How to Lighten your Backpack Load for the Bright Angel Hike on a Partial Rafting Adventure
Tips and Tricks by Sharon Hester
The Bright Angel Trail
If your idea of trudging up or down over 4600 feet in elevation gain/loss and 7.5 miles of on the Bright Angel Trail with a loaded pack is not your idea of fun, we understand. It is an absolutely stunning hike that our guests do enjoy, but it sure puts a toll on everyone’s bodies. The Bright Angel trail is no walk in the park and should be taken seriously. To help lighten the load you will be carrying on your back, we have provided some tips on how you can lighten your pack weight if you are doing a partial canyon (Upper trip with hike out or Lower trip hiking into your trip) rafting adventure with us.
Weight of Your Pack
With the helpful tips below, those of you travelling in the summer season of June through August should be able to get your pack weight down to around 20lbs even with water. A good packer can get pack weight down to 15lbs.
If traveling in the shoulder season April, May, September, and October, you should be able to get your pack weight down to about 25lbs and even under 20lbs if you are good at eliminating superfluous gear and leaving items you don’t really need behind.
Here are our tips!
- The first tip is to minimize your gear as much as possible. You really don’t need much on a Grand Canyon Rafting Adventure. The packing list provided for you in your online trip portfolio mentions an upper and lower range of items to bring, choose the lower range. You can always do laundry in the river with our Campsuds biodegradable soap.
- If rafting in the warmer months of June-August, we consider the rain pants and polypropylene bottoms optional for those months. So, if rafting in that period, those are two items you can eliminate, unless you get cold easily.
- Reduce your lotion and potion weight by transferring it into the smallest containers possible. Share these items if a party of two or larger.
- Transfer prescription medications into Ziploc bags. Write on bag name of medication and dose.
- Make one or two of your water containers collapsible, bringing only one rigid plastic bottle and a CamelBak style container(s) for the remainder of the ounces required on your trip.
- Eliminate camp shoes, by using your hiking or your river shoes/sandals (once they are dry) as your camp shoes.
- Bring the smaller sized recommended backpack (32 liters or 2000 cubic inches) as it will weigh less, and you will not be tempted to fill it up with extra gear.
- If you think backpacking is something you will do more in the future, consider purchasing the lightest weight backpack you can afford. See some options here.
- If in a party of 2 or larger only bring one of the AzRA guidebooks we give each person and share it while on trip.
- As a pillow, use your extra clothes in a pillowcase as your pillow.
- Leave behind valuables you do not need on this backcountry trip, such as wallets, purses, computers, ipads and phone (unless using it as a camera). AzRA will store those items along with your non-river luggage/items and they will be waiting for you at the end of your trip. Only bring a small amount of cash (or a credit card) and a copy of your ID.
- Weigh your pack loaded to get as close to the lowest pack weight possible.
- UPPER CANYON ONLY 6- or 7-Day trip: Bring older but still serviceable items that you would be ok with leaving behind before you begin your ascent out of Bright Angel Trail. Some items could be thrown away in the camp garbage, but more likely some of your fellow participants continuing down river on the full canyon adventure will want your half full sunscreen, spare batteries, or hat. Also, the organization Grand Canyon Youth accepts donations of river gear, so you can leave items with your guides and they will donate those items upon return to Flagstaff. Clothing and items such as rain pants, river sandals, fleece wear, pants, shorts, day packs, sun shirts, toiletries, sunscreen, hats, camp pillow, head lamps, etc. are always appreciated by GCY for their loan/supply program for the kids!
We hope these tips will help you make your pack as light as possible, to help you have the most comfortable hiking experience on the Bright Angel Trail as possible. As always, contact us by email or phone with any questions you have for us! And if you have any other pointers to add, comment here for others to see!