In The Shakedown, we take a look at the essential kit used by the adventurers in the BASE community. In Tyne Traveller, from issue 07, Fenwick Ridley told the tales of his up-river trekking adventures on the South and North Tyne, now he shares with us his essential river trekking kit list.
The North and South Tyne are very different rivers which required different equipment setups. So I soon learned to adapt my setup daily as the river conditions changed and to make transitioning from walking to swimming and back again easier.
On the North Tyne I just had my gear in a drybag on top of the raft. When I had to walk, I basically just put it on my shoulders until I was swimming again but it was fairly tough going. When I started the South Tyne, I knew there would be more walking and falling, so I opted for a really tough waterproof rucksack that could attach to the ruckraft. The transition between swimming and walking was much easier, I could just drop the bag off my back into the water.
I started off wearing neoprene dive boots with thick soles. They worked great for small amounts of river trekking but I went through three pairs in two rivers. By this point, I was pretty invested into the concept and so opted to drill small drainage holes into an expensive pair of boots. Since then though, I’ve found these amazing wading boots from Taimen. They’re super strong, light but thick with drainage holes. I wear those with 4mm neoprene socks.
But that’s only reason any one should ever swim with a knife. That is, except Crocodile Dundee of course
A really important part of my equipment is my knife, especially when towing a raft. I actually hang around my neck so it’s super accessible. With the raft, there’s always the possibility of it getting snagged and it could trap me. But that’s only reason any one should ever swim with a knife. That is, except Crocodile Dundee of course.
Drinking directly out of the river through a filter straw became the norm after going through my carry water the first day and realising I was just carrying too much. That little straw is a lifesaver.
Eventually though, I realised that one of my biggest tools was the power of oats. I started making these, oat balls and they had all sorts in them, loads of different seeds, nuts, dates peanut butter, the whole shebang. That was definitely one of my biggest power tools for river trekking.
It is important to say, we do need to prepare and we do need to do our homework and research the river properly. If you know a river quite well, maybe you’ve paddled it, or you’ve spent a lot of time down there having picnics, that’s golden. Maybe next time, get yourself, some wetsuit boots or even some trainers. Why not do what I did and drill a few holes in the sides. Normal socks tend to hold a lot of water, so get some neoprene socks and get yourself in the water. Have a little walk, and make sure you have a walking stick or something to help you if you start falling over.