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What if My Duffel Bag is a Different Size?

By Krystal • April 15, 2021

If you are on a trip that requires a hike into or out of the canyon, please refer to your trip packet for specific information on backpacks/duffels.

We recommend bringing a soft-sided duffel bag that is approximately 12 inches tall, 12 inches wide, and 24 inches long. This equates to around 55 Liters or less to fit your personal items and clothes in. It is okay if your bag has different dimensions as long as the volume is similar and the sides squish down. However, you cannot bring luggage or suitcases. Once you get to the launch, you will put your duffel into one of our large dry bags. These bags already have your sleep kit (sleeping bag, pillow, sheet, and ground tarp) in them, and your duffel bag needs to fit on top. To function correctly, the top of the bag needs to roll down several times. If you have an oversized duffel, it will be very tough to fit into the dry bag and seal it properly against water to keep your gear dry.

Any type of duffel bag can work: there are plenty of high-end, water-resistant duffel bags complete with lash points and multiple straps made for outdoor adventure travel. But in the end, ANY soft-sided bag of the correct size will work, including that old gym bag in the back of your closet. There’s no need to break the bank on a duffel bag for your river trip.

More important than the size of your bag is the 25-pound weight limit. There are a few reasons for this restriction:

  1. If you are packing more than 25 pounds of gear on any of our river trips, you are WAY overpacked. You do not need or want that much stuff in the canyon. Most of our guests wear the same clothing for multiple days. Be sure to check out what we provide and consult your packing list.
  2. If you are on one of our trips with a charter flight, the airlines may charge an excess baggage fee.
  3. Everyone helps to load the rafts in the morning and unload upon arriving to camp in the evening. The heaviest bag does tend to stand out. Plus, you will have to carry your bag to wherever you decide to set up camp each night.

A few items do not need to fit in your duffel bag:


Alcohol does not count towards your weight limit on the river as it will be stored separately. However, it DOES count toward your weight limit on the charter flights. If your trip starts at Lees Ferry/Marble Canyon you will have a chance to buy beer and boxed wine (not liquor) at Marble Canyon before you head to the river. If you are on our 3 day escape you may want to split up any alcohol weight by adding a few beers to each person’s bag instead of having one person carry it all.

Hiking Shoes

If you bring an additional pair of shoes to use for longer dry hikes, you do not need to be able to fit them in your duffel. Once you get to the river, they can be stored in a separate dry bag that will be used as the “community shoe bag.” This bag will be accessible before side hikes.

Trust us, life is easier if you pack light and can keep your gear together in your duffel bag as you travel to and from the river.

Questions about hiking packs, duffels, and dry bags? Check out the Breakdown on Bags.

No question too small!

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