Backpack Mods for Canyon Hiking
Display Avatars Sort By:
Scott Ireland
(WinterWarlock) - MLife

Locale: Western NY
Backpack Mods for Canyon Hiking on 03/31/2010 05:30:52 MDT Print View

I'm planning to visit a buddy in Utah this summer to hike the Zion Narrows....while reading up on this hike, they mention that a good part of the trail is in the water, some of it waist to chest deep, and they recommend a canyoneering pack, or modifications to your existing pack. The mods they recommend are a series of grommets in the bottom of the pack to let any water drain out after it's been submerged. I don't think this is a difficult thing to add, but wanted to see what everyone thought about it, and if you had any other suggestions.
Thanks!!
Scott

Jennifer W
(tothetrail) - MLife

Locale: So. Cal.
Zion Narrows on 03/31/2010 09:13:17 MDT Print View

It all depends on the flow of the Virgin River on the day(s) of your hike.

When I did it in May one year, from Chamberlain's Ranch, I think the flow was about 40 cfs on both days. It was thigh deep at the highest.

Since we had regular backpacks we just used dry bags for the critical gear, in case of a slip and fall in the water. We never did fall, but these snot-covered, under water bowling balls (as one author puts it) are definitely not the easiest things to walk on.

Now for canyoneering, yes, we have grommets places in the bottom of the packs. But those are heavy duty day packs used only for canyoneering since we are rappelling down waterfalls and doing long swims in order to progress down the canyon. And the grommet method is the best we have found for that sport.

Keep in mind that the flow can change dramatically in the matter of hours; it just depends on the weather up-stream. They have closed the narrows when I have been there so it makes it kind of hard to plan every last detail for a trip like this. The best strategy is to have a window of time in Zion, and plan to do the narrows sometime during that window, when the flow and weather are most likely to cooperate. There will be no shortage of hikes to do when the river flow isn’t cooperating for a Narrows hike.

Any other questions, ask away. I have spent a lot of time in Zion.

Edited, flow was 40 cfs.

Edited by tothetrail on 03/31/2010 10:34:48 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
grommets as drain holes on 03/31/2010 09:55:23 MDT Print View

Scott, Grommets are indeed easy to put in your pack, and if big enough and in the right place are very effective as drain holes. But I don't think you'll need them just for the Narrows.

Drain holes are essential when you're doing lots of swimming, and at even the highest levels at which the Narrows are open (<120 cfs), you won't find much (if any) swimming.

I'd bring dry bags for sure. Unless going in July or August, I'd bring some neoprene socks to keep your feet nice and warm. I would absolutely bring trekking poles. Grommets, take em or leave em.

Edited by DaveC on 03/31/2010 09:56:15 MDT.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Backpack Mods for Canyon Hiking on 03/31/2010 10:36:20 MDT Print View

My wife and I were just there in October. I'd advise that you rent the canyoneering shoes and pole from Zion Adventure Co., so you don't break your own hiking poles on the polished bowling balls in the river. If it's early in the season, and early in the day, the dry pants may be an option too -to prevent hypothermia. My wife used them, and I didn't, but I got chilly at some sections.

We hiked up to Orderville Canyon, and the highest water we saw was crotch/waist-height on me, and that section was in the first 10 minutes in the canyon. Other than that, most of what we saw was maybe knee-high in places.

We used dry bags in our packs, but the water didn't get that high anyway. We used our GoLite Rush packs, and they had grommets in the bottom to drain water.

I think that if you're not wading/swimming with the pack on, having grommets is unnecessary; having a dry bag would be fine, and the pack would drain on its own.

Oh, and my avatar is from Canyon Overlook.

Edited by joegeib on 03/31/2010 10:38:02 MDT.

Scott Ireland
(WinterWarlock) - MLife

Locale: Western NY
Just the help I needed... on 03/31/2010 10:38:35 MDT Print View

I have a number of dry bags in various sizes I use when kayaking, so I should be set with them...always use poles, so I'm good there. I guess the grommets can't hurt, but aren't needed, is what I take away from this.

Now to just find a date that works this summer and I'm all set...

Thanks for the help...

Scott Ireland
(WinterWarlock) - MLife

Locale: Western NY
Neoprene socks.... on 03/31/2010 12:15:15 MDT Print View

Dave -

Anything special for these, or something from NRS kayaking gear OK? They seem to have .5, 2 or 3mm...are these for warmth primarily, or to keep the sand from tearing up your skin inside your shoes?

I found an old thread about the Narrows, with some pics...I really hope I can pull this off because it looks amazing.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Neoprene socks.... on 03/31/2010 12:25:56 MDT Print View

Care to share the thread?

If you rent the shoes from ZAC, they give the neo socks too.

Scott Ireland
(WinterWarlock) - MLife

Locale: Western NY
Thread link on 03/31/2010 12:29:26 MDT Print View

Sure - here it is.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=8677

Partway down is a long post by David Yang, and at the end of it he has a link to his pics.

This site had some good info, and good pics, also

http://www.climb-utah.com/Zion/narrows.htm


Scott

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
neo socks on 03/31/2010 12:38:30 MDT Print View

"Anything special for these, or something from NRS kayaking gear OK? They seem to have .5, 2 or 3mm...are these for warmth primarily, or to keep the sand from tearing up your skin inside your shoes? "

The NRS socks are the best. They are for warmth. In the heat of summer, the water will probably be quite warm. I wore my 2mm NRS socks when I dayhiked the Narrows early last June and was glad to have them.

I also have the .5mm Hydroskin socks, which are more flexible and versatile, though obviously not as warm. I use the Hydroskins for hiking in the wet and snow. A concern with 2 and 3mm socks is that they take up quite a lot of space in shoes, and can cause pinching.

Have fun, the Narrows are fantastic.

Joe Geib
(joegeib) - F

Locale: Delaware & Lehigh Valleys
Re: Backpack Mods for Canyon Hiking on 03/31/2010 13:10:04 MDT Print View

Scott, on my trip I also scored a permit to "The Wave". Unbelievable.

Check it out, if interested.
http://www.blm.gov/az/st/en/arolrsmain/paria/coyote_buttes.html

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: grommets as drain holes on 03/31/2010 17:48:25 MDT Print View

"Scott, Grommets are indeed easy to put in your pack, and if big enough and in the right place are very effective as drain holes."

I have found it a lot easier, and cheaper, to just heat a Phillips head screwdriver over a gas flame and punch holes in the pack cloth. The heated screwdriver goes through pack cloth like a hot knife through butter, and cauterizes the edges in the process so you don't get any unraveling. It's the same principle as burning the end of a cut piece of rope.

Edited by ouzel on 03/31/2010 17:49:39 MDT.