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GEAR CHECKLIST For the Lower Clackamas

For a safe and enjoyable float (by boat or tube) down the Lower Clackamas, you need some essential gear and take some basic steps. Here is what ALL persons floating or paddling down the river need to bring and do:

Bring – Safety Big Three

    1. Personal Floatation Device (‘PFD,’ lifejackets, life vests, lifebelts) – this remains the single most important tool for saving lives (hence the name). All people 12 year of age and under must wear a PFD at all times; older people must have a PFD in their boat or on their tube, and it is easily accessible.
    2. Whistle – Preferably attached to your life jacket. By law, each boat must have at least one whistle (same for a tuber). Best for everyone to have one during a float or paddle, since a basic fact is you can be separated from your craft and group. 
    3. Drinking Water

Other suggested items include:

  • Throw rope (for rescuing people who are swimming) – these are sold in most large outdoor stores and outfitter shops. 
  • Snacks – local convenience and grocery stores have everything you need. 
  • Rain or sun hat with brim – sun exposure can be severe on a float (no shade).
  • Sunglasses – ditto
  • First aid kit – important items are band-aids, larger bandages & wraps. Most common injuries on the river occur near the shore (lacerations from thorns, bee stings, twisted ankles). A common on-the-river injury is getting hit with paddles (your own or others), with the worst cases in the mouth. Be careful! 
  • Extra clothing (for warmth, or in the event of an unexpected swim!) – preferably in a dry bag, but can also be stored in plastic bags.
  • Spray jackets or rain jackets – most floating on the Clackamas occurs in the dry summer, but if showers are forecasted 
  • Wicking/quick drying clothes such as fleece and polypropylene as opposed to cotton
  • Extra paddle
  • Pump or bailer (for boats that can fill with water)
  • River knife (especially if you carry rope of any kind: painters, tow belt, or throw bag)
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Dry bags of various sizes – keep dry cloths and phone
  • Paddling gloves or “poggies” to protect from the cold water
  • A wetsuit or drysuit depending on the season
  • Waiters or other waterproof leggings
  • Additional flotation such as “float bags” (some very simple recreational style kayaks do not have flotation. Consider what happens if you capsize- if your boat fills with water, will it float?)
  • A dry toilet system such as a Clean Waste WAG Bag or a groover (especially if intend to picnic or camp on an island or public area)
  • Camp chairs
  • Water cannon (choose your battles wisely)

Regulations specific to boaters 

In Oregon, paddlers are required by law to have:

  1. Wearable Life Jacket

Sailboats less than 16 feet in length and all paddlecraft (canoes, kayaks, stand up paddleboards, etc.) need to carry properly-fitting, U.S. Coast Guard -approved wearable life jacket(s) for each person on board and the life jacket must be readily accessible.  All children 12 and younger are required to wear a life jacket.

Sailboats 16 feet and over must also carry one, Type IV throwable cushion.

  1. Sound Devices​

​A boat less than 39 feet 4 inches (or 12 meters) long, must carry a whistle or a compressed air horn.  It’s easy to attach a whistle to a life jacket!  Both are required equipment. 

  1. Navigation Lights​

Required only when underway or at anchor between sunset and sunrise, and during periods of restricted visibility.

  1. Waterway Access Permit (boats 10′ and longer, including sail between 10′-11’9″)

A waterway access permit is required on boats 10′ long and longer, and sailboats between 10′ and 11′. One permit per boat. Permits are transferrable to other non-motorized boats and children 13 and younger are exempt.