BWCA What’s in your ditch kit? Boundary Waters Listening Point - General Discussion
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TaylorRN
member (34)member
 
05/19/2022 06:56PM  
I recently posted a thread on here asking for last minute tips in regards to a first time solo trip. I was reassured that a lot of the things people commented about I already had on my mind. One that however that I did not consider as I have never had to before is a ditch kit. So I’m making one so far I have:

-map/compass
-phone / inreach
-knife
-waterproof lighter

Anything I’m missing here? I’m trying to keep it as light as possible

Happy voyaging

Taylor
 
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05/19/2022 07:13PM  
Never had one in 40 years. I use one pack so I guess that's my ditch kit. I'm curious to see what people say and why they have one in the BW.
 
TaylorRN
member (34)member
 
05/19/2022 07:45PM  
Yeah neither have I, and I only use one pack. I figured on my first solo if something were to happen I should have something that is easily accessible containing the emergency essentials? Not really sure.
 
KawnipiKid
senior member (57)senior membersenior member
 
05/19/2022 08:58PM  
For me, the toughest choice is whether it should all be in PFD pockets or in a separate small pack/bag. A buddy carries a day pack that is near him in the boat and includes your list plus paracord, chocolate/candy, rain gear, first aid stuff and not sure what else. I think most stories of needing the kit in an emergency involve having lost the boat and everything in it. So, I go with keeping everything in PFD pockets. Your list covers those essentials. I have a phone in a waterproof bag but no inreach or the like. Besides your list, I carry a loud plastic lifeguard whistle. I'm thinking it's about time for the inreach and will likely get one soon.
 
05/19/2022 09:13PM  
In the pockets of my life jacket- SPOT, ziplock with lighter and fire starter, ziplock with a couple days worth of my medications, multi-tool, space blanket. Tied into my canoe- map and compass.

Everything else is in my pack.
 
05/19/2022 09:32PM  
Everything fits in an Altoids tin except the space blanket and mirror which sit behind it. Then it all gets sealed using a food sealer and fits easily in my PFD, which also has a whistle and Garmin Mini.
 
05/19/2022 10:12PM  
There's an old saying that if your ditch kit isn't on you, you don't have it. I think of it as what you have if you lose everything else. If I had my pack, I wouldn't need a ditch kit.

I'd add a fire starter rod and tinder to the waterproof lighter. You'll definitely want an emergency blanket/bivy. Might be good to add a couple of chemical heat packs.
 
Gaidin53
distinguished member (333)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/19/2022 11:22PM  
Jaywalker’s kit is pretty solid! Not sure I’d put the fishing lures in and would substitute something else. The fact that it all fits in that small a kit and then you vacuum seal it is pretty awesome! You have multiple fire starting options. Striker Ferrell rod, bit lighter, and matches, I’d think the alcohol wipes might also act as firestarters so would have multiple uses even though you have dedicated firestarters.

I was just reading the capsize post so this was definitely on my mind.

Ryan
 
straighthairedcurly
distinguished member(1450)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/19/2022 11:22PM  
In a PFD pocket or attached to the PFD: emergency blanket, matches/lighter, SPOT, whistle
In a small waterproof waist pack (always on me): car key, permit, energy bar, credit card/cash/ID/health insurance card (in case of an emergency evacuation), compass w/ mirror, lighter, small knife.

On solo trips, if I take off the PFD, I take the SPOT with me (in case I break an ankle or worse on a portage).

After reading the swamping story on the Royal River, I realized I should include a small back up map on my person and a waterproof headlamp. The swamping story reinforced why I keep my car key on my person.
 
TaylorRN
member (34)member
 
05/20/2022 05:56AM  
Jaywalker: "Everything fits in an Altoids tin except the space blanket and mirror which sit behind it. Then it all gets sealed using a food sealer and fits easily in my PFD, which also has a whistle and Garmin Mini.
"


Yeah this looks rock solid!
 
4keys
distinguished member(837)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/20/2022 06:24AM  
I keep everyone’s PFD pockets filled with firestarter items, whistle, and a few other items I can’t think of right now. My keys, phone, and driver license/cc/fishing license are in a small pelican in an under seat bag with compass, first aid and other day use stuff I like to keep handy (bug dope, binocular). After reading the recent capsize stories I will be moving my keys, ID & phone to my pfd.
 
Wharfrat63
distinguished member (141)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/20/2022 07:11AM  
Mine is a little bigger than an altoids can. Straps to my belt. Inreach is strapped to my PFD.



Never carried one until I read this story.

Body Recovered
 
05/20/2022 08:19AM  
I have a pair of reading glasses/cheaters in mine, this may be one thing older people do not think about. I see fine faraway without any help, but close up I am pretty pathetic. I would be struggling to get a sliver out, or patch myself up without them, besides the many other unforseen reasons.
 
Savage Voyageur
distinguished member(14122)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished membermaster membermaster member
 
05/20/2022 08:30AM  
I consider what’s in my ditch kit to be what’s ON me when I capsize. I don’t take much just a InReach unit attached to my PFD, Mora Garborg knife on my belt with a Ferrocerium rod, 10’ of Gorilla tape on my knife, 10’ of paracord and a sail needle on my knife, also a bandanna. Assuming the batteries stay good and my InReach works after a dunk I will be fine.

A way of rescue and communication with the InReach
A compass and map with the InReach
Knife for cutting
Sail needle for repair, compass, and first aid
Cordage, for repair,
Ferrocerium rod for fire starting to get warm
Bandanna for first aid, water pre filter, hat
Gorilla tape for repair, first aid, fire starting

With this kit I have 7 of the 10 C’s for survival covered plus satellite communication with the InReach.
 
05/20/2022 08:36AM  
Gaidin53: "Jaywalker’s kit is pretty solid! Not sure I’d put the fishing lures in and would substitute something else……"
Yeah, I have to agree the lures are probably not helpful, except maybe to give me something to do while waiting for the Beaver to come pick me up. May take those out next time I open it up. The line however, especially the braded ice fishing line, serves the purpose of lashing some sticks to form a shelter. Much smaller and lighter than paracord.

Like Wharfrat, I never carried one until the 2020 incident on Tuscarora. I put my kit together thinking specifically about what they went through. I would probably not have considered a small flashlight until I read they were out overnight. The one I chose was the Streamlight Nano and I’m very impressed by it. Streamlight is a top brand carried by many LEO’s.

I like the idea of adding a small lightweight poncho. I’ll research that.

 
05/20/2022 12:20PM  
My ditch kit is what's in the pockets of or attached to my PDF. Knife, lighter, monocular, permit, phone. Maybe some cigars if the bugs have been bad. It's the stuff I want close at hand in the boat and enough to start a fire. All you really need to start a fire is some dried pine needles or some birch bark, but some dried grass or fibers from the inner layer of bark could do the trick too.

I'm pretty sure that I could start a fire even if I could barely feel my fingers, so I'd like to think that I'd be ok as long as I can make it to shore. Not that I'd want to try it, but at least I have something of a fall back plan. It might be nice to have a thermal blanket in a pocket, but I'm trying to keep some room for convenient items.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(906)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/20/2022 04:18PM  
Like others have posted, if its not attached to you, you might not have it in a capsize in waves and/or winds.

I have an NRS Chinook with a small pouch attached to the back. Between the pockets and the pouch I have on the PFD: compass, NRS shorty knife, gps, Spot Messenger, first aid kit, survival whistle, fire starting kit, a thermal bivy (very small).

I never take the PFD off when on the water and it is always secured on me.
 
MacCamper
distinguished member(556)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/20/2022 04:36PM  
Shortly after purchasing my Stohlquist Fisherman’s pfd in 2015, I took it to a local seamstress and had a stout zipper installed in the back floatation section. In the action I store a dandy ditch kit including many of the good ideas already discussed. My pfd is comfortable and doesn’t come off very often when I camp and I use the pockets for other gear. Car keys are put into the inside zip pocket when I double beep my car locks and stay there until my adventure is complete.
 
woodsandwater
distinguished member (372)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/20/2022 07:43PM  
I use a large fanny pack that is always on. Along with many of the items listed I have a lifestraw water filter.
 
chessie
distinguished member (225)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/20/2022 08:31PM  
My home-made kit: The goal is to make something that is on my person at all times. This kit will fit in cargo pocket of pants, or life jacket pocket. I will assume you/I ALWAYS have a compass, pocketknife, and matches/lighter on our person. Kit ingredients:
whistle
compass
duct tape
utility wire - 6 ft
nylon cord - 10 ft
black fishing line 20 lb
fishhooks -4
snap swivel
sewing needle
safety pins -2
aluminum foil
instruction sheet ('how to survive')
Fresnel lens magnifier
reflective blanket
poncho
lighter
matches
tinder
The Fresnel magnifying lens is the size of a credit card - and has obvious survival uses, but also, it can be used to magnify the print of the instruction sheet - important for aging eyes! The instructions walk you through using some of the kit to construct a shelter, etc. Instructions may be helpful if one was panicky or facing hypothermia and not thinking clearly. Total wt. = ~ 10 oz. In a 5x7" dry 'bag.'
 
Ottertailvoyageur
senior member (91)senior membersenior member
 
05/20/2022 10:15PM  
A ton of great ideas in this thread! My ditch kit is is a personalized version of one I put together from ideas culled from an old thread from 2015 on this very website. A lot of my items came from the legendary Kanoes list.

Ziploc bags — water vessels
Whistle
Blaze orange bandana
Compass w/ mirror
Emergency blanket
Bug head net
Mini pump skeeter spray
Lighter and fire steel in ziploc
Pyro Putty — amazing new product! I see Piragis sells it now.
Aquatabs water purifier
13’ length of cord (luck)
Emergency poncho — doubles as a bug shield
Bandaids
Gorilla tape — wrapped around bug repellent

I also consider the Leatherman on my belt and a headlamp in a ziploc bag s part of my ditch kit. My Onyx PFD doesn’t hold my whole kit, so a few of the items go in buttoned shirt pockets or pants pockets. My son paddles with a Cabelas PFD and his has enough pocket for his whole kit.
As has been already said, a ditch kit is worthless if it’s not on your person. I know I could do better about having my InReach on me.
Happy paddling, all! Be safe out there in this high water.
 
HWMinngrl
member (20)member
 
05/21/2022 04:38PM  
I’m new to this but I made a kit to keep on my person at all times. It fits into a waterproof plastic pouch that clasps around my waist. Inside is a small bright signal flashlight, protein bar, wilderness bracelet that is made of braided cord and has a small knife, compass, and whistle attached, several bandaids and alcohol wipes, farmers’ matches and a piece of a strike patch kept in a snack size ziplock, small lighter in another snack size ziplock, small face sunscreen, and a folded heavy duty trash bag (multi-purpose - collecting water, using as a blanket or poncho, etc). Attached to my PFD is a loud whistle. I still have plenty of room and may add in some Advil. I will also keep my phone in there.
 
hobbydog
distinguished member(1957)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/21/2022 05:17PM  
Has anyone ever had to use one? I’ve never really had one to speak of. A few things in my life jacket and pocket. A really loud whistle…. Not too many places in the BWCA where a whistle will not be heard sooner or later. inReach, matches and fire starter. But if I go in, my pack is going to be my priority to go to shore with.

 
Wharfrat63
distinguished member (141)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/21/2022 07:49PM  
MacCamper: "Shortly after purchasing my Stohlquist Fisherman’s pfd in 2015, I took it to a local seamstress and had a stout zipper installed in the back floatation section. In the action I store a dandy ditch kit including many of the good ideas already discussed. My pfd is comfortable and doesn’t come off very often when I camp and I use the pockets for other gear. Car keys are put into the inside zip pocket when I double beep my car locks and stay there until my adventure is complete."

That is a great idea.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(906)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/22/2022 07:06AM  
the important thing to remember in a ditch kit is that it will get wet in the capsize. Everything in/on the PFD must be either waterproof or encased in some type of waterproof bag/sack.
 
ockycamper
distinguished member(906)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/22/2022 02:30PM  
Just finished updating my ditch kit based on this thread. Paracord, energy bar and micro flashlight yet to be added. PFD is an NRS Chinook with a Kokatat pack on back.
 
05/23/2022 04:38PM  
TaylorRN: "Jaywalker: "Everything fits in an Altoids tin except the space blanket and mirror which sit behind it. Then it all gets sealed using a food sealer and fits easily in my PFD, which also has a whistle and Garmin Mini.
"



Yeah this looks rock solid!"

+1
 
Chicagored
distinguished member(587)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
05/24/2022 08:02PM  
Ever since I got an inreach, I have simplified my ditch kit by quite a bit, figuring I have a 2 to 3 hour window to wait for rescue. In pockets on my life jacket I have the inreach, a space blanket, waterproof matches, a food bar or chocolate, a roll of gauze bandage, some duct tape and a fixed blade knife that is on my belt. Except for the knife and the inreach, everything is vacuum sealed. I have been considering adding one of those saws that look like a wire with rings at either end.
 
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