This past weekend I completed an overnight ski and packrafting trip that's been on my radar for quite some time. I skied twenty miles (half snowmachine packed road, half untracked trail) in to the Middle Fork of the Flathead, then packrafted a comparable distance back out (rapids to easy class III, with an extended portage around a class IV section). Conditions came together perfectly: a warm spell a week ago flushed out any worry about ice jams, while cool temps this past week firmed up the snowpack and brought the river down to a calm level. The following is a discussion of my gear, what worked, and what didn't.
-Light soft shell pants w/ instep loops, cap 2 long johns
-Cap 2 shirt, Boreas hoody, R3 vest, Xenon jacket, Ozo anorak
-Swix beanie, OR Endeavor mitt, OR Omni gloves
Overall this worked well. Bringing the Ozo and drysuit is redundant, but there was a chance of snow/rain the first day so it seemed prudent. The drysuit is heavy and takes up a ton of space, but given how cold it was the safety margin was welcome and prudent. I still got plenty cold, and on the second morning (when spray was freezing on my pack) was wearing everything under it. The Omni/Endeavor combo worked well to keep my hands warm and mostly dry while paddling. One thing about drysuits, you can't use jacket hoods, so I needed an additonal warm hat. The Swix is an acrylic/wool blend that is quite warm, covers my ears totally, and stays put.
In retrospect I wouldn't change anything.
-Rossignol BCX11 boots
-Injinji lightweight crew, sealskins
This was a tricky one, as the Rossis are mostly waterproof and I knew I'd get at least a bit of water in the boots entering and exiting the raft. The boots and socks got fairly wet on both days, but the only time my toes were cold was on the second morning before dancing around camp warmed them up. Far from an ideal packrafting rig, but it got the job done.
Skiing wise, the Rossis are a great boot for rugged nordic. They stride great and have enough beef for survival snowplows, stems turns and side-slipping. I'm interested to see if they'll be more waterproof when I seal all the external seams.
-Fischer Outbound Crown (169cm, from a few years ago), Voile Mountaineer
-MYOG 138cm poles
I really like these Fischer skis. They have a full sintered base with the pattern routered in. Full metal edges, and quite stiff overall. They have good glide and skate pretty well, and the short for me length is easy to maneuver and pack on the boat. Full edges were mandatory given the icey crust found in many places once I got off the road. Poles are a pair of old alu skate poles I bought for 5 bucks at a ski swap. I cut them to length, replaced the tip with a Leki tip and powder baskets, glued on a cork grip (old BPL stock, from the Stix series) and added a second lower grip via bike bar tape. They're a bit short for striding ideally, but good enough. The second grip is at my ideal turning level. I don't use straps, so I can switch positions on the fly. They're stiff and weigh just a hair over 8 oz each, and the price was right.
-2010 Yukon Yak with deck, custom ski attachments, and thigh straps
-210 Werner Shuna
Not much to say here, the Yak and Shuna are tried and true favorites. The ski rigs worked well, and my first outing with thigh straps (I just used 3/4" webbing, I don't have plans to roll) was positive. The PFD is pretty generic, save that I moved the back padding up (double layer on the upper half, none on the lower) so it wouldn't push the deck down and cause water to pool.
-2012 Golite Jam 50L
-MYOG synthetic quilt
-cutdown ridgerest with 1/8" thinlight glued to top
The Jam was fully maxed out on this outing, right at the edge of its abilities w/r/t to both size and weight. A bigger, beefier pack would have been better. The night was clear, so I slept under the stars. It got colder than I thought it would, so a warmer bag and pad would have been welcome. Stars and full moon were amazing.
-cat can alc stove, BPL 900 pot
I never learn: bring a cartridge stove for packrafting! The speed with which you can get hot drinks is always worth it.
The only other crucial misc stuff was a good firestarter to get the warming fire roaring Saturday night, and a small tube of UV cure Aquaseal to fix the leak that spring in my main elbow valve Sunday morning. The latter is weird stuff. I don't like it for at-home repairs, but given how fast it cures (if you have direct sun) it's hard to argue against it for field use.
Any questions, fire away.