Voyageur II Clothing and Equipment
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Clothing and equipment is incredibly important on all V2 trips. You will be traveling for 7 weeks in a far-north, remote wilderness environment. The environment here is particularly unique (ie. weather is varied and extreme) and gear takes a beating. It is critical that your clothing and equipment are up to the task. You can expect temperature extremes from just below freezing all the way to 30C, sometimes in the span of 24 hours. When it’s hot it can be really hot (remember there is close to 24hr sun and often no trees for shade) and when it’s cold it can feel really cold. Rain and high winds (typical in the barrens) can make a chilly day feel downright frigid. If you are properly prepared then you will be able to truly enjoy this incredibly beautiful and varied environment, if you are not then it becomes a safety issue.
You will want to focus on packing light as well as warm. Huge heavy packs are not fun to deal with on V2. If you are bringing any treats, make them small – talk with your leaders and groups about “group treats”.
You may find you have a lot of your equipment already. Not all of it needs to be brand new. Certainly, many layers of clothing can be purchased at Value Village or other secondhand stores. It is true that you are not likely to find a good Gore-Tex jacket and rain pants used, but many things you will.
REMEMBER: Day One of trip is NOT THE TIME to be testing gear. Break in your shoes beforehand and make sure your clothing and gear fit, with layers! Also make sure everything fits in your dry bags and pack.
Note: Wanapitei does not rent paddles or helmets for V2 campers because it is difficult to size them safely before the trip. If this is a concern for you, please reach out to your leaders for alternatives.
☐ 1 PFD – ensure it is in GOOD shape, comfortable and government-approved. Check seams and quality of material for sun damage.
☐ 1 flatwater paddle (optional & route dependent)– some find they are happy with just their white-water paddle. Talk to your leaders about your route-specific needs)
☐ 1 whitewater paddle
☐ 2 whistles – one on your lifejacket and one for around your neck/wrist
☐ 1 whitewater helmet – make sure you can fit a light fleece/wool hat or helmet liner underneath
☐ 1 sleeping pad (Thermarest) and repair kit – we recommend a full-length sleeping pad as it offers more insulation from the permafrost ground. If you sleep cold, Exped makes down sleeping pads that are lighter weight and warmer but cost more.
☐ 1 sleeping bag – aim for a bag rated at least -7 to -12. A down bag will pack smaller and is warmer, but will cost more. If your sleeping bag isn’t quite warm enough, bring more long underwear/fleecewear or a sleeping bag liner.
☐ 1 sleeping bag liner (optional) – a fleece or silk liner is good if you sleep cold. Also helps keep your sleeping bag cleaner. Even cotton works.
☐ 1 pack – EVERYTHING you bring must fit into this pack. NO BARRELS, mini or otherwise. Boats are incredibly full, and barrels take up too much space. Depending on the size of your clothing, 75-90L is often a good pack size range. Try to get a pack with strong comfortable back straps because it will spend a lot of time on your back!
☐ Dry bags – make sure they are in good shape and of good quality (welded seams, good closure, good material). Do NOT bring garbage bags as waterproofing. It may be difficult to dry items for days at a time, so dry bags will be a great way to prevent wet sleeping bags.
Feet are important! 52 days of whitewater, upstream, portaging etc. is very hard on shoes. Footwear will take an incredible beating on a trip like this. You (and the rest of the group) cannot afford to have your shoes fail. Make sure soles, seams, etc. are all in top shape. Brand new footwear is often ready for the trash after a VII.
☐ 1 pair of light hiking shoes/boots – to be your wet shoes. Look for something durable with good grip soles – you are going to do an awful lot of wet walking. They should be comfortable to wear and fit over neoprene socks/Gore-Tex socks/drypants. If ankle problems are not an issue, trail runners can be very light-weight and have good traction. You will be portaging, dragging, and possibly swimming in these. The mesh material on classic running shoes is often not strong enough and tears when you walk through brush.
☐ 1 pair of runners – (optional) to be dry shoes/back up wet shoes. Hiking opportunities await you! This second pair of sturdy shoes is personal preference if you want variety in shoe-type or are worried about your primary wet shoes falling apart during the trip.
☐ 1 pair of plastic clogs (Crocs) or Keens – Dry shoes which are nice around the campsite. They should have “closed” toes, no flip flops or sandals!
☐ 1 pair of neoprene socks– You will be traveling upstream in very cold water, and you will want your feet to stay warm. The neoprene socks should be large enough to wear over your wool socks. (Alternatively, dry pants with waterproof booties would be ideal. You MUST have either neoprene socks or a drypants system, something to keep your feet warm when wet.)
☐ 1 pair of Gore-Tex socks (optional) – Great for campsites on wet days when you want dry feet. They keep feet dry and foot-rot-free, but they are expensive. When you are dragging upstream you will go into water too deep for Gore-Tex socks to be effective.
☐ 5-8 pairs of mid-weight Smartwool or wool socks – NOT COTTON. Some prefer 100% wool; others prefer mostly wool blend.
Make sure you bring enough warm wet clothing (clothing that is warm while wet – wool is best for this). You will find that you need more than you think – bring enough! It can also get VERY cold at night in the far north. A good strategy is to use layers!
☐ 2 pairs of quick-dry pants – They should be durable and quick-dry. Bringing only 1 pair of pants is not an option.
☐ 1 pairs of fleece or warm pants – For the campsite and cold days, no cotton!
☐ 1 pair of quick dry shorts
☐ 2-3 t-shirts – quick-dry polypro/synthetic or lightweight wool (e.g. Smartwool)
☐ 1 long sleeve sun shirt (optional) – a light long sleeve shirt to protect your arms without making you overheat.
☐ 2 long sleeve tops/long underwear tops – at least one should be wool (e.g. Smartwool) as it is warmer than polypro. The second can be polypro. NO cotton!
☐ 2 pairs of long underwear bottoms – at least one pair should be wool (e.g. Smartwool), second can be polypro/synthetic. Wool is always recommended for preventing smell, and gentleness on skin.
☐ 2 fleece/wool sweaters – No cotton!
☐ 1 synthetic down or real down jacket– HIGHLY recommended as this will keep you warm at the campsite during the cold and windy days. It’s a bonus if it has a hood!
☐ Underwear and bras, etc.
☐ Rain jacket and rain pants – Gore-Tex is a good option, but make sure it is durable and actually waterproof (old Gore-Tex is often not). Must be big enough to fit warm layers underneath. Rain pants are NOT OPTIONAL.
☐ 1 paddling jacket (optional) – allows you to change into a warm/dry sweater and dry roomier raincoat at the end of a wet day.
☐ 1 older raincoat (optional)– as an alternative to paddling jacket, you can bring an older raincoat as your ‘dry’ raincoat to wear on the campsite after a day of rain. It is great to be able to put a dry raincoat over the dry clothes you’ve changed into.
☐ 1 pair dry pants with built-in booties (optional) – Incredibly valuable during long stretches of cold upstream. Speak to your leaders about whether drypants will be helpful for your route specifically.
☐ 2 toques – fleece or wool
☐ 1 pairs of mitts – fleece or wool. Note: mitts are warmer than gloves. Also consider a pair of winter waterproof gloves or waterproof over-mitts.
☐ Neoprene mitts/gloves (optional) – good on cold and wet paddling days. If not neoprene mitts, you need mitts/gloves you can paddle in that are warm when wet.
☐ 1 scarf or neck warmer – fleece or wool.
☐ 1 sunhat with a brim
☐ 1 pair of sunglasses – bring a solid case for them or they will probably get crushed. Consider a glasses safety cord as well. Remember – when it is sunny, it is REALLY sunny.
☐ 1 bug jacket – THIS IS NOT OPTIONAL. Get the good ones – they are more expensive but worth it. Bugs can be horrible. If you can get one that is roomy enough to get your arms and a dinner plate inside, it is very helpful (allows you to eat inside your jacket). You will have a storm/bug shelter, but sometimes it is nice to be outside, even when it is buggy.
☐ Photo ID – for flight. Driver’s license is preferable to passports, as they are easier/cheaper to replace if lost/damaged.
☐ 1 flashlight/headlamp – you likely won’t need this until the second half of trip (if at all) but you will certainly need it for the nights on Lake Temagami.
☐ 1 mug
☐ 1 ~1L water bottle – durable (metal or Nalgene)
☐ 1 group treat (optional) – discuss with your leaders first if you are stuck on what to bring. Anything small, light, and fun for everyone will go over well. If your item will involve food, you MUST contact your leaders about it first.
☐ Sunscreen – must have. Note: no aerosols for flights
☐ Lip balm with SPF
☐ Moisturizer – a good one, especially for your hands
☐ Bug spray – no aerosols
☐ Toothbrush and toothpaste
☐ Soap – liquid, biodegradable soap (i.e. Campsuds). Please bring scent-free – better for bugs and bears.
☐ Hairbrush and hair ties if needed
☐ Tampons and/or pads or DivaCup if needed
☐ Contact solution/extra contacts/extra glasses if needed
☐ Personal medications – we require you to have at least TWO sets of any vital prescription medication you are bringing. One set will remain in the emergency barrel. This is VERY important for things like inhalers, epi pens, etc.
☐ Keflex – 1 course of Keflex antibiotics (1 week). This needs a prescription and is a “just in case” prescription. Keflex is a broad-spectrum antibiotic. It will not be administered without a directive from the camp doctor. We will send you more information on this topic.
☐ Multivitamins (optional)
☐ Gold Bond powder (optional) – great for helping dry feet
OTHER OPTIONAL ITEMS
☐ Sewing kit (might want a heavy-duty needle for thicker materials)
☐ Journal and pens/pencils
☐ Cards or small group game
☐ Guitar or other musical instrument – talk to the group if you plan on bringing an instrument, we don’t need 12 guitars!
☐ Art supplies
☐ Camera – stored in a Pelican case, bring extra batteries or a solar charger. You MUST speak to your leaders if you are considering bringing a drone.
☐ Small Binoculars
☐ Extra batteries
☐ Small dress up clothing – for Halloween (day 31)
☐ Pictures of loved ones
☐ Fishing gear – you are traveling to one of the best fishing areas in the world. The more rods the better, as some will inevitably fail. Even if you’ve never fished, it is an experience worth trying on this trip. Chat with the group to see who is bringing rods..
☐ Swiss army knife/Leatherman
WHAT *NOT* TO BRING
Drugs or alcohol. There will be more on this in a future mailing closer to the summer. Suffice to say that it would not be worth ruining the experience of a lifetime, not to mention the financial investment your family is making plus the huge cost of flying you off trip (this cost will be billed to your family and no refund will be given). Do not make this mistake.
Valuables. Whatever you bring on your first flight will likely need to come on trip with you. Do not bring items you don’t want lost or damaged.
Food other than a group treat You will be well-fed on this trip. We cannot have food items in personal packs because it is an animal attractant and a concern for people with allergies. Personal snacks also affect group dynamic. Do not worry, we will pack plenty of good food! If your group treat involves food, please talk to your leaders beforehand to organize safe storage and allergy-friendly options.
Cotton stuff. It is useless at keeping you dry and warm. If you are on a budget, try shopping for wool and fleece clothing at Value Village.
Speakers and phones. V2 is a valuable time to unplug from technology and embed yourself in your group and your surroundings. We encourage you to make music with instruments and voices! You will not get any cell service during this trip and phones are at high risk of being damaged or lost. If you are worried about traveling to and from V2 without a contact method, please reach out to your leaders for alternatives.
Watches (optional) – Some participants like to spend V2 following the schedule of nature. It can be fun to experience the near 24-hour daylight without a watch. If you are going to bring a watch, please be respectful of others who are choosing not to. Your leaders will have watches if you need to take scheduled medications or want to know the time for specific events.
Personal InReach/Garmin device – Your leaders will be carrying an InReach device and a satellite phone for communication with camp. Please do not bring a personal communication device, as this can affect your group dynamic. The camp office will be updating your families on your trip progress throughout the summer.