Team NRS paddler Stephen Wright shares some sage packing tips, as well as his odd desire to pay more in a quest to push his paddle bag to its limits.
I recently traveled to Uganda to do some warm-weather, big-water kayaking on the mighty White Nile. This was my fourth trip to Uganda, and I almost managed to accomplish one of my lifetime bucket-list items: to get my get my NRS Whitewater Paddle Bag over the 50 lb. airline checked bag limit. As the scale registered 43 lbs., I felt a sense of let-down, but quickly laughed to myself about what a ridiculous situation this was. I decided that the time had come for me to explain how I’ve utilized my NRS Whitewater Paddle Bag for well over 50 kayaking-related flights over the past 10 years.
When I fly for kayak trips, I’m always doing a balancing act with my baggage space, my kayaking gear, my clothes, my camera equipment, and maybe even a kayak. In terms of priorities, I can be pretty happy borrowing or renting a kayak similar to what I normally use once on location. I can skimp on clothes – maybe even borrow a PFD – but I always take MY paddles; it’s just too hard of an adjustment to get used to another brand, model, feather angle, or length. Fortunately, the NRS Whitewater Paddle Bag makes it easy to bring them with me – I’ve had up to 4 paddles in there without an issue. This puts me in a potentially tight baggage situation, though: I’m forced to use the paddle bag as one of my precious checked bags (luckily, it usually gets checked for free based on it’s similarity to a ski bag). I’ve spent years figuring out how to maximize my use of space in my paddle bag with everything imaginable to cut down on the need for excess bags.
You’d be surprised at what’s possible to cram into one paddle bag. On my latest trip, for example, I managed to fit the following into my paddle bag: 2 AT2 SL 196 cm paddles, 1 AT2 SD 196 cm paddle, 1 Goal Zero Sherpa 120 battery pack and 27m foldable solar panel, a bike lock, a bike tool, a large Manfrotto photo tripod and head, a 24″ video slider, a huge beach towel, 1 pair NRS Shock Socks, 2 NRS rashguards, 3 pairs of board shorts, one NRS Flux/Mountain Surf Drydeck, one MS Sprayskirt, 1 pair 5.10 basic shoes, and a few Thera-Bands for shoulder PT.
The best way to choose what can fit in the paddle bag is to go for your smallest, heaviest items, then your soft goods – slowly add them after the paddles are in place. The soft goods actually protect your blades. The good news is that NRS uses a super heavy-duty zipper, and I’ve never had a bag open up on me despite really over filling them.
I hope this article helps you see the world from your kayak, or has at least helped you waste a few minutes when you should have been working.
Live from Golden, CO,