Spill kit

This is: I would like to list what people put in a spill bag. I just purchased two small waterproof bags to put a set of clothes and shoes in case I dump my canoe in Alaskan waters. As I think about it, I consider putting a stove and space blanket and other things in this.

The point is to have an easily accessible gear bag for quick use.

This is a possibly a question for Cliff Jacobsen! (I’ve emailed him.)

Thanks- Mike

I have a different approach

– Last Updated: Mar-10-16 11:43 PM EST –

You say "The point is to have an easily accessible gear bag for quick use." My approach emphasizes "easily accessible" and eliminates the need for a separate kit for spills. My whole pack (often two packs) will be properly waterproofed (I just use traditional canoe packs with super-heavy-duty plastic liners). Within a pack, any item that's not already very large is organized by category or type of use into sub-packs (these are large, zippered duffle bags). The total number of these sub-packs might typically be 4 to 6. Once I open the main pack, the sub-packs are perfectly accessible, so there's no need to dedicate a particular bag to emergency gear. Also, on any river where the current might hinder recovery efforts, all gear is secured within the boat, so my emergency planning does not include an "I've lost all my stuff" kit.

For day trips, I still bring whatever I might need if things go wrong, but with the actual items depending on the nature of the water and surrounding land. Since I'm carrying a lot less, I'll usually use waterproof bags instead of waterproof packs, but everything inside will still be organized in duffel bags for quick access. At the very least I will have extra clothes, and clothes for unexpected weather conditions, but what I bring in addition will depend on the location and conditions. If I was in the middle of nowhere in Alaska, my list of might-need items would surely be longer. But once again, my overall method eliminates any need for a dedicated spill bag.

I think nearly all the stuff a person would want to have for emergencies, at least for a particular type of trip, should be pretty obvious, but one thing not everyone would immediately think of is a compass, and if not familiar with the general lay of the land, a map. Ever try to walk in a particular direction through the woods when the sun isn't visible? That's what the compass is for (or what it WOULD be for if I ever had to hike out instead of paddle out).

Something for quickly starting a fire is one of the obvious things to bring, and there was a recent discussion here that included many of the common methods that people use for starting fires.

There is always the possibility of drift
off of your gear or boat. If your gear is tied in you have the challenge of getting it to shore to get back in

Depending on the sort of water you are on, ( ie how difficult is it to get to shore?) you might consider wearing a ditch kit.

Belted around you. Bryan Hansel has written an excellent article about the contents. Some of these you may be able to omit.


You mention clothing. Alaska is prime drysuit country. If you dump with one on, your underlayers will not get wet and you wont need a bag of clothes.

For some people in some areas it is a very good investment and I think you are in that school. The problem with cold water immersion is that even if you get to shore your hands are not going to work well for lighting that fire.

Dont forget the hat gloves and cold water booties.

I use "Hot Hands"
That’s a product name

They come in a couple sizes, I prefer the "body warmer’ over the ‘hand warmer’ which is half the size.

Open the bag, shake the pouch, you got warmth for 16 hours. Lightweight, waterproof until the bag is opened. Enough to unfreeze your hands so you can work your fire kit or speed up warming once you’re back in dry clothes.

Good article
I bookmarked it. I have a Kokatat back pocket on my PFD but it isn’t big enough for some additional items I’d consider carrying.

get warm fast
my cold weather ditch bag is a small dry-bag containing:

mylar emergency blanket

folding-handle sierra cup

esbit stove & fuel

tea bags

waterproof matches.

I have a larger one with:

water filter

change of clothes (scrubs)

plastic tube tent

small towel

manganese & ferro-cerium

fire sticks

small rain poncho


one mre

the idea is bare minimum.

Kit 1 is to save your life

kit 2 is if I am stuck overnight.

are you having

– Last Updated: Mar-11-16 8:21 PM EST –

sugar, cream with your tea ?

eyeyeyhahah tea !

in the local yokel pdf we carry 2 cliff bars.

a signal mirror


and laser device.

the pdf does need a place for a pint of liquid.

I would add the map n compass if out of site