Anyone done the Mississippi?

My wife and i are planning a Mississippi trip from the headwaters to the Gulf. Our 12’ SOT’s are going t be a little small for all the gear we will have to carry, so i am looking at 16’er’s. I am wondering if we should switch to SINK’s which will give us more protection from the elements. Any opinions from those who have owned both would be appreciated.

In doing the research, i am suprised that only a couple of books have been written on this trip, so i am hoping someone here has done it!

Rick D.


– Last Updated: Jan-24-06 9:20 AM EST –

i did the Miss in 02 and the Missouri in 04. The fellow I started the Miss with was in a cobra SOT and absolutely hated it. I think it was 15 or so foot. By the time it was fully loaded including 3-5 gallons potable water, she sat very low in the water.. he said it was like paddling a barge.. and that he always was sitting in cold water... hated it so much he went home at Hannible. and hasnt paddled that thing since.

the SOT was so slo compared to my 16foot solo canoe, i would gain a 20 min lead every hour

on the missouri we met other long distance paddlers in SINKS that were in 17-19 foot solos... they did fine.. but i wonder how difficult it would be to use yaks in the Mississippi headwaters?

check out my journal at find 2002 journals, mississippi section, and freighttrains journal.. email me any questions you may have.. but please use mississippi in subject so i notice it

A twelve foot anything sounds too
small for such a trip. When I go tripping in a canoe, I use a 18 foot kevlar Champlain. My solo canoe is 14 ft. It doesn’t matter if you take a canoe or yak, but it must be a boat that is designed for such a trip. posts

Mississippi by Canoe with pictures…

100 Days down river…

The Archive has a lot of threads about this subject…

Hello FreightTrain!

I read your journal, but it mysteriously stopped in Arkansas right after Wolfhound bailed out. Did you continue on to the Gulf? It sounded like you were getting pretty worn down at that time which is understandable. The last book i read the guy cut off thru the Achafalaya Basin and ended his trip at Morgan City. I’m originally from N.O. and spent quite a bit of time fishing south out to the Gulf, so we are planning on trying to make it all the way. Our Wilderness Tarpon 120’s are great boats and track very well. I have had several canoes but prefer a yak(guess it’s personal preferance), so we would definatly step up to a 16-18 footer for long range trips such as this.

BTW, how’s Midnight?


Freight Train

– Last Updated: Jan-29-06 6:59 PM EST –

I sent AFT an e-mail. He says he pulled off the Mississippi a day after the report ended. BUT he completed it to NOLA when he did the Missouri. That report hasn't been finished either.

Must have Subject!
yep, wolf left the Miss in Hannible Mo, I left the Miss at Hellena Ark… got tired of fighting the weather, started trip a few weeks too late… yadda yadda…

on my Missouri Paddle in 04, we started at Three Forks Montana May 16th… we turned south at the Miss and I finished at the stairs in the French Quarters on Nov 5th… a most incredable journey!

lots of time consuming work transscribing a journal… kind of lost interrest at the time when no-one was reading it… perhaps this will motivate me a bit.

Midnight is doin great,…

I have heard numberous stories of people paddling more than 14 days in SOTS and since thier feet NEVER were dry they developed some sort of foot rot and infections and had to bail. YOu may want to consider this scenario.

YOu need a way to keep your feet dry especially in a toxic polluted river like the Miss etc. I have never heard of anyone doing an expedition in a SOT and for many reasons.


Some of it
I did 560 miles from Jacobson to Dubuque two years ago. I’d skip the SOT, because even in August, the water was still cold to sit in when it collected in my kayak and it was nice to have the added protection from boat wake. That said, if I did it again, I’d take a canoe, especially for the sections north of Minneapolis/St. Paul, because of the ease of exit and gear removal.

We didn’t filter any water from the Mississippi, so it was nice to have the storage for the gallons of water we had to carry at points between refills. Keep in mind, we paddle 37 miles a day on average with a low water situation in August. So, we were hauling between water sources, so you may have to carry more water if you don’t do that kind of milage. With faster and higher water levels you should be able to do that kind of milage or better.

Here’s something I wrote about it:

Hopefully, this is helpful,


Yep, i am leaning towards a pair of SINKS in the 17’ range. Our Tarpon’s stay very dry until loaded out for a camping trip, but plugging the scuppers takes care of that. I think it may come down to comfort and stability, so i will be “testing” several models of both types before making a decision.

It’s strange, the “opinions” of doing the river range quite a bit, but, those that have done it all the way still have an overall good impression. It certainly ain’t for everyone…


Water filters…
That’s another thing i meant to ask. I haven’t read a journal that mentions filtering. It should be ok in the upper MS. Maybe the silt clogs the filters in the lower? Ceramics can be cleaned so i’m not sure what the problem would be. Seems an easy back-up if you get caught between water sources.


carried our potable water

– Last Updated: Feb-02-06 10:04 AM EST –

Neither of us filtered water.. we carried 5gal foldup water jugs, as well as several soda n gatoraide bottles..we just topd off whenever possible.. this provided all our drinking and cooking water.

next time, ill carry 5 1gal water bottles to give more packin options

we used straight river water for washing up our 1 liter pot after fido did the dishes

if you carry a filter, i would suggest you add to it a sweetwater "siltfilter" to the intake hose just above the pickup. Campmor carries em.

toooooo much silt and…
Dont bother using a filter! It will clog on the lower river and take toooo much of your time.

Plus there is sooo many chemicals and agriculture runoff ( pesticide, herbicides blah blah blah that most filters dont get out at all.

Its tooooo easy to carry a jug of water and fill em up as you go from town to town or park to park.


We didn’t trust the water
The main reason we didn’t filter was that we didn’t trust the water at all, filtered or not. We carried one, just in case, but luckily didn’t have to use it.

For silt, an inline fuel filter from a place like NAPA for cars also works well as a pre-filter.

Most of the time, we each carried 1.5 gallons with us. That’s eight extra pounds of weight in the kayaks, but it was worthwhile just for the ease of mind.

BTW, we almost always were able to stop in a town for a hamburger lunch. That was a huge treat!