Winter Boating

Get Ready for Winter Boating

Submitted by Zachary Collier

I’m getting ready for my first day of winter boating on Washington’s Wind River. Every November when the rain begins I dust off my cataraft and piece it together after a few months of neglect. Here are some things I do before my first winter paddling trip.
A Few General Reminders

•    Inspect your PFD for inflation and consider purchasing a new one.
•    Inspect the gaskets and lubricate the zippers on your drysuit.
•    Check your frame and oar bolts for tightness. This is also a great time to replace old, rusty ones.
•    Replace old, warn cam straps that might break during the boating season.
•    Do a safety inspection on your trailer. This is a good time to grease your hubs and check your trailer lights.
•    Put together a cold weather (or “hypo kit”) with extra fleece, fire starters, and hand warmers.

Lean and Mean Safety Kit

Make sure everything is there and nothing is moldy or rusty. This is what I bring for day runs like the Wind River where road access is fairly close.

•    Two 30’ sections of webbing for anchors
•    Two or more prusics (I suggest Sterling Auto Block pre-sewn cord)
•    Six or more locking carabiners
•    Two pulleys
•    Throw Bag with 3/8” rope or dedicated safety line

The exact contents of your repair kits should depend on your boat, difficulty of rivers you run, and your training.

Lean and Mean Repair Kit

Repair kits are often overlooked and rarely restocked. The exact contents of your kit will depend on your par-ticular raft material, frame, and oars.

•    Every repair tool your frame and oars might need - nut driver, socket wrench, channel locks, allen wrench, oar blade tightener, screwdriver, and more
•    Replacement parts and bolts for your frame
•    Repair material, glue, sandpaper, and brushes
•    Tear Aid for quick repair
•    Duct Tape
You might also want to consider repair materials and tools for your friend’s boats too in case they forget.

Typical First Aid Restock
This is a list of items that commonly needs to be restocked in your first aid kit.
•    Ibuprofen
•    Band Aids
•    Triple Antibiotic Ointment
•    Medical tape
•    Check your CPR mask to make sure it’s still in good shape

Reprinted with permission from Zachary Collier, Originally Published: December 1, 2012 | Updated on December 26, 2019 on