Gear for Multi-day Family Rafting

Below are links to all of the gear mentioned, and sometimes just seen, in the video. In most cases, the companies have sent us the items to check out and review, and only the stuff we like makes it on our trips and into our videos/reviews.

Also, some of the links below include an affiliate link for us to earn a small commission if you click through and buy. Thanks for your support so we can continue to produce unbiased reviews on great gear for family adventure!

Check out how the trip went in our other video.

To get us there, we tested the 2020 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Full review of the truck at Also, the whole trip was shot on the GoPro Hero 8 Black camera. Now that GoPro cameras are waterproof (to 33 feet) gone are the days of keeping the camera in a waterproof case that inhibits the audio. There is a wind noise reducing function, and it worked somewhat, but clearly it still needs some work (and that’s no small feat).

Tarpestry — This is a rugged and durable cover that we usually have as our de facto welcome matt when camping and makes it on most non-backpacking trips—it’s a little heavy for that. On this river trip, you’ll also see it used to cover up during the rain storm that hit while we were floating along.

MSR Front Range Tarp Shelter w. Bug/Floor Insert — As a family of four, I usually size up to at least a 6-person tent for our adventures. But for this trip, because we were striking and setting camp each day, I wanted something that was fast and easy. This tent only has one pole and it doesn’t have to go through any sleeves or get clips connected. The time consuming part is in getting the stakes set—eight of them if you have the bug insert and tarp in play. More details in the video.

Mustang Highwater 60L Waterproof Gear Hauler — We actually had a few dry bags from Mustang and they all worked great. This is the one seen, briefly, in the video. We had two of these and they held everything for our lodging: tent, pads, pillows, sleeping bags, and stuffed animals. The backpack straps were great for hauling the two of them further onshore when that was warranted. It includes a 20L non-dry storage section for, as their website says, well-worn, gear—but it’s also one extra layer to get through. We also had a few of the Bluewater Rolltop Dry Bags of various sizes for smaller items.

MSR Dry Bag — This product does not exist anymore because MSR is now under the same ownership as SeaLine. I’ve had it for years. I got it for my Kongakut river trip and loved the lateral access to make it easier to get what I was looking for.

Kelty Woobie 30 — This bag isn’t in production any more, it’s now the Mistral 30. We love having a zipper on each side and with as warm as it was on this trip, we left both sides unzipped for Rey to sleep in—it felt more like a blanket than a sleeping bag. What we don’t like about this bag is how bulky it is. How does the sleeping bag for the smallest person on the trip only pack down to twice the size of any of the adult bags? Answer: the inexpensive bulky insulation used.

Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite Sol — A classic. A great pad for beginners and seasoned adventurers alike. They’re as un-bulky as a foam pad can be, but they will never puncture and always work.

Marmot Atom — Also no longer available, I’ve had this one a while, but there are some other great options out there.

Sea to Summit Adapter Coolmax Sleeping Bag Liner — A must have for any summer/warm weather camping trips.

Therm-a-Rest Ridgerest — I’ve had this pad for decades. Bomber, nostalgic, and I don’t slip off of it. 

Therm-a-Rest Space Cowboy 45 — Great lightweight warm weather synthetic bag.

Therm-a-Rest Compressible Pillows — Comfortable and they pack down small.

Nemo Punk Kid’s Sleeping Bag — Also no longer on Nemo’s website, which is a shame. Rosie loves hers.

REI Co-op Flash 3-season Sleeping Pad — Not our first choice for the kids to sleep on, but it’s what we had. Still, a great lightweight inflatable pad.

Gerber Freescape Camp Kitchen Kit — Also, discontinued. We’re trying to get more info from Gerber on why and if it will come back. I reviewed some other options like this for Gear Junkie.

NRS Chinook Fishing PFD — Anglers get all of the pockets and that’s why I wanted this vest. When I’m at the oars and Jordan is managing the kids, the last thing she needs is for me to ask her to do something for me. The pockets really help with that. I mention in the video being bummed about how the knife handle overlaps with the corner of the pocket below it. It turns out if the knife is flipped over, that doesn’t happen. But I don’t like the grab motion for the knife in that configuration.

NRS Titanium Pilot Knife — This knife in the titanium version is overkill for the river. It’s designed to repel corrosion in salt water environments. But it works for fresh water and is lighter. It’s also $100 more than the stainless steel version.

Cameron’s Kit — Patagonia Kit for Cameron — The Patagonia Sol Patrol II Shirt is lightweight, airy, and hosts a number of features to help keep the sun off of my skin. The Patagonia  21” Wavefarer Boardshorts were so comfortable I wore them the entire time I was rowing. I used a wet towel to cover my knees when I needed extra sun protection. Only once or twice did I throw on the Patagonia Guidewater II Pants in the evening to ward off some bugs.

Mustang Survival Lil Legends Kid’s PFD — Both kids were in this vest. As mentioned in the video, the one downfall on a multi-day trip like this is how the vest rides up when the kids are in the water and chafes against their chins. A patch of softer material would help.

Ushood Youth Liteside Sun Shirt — This was one of Rosie’s favorite tops for the trip. She really liked the hood and ninja style mask. We loved that it helped protect her neck and arms from the sun. Adult versions are also available.

Patagonia Kit for the kids — Rosie wore the Foxglenn Jogger Pants when she wasn’t in and out of the water. But because they’re thin and quick drying they would be totally fine going in the river. Rey’s blue Capilene Cool Daily Sun Hoody worked great for him.

Reima Hats — Jordan said it all in the video. These are great.

Mustang Survival Dual Floatation Khimera Adult PFD — Jordan was pretty happy with this vest and liked the roo pocket in the front. It has eight pounds of flotation from the foam and a CO2 cartridge and pull tab to bump the vest to 20 pounds of buoyancy when extra flotation is needed.

Lifeproof Fre Waterproof Phone Case — Best case for life on or near water and dusty, sandy, gritty places.

Koala Hangtime Phone Leash — Fits most phones, extendable leash, death-grip clip.

Jordan’s Kit — Mountain Hardwear Women’s Crater Lake LS Hoodie and Mountain Hardwear Chockstone Pull On Pants.

Chaco Z1 Sandals — A must for any river trip.

Yeti Roadie 24 Hardside Cooler — This cooler has proven to be very versatile in our adventure and casual around town lives.

Hydro Flask 12oz Kid’s Widemouth Bottles — Not mentioned, but seen in the video. These are the best kid’s water bottles because of the spillproof design, insulated casing, interchangeable lits with all of Hydro Flask’s wide mouth bottles, and the hard plastic spout to prevent the kids from gnawing it appart.

River Runner Transportation & Raft Rentals — Full accolades at the end of both videos. These guys are great. Based out of Vernal, Utah. Go get your boat or hire them to drop it off or pick it up.

NRS E-160 Self-Bailing Raft — Great boat. It handled the scrapes and bumps of the rocks of the river well, the frame sat securely, and it managed changes in pressure as the temperature rose and fell over the course of the day.

About the author

Adventure Correspondent Cameron L. Martindell is a freelance adventure travel and expedition writer, photographer and filmmaker who founded in 2000. He has contributed to Elevation Outdoors Magazine, The Gear Junkie, National Geographic, The Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Outside, Backpacker, Wired, Australian Geographic, and others. He has been to all seven continents and lived on five of them, including a four-month stint at the South Pole. Cameron has more than 10 years of mountain search and rescue experience, is an Eagle Scout, has been an Australian bush firefighter, competes in sailing regattas, plans national and international youth programs, guides Oregon rafting trips and Australian bush backpacking trips.

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