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The Nobody's River Team, from left: Krystal Wright; Amber Valenti; Becca Davis; and Rebecca TK. Photograph by Skip Armstrong

Nobody’s River: What to Pack for a 4,400-km Kayaking Expedition in Siberia

Nobody’s River is an all-women expedition on one of the world’s greatest and least known free-flowing rivers, the Amur.  The goal of the two-month, 4,400-kilometer project is to travel, document, and collect data on this incredible river from its remote Mongolian headwaters near the birthplace of Genghis Khan, across the vastness of the Russian Far East, to the Pacific Ocean Delta. The team received a National Geographic Young Explorers Grant for this project. Follow their progress here on our blog.

As we head out on a kayaking expedition, we know gear will make our lives so much better—and be one of our greatest burdens. So as we pack our bags we consider carefully whether each thing we bring will be worth its weight.

The list started long and optimistic. Slowly we carved it out to look more like something we can journey with for two months through southern Siberia. Something we can survive on and survive with as we travel by horseback, Mongolian jeeps, Russian mini-vans, the Trans-Siberian railroad, and not least, our 16-foot Trak kayaks.

It’s a delicate balance between what you want, what you need, and knowing that every item added takes away a little mobility. Our list will get smaller and smaller until we get on the river, and then again as we transition to Russia. But no matter how well we thought this out, we will no doubt still curse ourselves at various times for what we did and did not bring.

This trip we are packing much heavier than usual because of our goals and commitments. Satellite modems, solar panels, water-quality meters, tripods, and other things that never make it into my personal expedition bag will be coming with us on this journey. We want to document this place and bring back whatever stories we possibly can. This will require the most high-tech, ultralight, super compact gear we can find. And a lot of patience on our part to lug it all 4,400-kilometers across Siberia.

Here is a list of the essential gear for our mission. I am sure when we come back we will have made new opinions.  But such is the way with unprecedented trips. You just cannot know until you get out there and do it.


Trak T-1600 kayak: These amazing foldable boats will allow us to carry all we need at 16 feet long, but also fold down into a golf bag size for travel on planes and trains.

Werner Shuna Bent Shaft Small Diameter Breakdown Kayak Paddles

NRS Flux Dry top

NRS Athena Dry pants

NRS Hydrosilk Pants & Shirt

NRS Pro Guardian Waist Throw Bag

NRS Cam Straps in various sizes

NRS Sunglass Chums

Astral Green Vest PFD

Remote Medical International Custom First Aid Kit: Thank goodness for these guys! For more information on how we put this kit together check out our post on the Remote Medical International Blog.

Smith Optics Sunglasses: We love the Gibson, the Aura, the Chemist, and the Rambler.

Camping & Traveling:

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Maximus Duffels: 80L and 150L

NRS Ultralight River Wing

Big Agnes Copper Spur Tent

Big Agnes Women’s Lithis Spring 20+ Sleeping Bag

Big Agnes Q Core Sleeping Pad

Primus Omnifuel Stove: This virtually indestructible stove takes any fuel imaginable

Sawyer 4Liter Water Filtration System, with 0.2 Micron Filter: This filters even viruses so you are covered from all the common organisms causing sickness.

MSR 10 Liter DromLite Bags

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Igniter Jacket

Eddie Bauer First Ascent BC-200 Hardshell Jacket

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Rainier Storm Shell Pants

Eddie Bauer First Ascent Polartec Windpro Gloves 2.0

Polartec-Patagonia R1 Zip Pullover

Polartec-Patagonia R1 Pants

Polartec-Patagonia Re-tool Snap Fleece Pullover

Keen Haven CNX Shoes

Keen Kona Flip

Watershed Drybags: Ocoee duffels, Chatooga Duffels, and Aleutian Deck Bags

Probar Meal Bars

Film and Photography:

Canon Cameras: 5D Mark III and a 1DX

Aquatech Underwater Housing for 5D Mark III with dome port

Hard Drives: Four 1TB Lacie Mini Rugged + One 500GB Lacie

Scandisk SD Cards: tons and tons of these little guys

Goal Zero Sherpa Solar Kit

Surefire P2X Fury Tactical LED Lights: For shooting at night

Heliopan 77mm Variable Gray ND Filter

Lenses: 15mm f/2.8 Fisheye, 24mm f/1.4, 50mm f/1.2, 85mm f/1.2, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/2.8

Tascam DR-40 digital recorder

Manfrotto Tripod

Rode Video Mic Pro Compact Shotgun Microphone

Garmin eTrex legend gps units

11” Macbook Air with Lightroom Pro and Satellite Modem Software

Inmarsat BGAN Satellite Modem and Phone

Science Gear:

Mettler Toledo Dissolved Oxygen/pH meter

NRS Bail Pail Water Containers

Garmin eTrex GPS unit

Lufkin 100 meter tape

Norcross Hawkeye handheld sonar system

Rite in the Rain Notebooks

TimelapseCam 8.0 Cameras for monitoring flood plains this summer

Sabra’s Brain

Soviet Military Maps of Russia and Mongolia, Printed on Rite In The Rain DuraCopy Paper