What Mick Hopkinson Takes Boating

Mick Hopkinson describes his standard safety gear. This article was originally published in NZ Canoeing 02.3.

This gear is what I pack for the Coast, when I'm doing serious kayaking or creek boating on rivers without road access, or drive-ins where the river does not follow the road. I always take good gear that I can rely on; I recommend that if you can't afford new gear, then you should consider turning down the trip.

Take good friends with better skills and fitness than you!

On your body

  • Warm gear, including a dry top. Consider the merits of a dry suit (may make you less flexible, but pays dividends in keeping you warm day and night)
  • Shoes which you can walk out in. Consider that when you're loaded down with a boat you need good support, and the terrain you may be walking though.
  • Helmet which provides good protection for forehead and the back of your neck, and has a visor for the sun. A hot head (or warm hat) is also essential.
  • Elbow pads
  • Ear plugs
  • Lifejacket with at least 6kgs of buoyancy (remember that exposure to the sun makes your lifejacket less floaty) with towline, at least one caribiner, river saw, river knife, watch, whistle, big sling, fire starting gear (a candle and matches).

In your boat

  • Split paddle
  • Dry bag with duct tape, painkillers, food, Leatherman, sling
  • Prussicks
  • Throwbag (either between your knees or on the body)
  • Large plastic or bivvy bag in case of overnight adventures
  • 2 or 3 caribiners
  • Airbags

And don't forget to pack your brain...