tool / materials procurement, there simply is not enough time. So, I assembled a packing list and weighed everything and went through a severe culling exercise. It is amazing the difference in weight between shirts, socks and so on.

Some items I would like to change eventually:

  • tpu cargo bag 247g, tpu dry bag  290g
    Consider that a Zpacks airplane case made of Dyneema composite weighs 95g, it will make a great replacement saving 340g.  The dry bag is inside the pontoons so they should not be immersed. I feel there would be adequate protection even if immersed anyway.
  • packraft inflation bag 263g
    This could also be made of Dyneema composite. saving a further 170g. It would be nice to use it for something else as well eg. deck cargo bag.
  • dry suit – Helly Hansen 4000
    There are quite a few dry suits on the market that are lighter in the region of 2kg. (though no one quantifies this due to material use and size variation.) I do not want to compromise safety, but there is at least a kg I can shave eg. the neck collar and pockets are not needed for pack rafting.
  • Garmin Inreach
    This weighs 256g whereas the mini weighs 100g.  Less features, but that is a good thing in my books.
  • The white water raft with its accessories is heavy, also the pfd weighs 650g that could be shaved with an inflatable one – I could save here but it needs to be done with care in consideration of safety.
  • So: given time and money I can save 2.6kg on gear, along with a kg on the pack arrangement we have 3.6kg bringing the total weight down to 18.5kg.

Anyway – here is the list for base weight there will be more as I review it. When hiking, touring there will be about 700g per day for food and a kg for water (where I am near water)

Gear list

Losing Weight

In my earlier posting “A Solution for by Back Pack” I chose an Eagle wheeled duffle and a NRS paragon harness for my hauling. This solution allows be to carry all my gear inside a weather proof bag, cart on transport without catching straps and so on.

An issue of weight:

  • Duffle 2kg
  • Harness 1.35kg

I don’t plan on doing a lot of hiking with it, but who knows. It could be a km or it could be 18. Weight is a very high consideration at present I have 22kg without food and water. My Golite pack weighs 1.7 kg with near the same capacity, I have to shave a kg or more.

I was excited when I looked inside the duffle, it had a zipper covering the wheel frame. I saw some screws. Yes I thought, unscrew those and take out the base (I reckon there is 500g in that part alone). Duly I removed 4 screws from one side, but then got to the other – rivets ! You have to be kidding. I am so ##%$ annoyed by designers of equipment. No-one seems to do the right thing and make things that fixable. So, I could drill them out; but then I  am faced with procuring more screws to replace them – you can bet your bottom dollar you can get everything but what you want.


Next: the harness. This is heavier than my Golite Odyssey pack (no longer on the market) , why ? It is a rugged unit and will carry a good load, but there is a lot of unnecessary weight. Take the back pad for instance, it is solid when it could be a mesh design, I will look into putting some holes into it.

I want holes like my blue sternum pad modification below. (note also the large square grey retaining pad, it weighs almost 200g.)


Time is an issue. I have to get a good cutter; a hole punch perhaps. If I lighten the material I need to work on sealing threads. It is frustrating as for the duffle that nothing is maintainable. Had I have been able to remove the straps, I could of put lighter ones on. remove the back pad I could of easily made holes and so on.

Looking at the photo, the Golite looks bigger, but it it is narrower, I will give it another go before tampering with my new gear. Notice that the Golite has narrower web straps than the harness in the above picture .. if only they were’n’t sewn in.


Practise makes perfect.

Meet Beryl – she’s green ! ( I am allowed to give my boat a name, it’s a tradition of mariners I believe.)


I have had a sore shoulder, sprained my thumb badly and suffered a bad cough. OK there are remnants of ailment, but it is time to stop the excuses. It is nice sunny day it is about time to test out my new self bailing PackRaft.  I headed out to Warrandyte to do some practice. I’ve booked a 4 day meet-up at Mount Robson, an 11 day trip on the Tatshenshini river in Canada and plan to do other trips, so the gear has to be right.

Testing criteria:

  1. packing everything in to the raft both on the cargo deck and inside the hull.
  2. my dry suit, undergarments, shoes.
  3. paddling a distance
  4. seat height
  5. bikerafting – yes/no ?
  6. walking with the loaded pack


Lots of gear to load.

The gear loaded inside the raft very well. The TiZip was airtight and allowed me to get a lot of gear inside the pontoons. The deck cargo bag had loads of capacity easily holding by spare shoes, water bottle, bag of food and a few other bits and bobs. The only improvement I can think of is a loop to assist in unzipping – the TiZip is quite firm and it was hard for me with my damaged thumb as well.  The diy crowd have thought about it, see this site to get a clearer picture of what I mean. Hopefully a simple improvement like this can make its way commercially.


Deck Cargo bag, raised seating.

I raised the seat height using my polyethylene foam sleeping mat to about 250mm upon suggestion from Mark Oates (he is an inspirational teacher: some great Youtube videos, Vimeo and Exposure presentations are made by him on packrafting).  This kept me from continually sitting in a puddle of water (one of the not so good aspects of a self-bailer especially in wintry waters). The stability was still good especially with a loaded hull. I cannot be so certain with an lighter load on white water and the higher centre of gravity – we’ll see in Canada ! I think with a inflatable seat atop the floor pad I can fine tune the height to what I am comfortable with. The deck cargo bag is fantastic. (and note the bed roll used to increase seat height)


Dry suit and undergarments.

The dry suit was warm even when immersed in the freezing river water. It is a tad heavy at 4kg, the brand is top notch a Helly Hansen, but I need to compromise a durability for weight I think. I would love to have a lighter one, but it is hard to justify the purchase of a new one . Unless I can get a good sale / exchange or prove my continual usage another one won’t happen.
I have some Sharkskin paddling pogies, they function well.  Also a Sharkskin vest and trousers. Though I have the polar micro fleece undergarments( Macpac and Kathmandu) I’ll take them for additional insurance. I’m also taking merino undergarments in case it gets super cold. (my comment on the pants/top is that it would be good to have a bib and brace or connector between the two as the pants tend to slip down – more an issue when I’m kiteboarding near the general public.)

Dressed for battle !  Note I’m using some old trail running shoes for river shoes is useful, they drain well  are light and have excellent grip. I think they will work instead of neoprene water boots. I’ll scout answers on the forums before finalising that decision.



The raft paddling went well despite the shortened stroke with the bike on it. I’ve yet to test it in serious water, there hasn’t been sufficient water levels to do it and my injuries would have curbed any opportunity. Maybe a wild day on the bay will suffice. I do feel super comfortable with the thigh braces and can lock in hard and at the same time exit quickly.

Walking test.

I ran out of time to test the walking, but I did that a few days ago walking 8km with a load of 22kg. I found the load quite heavy and will need to lighten it somehow, especially since there is no food and water in that content. I padded the sternum area further on my harness using exercise polyethylene foam matting to provide pressure relief. (see my earlier blog entry for back pack set up.)



  • Note to check destination and map. l  plugged into my navigation system Warburton when it dawned on me that I got it wrong. So re-route I ended up at Yarra Junction instead of my intended destination. The Yarra river is but a creek round Warburton and it was also quite narrow at Yarra Junction . There was a mild current, but nothing of danger especially with the number of trees in the water.
  • Rivers have mud and plenty of it. I did not bring anything to clean the gunk off  – remember to take a sponge and bucket or something to clean up ! (actually I have a Silnylon water bag but it is in my luggage !
  • OI000004  

  • My paddle strikes the handlebar of my bicycle.
    I had to shorten my stroke a lot to paddle. After checking this website  “The bulk of a bike strapped to the bow limits your ability to reach forward with the paddle, so it makes sense to use a slightly longer boat than normal to maintain an efficient paddle stroke.”   Bikerafting is perhaps not a goer for Canada as there is little time for refinement. I could experiment by moving the back brace rearward and forgoing the foot brace (or adding another cushion).
               I toyed with the idea of using a folding bike, unfortunately the ones I would need are pricey and over 2000USD and I don’t know how they’d go with 22kg or more of gear. I just missed out on a Airnimal Chameleon Folding Bike on Gumtree for $500AUD, it would have been the ideal experiment. I am quite taken with the Helix bike design too, and hope they manage to manufacture it (another opportunity missed – it was on KickStarter at $1200 for a titanium bike in 2015,now it’s 2019 price over 2200USD).  I’ll keep my eyes peeled for more opportunities !
  • Picture below – on the water laden with 40kg of gear – see how the handlebar is within paddle striking range:


  • Bicycle mechanical issue –  I didn’t put a spacer in the disc brakes. The brake handle was squeezed perhaps whilst tying the bike on. I did not have any tools other than a pedal spanner so that put paid to any tests loading the gear onto the bike as I could not separate the pads.
  • I had issue with the foot anchor rest tearing its anchor and deflating. A replacement was sent to me, this time I did not anchor it as I felt the same failure will occur (there is only one loop to hold in place and no give in the holding strap so it won’t take the load of a braced leg). It’s a silly design, I’ll need to work on securing it in a better manner as a loss of it or another failure is a real nuisance in white water.
    The foot anchor pad tore from its single connection point and semicircular shape.  The semicircle makes it fit inside the bow but easy to rotate on the anchorage. If the pad deflates or the floor flexes,  the inelastic strap will also put a high load on the connection point when you brace your foot against it. A much better idea is to use elastic connection straps and two on the sides. Its inflation hose is quite long – the jury is out on it being beneficial.


A fine day for a paddle

I have booked in for a 11 day (9 days paddling) adventure on the Tatshenshi river in Canada with Tatshenshi  Expediting . I tried to join in with an amateur group, but the fellow organising it soon filled his vacancies. The price of his trip was less than half the commercial ones that I could find: I would have been very happy with that ! At $4250 CAD for the trip I’m doing, I had to chew it over for some time, but in the end I realise that rafting in a UNESCO heritage glacial wild river is a very special opportunity that few get to go on. Going with a commercial outfit provides some assurance in terms of safety – spend the money , this trip is no longer low budget !

The company is permitting me to take my packraft – my paddling fitness needs to ramped up. 

So on Saturday I brushed the cobwebs off the sea kayak and took it out for an a journey for four hours. What a stunning day, glad I did. I put the kayak up for sale due to its lack of use: if I don’t sell it I don’t mind. Usually when I sell my toys I regret it later. Working on the fitness is much better in this outdoor gym I reckon.


And what a stunning sunset too.


A boat on an open ocean without a rudder.

The upcoming trip to Canada is probably one of my difficult trips to plan. It started with a simple goal to do some packrafting at the Canadian rendezvous at Mt Robson in October last year as a result of a coinciding announcement and a sale by Canadian airlines. Someone on the Facebook forum speculated that the water would be too high due to snow melts and so I had to make a quick decision before the sales ended.

I changed the dates from June to March 2019 in with the view to do a skiing holiday. It was set. The problem was that I got busy as I always do trying to meet customer demands before my big family holiday in Tanzania in January.  We got back from our holiday in February, my wife collected the flu and I wasn’t too well either. March wasn’t going to happen

Little did I know, I could have put the change on hold as a credit for another and saved $200.  I found this out as I was about to cancel the trip – losing my money. There was another announcement in Feb sometime saying that the rendezvous was on. Hang it – I’ll do that: I should have stuck to the original trip it would have saved a thousand bucks. One of the problems was that I did this whole thing as a spur of the moment decision and really did not have the time required, which is what is required when a self organised trip such as this entails.

I am still extremely busy, there are numerous issues at work (I am a one man band) and feel like a boat in an open ocean without a rudder. However, the steering is gradually being restored.

Some of the ideas I have had and abandoned as it was too difficult to get enough interested people to join me (so frustrating) include:

  • Packraft the Spatsizi river in British Columbia. The book Northern British Columbia Canoe trips by Laurel Archer discusses many trips, this one is a good one as you ride a bike to the Spatsizi, packraft with it down the river joining the Stikine to complete a nice loop. Ben Brochu has a video in Vimeo and many other trips in Youtube. His blurb :
    Three friends set off on a 400km bikepacking and packraft expedition through the heart of the sacred headwaters in northwestern British Columbia, birthplace of three critical salmon rivers, and home to the Tahltan people. In the wake of the devastating Mount Polley Mine disaster, the team’s goal is to understand what is at stake as a wave of new mines are developed across this remote corner of the province. Their journey offers an exciting and sobering window into this wild landscape as they pedal through vast boreal forest, paddle frigid whitewater, battle monster trout, outrun a grizzly, learn about the Tahltan’s fight to protect their homeland and glimpse inside a massive open pit mine.
  • Packraft the Tatshenshini river in the Yukon
    This would be sensational by the look of it. A wild river running through the glaciated valleys of Canada’s north and Alaska. I left it a bit late for this one as you have to go in a ballot with parks Canada. I was offered one opening early July but there is still the logistics and getting enough interested parties together.
  • Packraft the Bonnet Plume / Peel river area or other rivers in the Yukon. This area is right up my alley and may be less prone to logs than in BC. These guys: and have superb inspirational blogs.

I then tinkered with some bike-rafting options

  • Trans Canada and Great trail from Mount Robson to Cranbrook, flying to Vancouver.
    I realise that my bike fitness is not up to scratch on this one. Work, Tanzania and illness has really dented my fitness levels. There are some seriously hilly areas to deal with, let alone being alone with those wild animals Canada is famous for. I also realise that it is difficult logistically to pack the bike for the flight back to Vancouver. Some great details on the mountain biking (I’ll have to come back with a posse of friends !) here.
  • Bike to Banff then travel down the Bow river to Calgary
    This is still an option.
  • Head to Calgary then fly to Idaho for another packrafting meet at Hot Springs Campground for the 2019 packraft roundup, but with a twist: bike-rafting the snake river and riding to Hot Springs. Here is a map of what I was thinking. Another area of major interest is the Salmon river.

As a matter of note packrafting meetups are quite an upcoming thing. I’m finding more as I wander the web. Here are some sites of interest: 2019 Packrafting Meet-ups and Destinations,  and Note to self:October 5 – 7: Australian Packrafting Meetup, held around the Canberra and Murrumbidgee River region.

So many ideas !

What have I settled on so far prior to the Mount Robson rendezvous:

  1. Two days to land and get my act together in Vancouver. Jetlag is a thing coming from Australia.
  2. Fly up to Whitehorse to meet up with some travelling friends and then do the Chilkoot trail.  Many moons ago I visited Skagway with my wife for a honeymoon trip cruising the Inside Passage. We caught the heritage train to the finish point of this trail and the history regaled kind of stuck in the memory banks. Great to have the opportunity to step in the the trail of the Klondike gold rush pioneers.
  3. Head to Edmonton taking the time to see the bison on the Elk Island national park apparently up there with number of animals of the likes of the Serengeti in Tanzania. I’d be thrilled to see a even a small margin. Wikipedia writes a good article on the area.

The later part of the trip – and there is still 20 days to go is up in the air.  I’m starting to think that the bike is too much of a burden, car hire might have to happen.   I’m also wending towards doing a commercial trip on the Tatshenshini river: I found a company that does it based in Whitehorse and there is a trip running from the 3rd of July, straight after the rendezvous – it is going to cost, but how often will I get this opportunity ?

We will see how things pan out !

A solution for my back pack.

On my last blog entry I discussed an issue I had with back packs and packrafting.

The packs I have are for bush walking. The requirements for packrafting  are quite different. With all the gear there is a lot of bulk and very few packs on the market can take the volume and deal with the wet gear this issue also exists when I go kiteboarding).  I am not happy with any of the larger packs , nor strapping on extra items. Ideally everything should go in a single pack.

Staring at my bushwalking packs I thought “why isn’t there an ability to simply buy the harness and I use a dry bag or something ?”. I was tempted to cut up my old Berghaus pack but couldn’t as it has sentimental value: not until I have done some research.


It turns out that other people have had this issue and there other options.  After investigating a few the solution I settled on was the NRS Paragon Pack . It was quite expensive for what it is at near $180 AUD having to buy it from the U.S.A – what with the decline of the Aussie dollar and the cartel of US delivery options – ridiculous for what it is but cheaper for me rather than mucking around making my own or spending forever finding alternatives.

Taking delivery today I am glad it fitted my duffle bag and seems to fit well ergonomically. I may need to add some padding for the waist back, that will be determined after a couple of practice hikes.

The duffle bag by the way is the largest one can get that fits most international bag dimensions, it weighs 2.3 kg and has wheels – I may look at removing wheels to make lighter, we’ll see – they might be useful !  See Eagle Creek Migrate Wheeled Duffel 110L (I bought this as it fits my split kiteboard)




For reference some of the other options I looked at include:

Planning an adventure for Canada

Musings: I’ve booked and paid for a flight from Melbourne to Vancouver in June. Now its time to drum up some adventure .  This will require  a bit of forethought. I’m just rambling through the thoughts running through my mind at a higher level.

Stuart, it is a good idea to:

    1. Determine the activity you are interested in.
    2. Evaluate the area to which you wish to adventure.
    3. Examine your capabilities and requirements to match the adventure.
    4. Determine if other parties need to be involved and their willingness to participate and capabilities.
    5. Assess alternatives and failure strategies.

This list is small but extensive. Each subject can be quite elaborate. In later posts I’ll expand on the investigations and outcomes.

1. Determine the activity you are interested in.

The activity and area of adventure are interdependent. There may be a mixture of activities you wish to do. For instance shortly I am heading off to Canada.  The various adventure pursuits I enjoy that are relevant are: packrafting, sea kayaking, walking, mountain biking and cycling, and even kiteboarding.  Out of those packrafting and trail mountain biking  are of most interest.

The greater the number of activities the more work there is to do !

2. Evaluate the area to which you wish to adventure.

For my trip to Canada: Canada is a big place and I have a month. I’m going to Mt Robson for a packrafting meetup.  To avoid wasting precious time I will restrict myself to that region and possibly another. Every time you relocate you can bank on losing 1-2 days.

Appeal: Jasper, Banff, Lake Louise, can definitely play around this region. A second place is the Yukon; years ago I visited Skagway and have thought it would be good to do the Chilkoot trail. Well that is it: I’ll split my time between Jasper and the Yukon region near Whitehorse.

Both of these areas well and truly cover my action pursuits, except kiteboarding. I could go kiteboarding near Vancouver, but why go there if I get great kiteboarding in Australia ? Ok it might be good in Vancouver but I have to go out of my way.

3. Examine your capabilities and requirements to match the adventure.

Packrafting. Am I ready for big time high volume water ? – I do not know. I’ve only been on the rivers here in Australia. I am not sure about my packraft either, it is not a wildwater specific one. I went on an intermediate course late last year on the Mersey River, Tasmania and that was OK, but it’s not big, glacial fed rivers with snow melt.  I’ll have to get plenty of practice between now and then.

I’ve had to purchase a drysuit as it gets pretty cold even in summer I’ve been told. Luckily the secondhand market came up trumps and saved me over a grand in cost. Insulation between me and the drysuit is the next consideration.

Mountain Biking. I had a great time doing the Munda Biddi trail in Western Australia with my Giant Anthem 29er using mountain bike specific pannier racks by Thule. I would love to take that bike over, but need to research travelling with it. Things like packing boxes, plane, train are all considerations and impediments. Having your own bike is fantastic, but is it better to hire or buy a 2nd hand one and disposing later ? If it is simply a fire trail and means to get in and out of the river the latter might be an option but then I do have rely on getting something quickly and cheaply in good nick, that fits me  and I’d still need the racks. I do not intend to do full on mountain bike trails, and would probably hire a bike specifically for that purpose.

The back pack. The packs I have are for bush walking. The requirements for packrafting  are quite different. With all the gear there is a lot of bulk and very few packs on the market can take the volume and deal with the wet gear this issue also exists when I go kiteboarding).  I am not happy with any of the larger packs , nor strapping on extra items. Ideally everything should go in a single pack.

I do not want to spend a fortune buying an ending up with a ‘dead albatross ‘ of yet more unused, unsaleable equipment cluttering the garage. Might be forced down the make your own path, hopefully not.

Fitness. Not long to go, a tad over 2 months. My fitness has been set bag with travel fatigue from a recent trip to Tanzania and a bug caught on the way bag on the plane. I’ve been checked out by the medics, “come back when you are sick” – I like that. Motivation is now the key, and a plan to get to the level that meets my adventures !

Money. Must budget carefully, there are quite a few adventure companies out there that plague the Google search results. The prices are are above and beyond what I wish to pay.  Very tricky to get to those blogs and stories that don’t have  a commercial interest. I’ll find them, eventually.  Anyway, I wish to travel comfortably, often but not at a rate that will give me one week instead of 10 or more

Insurance.  I have to check carefully on this one. Rafting, mountain bike riding and bush walking. Am I covered properly, is there a cost associated with search and rescue? We get it free here in Australia, but what about Canada ?

4. Determine if other parties need to be involved and their willingness to participate and capabilities.

It’s always easier to travel on your own, but there are benefits to travelling with a companion.  I found that when travelling with others it is vital to clear the air quickly on niggles before they become a big issue. It’s also important to have a clear understanding of expenses and expectations in terms of organisation and commitments. It is a good idea to set up a spreadsheet using Google Sheets that is shared amongst each other and open discussion.

If it gets to the stage where the solution is to split then make it an amicable process – why destroy your or your companion’s holiday ? You should be mindful that a commitment is just that, leaving someone with a bill to pay on accommodation without paying a share or worse on an unknown or dangerous track is inconsiderate and potentially life threatening. When it comes to accommodation or other booked items all parties should pay up front – again the spreadsheet is useful to keep a tally for adhoc shared expenses. In all it’s useful to choose well with the travel companions and have that out / commitment clause should the need arise.

5. Assess alternatives and failure strategies.

There is a lot at play here. I have to consider:

    • Rafting
      What rivers are suitable for solo travel.
      Where do I get water level detail from ?
      Weather forecasts.
      So, if a river is unsuitable what other options are there – maybe a mountain bike ride or walk.
    • Bike
      Travelling with a bike on the plane is a nuisance, but having one’s own bike is great. In Europe I can easily hire a touring bike with panniers etc, but it is not so easy in Canada. The alternative is not to cart the bike and hire for the day use when I need, but I’ll miss out on extended tours. Maybe buy a second-hand clunker and just bring my racks & panniers. I’ll have to see. 
    • Animals
      Those bears, they are scary beasts. Moose also can cause issue. Where am I likely to meet with them and what precautions should I take. What safety gear do I need ? This is a psychological and real issue for me: in Australia we have snakes – not scared of those, the northern continent of America has bears – I’m working on it.
    • Trains, planes, ferries: I’m running out of time, none have as yet been booked. Unfortunately it’s peak season so I’ll need to make a move soon. Trouble is most don’t have that flexibility to move and it will cost money. Once locked in that’s it the alternatives will have to be in the locale chosen or it will cost. Of course I could hire a car, but this trip I want to as far as possible use the bike and public transport – and where I’m going that choice of car hire may not be available.
    • Medical.
      I’ll need to get emergency numbers and determine that  insurance adequately covers me.