5 day kayak trip. Advice?

About a year and a half ago, I picked up my first canoe, followed almost immediately by his & hers kayaks. A handful of my friends also scooped up kayaks and we’ve been on a ton of trips since. You can see my blog (which I’ve neglected for more than a year because I get bored with things quickly) here:


But here’s a time-lapse I took of a trip last weekend:


Living in central Florida, we’ve got no shortage of rivers and oceans to paddle. We started with a 2-day camp on an island out in the Atlantic near Kennedy Space Center, then decided we’d never do less than 3 days again. We do a lot of day trips but when it comes to camping, we decided 3 days, 2 nights is the only way to go. However, one of my buddies and I have decided we want to go a little bigger. We’re planning a 5 day river trip with just the two of us.

I’m just looking for some general advice. We’re pretty well equipped when it comes to standard, light gear. We’ll probably end up bringing MRE’s and a lot of light snacks (granola, jerky, etc). Water is out, so we’ll have to filter and drink river water for the first time.

I guess I’m looking for advice on water filtration and gear that someone may neglect to bring on trips like this. Our plan is to cover 20 miles a day, so we’ll be out early and up early, spending a lot of time on the water. I joined this forum to pose these questions because there have to be things I’m not thinking of.

Water filtration is pretty easy

– Last Updated: Nov-09-12 8:57 AM EST –

Most convenient is to use gravity flow filters. But you do need something to hang them from like a tree.

Google Sawyer, MSR for gravity flow filters.

Kataydn, MSR, Pur and some others make pump action filters.

Bot work.

I have never carried water with one exception: salt water environs. Filters do work with silty water. Settling or prefiltering takes care of the issue of silt. (Been to the Green River UT and many glacial meltwaters. Glaciers are full of silt)

Five days of water is about 40 lbs per person. Depending on what sort of boat you are paddling and where you can stow it that could affect handling.

I have some 23 years on my MSR MiniWorks..thats seventy days a year. Not everyone likes pumping..though. This unit is easy to clean. The MSR Autoflow backflushes to clear contaminants. Its only got 63 days of use so far in the Yukon.

Of course if you are travelling agricultural country pesticides are a concern. Filters will not remove them. Heavy metals are on the bottom. I don't filter from the bottom. But I also never travel in such developed areas.

Might I ask which river you are going on?
As Chip has said, five days just calls for a little more food..figure 2 lbs a day per person.

Sorry I edited this so Chips reference is below.

Why is water out?
Here is an obvious one: you will have to be paddling on fresh water if you are filtering. I prefer filtering if the water source is suitable, but lots of places, it’s not. This may be because it is brackish, too silty, or polluted with industrial or agricultural run off.

Silt can clog the filter system, so you may want to bring whatever it takes to unclog. I have been using a Katadyn PUR, so I bring a replacement filter. In the future, I’ll switch to a gravity feed system–they are much easier–and don’t know how you unclog those.

If you are relying on water collected on route, bring back up against failure of your water system. Easiest and most packable are iodine tabs. Doesn’t sound like you will be cooking, but if you have a stove, boiling can work, but costs you some in extra fuel.

People do pack 5-days water on trips. Water bladders are probably more packable than hard containers.

Other than that, a 5-day trip is like a 3-day trip. You just need more consumables. And you might be happy to have what it takes to do a batch of laundry, although that requires being stopped long enough for clothes to dry, or at least drip mostly dry. With modern outdoors wear, and depending on temps, you can put stuff on that is damp and it dries quickly.


Maybe we’ll have to bring water
I checked out both of your systems and they seem rather expensive and complicated. To answer your question, I said water was out just because of the weight. We’re trying to keep it as light as possible so we can cover more ground. Covering 20 miles a day on this river is going to be difficult, as it’s a snake with a lot of obstacles and shallows, depending on the water level. We’ll be doing the Peace River. It’s 106 miles long from beginning to end, so we’ll need to cover about 21 miles a day.

What about DIY filtration? We’ll be bringing iodine tablets on a test run next weekend and I’ve heard you can use cheesecloth or coffee filters to remove sediment. I’m not sure how much work that’ll take, as the Peace isn’t exactly crystal clear. It’s tea-colored down its entire length, so I assume there will be a lot of stuff to filter out of it.

tea-colored water
is it because of tannins from leaf decay? if so you may not be able to filter it out totally. it’s like a natural dye (we call it Allagash tea!) in the water, but harmless to drink.

you can try coffee filters and a pint-sized funnel. this is a very cheap & lightweight way to prefilter river water into a container for treatment. try to find the clearest place you can to take water from, preferably where there’s some current. then add your purification tablets and let it sit for the specified treatment time. some people are sensitive to iodine (either the taste, or it can cause mild stomach upset; should also be avoided by those taking thyroid meds). I prefer chlorine-dioxide tablets, they add no taste to the water and will actually make it taste better.

I “dumped the pump” and switched to the Sawyer squeeze filter system that weighs only 3 oz, perfect for backpacking. But I still carry ClO2 tablets as you always want more than one method for treating water, especially on an extended trip. For 2+ people I would get their gravity system. A reliable filter is pricy but worth it when you consider the nasty illnesses it is protecting you from!

Keep in mind if you are boiling the water (coffee/tea, dehydrated foods, pasta, rice, etc.) you usually don’t need to bother filtering the water first.

The Peace river…
goes through a lot of cattle country. The tannins in the water from the oak leaves is the least of your concerns. I’d pack water.


5 day
Bring a quality filer. Add a pre-filter and settle water for silty streams. I have had bad luck with gravity filters. Bring iodine or Halazone as back up. Bring a large pot for boiling if necessary. Bring some bleach in a small bottle to diinfect dishwashing water (unfiltered).

I cannot understand people that pack their water on a boat trip. It is too heavy.

Test Run
Well, we’re making a 2-day test run this weekend. I think what we’ll do is bring enough water for the trip, but also bring iodine tablets, a pot to boil water, and a filtration bottle, so we can test out whether or not we can make the water potable. Better to test it on a 2-day than a 5-day. I just picked up a cheapo filtration bottle from Walmart. I’m not sure how well it’ll work. I guess we’ll see. If this stuff doesn’t do the trick, we’ll look into a legitimate filtration system.

water filters
We frequently do 3 - 5 days trips. We have always carried the Katadyn filter bottles - when we backpack or kayak tour. They have worked great and we have never had a problem. We boil water for morning coffee. We also have iodine tablets in the first aid kit.

On the Suwannee
from White Springs down there is no reason to carry water there are plenty of places to get water every day. (River Camps, State Parks, County Parks, Outfitters, Suwannee River Rendezvous). I did a week long trip in 2009 & only carried water I would need for the day. Have fun!!! KK

I am just going to put this out there…

You can use household bleach to purify water. 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water. It works faster and tastes better than Halogen tablets.

A tiny bottle would last your whole party the entire trip.

Filters are good if you start with relatively clear water. They can clog up fast and run slow with dirty water, not to mention the bulkiness of the filtration system

I carry
a Katyden hiker pro and tablets. The filter is prefered, however everyont needs to do a camp trip with the tablets just so they know why they carry a filter.

MIO drink mix for a change once in a while.

On a different topic. Toothbrush, spray Scope Outlast. 3 squirts and a scrub. Eliminates the toothpaste weight and the fact that tooth paste is reffered to here as “coon bait” makes the Outlast that much better.

Break down your MRE’s if they are milspec ones. There is stuff in there you dont need like a spoon in every bag and bad gum.

Bring instant oatmeal for the AM. (1C inst oat in a qt ziplock bag, few raisens, tbsp dry milk, cinnamon, add 2C boiling water, stir, close, pack up tent, open and eat)

Bring a bag of apples. fresh fruit makes the day more pleasant.

Roll of duct tape aka formaboat, for holes. 40’ light rope.

drink river water, if resupply is possible.

Looks buggy. If you’re using that much antibug maybe you can drink filtered river water ?

Springs on the route ?

search: Florida springs XXX River

How’s the arm skin holding up ? Need a long sleeve polyester crew ? See Campmor.com

Back of hands ? have you seen back of hands flaps ?

The video is very cool but then goes away on the river…tune that in wudja ?