River season is coming, and we’re psyched that we’ll get to see all of your smiling faces soon. Some of you with early trips may be excited at the thought of seeing all those wildflowers in bloom, but grimacing at the possibility of traveling in colder temperatures. If this is you, we have some packing recommendations to help you keep warm even if the weather on your Grand Canyon trip isn’t.
1) Start with warm base layers
You’ll still probably want a set of moisture wicking underwear or a bathing suit closest to your skin, but on top of that, consider wearing something like wool long-johns or neoprene pants and a neoprene shirt. (NRS makes some great neoprene gear called “HydroSkin.”) Wool or neoprene are great materials because they continue to insulate and keep you warm even when wet. Just make sure you don’t wear anything that is a single piece as that will be hard to put on and take off throughout the day.
2) Swap lightweight items for heavier or warmer ones
Instead of the lightweight fleece on your gear checklist, bring a mid-weight or heavy-weight style. If you would have packed a pair of cotton shorts to sleep in, exchange them for sweatpants instead. Exchange the lightweight, thin material gloves you would have worn to protect your hands for a thicker style that will also keep them warm.
3) Upgrade your rain gear
For summer trips, we typically recommend lightweight, waterproof raingear. But, if you’re traveling at a colder time of year, you may want to bring rain gear that is not only waterproof, but has a little bit of insulation built in.
Beanies are in on cold weather river trips! So are gloves, neoprene or wools socks, and any other little items that will help you stay just a bit warmer.
A few other tips from Hatch…
Check the weather before your trip.
You might not need half of what we recommend above, but you’ll be glad to have it if the temperature drops. Look up the weather in the canyon a few days before your trip starts so you can be prepared. (Search weather.gov for the weather at Phantom Ranch, and make sure the elevation is 2805 for an accurate forecast.) Keep in mind that no matter the forecast outside, the water will likely be around 50 degrees.
Don’t stress about over-packing.
You’ll still need to keep your gear under 25lbs or risk paying overage charges, but make sure to bring what you need. Even if you don’t use everything you bring, you’ll be happy you had it in case.
Sit in the tea room.
There are parts of the boat where you are a little less likely to get completely soaked. The tea room (the square area back near the guides) is a great place to sit if you run on the colder side or just need a break from the splashes.
Finally, don’t let all these precautions scare you.
Most guests don’t aren’t bothered by the weather on their trips one bit. We just want to make sure you have all the information you need to stay as comfortable as possible so that you can have the best vacation of your life!