Gear

Canyoning equipment includes standard alpinist climbing equipment, as well as equipment specially designed for canyoning in wet conditions. Additional precautions are always necessary, therefore safety should come first, besides the standard tools and clothing. Food and drink is as important as equipment. In cases where one finds oneself in a situation to depend on outside help, and is forced to wait for a long period of time, additional supplies of food and water are very important. Canyons are very dynamic environments. They may be well lit and easy to move in and navigate one day, but could present an unpleasant surprise the next, with flash floods or darker surroundings. One should therefore always be prepared for the worst and most difficult circumstances, as they may change at a moment’s notice. The canyon can easily become a restricted place with no way out, therefore claustrophobics should think twice. The choice of equipment is one’s own, and it should be of the highest quality, as one’s life depends on it. Lately, an increasing number of manufacturers has started producing canyoning equipment, and there is competition for the leading position on the market in the production of the most successful and innovative equipment. Canyoning equipment can be divided into personal and group equipment, as well as technical and non-technical.

1. PERSONAL

1.1 Non-technical

 
1.2 Technical

 

2. GROUP

2.1 Non-technical

Waterproof storage bag (the number of bags depends on the size of the bag and the size of the group, and is used for food, photographic equipment, cameras, personal documents, and other dry items).
Standard backpack (for ropes and other items which can get wet).
First aid kit.
Lighter.
Knife (pocket knife).
Topographic map or GPS.
 
2.2 Technical

 

3. NEOPRENE SUIT

A neoprene suit is like a second skin. A rubber insulator that protects one’s body from the cold, because cold is a HAZARD. It also protects one from direct contact with hard and sharp rocks. Another layer can be worn under it, to prevent the neoprene from sticking directly to the skin. As the thickness of the suit directly influences the amount of warmth it provides, a thicker suit is better, however this makes it more difficult to carry equipment. Consider all options well before choosing a neoprene suit, as the stitching should be of good quality (the best is a combination of glued and stitched edges) and it should be additionally reinforced on the knees, elbows and buttocks. The suit can be cleaned with water and detergents. It should not be exposed to direct, strong sunlight immediately after washing, or to high temperatures.

4. FOOTWEAR

Footwear is extremely important in canyoning! It should offer support to one’s feet on slippery and irregular surfaces. One should be aware that they will be spending a lot of time with their feet in the water, which is why footwear should be of good quality. There is footwear especially designed for canyoning, made available by two high quality manufacturers that produce this type of footwear: Five Ten and Exum River.

5. ROPE

The rope is not just a rope, but is in essence a piece of high-tech equipment. It comes in various shapes and sizes, and ease of transport makes a lighter and thinner rope the logical choice. A low-stretch static 9mm rope is usually recommended, although the 11mm is possibly a better and safer choice. One should always have enough, to use as needed. It is best to have different lengths of rope in different colours. Two short ropes can easily be joined to make one long rope, and having two separate ropes makes it easier to divide the weight between two people. When descending down a rope, the rope will be doubled, and its effective length will be cut in half. The rope should have a middle mark, i.e. the exact middle of the rope marked, for this reason. A good bag or backpack for carrying ropes will be of use in transporting them safely through the canyon and keeping them clean, as they will be subject to much wear and tear in the canyon. Good maintenance of equipment extends its life-span. This should be kept in mind, as one’s life often depends on the ropes. It is therefore very important to keep the ropes clean, and aging should also be considered as it can make ropes insecure even if they look clean, so one should never hesitate to replace old ropes with new ones. Dirt behaves as an abrasive and damages ropes, so they should be cleaned with water after a completed part of the trip or at the end of the trip. Do not wash ropes in salt water! Pour detergent into a bucket of water, and wash the ropes by hand. Leave it to soak in the bucket for several hours, then wring it out by hand (by drawing it through a figure 8) and leave to air-dry. Do not dry ropes in the sun as the UV rays damage the material. Keep them in a dry, dark and well ventilated place. Ropes can also be washed in a washing machine, at low temperatures. It is best to wash new ropes as well, as this will remove any factory lubricants used during manufacture. Make sure to check ropes before using them, and avoid contact with acids and alkaline solutions! Some of the popular brands in rope manufacture are: Liberty Mountain ropes, Mammut ropes, New England ropes, Edelweiss ropes, Route 44 ropes, Bluewater ropes.

6. DESCENDER

Devices for controlled descent (descenders) are items that control the speed of one’s descent down the rope, and connect the rope to the harness. There is a variety on offer, but the most frequently used in canyoning is the figure 8. The name is self-explanatory, as they are in the shape of the number eight, and are made of steel or aluminium. Although they are frequently used, they also often cause rope tangles. This is why the last person to descend should also be the most experienced, and take special care that the rope does not get tangled, as this can cause the rope to get stuck. Most descenders are simple devices, but should nevertheless be maintained. Accumulation of dirt and corrosion should be prevented. The brands that manufacture them are: Petzl, Black Diamond, Climb High, BMS, CMI and SMC.

7. FLOATING EQUIPMENT

Keeping in mind that canyons contain large amounts of accumulated water, one will need floating equipment in order to keep above water. Dry air bags are very useful.

8. HARNESS

Mainly climbing harnesses are used, although the harnesses made for canyoning differ, with additions on the buttocks which have a useful purpose as they prevent the wear of the suit and equipment due to frequent descents. A spare pair should also be brought along, just in case. Harnesses also come in various shapes and sizes, and should therefore be tried on before purchasing, and will preferably have adjustable leg-loops. Comfort counts, as one will be spending a lot of time hanging on a rope. Well known manufacturing companies are: Petzl, Edelweiss and Black Diamond.

9. HELMET

The helmet in canyoning is more important than a helmet on a construction site, and wearing one is a must. Canyoners are surrounded by rocks and stones that could easily fall on one’s head and cause injuries, and pieces of equipment can also fall from up high. The helmet should have water drainage holes. High quality helmets are manufactured by companies Petzl and Edelrid.

10. BACKPACK

Backpacks made for canyoning are waterproof and have many useful and purpose-made pockets. They are usually smooth in appearance. Well known companies that manufacture them are Petzl, Black Diamond, Imlay and SealLine.

11. DRY BAG

Dry bags are also very useful pieces of equipment, although they can be replaced with plastic garbage bags. The advantage of dry bags, apart from keeping items and equipment dry, is their durability, the possibility to see the contents directly, and ease of use. Brands that manufacture them are: SealLine and Ortlieb.

12. FLASHLIGHT

Hand held flashlights serve an important purpose in canyoning, and should always be on hand, besides the headlights. They are mainly made from aluminium, and some are encased in rubber, as protection against bumps and hits. LED technology has increased the reliability of these lamps, as reduced battery use allows for a longer working life. A canyon can quickly become a dark environment, therefore one should always be able to count on light, so make sure to bring plenty of spare batteries.

 

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