Aug 3, 2016

Addison's Scale, Gear List, Owyhee River

I've been done with my Owyhee trip for a week now. Since starting work on the Oregon Desert Trail late last year it's been my goal to hike/packraft the entire 750 miles. This Owyhee chunk has me up to 425 miles, and I'll complete the trail in September with the section between Bend and Plush, Oregon.

For a packraft alternate in the Owyhee canyon, I'll be putting together specifics on which sections are suitable at low water to paddle; from 3 Forks to the area just after Iron Point I would recommend paddlers be comfortable scouting and running low flow to at least Class III. From Five Bar to 3 Forks and from Iron Point on I think less experienced paddlers would be fine (200 cfs and less). Stay tuned for more details.

All this rating of rapids in a remote canyon however is a bit of a faulty science. After talking with Kirk at length about what a Class III looks like road-side, compared to a Class III in a canyon days away from civilization, it seems like there could be a better rating system. Not all rapids are equal depending on your surroundings. 

He shared this video with me about Addison's scale that separates rapids or rivers into ratings based on the difficulty, danger, and exposure. Based on this rating boaters can get a much better picture of the true risk involved in a rapid or river.

For example, with the trip I just completed at low flow on the Owyhee, there wasn't too much difficulty in the rapids, definitely some maneuvering and scouting, so I'd rate it a difficulty of Class III. The danger - risk of injury or death, was also in the realms of 3, however I think some of the portages may have been 4, getting around The Ledge, Half Mile, and Widowmaker involved some serious rock scrambling, lifting and lowering of the boat, climbing...even being very careful I slipped and cracked my tailbone good on one portage. Risk can be high, so I'm inclined to go with a 4. As for exposure, you are far far away from help on the Owyhee. If I had to hike out it would be days to help. I had a Delorum Inreach beacon, so that could have brought help to me, but that could take at least a day as well. So for exposure I would give the Owyhee a C rating. So for the Owyhee at low flow I give it a Class III-4-C rating.

Now for my gear list. I definitely had some extras that I should have brought, but 4 pairs of socks??? Don't know how that happened. I brought 2 throw bags, but didn't need 2. So below is mostly what I brought, but leaving off the extraneous things that I regretted bringing.

ItemSpecific ItemWeight
PackSix Moon Designs Flex Pack 51 oz
PackraftAlpacka Llama with Cargo Fly8 lbs (with added thigh straps, back band and other modifications)
PaddleWerner Player 4 piece40.5 oz
HelmetSweet Protection Strutter14.1 oz
PFDAstral Hybrid (no longer available, sob, I want one!! I used Kirk's for the trip)
Throw bagKirk made a small one
Bow bagKirk made me one
Patch kitTenacious tape, aqua seal, boat patches
Sleeping PadGossamer Gear Air Beam 3/4 Wide (Air Beam is not available anymore)11.7 oz
Sleeping BagWestern Mountaineering Ultralight 20 degree29 oz (I need to get a summer quilt, this was too warm)
Ground ClothTyvek5 oz
ShelterSix Moon Designs Deschutes Cuben Fiber7 oz (I should have brought a free standing net tent)
StakesTOAKS Titanium stakes x61.3 oz
PolesBlack Diamond Z-Poles with foam for tips when storing in boat17 oz
Cook PotTOAKS Titanium 1100ml Pot4 oz
SpoonOboz plastic spoon/spork1 oz
StoveTOAKS Titanium Backpacking Wood Burning Stove7.9 oz
French PressI bought at REI 10 years ago, I use plastic inner cup
Water ContainersPlatypus Hoser 1.8 liter3.4 oz
Vapur 1 Liter Bottle1.4 oz
Water FilterSawyer Mini2 oz
Water treatmenteye dropper of bleach
Camera/PhoneGalaxy S55.1 oz
Lifeproof Case1.6 oz
GoPro 3 (3 batteries)(I lost my GoPro day 2)
External BatteryAnker 2nd Gen Astro E510.9 oz
USB charger & 2 charging cordsVerizon7 oz
GPS/BeaconDeLorum InReach7 oz
UmbrellaSix Moon Designs Silver Shadow8 oz
HeadlampPetzel Tikka RZP Rechargable Headlamp4 oz
Stuff SacksOR UltraLight Dry Sack1.6 oz
KnifeGerber US11 oz
Bag LinerTrash compactor bag
JacketMontbell Alpine Light Down Parka11.8 oz
Patagonia Hoodini4.3 oz
Outdoor Research Helium II5.5 oz
hatHikertrash trucker hat2 oz
Outdoor Research Pinball Hat2.7 oz
First AidMisc
Long sleeve shirtOutdoor Research Reflection sun shirt7.5 oz
PantsOutdoor Research Ferrosi Pant
SkirtPurple Rain Skirt
Long johnsOutdoor Research Essence Tights5.2 oz
SocksX3 pairs Point6 merino socks(should have just brought 1 pair of socks)
ShoesOboz Luna12.6 oz
Luna Sandles - Mono
Rain skirttrash compactor bag
MittensGordini Stash Lite Touch Mitt
GaitersOR Gortex Gaiters10.2 oz


  1. What an adventure! Oregon has some of the most incredible places for outdoor adventures.

  2. Very nice adventure! Would love to travel to the US and packraft some of the places you have been! And you should take a trip to Norway! We have some pretty amazing packrafting rivers :)

    1. thanks for reading, we'd love to make it to Norway one of these days, I've done some hiking there, but I imagine the boating is pretty spectacular!