As I mentioned last night, a post about what can be found in my river bag seemed like a good idea. It was particularly easy to put the pictures together since the whole mess was completely damp after yesterday’s rainy day on the river, so I had the bag completely exploded all over. As I was eyeing the pile of stuff on the kitchen counter, it occurred to me that it is hard to believe that all that stuff actually fits in the bag.
When I decided I needed to put together a river bag, it was because I was so envious of Jeri’s river bag. It seemed like a magical entity from which all sorts of useful and essential items emerged at various points of time, which she always referred to as “the accoutrements of finer living.” Since I knew that I wasn’t always going to be floating with Jeri, and that a properly appointed river bag can be used for other activities as well, such as hiking in the back country or traveling off the beaten path somewhere, I decided I needed to put together my own bag.
The first order of business was to find a bag, and the first one I acquired worked pretty well except it was too deep and things got lost in the bottom of it, and it also wasn’t really big enough for my purposes. I finally found what amounts to the perfect bag at Bass Pro Shop, in the hunting section. This bag is a shooting bag, and it is designed to hold your lunch and all the things you might need for a nice morning hunting turkeys or squirrels out in the woods.
It has a large center compartment on a belt that is designed to strap around your waist. As you can see, there are also two beverage holders. The strap is perfect for attaching the bag to the canoe by looping it around a thwart. It would not do to have your source of all emergency supplies sink to the bottom of the river if you happened to flip your canoe.
See the front flap with the duck head? If you flip that open, you find a very useful compartment full of little pockets with velcro closures. That is the section of the bag I use as a first aid kit.
Now, a photograph of everything that is in the bag on a daily basis.
At the top of the photo is my container of sunscreen and my waterproof binoculars. I had an extremely nice set of small binoculars for birdwatching, but they were not waterproof and after I flipped my canoe they completely filled with water. Jim took them apart and dried out all the lenses and prisms, and then put it all back together again, but the alignment of the optics was never the same after that. He bought me a set of waterproof ones for my birthday shortly after I ruined the original set.
Just below the sunscreen on the left is a pair of plastic bags that look sort of non descript. They contain some of the most important equipment I take with me.
There is a bag that always contains dried fruit of some sort and nuts. Right now it is sporting apricots and pecans. The three tubes are minature bubble wands with bubble mixture. I got them at one of my clients’ wedding, and I find the bubbles to be invaluable for calm sunny days when floating down a long pool.
Continuing on with the inventory, next to that are a pair of little jars, one has Carmex lip balm, the other a supply of my very own personal hand made first aid salve. The tangled up black cord next to them is attached to a signalling whistle. Moving over to the far left you see the bag with an emergency rain cape in it. Right next to it are a few Halls cough drops. Sometimes nothing but a nice cough drop will do. Continuing across on the same level, there is a jar of tea tree oil, and one with nu-skin next to it. The small white jar is full of aspirin and ibuprofen. Just above the jars (with a blue handle) is a small ball point pen. Then there is a container with toothpicks, a lid opener for aluminum cans (red handle), a corkscrew with a knife and a can opener attached, a square container of dental floss, the whistle, a compass, a quartz crystal from Arkansas, a box of matches and a small empty zip lock bag in which I put my camera battery when I take my camera. Back to the left again, and in a plastic bag, there are sterile bandages, and bandaids in several sizes. On top of that bag is the tape for attaching the sterile bandages, and a blister packet of dye free benadryl. Just below it is a blister pack of immodium (anti diarrheal). Moving on across, there is a packet of alka seltzer, a needle in a piece of cloth with some tweezers behind it, a set of nail clippers, a small brush for getting in between your teeth, and several packets of emergen-C electrolyte powder. Last on the left is a plastic bag that contains toilet paper, a folded up piece of newspaper for starting fires, and a small laminated notebook with a stub of pencil in it. Lastly, in front is a black stretchy ankle brace.
Here is the bag with the first aid supplies partly loaded into the front flap area.
Zip up the sides, and the sterile bandages and ankle brace fold neatly into it.
All the rest of the stuff goes into the large main pocket. Note that there is enough room left over I can get my camera (packed neatly in a quart ziplock freezer bag for water security) in there when I want to take it along. My sunglasses stick down in there handily also.
What it does not have right now and should have is the emergency space blanket and a flashlight. I usually transfer my tiny LED flashlight from my purse to the river bag when I’m using it. I gave the space blanket to Jesse and have not replaced it yet.
What it ought to have in a blue sky world is a PDA loaded with the Complete Oxford English Dictionary, the Complete Audubon Bird Guide, the wildlife and plant identification data base from the Missouri Department of Conservation, the Audubon Guide to North American Wild Flowers, and the Encyclopedia Britannica. What it will never have is a cell phone of any sort because most of the time there is no cell phone service down under the bluffs along the river so it is pointless to have one along anyway and besides, when I am floating I don’t really want to talk on the phone. Or twit. Or whatever that thing is everybody is doing so frantically nowadays.
The one fly in my ointment of this perfectly satisfactory bag is it is not waterproof. It is slightly water resistant, but when the canoe flips the bag gets wet, which is why everything that could be harmed by immersion is in waterproof containers, like my fancy binoculars should have been.
That is a pretty well appointed river bag, has stood me in good stead not only on the rivers of Missouri but in the high country of Colorado and the urban and back country all over the world. A word to the wise: This is the sort of bag that you should put into your checked baggage. This little collection is guaranteed to give airport sercurity personnel heartburn.
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