If you have been following my series on the Devils River you are probably asking yourself, "Why is it so hard to go to the Devils River"? Well, I'm not sure if it is really hard, or if it just takes a lot of preparation depending on how you look at it. Just in case you haven't been following the "Preparing for the Devils River" series, here are the two previous articles from the series along with my main article over the Devils River and a link to a video:
In this article on the Devils River, we will focus on what you should bring with you both out on the water and while at camp. Although, this will mainly focus on using the point of access of the Devils River State Natural Area along with camping here, all of this information applies to wherever you may be accessing the river.
The first things I like to focus on are the necessities of safety...the things that you hope you never use, but want to have a lot of. For the most part, safety is all in being prepared and cautious about your surroundings. However, accidents do happen, so it is good to have some gear to help you with that type of situation. Here are my recommendations:
High Powered Flashlight - a flashlight can always come in handy whether in an emergency situation or just looking in your cooler for a drink. Although you can get carried away with flashlights, I think a waterproof flashlight with 150+ lumens is a good way to go. Any brighter than this and your battery will go out real fast, and any dimmer and you might not have what you want. I use an Insight HX200 flashlight which is waterproof and has 200 lumens of light.
First Aid Kit - a first aid kit is an absolute necessity. You don't have to have some humongous kit that can handle any type of emergency, but more so a kit that will allow you to cover the majority of problems that may arise and help you stabilize someone in the case of major emergencies for transportation to a hospital.
Water - water is just a plain and simple got to have item. However you bring it, make sure you have plenty of it and a good way to haul it around.
Spare Rope - this may seem like a Hollywood item of safety, but having about 50 feet of spare rope can come in handy for a variety of reasons. You do not need heavy duty rope, but rope that can support 2x your body weight is a good approximation.
Noise Maker - a noise maker in this case refers to a whistle or air horn, in the case that should something catastrophic happen, you can produce a loud noise in order to catch the attention of a paddler, bystander, or homeowner. This should only be used in an absolute emergency though.
Pocket Knife - a pocket knife is another very useful tool to have. Make sure you have a sharp one, and I like one that has at least a 3 inch blade.
Life Jackets - Life Jackets are extremely vital to visiting and paddling the Devils River. The chance that you will actually need a life jacket in a life threatening situation is rare, but nonetheless, it certainly can come mighty helpful when worse comes to worse. I like the life jackets that MTI Adventurewear makes because they are very durable, comfortable, and lightweight.
Ankle Brace - this might sound a little weird, but due to the Devils River being almost one hundred percent rock bottom, there is a chance you will slip and twist an ankle. Having an ankle brace can help you to safely make it through your journey in a minor sprain, or allow you to reach safety in a more serious situation.
The next set of gear you'll want to focus on is the gear that relates to your specific journey. If you are fishing, you will obviously want all of your fishing gear. If you are a photographer, you will want to make sure you have the appropriate camera equipment. To simplify things, I will break this down into three categories: fishing, camping, and photography.
Fishing Poles - there are a wide variety of fish to catch on the Devils River, check for a later article on fishing the Devils River to see what kind of fish to target.
Fishing Licenses - although the chances of a game warden stopping you is pretty slim, nonetheless, be legal and make sure you have your license with you at all times
Tackle - have a wide assortment of lures and anything you think you might possibly through. You cannot simply run to Bass Pro Shops and pick up some stuff for the next day.
Tackle Boxes - of course it is a little hard to fish without your tackle boxes, make sure you have all the tackle boxes you will need while at the same time taking as minimum as possible
Pliers - two pairs of pliers are a necessity. It is always good to have many pliers stored in safe locations
Fishing Line - you will want to have all of your reels pre-spooled along with another set of line for each reel. If you use different lines for different rod and reel combos, make sure you have an appropriate amount of spare line, as a terrible backlash on a bait caster can sometimes require a total line resoling.
Tent - a nice size tent with a rain fly is a must if you are camping. You won’t want a tent that is too big, but you also want to be comfortable.
Sleeping Gear - this includes stuff like a pillow of some sort, blanket or sleeping bag, and anything of this nature that you would use to sleep. An air mattress or foam padding would also apply
Waste Management - there are two types of waste that you will have to take care of, trash and human waste. Bring multiple trash bags and a method to store human waste in a sealed container. Also be sure that all of this is most definitely going to stay put in case of a tip over. You do not want trash and human waste to fall into the most pristine water in Texas
Lantern - a lantern or some sort of wide area emitting light is crucial for seeing during the night. A flashlight is a must as well.
Spare Clothes - you are camping so some spare clothes may be a little farfetched, but it is much more sanitary and comfortable to switch into some fresh dry clothes periodically.
Cooler - you will want a cooler to store all of your food and drinks in. Remember to use one that is small as possible that will still get the job done.
Food - I will leave it up to you to decide what type of food to bring, but jerky, peanut butter, bread, and granola bars are a good start.
Drinks - if you bring nothing else, bring water, but Gatorade, Powerade and other sports drinks are also appropriate.
Camera - typically a DSLR, but this can be just a plain old point and shoot camera if you’re wanting to simply capture some great moments.
Video Camera - if you have a DSLR, that will work for this as well if you are experienced with shooting video, but if not an action camera like a GoPro or even your phone can work, but if you plan on making a film, you will probably want to dig a little deeper than a phone's camera.
Tripod - this is a must for filming, but if you are not filming, you may want to go with a monopod to help you capture photos with a steady hand. If you are confident with your own ability in capturing photos without a monopod, then by all means free hand it.
SD Cards - you will want to have plenty of space to store all of your great memories. Depending on what you are using, make sure you have either a large enough SD card capacity or several SD Cards which add up to a lot of memory, or micro SD cards for some phones and action cameras
Spare Batteries - have plenty of juice so that you won’t miss out on a picture perfect moment. For DSLR's, this isn't a huge problem unless you are shooting a picture every five seconds all day long, but for shooting video, battery power can diminish rapidly.
Waterproofing - this is another broad term, but make sure you keep all your gear dry and safe from the elements whether it be a fancy waterproof case, or even a zip lock bag.
For the most part, this will be the majority of the gear that you will want to make sure and have. There is a lot more that you can bring though, so to cover this ends and odds, I will include a PDF below of the checklist that I used for going to the Devils River. Some of these things might not apply to you, and there may be some things that are not on the list that apply to you. Either way, it is your responsibility to make sure you are ready to go.
As you probably have figured out, once you've got your checklist, you are all ready to go considering you have read my previous posts on preparing for the Devils River. Be sure to check back soon though, as you can see some of my personal media and articles on the Devils River. Until then, be safe and go catch some fish.