Category Archives: Rafting

River rafting trips are the best family vacation on the planet

Swimming Rapids: The best way to get Comfortable in the River

no swimming
Just say Yes to Swimming

Creative Commons License photo credit: Robb845

The next time you’re on a river trip, think about swimming…a lot. Swimming rapids, even small riffles helps you feel more comfortable in the river. An added bonus: you’ll have a better chance of staying calm if you happen to fall in, and it’s a ton of fun.

Before you jump in though, be sure you know the section of river you’re on. You don’t want to jump into a rapid you’ve never seen, you don’t know what might be around the corner, or what hidden dangers exist.

By swimming riffles and rapids you’ll gain a greater understanding of what river currents feel like. Not only will you feel more comfortable if you fall in but it’ll also help you understand how to read rivers. If you’re a better river reader, you’ll become a better river runner. Whether your kayaking or rafting, swimming the river will improve your skills.

Start Small

You don’t need to jump into some big nasty rapid, pick something small and harmless. Even the smallest riffles are a blast to swim. Of course you’ll need to be wearing your life jacket at all times, but that actually makes it even more enjoyable.

When you’ve swum a few rapids start trying to move around in the water. Move from the center of the river to the side. Try to catch an eddy.

Feel what happens to your body when you hit the eddy line. It may freak you out at first but go with the flow, keep a light heart and soon you’ll be giggling.

During my years as a kayak instructor on the Rogue river, I used to have all my students swim lots of rapids.

Attitude Adjustment

Sometimes the students were scared of kayaking. They didn’t like the idea of flipping over and feeling trapped in their kayaks. By getting them out of their boats and swimming, they remembered how tame the river really is.

Swimming rapids not only did wonders for their attitudes but also helped them understand the currents that were constantly acting on the edges of their kayaks making them better kayakers.

Swim with the Kids

Swimming rapids is also great for getting kids comfortable with rivers. Put them over the side with life jackets securely fastened and slip in beside them.

Hold hands as you bounce through the riffles. If they get panicked help them by telling them when to breathe.

Sometimes kids breathe right when they hit a wave and gulp some water. Calm them down and help them recover. Soon they’ll be having a blast and want to swim every rapid.

Kids and Inflatable Kayaks: When to let them go Solo

Katie and her boat
Inflatable kayaks are great fun for kids

Creative Commons License photo credit: Mike Miley

We’ve been taking our kids down rivers since they were in diapers…literally. We’d plunk em next to an adult riding in front of the raft and take them through the rapids.

My wife and I are accomplished rowers so our confidence in keeping the kids’ safe is high. We also know that if they fall overboard we’ll be right there with them keeping them safe.

Now that they’re getting older they want to get out of the mother raft and start taking their own boats downstream…inflatable kayaks.

They’ll be almost completely on their own, their paddling skills and river running sense the only thing keeping them safe.

We feel good about them venturing into their own boats though because we’ve done everything we can to prepare them for solo boating.

Here’s a short list of skills every kid-paddler should have before venturing off into their own inflatable kayak:

1. Excellent swimming skills. This seems obvious, but before a kid can be alone in an inflatable kayak they should be good swimmers. This doesn’t mean good swimmers in the pool, but in the river too.

The river has currents and waves and rocks, kids should be able to swim strongly through the water and be able to stroke away from obstacles. Of course they’ll have life jackets on, but they still need to be able to maneuver around the river with their swim strokes.

2. Basic river reading skills. Reading the river is the art of understanding what’s happening with the river currents. Understanding river features like waves and holes and eddies is essential to taking the best, safest route through the whitewater.

easy river rapid
Where would you go?

Kids don’t need to be experts, (it’s a lifetime learning process) but they should be able to figure out the safest route through a rapid with a quick glance. If in doubt, they should be mature enough to ask for direction.

3. Inflatable kayak handling. Kids usually pick up on this very quickly, but knowing how to paddle an inflatable kayak is important. Understanding how to turn and how to paddle straight using basic paddling strokes usually comes pretty quick to kids.

Let them paddle around in flatwater, or through little class 1 or 2 riffles and see how they do. Don’t put them in potentially dangerous situations.

Once they’ve been paddling for an hour or so and are getting the hang of things put them through some drills. Tell them to spin the boat in circles. Have them turn 90 degrees and paddle to a designated spot. Send them into small river eddies and let them feel what happens when the inflatable kayak hits the eddy current. Experience matters.

4. Getting back into a flipped over inflatable kayak. Chances are your kids will flip the boat once in awhile. They’ll need to know what to do and how to get back into the kayak without having to swim all the way to shore. The best way to do this is practice. Whenever they’re in a flat stretch of water have them practice over and over until they’re confident.

Be sure they understand the importance of hanging onto the paddle if they flip. It’s a lot easier to put everything back together if the paddle isn’t floating off downstream.

These 4 points are essential for having a safe and fun day of river running. It sounds like a lot of steps to understand, but the information comes quickly when you spend any amount of time on rivers.

If your kids are apprehensive about solo inflatable kayaks,  jump into the boat with them to make the transition easier. Once they get the hang of it though, they’ll be kicking you out and they’ll be on their own.

It’s always a good idea to keep young inflatable kayakers close to the mother ship. If they get in over their head, you want to be close by to lend a hand.

Raft Rowing Seat: The Best Choice

It seems the trend these days is having a shaped cushioned seat bolted onto a river box as a rowing seat. I’m sure you’ve seen these and maybe even use one, but personally I can’t stand the things.

We recently bought a whitewater raft and the frame had one of these seat systems. Since it was there and I had never used one, I figured I’d give it a try.

rowing seat
removed raft seat

I sat on the thing and thought, wow, this feels pretty good, nice and comfy. Then I started to row.

At first it was fine, it’s exactly in the center of the rowing box, so you start off in the correct spot, however it felt too high. I felt like I was having to reach down to get the oars in the correct position. This made my oar stroke awkward.

In order to get the normal purchase on the oar I’m used to, I had to keep my arms low and pull them into my belly. This immediately felt wrong.

I’m used to pulling back on the oars with my back and shoulders. With my arms so low, I was being forced to pull only with my arms. My back and shoulders are one hell of a lot stronger than my arms…so I flailed.

The seat put me too high on the oars. This is a mistake I see many beginner whitewater rafters make. They try to pull the oars with their arms instead of their back. If you’re sitting on a seat that puts you too high in the first place your bound to use too much arm.

I suppose this problem could be overcome if you had your raft frame altered to lift the oarlocks into a higher position. But the cost of doing something so drastic would far exceed the much simpler fix of not using the padded rowing seat.

Another problem occurred when I wanted to make a move, like a hard pivot and row away from an obstacle, I was forced to stay on the rowing seat. I couldn’t move around in the seat to gain a better purchase on one oar or the other. If I came off the seat I was sitting on bare metal and sliding all over the place.

I quickly realized that I move around a lot when I row, depending on what I’m trying to achieve. If I need to put a lot of power into my right oar, I’ll move my body that way to get a better angle and bite on the water. The rowing seat was far too restrictive for any kind of lateral movement.

The other thing I can’t stand about this raft rowing seat is the high back. For the life of me I have no idea why this has a back at all. It’s not big enough to add support however it is big enough to get in the way when you really need to make a pull. I don’t understand this design at all, it was annoying and in my way.

Notice the high back… how annoying

Okay, so what’s the answer? What’s the best rowing seat? It’s really simple, sit on something thin like an ethafoam pad strapped to the river box you’re sitting on. Honestly this is all you need. If you want something thicker, purchase some thicker mini-cell foam and either strap it on or if you’re ambitious, glue it onto the top.

Gluing mini-cell onto the lid is a great way to go. You don’t have to worry about straps, and the mini-cell layer will help protect the river box and add a layer of insulation to the contents. But more importantly, it won’t be too high to row on, and won’t restrict your movement.

I give the rowing seat pictured above an A+ for comfort,  and an F- for rowing functionality.

River Trip Meal Tips

A lot goes into planning a river trip: gear, shuttles, meeting spots, vehicles the list goes on and on. One of the most crucial decisions is what to eat on the river. Breakfast and lunch are no brainers, but what about dinner?

Piney River Camping 2010
Creative Commons License photo credit: NickDawson

Keep It simple (Stupid)

Some rafters enjoy pulling all the stops and go super-gourmet on their chosen dinner night. They’re stacking dutch ovens, they’re working two fire pans, they’re chopping and slicing, cubing and dicing for hours while everyone else is sitting around drinking gin and tonics relaxing.

You don’t need to go overboard, the simple stuff works great too. I’m not talking beanies and weenies here (although that would be fine) but simple meals that you can prep before the trip even begins.

Choose meals you can prepare in the comfort of your home rather than out on the river. Sure some work will have to be done at the river camp, but the more you can do at home the better.

Prep the Food at Home

For example how about a Mexican themed night. Burritos are simple and tasty and most of the prep work can be before the river trip.

At home, cook the proper amount of beef, add your special seasoning, drain the fat, let it cool and spoon it into a double bagged Ziploc storage baggie. Put it in the fridge, pull it out when you’re packing for the river trip and put it in a cooler on ice. Boom, your main ingredient is done. When it’s your night, throw it into a pan and heat it up.

Besides throwing away the Ziploc bags, there’s very little cleanup. You don’t have to figure out what to do with the meat fat (don’t want to dump it at camp and attract ants), and you don’t have to worry about having to cook all that meat on a flimsy camp stove.

You can also grate the cheese cut up the tomatoes, and do whatever cutting needs to be done at home. Just bag it, and take it downstream with you. Doing something special with the beans? Do it at home.

Some ingredients like lettuce, cilantro and avocados should be done the night of the dinner to keep things looking and tasting fresh, but for the most part all that’s left to do is put out the tortillas and call dinner…simple.

What About Grilling?

Grilling’s great but damned time-consuming. If you’re cooking steaks for a twenty person river trip you’re gonna be hunched over the fire-pan for half the night. If you must grill, grill something easy.

Grill fresh Salmon! A lot of the prep work can be done at home, especially if you’re cooking on the first night.

Salmon Zoom
mmmm…Salmon

Creative Commons License photo credit: DR000

The day before your put in, pull out the salmon fillets and place them in large Ziploc baggies.

Mix up a marinade, (my favorite is shredded ginger root, brown sugar, soy sauce and white wine) dump it into the baggie with the fish and store it in the cooler.

By the time you pull the fish out the following night it’ll be thoroughly marinated and the flavors will be popping.

Wrap the Salmon in foil, throw em onto a grill over even coal heat and in 10 minutes you’ll have a taste treat that’ll make the most jaded foodies crazy with desire. Hey…everything tastes better after a day on the river…you can’t go wrong unless you burn something.

That’s why you don’t need to go crazy gourmet. Whatever you serve on a river trip will be appreciated and consumed…guaranteed.

Private River Trip Setup

As I stated in a previous post, my wife got a Rogue River Permit. We’ll be putting in with friends and family in mid-summer, the perfect time to be on the river. Now that the permit is taken care of and we have all the spots filled it’s time to start planning the trip.

raft on the rogue
Our 15 foot SOTAR

Trip Leader

Since my wife got the permit, she automatically becomes the trip leader, the head honcho, the HBIC (Head Bitch in Charge). It’s up to her, (or us) to put everything together logistically. By securing the permit, we assume many responsibilities:

  • Gear: figuring out the gear is the most important job we have. We have to figure out who has what river gear. I’m not talking about personal river gear like sleeping bags and tents, i’m talking about community gear like stoves, shitters, coolers, and pots and pans to name a few. We don’t want everyone to bring a portable toilet, it’s not needed.
  • Rafts: We also need to figure out where everyone will be riding on the river trip. Who has a raft, how many people can it carry? If there are more people than spots, then we need to think about renting a raft. Another option is bringing down inflatable kayaks and putting people into those.
  • Vehicles and Shuttle: Who has what kind of vehicle? Can they tow a raft? who has raft trailers? The less vehicles you have to deal with the better but you want enough space to take people and gear comfortably. You don’t want to be crammed and uncomfortable in 100 degree heat while driving the treacherous shuttle road. Also the fewer cars you have shuttled to the takeout the less money the trip will cost.
  • Food: The trip leader doesn’t need to be in charge of all the food, but a plan needs to be in place. Delegating meals to different families or couples is a great idea. For instance were in charge of the first nights’ dinner, then another couple is in charge of the next night. You can do the same thing for each meal, although we usually have people come up with their own lunches.
  • Logistics: The trip leader is in charge of setting up when and where people should meet for the trip. Where will the loading take place? Where is home base? How many days and nights will be spent on the river?

Were fortunate that all our river running friends are accomplished river veterans. Everyone knows what’s expected of them and can operate on their own. However, if you have some neophyte river runners, you may need to be more active in the planning. Be very clear on what each family is responsible for bringing to the trip.

Proper and thorough planning will pay off with a river trip that is smooth and effortless. Once you’re on the river you want to be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You’re only worry being whether or not you brought enough beer.

Illinois River: The Green Wall

Last April we lucked out and hit the Illinois river in Oregon on a weekend of sun and perfect water levels. The gauge at Kerby was reading 1800 CFS and holding steady.

There were ten of us in the group, most in rafts, some in kayaks. It was a mostly uneventful trip (as much as an Illinois trip can be uneventful).

The Green Wall, however was not uneventful but full of excitement and intrigue.

My wife and I hadn’t been down the Illinois since she was pregnant with our first, ten years ago. Now the boys were old enough to be left at the grandparents’ house for a few days while we did the river.

The river hasn’t changed much in ten years with one notable exception…the Green Wall. Oh it’s still nasty and mean looking, you still enter it the same way, push through the holes at the same spots, but the lower section has changed considerably.

It used to be that once you were through the center ledge hole section, you were home free. There were some big jumbled waves below and there was a chance of being pushed into the wall on the bottom right, but there was little chance of flipping.

With this in mind, we scouted the rapid for an hour, exhaustively looking at the different lines and currents, figuring out land marks and spots we needed to be in order to hit the holes just right.

We failed to look at the very bottom section, however, thinking it was still just waves. It looked no different from above than it ever had, so I didn’t scout it.

Melyssa and I were the first to get the guts up to go. We walked back along the slippery trail to our raft, made sure everything was secure, took deep breaths and pushed off.

I was rowing and I hit everything perfectly, right where I wanted to. After I slipped past the center ledge hole I think I even let out a whoop.

I was grinning ear to ear keeping the boat straight for the upcoming lower section waves, when I noticed there was something different. Those weren’t looking like benign waves ahead, it looked like there was a distinct and nasty horizon line approaching hiding something deep and vicious.

green wall oregon
Creative Commons License photo credit: Northwest Rafting Company

I had just a second to straighten the boat and dig my oars in with all I had before I dropped into a massive boat eating hole. Melyssa disappeared in front of me as the bow slammed into the mass of water. I held onto the oars leaning into the mighty river with all I had.

We stalled for an instant in the hole, then finally (it seemed an eternity) we punched through and emerged safely on the other side.

After everyone saw our run they all ran down to the lower section and scouted the hole. It’s not easy to avoid and most of our group hit it. the key is hitting it head on without any angle.

My oldest brother hit it with a slight angle and it nearly corkscrewed him upside down. His raft tipped up to about 70 degrees, dumped his front passenger, then settled back down.

Our most inexperienced oarsman hit it with a bit more angle and his 16 foot Avon whipped around like a boat half its size and he did a 42 second hole ride. His boat looked like a toy as it whipped him back and forth. He lost all his oars, and finally when the river tired of it, spit him out upright.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2N-EmkKofc&feature=player_detailpage

A group that caught up with us while we were scouting wasn’t so lucky, out of 5 boats 2 flipped in the nasty boat eater.

Were planning another Illinois river trip this year and you can bet I’m going to scout the bottom of the Green wall much more carefully this time.

Rogue Permits Are Out

It’s March which means those boaters who had the foresight to send in Rogue River Permit applications back in January and February will find out whether or not they were chosen.

rogue river
Creative Commons License photo credit: andrea dunlap

It’s March 5th now and lo and behold my wife got one! The happy news came in the mail. We did a happy dance knowing we’d get at least one rogue river trip in this summer. We called all our fellow boaters and filled them in on the great news.

I know it sounds like I’m making a huge deal out of this, but for us it really is. I’ve been putting my name into the lottery since I was eighteen years old and I’ve never gotten a permit. My wife, same thing. We figured there was something conspiring against us, but now the curse is broken; our family actually got a permit.

Our lack of success in the past doesn’t mean we haven’t gone down the permitted section of the Rogue, far from it, we’ve always been able to get on through cancellations, but obtaining a permit is so much easier.

Now we can actually plan our trip down to the last detail. We know in March that the week of August 2nd we’ll be on the river.

We can invite the people we want, plan our meals, our gear, everything. Our friends will have plenty of notice to get time off from work so we’ll have the exact crew we want to enjoy the trip.

We didn’t put permits in for any other rivers, but with our luck changing, maybe next year we’ll apply for some Idaho rivers like the middle fork of the Salmon.

Anyway, we know where we’ll be in August: on the beautiful rogue river.

Good luck to all you other boaters out there…if you haven’t heard from the Rogue lottery yet, you’re probably out of luck. Time to think about cashing in on some cancellations but don’t look at August 2nd, were not giving up our spots for anything.

The Best Raft Pump

I have been on countless whitewater rafting trips and inflated rafts with many different kinds of pumps. Everything from car battery-powered pumps to foot pumps, I’ve seen them all. They all have some value, but the best raft pump I’ve come across is the K-pump.

 

It has many advantages over other pumps:

1. Compact- There are 4 different versions of this pump and they are all smaller than most raft pumps. The biggest is only 32 inches long, the shortest, a mere 22 inches. They are cylindrical which makes them highly stowable in your raft load. They slide easily into the little slots that inevitably occur when packing dry bags.

They also don’t come with long, hard to stow hose attachments. It’s all one compact piece of equipment.

2. They Float- If you didn’t get your K-pump stowed very well, or you had a mishap and the bottom of your boat is suddenly facing the sky, these pumps float like corks. You won’t lose it on the bottom of the river.

3. Incredibly easy to use- The most important part of any pump is how easy and how well it pumps. The K-Pumps are the easiest operating pumps I’ve ever come across. It is so easy in fact, it doesn’t feel like any air is being pushed into the raft tubes.

However, the volume of air being pumped is incredible. I have a 15 foot SOTAR raft and I can pump it up with my K200 faster than any other pump, including electric pumps; without even breaking a sweat!

4. Durable- These pumps are made of a PCV type material called ABS. It is specially made material which is durable and UV resistant. The company is so confident in their materials and craftsmanship that they back their pumps with a 2 year warranty.

To help give your pumps longevity there are some useful K-Pump care videos to watch.

K-pumps are an awesome asset for anyone needing to blow up rafts and inflatable kayaks. They are ranged in price from 70 bucks for the K100 to 170bucks for the innovative two stage K400. It aint chump change, but each pump is worth every penny.

Staying in Shape for the River Season

fit arm
Creative Commons License photo credit: austins_irish_pirate

I know it sounds silly to stay in shape for the river season, I mean isn’t a river trip supposed to be a vacation? Why do I need to be in shape to take a vacation?

The simple answer is, it is a vacation, however it’s an active vacation which requires the use of many muscles you normally don’t use during our normal sedentary lives. For example how many times do you do these activities:

  • Row a heavily loaded raft?
  • Carry heavy boxes and bags on and off a floating raft?
  • Walk along the tubes of a floating raft?
  • Squat onto your haunches as you put up a tent or help build a sandcastle?
  • Twist and pull a paddle through the water on a paddle boat or in a kayak?
  • Swim in a river?
  • Walk on uneven ground carrying gear?

Basically everything you do on a river trip isn’t something you would normally do on a regular work day, unless you’re a river guide.

Don’t panic though, you don’t need to be in great shape to run a river you just need to be in marginally good shape. If you’re only a passenger you don’t have to be as prepared but even then there are some things you can do now to make your summer river trip more enjoyable.

If you’re the oarsman responsible for getting your friends or family down the river safely you should be in good enough shape to row comfortably all day. It’s not all work, you can rest on the flat stretches but you want to be able to make a move when you have to without pulling your back out.

Preparing a little bit now will help you tenfold when it comes time to take your river trip. Here are some exercises I do on a regular basis to stay in decent shape. I’m not a physical therapist or a doctor, this is just what works for me, it is only a suggestion.

Basic River Trip Workout

1. Pull ups- Pull ups are my favorite exercise. they work your arms, back, shoulders, and even your core. I only do 2 sets of 10 each. This may not be attainable for you right away, but the nice thing about pull ups is how quickly you can see results. If you keep with it you’ll notice how much easier it is to do them and how many more you can do.

2. Push ups- Push ups are like pull ups, they’re hard at first but they build quickly. Push ups help your core as well as your chest, back and arms. I usually do about 3 sets of 25 a couple of times per week.

3. Sit ups- I know these can be tough, but they really help the core. I usually add some twisting at the end to help engage the obliques. In other words I put my right elbow on my left knee as I come to the top of the sit up and vice versa on the other side. 3 sets of 25 are what I normally do.

4. Running- I hate jogging, or running, it hurts and it isn’t fun for me, however it is the quickest and best way I’ve found to keep my cardiovascular system up where I want it. It also helps tone and keeps the weight down. I don’t run a lot, usually 2 three-mile runs a week.

Believe it or not having a good cardiovascular system will help you on your river trip. You won’t get winded when you have to make your way over uneven ground hauling heavy bags. You’ll be able to swim and enjoy the river more too.

I do other stuff besides what I mentioned but that is the core of all my workouts. If you do those exercises a couple of times a week and increase your frequency as the season gets closer, you’ll be ready for your river trip and feel good about taking your shirt off to boot.

Even if you’re only exertion on the river is lifting a beer and a fork to your face, you’ll be better prepared and have more fun if you have some level of fitness.

Update:

I’m on my 10th day of P90X and I’m loving it. It’s probably more than you need for basic physical fitness, but WOW, it is an ass kicker and really ramps up your fitness level. I’m committed to sticking with the full 90 days and I’m sure I’m going to have amazing results.

Portable River Toilet: Part (2) doo, Choosing the Type

So now you know why you need a portable river toilet, here are my thoughts on how to go about choosing which one is right for you.

I have used three types of portable river toilets. 2 are large toilets that are needed for multi-day river trips and are secured on our whitewater raft. The other is a small, hand-made kayakers pooper.

 

Jon-ny Partner Toilet Systems

When I guided on the Grand Canyon we used large, fully contained steel containers called, Jon-ny Partner Toilet systems.  We’d usually bring two or three of these downstream depending on how many people and how many days we’d be on the river.

They’re made of strong aluminum, weigh 20 lbs empty and can accommodate 6 people for 10 days (assuming everyone only dumps once a day).

These are great systems. They’re well-built and if you clamp the lid on well,  they won’t leak. It comes with handy carrying handles which are crucial when they get near full.

They also have a pressure release valve which is really nice for trips in extreme heat. Heat and methane gas can lead to some nasty accidents if it’s not purged every now and again. Be sure to plug your nose when the purge happens.

These toilets are perfect for long trips like the grand canyon, but are probably overkill for shorter river trips. At over 500 bucks a pop you’ll only want to get this set-up if you’re planning a lot of grand canyon type trips. Even then it may be more economical to rent.

Eco-Safe Toilet

The toilet I use most of the time is the Eco-Safe toilet. It is a tough polyethylene tank which is made to fit into a “rocket box.”  It comes with a toilet seat which secures to the tank once you unscrew the top lid. The screw top has the required rubber gasket which keeps it from leaking even if upside down.

The eco-toilet can take up to 50 uses, so it’s perfect for a 4 day trip with 10 or 12 people. I’ve never filled one of these on our typical 4 day Rogue river trip.

What the hell’s a “rocket box”? A rocket box is just what it sounds like a box that’s used to store rockets. Were talking army surplus here. They were used to store 20mm rockets back in the Vietnam war days.

rocket box
20mm rocket box

The eco-safe toilet is made to fit perfectly into this 20mm rocket box. The rocket box is metal and can be locked shut with strong clasps on either side. It also has the crucial carrying handles.

If you buy an eco-safe toilet system you’ll also have to purchase a 20mm rocket box. The metal box will add some weight but it’s easily tied into a whitewater raft.

The eco toilet is around 200 bucks and is well worth the price. To alleviate some of the cost, split it with your river running buddies. Don’t forget: not everyone on the trip needs their own toilet, only one per trip is required, so it makes sense to go in on the purchase together.

Wag Bags

There are also some new systems out there called, “wag bags.” They are solid human waste pouches which actually turn your stuff into some weird gel and starts bio-degrading immediately. They have been approved by the DEQ and are safe to throw the used bags into a public refuse station (aka garbage can).

I have never used these bags but they sound pretty slick. They are approved for use on the Rogue river but I would call and ask if heading to other toilet required rivers.

Basic Requirements

Portable river toilets must have these traits: be waterproof, not have bag inserts, be big enough to accommodate your group, be washable and re-usable, and have a gasket on the lid.

There are other large toilet systems that fit these criteria but I’m not familiar with them so I excluded them here.

Portable Kayakers’ Pooper

Occasionally I’ll do a river trip without raft support, which means I need to carry all my supplies in the back of my whitewater kayak. I still need to present my toilet at the put-in but I obviously can’t fit a 20mm rocket box into my kayak.

The BLM website lays out an easy method for making your own kayakers’ toilet. I’ve followed their instructions and it’s very simple and effective. So not to re-invent the wheel, simply follow the directions on the previous BLM link.