Bought my first raft, a pro pioneer, looking for advice
I am pretty excited with this purchase. Something I have bee looking at for a while now and found a great deal.
What I would like to ask opinions of is must have gear to take when hunting out of this type of raft.
Scenarios for next year will be rivers like the Ivashak, Birch creek and others around Fairbanks that I can line up.
No serious water although obstacles in the water will be present.
With the raft I have the
oar saddles and rights
pump and patch kits
I am looking for advice on anything from type of life jackets to netting to ropes to chainsaws to types of paddles to anything that YOU would not leave home without.
Thanks in advance for any replys.
Congrats Jason, here's to years of enjoyment and adventure!
I've only logged one trip in the PP so maybe Larry or others who have much much more experience will chime in and offer advice. Here are a few things I found that worked well on my trip. In addition to a bow line, a short (5-8') stern line came in handy. Many times we needed to walk the raft through shallow sections, not drag it. That is, there was enough floatation for the raft to move downstream as long as we weren't in it I found by letting the current take the raft and walking behind holding onto a stern line, I could just steer the raft with one hand and let the current do most of the work. Without that stern line, I had to walk right behind the PP holding the rear handle and was constantly kicking/stumbling into the raft when walking over river rock / cobble. Was much easier to have a bit of distance between me and the raft. The small to medium size Action Packers fit between the tubes and slide under the seats, worked great for holding various gear and they'll keep things dry on a wet floor (of course they aren't meant to be submerged). Life jackets - same standard rule: get one that's comfy and wear it. Would recommend a short fixed blade knife, like the NRS Pilot or Co-Pilot, to hook to your life jacket for quick easy access. Never know when things will get hairy! As you know, when things go wrong on water, they go wrong in a hurry.
Congrats on the purchase, I think I am going the same route you did(pro pioneer). I just got back from your neck of the woods, was hunting a bit with an old friend(Phil Z, built the flying weazle). Look forward to the replies you get here. One item I would suggest to not go without is a good well maintained rope come along with 100-150 foot of 1/2 inch low stretch poly line. Doesn't take up a lot of room, weighs little, and can really come in handy if you need it.
I add a whistle to my PFD. Cheap and works well for communication over river noises. I used a folding knife for a while, but decided that when I needed it most, unfolding took too long. Same with a sheath that has some sort of a latch that hold the knife in. I want to be able to grab it and just pull hard to get it in my hand. I hang it upside down, high on my left side, where I can get it fast. You never know when you will need it "now."
I know this is contrary to a lot of conventional wisdom, but I let a short stern and bow line dangle from both ends of the boat. I just let them hang in the water but they're only a few feet long and have no knots in them. I don't want them to get caught on oars, paddles or rocks but I do want to be able to grab one when I least expect to need it. This has saved me from loosing boats when I am not paying attention, and has enabled me to quickly grab onto the boat after I've flipped too. The downside risk is becoming tangled in a loose rope, but that's not been a problem as long as the rope is short.
I also attach a long bow line to run across a long beach to tie the boat up to a solid tree. All my friends seem to prefer 30' bow lines, but they never reach anything when needed.
Jeff already said it but get a PFD that is comfortable enough that you will always wear it. Then wear it always! Few people ever drown in class IV-V whitewater and most drown in class I or less. I got used to wearing an America's Cup UltraFloat with 30 lbs of flotation. I like it because it keeps me warm, but most people would not wear one of these, so get one you like.
You need to decide if you will be using single bladed canoe paddles, or double bladed kayak paddles. Kayak paddles are easier to use well, but get you wet from dripping. Mastering single blade paddles is more of an art form, but can work very well, especially with two paddlers. Either way, get them long enough to get over the side of the PP. It's a wide boat and requires longer than normal paddles, especially if you are going with double bladed kayak paddles. Coming from a rafter's perspective, oars are my preference, so I don't spend much money on paddles that I rarely use anyway. I use cheap, but durable, aluminum/plastic Carlisle paddles. But if you are only using the oars occasionally, then by all means get good paddles.