First Long-D Yak Trip

A year ago I decided to get a kayak and found one on craigslist, 5 houses down the street - a Loon 138. Didn’t know much then, but it seems to have been the perfect find, especially considering other kayaks were 45+ minutes away. Came with a nice carbon paddle.

Now I’m prepping for a 5+ day October Allagash trip. I know generally what I need, I’m no stranger to multi-day backpacking trips. But, I thought I would ask some advice from this forum. I’ve done plenty of research and typical recommendations for gear seem to be hatch kits, seat cushions, whiskey. The loon seat seems pretty comfortable compared to other kayaks, and hatch kits might be impossible to find. What else is a common upgrade that makes multi-day paddling more comfortable? I feel like there may be some pretty standard kayak upgrades that I’ve overlooked. Some sort of gear stash for easy-access to cameras and snacks? Something to stop my paddle from rolling around? Rubber waders?


safety accessories

– Last Updated: Aug-19-14 8:01 AM EST –

Your kayak lacks a front bulkhead so the first thing you need is an inflatable flotation bag for the bow. You can also fill it with sealable dry bags with your camping gear inside. But you do need to fill that space, otherwise if you capsize or get swamped by waves, the boat will sink bow down (google "Cleopatras needle kayak" to see what that means.)

Also the boat lacks non-stretchy deck lines to help yourself climb back in -- adding some would be a good move. You can buy pad-eyes and install them by drilling holes and attaching them with rubber grommets or washers and stainless steel bolts and nuts. It's a bit tough to find a sprayskirt for the oversized cockpit on the Loon but having one would also be wise for an extended tour. Oak Orchard sells the Adventure GTX-6.7 size that is supposed to fit the older Loon 138's, scroll down on this link -- runs around $110. I would not want to paddle in October all day with a soaking wet lap.

YOu don't need seat cushions -- raising your center of gravity in the kayak is not advisable.

I'm presuming you have a good PFD and a bilge pump already, right?

Waders are a no-no -- they will fill with water and sink you if you are swept out of the boat in water over your head. Besides which they are uncomfortable to paddle in. Wet suit booties or water shoes that can drain are preferable.

I'm not sure what you mean by your paddle "rolling around". You can slide it under the deck bungees when you aren't using it. If your boat lacks deck bungees, you can add them the same way as I described for the deck rigging.

I don't know who you are asking for advice, but I would not put whiskey on the list of most important items for a kayak tour. A good tent, sleeping bag and pad, a compact compressed gas stove and cooking/eating utensils, water filter and water bottle, and good warm and weatherproof clothing should be your main priorities. October on the Allagash means colder water, possibly even snow. Look at the data for October 2013 -- the temp range on the river was between 33 and 58 degrees with an average of around 50. That is a dangerous immersion situation for which you need to be properly prepared and dressed.

Read up on the dangers of cold water immersion:

Very good response willowleaf
I struggled to write something similar last night and finally gave up and went to bed. You addressed everything I wanted to say plus some boat info. I agree with every point.

Unless the OP specifically wants a cold weather trip I’d put this off till next year personally and pick a little better month. October that far north brings heavy frost at night, even snow is possible as mentioned. I’ve been north of Greenville in Oct with 3" of snow in the morning. Gone by noon but the days get short enough without that that time of year up there. Just sayin.

Thanks for such a detailed response! I think you covered a lot of things I was neglecting. Just to clarify - the waders were to keep dry while making short portages. I think there is a good chance the water levels will be low and some areas may be too shallow to paddle. Won’t know for sure until the week of the trip. I understand cold weather camping, but I appreciate those concerns as well.

Bilge pump, deck rigging, flotation bag. Great advice. I’ll give those all some more consideration. I did mean how to stop the paddle from rolling around while I’m drifting, I didn’t know the bungee trick, thanks. I wasn’t sure about the spray skirt - but thought it would not only be good to help stay dry, but also to stay warmer, as long as the one you mentioned fits properly.

Thanks again, that was exactly what I needed to hear.


Neoprene or Gortex waders
Get off the rubber idea, they don’t store well and are slippery if you walk in the river with them and heavy. And storage I’m guessing is at a premium in your boat with no forward compartment with an access hatch.

What ever you do, enjoy it and report back after your trip.

Kokatat Nomad boots
These are a little expensive but well worth it for launching and portaging:

I invested in a pair a couple years ago and don’t know how I paddled without them – warm and comfortable and great for any type of kayaking.

Yes, a sprayskirt will help you stay warm.

Loon 138 is a nice boat that can hold
quite a bit.

As far as warm winter boots I have had my Chotas (knee high) for several years and use neoprene socks, plus wicking socks (depending on the temps) inside them. Never had my feet get cold. REI used to have one comparable to them but didn’t see them on the link to REI.

clear vinyl bag
for the at hand in cockpit bag…very useful.

Space isn’t too much of a concern, I will be part of a group that will have a few 20’ canoes who are more than willing to take gear. We will probably end up taking turns in each craft. Those paddling boots might be a great idea though. Will report back after. Cheers!


Part of a group
The group thing sheds a new new light on this trip. Changes some otherwise more serious elements about the trip.

A flask of
single malt is never a bad idea.

A fifth of cheap stuff always is.

Check NRS

– Last Updated: Aug-21-14 9:19 AM EST –

I have nothing against Chota boots, but I would compare them to NRS Boundary Boots. I have both and the Boundary boots are more robust for a little less money.

I have a Loon 138 with the very large cockpit and no rear hatch. It has the faux hatch looking thing that Old town might have a kit for, but if it were me, I wouldn't bother with it. For the hatch to be of any real use, you would also have to have a bulkhead. I stuffed some Styrofoam in both ends of the boat and called it good. Unless the boat is loaded heavily, it won't sink all the way anyway, because of the foam layer in the 3-layer poly material.

The Loon 138 is kind of heavy and not at all comfortable to carry on your shoulder, so if you are going to do any longer portaging, you will either need help, or a dolly.

Learn to bow rudder the boat and handling will be that much better.

Not sure what part
of the Allagash you are planning to paddle. But be aware that October in that country is a crap shoot as far as weather. You need to be prepared for the probability of cold weather. You will likely have cold mornings and gloves are good to have - hard to deal with things without gloves on a cold morning. Also, you could even have some snow. If it were me I would carry a four season tent and a low temp rated sleeping bag for warmth.

Definitely bringing gloves! Have some nice cold weather camping gear I will be using for sure. I kind of hope for some snow. It is always a shame when weather is cold and dreary, snow will make it pretty magical.


glacier gloves
A pair of Glacier Gloves (which only cost around $20) are great for cold weather paddling. I love mine.

I completely agree with you on snow. I’ve always loved backpacking and even paddling in winter when snow transforms the wilderness. I’d rather be out in 25 degrees with snow than 45 degrees with rain.

Well, had quite the change of plans. Took two 20-ft Tripper canoes. Quite luxurious. The things I found very helpful were the pair of NRS paddling shoes (there was a lot of low-water areas where we had to step out and drag the canoe) and some cheap work gloves with rubber grips. Also a fine bourbon and a cowboy hat for the sun.

The weather was fasntastic, sunny for 2 days, overcast for 1, a bit of rain on the 4th day. Unseasonably warm. Lots of moose, colorful trees. Epic.

Thank you all for your input!