When Trent and I initially told our parents about this trip let’s just say excitement was not the first emotion they exhibited. Four months later and not much has changed. We’re still doing the trip, and our parents are not so silently voicing their displeasure. So why are they not beaming with pride for their two adventurous sons? According to them (and they’re probably right, but don’t tell them that) the trip is unsafe. To put their minds at ease we’ve tried to make safety our top priority. For anyone wondering what that does to a wallet here’s the list (and cost breakdown) of everything we’re bringing for safety purposes, and a few items we’re still considering.
The Chart (Keep scrolling for a more detailed description of each item)
What Made the Cut:
Stohlquist EBB Life Jacket: $75
Arguably the most important item in the safety category so there's a reason it's the most expensive. It's also the piece you have the most leeway with. Thanks to some insight from my friend in the Coast Guard (here's to you Mr. Dan Trainor) I learned the only thing you truly need to look for is the USCG stamp of approval. Once you locate the seal it's all about finding something that's comfortable. That way you're more likely to wear it than use it as a seat cushion. For canoeing/kayaking your best bet is a type III life jacket or PFD. I personally felt more secure in the Stohlquist, but those looking to save a few bucks could look at the highly rated Onyx MoveVent for $60.
Seattle Sports Pump: $20
It's a fact of life (such as no one likes cooked vegetables- or is that just me?) water will accumulate in your canoe. The trick is keeping an eye on that before you sink to the bottom of the river. You can get pretty fancy with one of these, but we just went with a simple hand pump design.
Davis Emergency Deluxe Radar Reflector: $28
Unless you're an avid boater you've probably never heard of this item. It turns out a canoe looks the same as debris on a ship's radar. Since they don't get out of the way for a fallen log this could be a problem if the captain doesn't physically see you. So with this little guy you will appear much bigger on their screen. Problem is it works better the higher up it's placed, and since we can't attach a mast to our canoe I'm not sure how much good it'll do. However, since our parents believe a barge is how we'll meet our untimely demise we decided to add this to our gear.
(This is what they look like)
Frontiersman Bear Spray: $35
Since I don't feel comfortable carrying a gun (plus my mother would kill me if I got one) I figured this was the next best thing. While it's designed for bears I got it with the idea it could help us if we ever encountered any troublemakers.
Fox 40 Sonik Blast: $9
I'll be honest I might have overpaid on this one. I wanted to make sure people could hear us if we got into any actual trouble, and as you (should) know screaming in the woods doesn't do you a lot of good. I plan to attach this, "Iron Man Whistle" to my life jacket, and from the reviews I've read it sounds like the astronauts will be able to hear me when I blow this.
(There she is in all her whistle glory)
On the Chopping Block:
Throw Bag: $20 - It's a piece of water rescue equipment I learned to use in my firefighter training. However, it's more for swift water rescue which is not something you'll find on the Mississippi River.
VHF Radio:$25-$100 - This would allow us to hear all boat traffic, and in a pinch let us call for help. But, keeping this charged looks to be more trouble than it's worth.
Flares: $18-$30 - I'm currently filing this under the, "overkill" category. I was on the fence until Mr. Trainor (remember he's our Coast Guard friend) said he wouldn't bring them if he was doing this trip.
That's the list! I'm now expecting our parents (who have to be our two most avid readers) to comment below on how they still don't feel good about this whole thing.