If pictures of wetsuit-clad people hanging over cliffs and against the backdrop of enthralling waterfalls give you an adrenaline rush, you are ready to enter the world of canyoning.
The thrill provided by this adventure sport is unmatched, a key factor responsible for the spike in the popularity of canyoning over the last few years.
What is canyoning?
Canyoning, also known as canyoneering in the United States, is the adventure sport of descending and traversing narrow canyons, using hiking, climbing, rappelling, and spelunking throughout the journey.
This is an activity for all age groups and skill levels. Let’s go more into what canyoneering is, what gear you need, and the best places to go.
Canyoning or canyoneering is an adventure and exploration sport that sees participants going down rivers, gorges, and canyons.
This multi-sport adventure is harder and more demanding than it looks and requires the participants to possess great stamina and key skills, such as rock climbing, scrambling, and abseiling.
More often than not, canyons are located in remote areas. Thus, canyoneers often have to undergo a long trek to reach their destination.
Canyoneering involves going up and down rock surfaces, which can be very taxing. However, all the hard work pays off when participants find themselves standing against a gigantic rock and captivating waterfall, feeling closer to nature than ever before.
Technical canyoneering, however, is slightly different from regular canyoneering as it is far tougher and involves the use of more advanced tools, such as harnesses and belay devices, and gears, such as cliffhangers and talons.
Technical canyoneers must traverse steep, often dangerous gorges, and therefore, must remain hyper-aware of weather conditions as well as natural impediments, such as landslides, etc., capable of causing irreparable damage.
But this doesn’t mean that all types of canyoning are dangerous or extremely difficult. Some paths are designed for beginners that are less strenuous. They provide a great outdoor activity and an adventure that most people don’t see every day.
Is Canyoneering Dangerous?
Much like every other outdoor adventure sport, canyoning also involves some amount of danger. However, if participants take proper precautions, they can significantly enhance their safety.
If you are planning a canyoning trip, do some research and find a place that suits your skills-level.
For instance, if you are a beginner, it is better to do canyoneering in an accessible place to hire a guide. Guides are trained in first-aid and rescue techniques. But, more importantly, they are also well aware of the canyon and, therefore, can get rid of the most manageable risks.
It’s quite challenging to get guides in remote areas. So canyoneering in remote areas is challenging and risky. You must also start working on your fitness level and stamina weeks before your canyoning trip and make sure you are going on the journey with all the necessary safety equipment.
By doing all of this, you will reduce the risk level and make the trip safer, but there are always some freak accidents, such as flash floods, rockfall, heat exhaustion, etc., that can happen anytime.
So making sure that you have the gear in the next section will help make the trick as safe as possible.
Canyoning Equipment Checklist — Here’s What to Take on Your Trip
Canyoneering is an adventure and exploration sport that involves exploring canyons for captivating views and an adrenaline rush. Canyoning involves walking, hiking, swimming, jumping, scrambling, rock climbing, and much more.
These activities require specific gear and equipment to make the process easier. Here are some of the canyoning equipment you should have with you for your canyoneering trip.
- Canyoning Shoes – Canyoneering involves moving on wet and slippery surfaces, and thus, you must carry a pair of reliable canyoning shoe with yous. Your canyoning shoes must have grippy soles for providing exceptional grip and mesh uppers to promote breathability. If you don’t have proper canyoning shoes, you can make do with a pair of soft-soled sneakers.
- Wetsuit – Most canyoneers carry dry suits with them as they require very little space for storage. We recommend wetsuits over drysuits as most canyoning trips involve tackling pools of water, and wetsuits provide buoyancy and thermal insulation, making it easier to traverse water bodies.
- Canyoning Harness – While you can choose to carry a standard harness, canyoning harnesses do not contain any padding and, thus, do not absorb water, making them more suitable for canyoneering trips.
- Backpack – There will be a lot you will be carrying with you on your trip. Thus, having a good pack becomes essential. Backpacks designed for canyoning are either made from vinyl or Cordura and have chest and hip straps. These bags also have high-strength haul loops for carrying extra items while climbing.
- Helmet – In any adventure sport, including canyoning, it is essential to protect your head at all times. Even a minor injury to the head can lead to grave concerns. A helmet, therefore, is a must. For canyoning, look for a helmet made for climbing and that facilitates proper ventilation.
- Descenders – Descenders are one of the essential devices people should taking on a canyoning trip. Though they come in various sizes and types, the in-line descenders enjoy unmatched popularity among canyoneers.
- Carabiners – For a long time, hikers and rock climbers used steel carabiners. However, recent years have seen the development of aluminum or alloy carabiners that are as strong as steel carabiners must lighter in weight. It would be best if you considered buying one of those for your canyoning trips.
- Climbing Ropes and Climbing Gloves – You will need ropes on your canyoneering trip — invest in a water-repellent static rope. Similarly, you will also need gloves made from leather to protect your hands while climbing rocky terrains.
- Safety Whistle – While this is not an essential item, it is always a good idea to carry something like a safety whistle to communicate with your group during canyoning trips or reach out for help in case of an accident or emergency.
- First Aid Kit – These are basic supplies that someone may need if they get hurt along the trip
- Food and Water – Last but not least, feed and water will be critical for any trip to keep you fueled and hydrated.
Here is an excellent canyoning gear walkthrough by Paul Teasdale:
What Should You Wear on a Canyoning Trip?
When you are going on a canyoning trip, you must dress for comfort and safety. Do your research, so you’ll know what elements you will encounter.
Wearing appropriate footwear is mandatory. While there are canyoning shoes available in the market, you can go ahead with soft-soled sneakers that provide a good grip if you don’t have those.
If you are canyoning in a hot place, wear a dry suit. However, if you are canyoning in a cold place, opt for a wetsuit. Lastly, do not forget to wear sports undergarments and carry a helmet with you.
The thrill of canyoning is unlike anything you have experienced before. Those who have never done canyoning may find it daunting from afar.
If you research the right skill level for your trip and take property safety precautions, chances of accidents happening on a canyoning trip are highly unlikely.
The chances of you coming back with memories of a lifetime are quite high!
Need Help Preparing for a Hike or Backpacking Trip?
Check out our Hiking Equipment Guide for Beginners. It’s a complete list of gear that every beginner should have!