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Whitewater Kayak Gear

Please download and review the packing list above. If you conclude that you are missing some equipment and clothing we have prepared this webpage in affiliation with Patagonia, REI, Backcountry, Mountain Surf and Altrec Outdoors to help you select and purchase gear for your trip. This following examples will also serve to show you what we feel is the "ideally outfitted" kayaker for Patagonia, Chile. Whatever gear you decide to bring with you keep in mind that the Futaleufu valley is a rugged and remote destination that will test your clothing & equipment. Durability and reliability are key in determining what items to take. If something breaks and needs to be replaced you likely won't be able to do it in Chile. As of August 2005 all of the items listed below were in stock. In some cases these links will take you directly to the item pictured and others will bring you to the storefront in which you can find them. Try to place orders with these websites a few weeks beforehand in case of the need to exchange items or in case of back orders.

The Futaleufu will be relatively warm but we still recommend that all kayakers come down with a drytop because we will be on the water all day and staying dry on the Futaleufu is next to impossible. We recommend drytops made by Patagonia for their endurance and design. The Kokatat Whirlpool is also a well tested model. We prefer long sleeves because of the intensity of the sun in Patagonia.

Having the correct layering under the drytop is important. Patagonia's short sleeve water heater top works well for this purpose and can be used a stand alone piece on hot days. Our second favorite is the Mysterioso Top from REI.

For colder days paddlers will want to increase their layering with a Capilene or other synthetic top. Immersion Research makes both long and short sleeve base layer shirts as does Kokatat.

Along with your drytop and base layer we reccomend neoprene "rodeo shorts" for the Futaleufu. These will keep you warm enough on most days and provide a surface that will readily grip the outfitting of your kayak. Both Patagonia and NRS make excellent shorts.

Booties are an essential for the Futaleufu. They will allow you to easily scout rapids and portage around drops you might not want to run. Some playboats are too small to fit into with booties on, but should you decide to paddle a larger kayak you will be happy you brought them. Our favorite is the NRS Attack Shoe from Altrec Outdoors.

For the Futaleufu we recommend full flotation life vests. In the event that you come out of your kayak a low volume vest or squirt vest won't give you the needed bouyancy. If you are coming on our swiftwater rescue course consider investing in a rescue vest. Some of our favorites by Lotus Designs are pictured below.

The Chilean Navy requires that all paddlers on the Futaleufu carry a river knife and a safety whistle. (Make sure you pack your river knife in your checked baggage.) For those participating in our guide school you might want to consider a River Tow to help with kayak rescues.

More accessories you might need on the river. Noseclips for playing and rolling on the Futaleufu. (Be sure to bring an extra set in case you lose one.) We have many throw bags but you may want to bring a small one of your own. A nalgene water bottle is an essential for staying hydrated in Chile.

Once you get tour or kayak camp on the Futaleufu we will immediately start outfitting our boats for the upcoming days of paddling. You will need to come with all the foam padding you will need for your kayak because we have a very limited supply on hand (we supply the adhesive). You will also need kayak float bags and a small roll of duct tape.
For your dry top we recommend you bring along a spare set of gaskets and a tube of Aqua seal incase of an emergency. Give your current gaskets a coat of Armor All before heading down to help restore flexibility and protect them from the sun.

Most kayakers bring a personal dry bag to carry river essentials they want to keep dry. We found this great waterproof camera case from Aquatec.

For paddles we have had great experience with Advanced Technology Paddles (ATs). Their ergonomic design and solid construction are a great choice for the Futaleufu where durability and performance matter. We also have used Werner paddles for many years and can recommend their breakdown paddle for traveling.

Once you have selected the boat you want paddle from the ExChile fleet you will need to find a spray skirt that fits the cockpit. We strongly reccomend Mountain Surf spray skirts with a bombproof fit. You can order them directly from the Mountain Surf website. On their site you will also find convenient sizing chart that lets you cross reference any kayak with any skirt.


When it rains in Patagonia it really rains. Our storms come directly off the Southern Pacific and lose most of their moisture before reaching the Argentine border. You will want to have a good rain jacket in case the weather turns ugly. Check out the jackets from Patagonia and The North Face.

To go with your rain jacket pack along a pair of breathable waterproof pants.

You can expect much of the weather to be warm and sunny. We recommend coolmax or other synthetic materials that are easy to wash and dry quickly.

Nylon or synthetic shorts wear well and dry quickly after getting wet. The North Face makes a long pant version that is perfect for cooler nights and to keep the bugs away.

For off the water sandals are the perfect footwear. Check out the latest offerings from Chaco, Teva and Merrell.

If you are going to kayak in sandals having a pair of neoprene socks will help keep your feet warm and protected. Gloves can help guard against blisters and protect the tops of the hands from the intense Patagonia sun.

Sunglasses are essential items for Chile. Make sure your sunglasses have 100% UVA and UVB protection. Some people prefer polarized glasses to better see the river featues. We recommend bombproof retention straps. The ones pictured below actually float in the event you lose your glasses in the water.

The sun is very intense in Patagonia, Chile - much more so than in the Northern Hemisphere. Make sure you come prepared. We recommend a waterproof sun screen, a zinc oxide sun block cream and a lip balm.

Patagonia is a pristine ecological environment. While spending time with us we ask that our guests try to preserve the environment as much as possible by using biodegradable products. We recommend Dr. Bronners and other similar soaps and shampoos for our camp.

You will need a flashlight at our kayak camp that will allow you to get from your tent to the dining lodge and various other destinations. A headlamp allows you to keep your hands free to carry other items or do other things that a simple flashlight does not.

If you are bringing a tent down to Chile make sure it is a three season with a full rainfly. Tents without a full fly just don't stand up to the weather. The days and nights in Patagonia can be beautiful but when the weather turns the rain can be intense. We recommend tents with double walls to keep out the wet. Below are some that we thought would work well in our region.

Before your trip make sure that your tent is fully waterproofed and seam sealed. We recommend weatherproofing even brand new tents. If yours has not been done in a few seasons it is worth the time to recoat it to make sure you don't end up spending the week in a leaky tent.

For sleeping bags we recommend synthetic fill bags over down fill. Patagonia is a wet region that can cause down to attract moisture and compress causing loss of loft. The bags we found most comfortable are those rated between 35 - 50 degrees.

We like the lightweight ThermaRest because of its compactness, portability and comfort..

Waterproof single person bivy sacks can be a great option for those who like to sleep under the stars. If you elect to go the bivy option we recommend you bring an extra large rain tarp to throw over the bivy incase of a prolonged storm.


Expediciones Chile provides first class adventure travel trips in Patagonia Chile. Try rafting Chile on the famous Futaleufu River. Torres del Paine, Cerro FitzRoy, and Las Glaciares trekking Patagonia trips. Horseback Riding Chile in the rugged mountains of the Patagonia Andes. Try mountain biking in Patagonia, Chile and Argentina. Kayak in Chile on the Futaleufu river. Sea kayaking in Patagonia from the Andes to the Ocean. Get kayak lessons at our kayak school or swift water rescue training on Chile’s greatest river. Fly fishing in Chile has never been better from our CondorNest fly fishing ranch or Lago Yelcho. Ski Argentina, Chile and Patagonia during the Summer. Eco tours and yoga adventure travel vacations. Get information on Patagonia seasons, maps and our secrets of Patagonia tour all from our website.

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