Todd Wells grew up in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, where—early on—he discovered a passion for adventure sports. He enjoyed hiking, biking, and skiing but really fell in love with moving water. “I really found myself most drawn to the rivers, especially through whitewater kayaking.” Wells’ passion for whitewater has lead him to Northern Canada, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Chile, and China in a search for the world’s best whitewater.
Wells says competitive kayaking keeps him on his toes, “but my main passion within whitewater kayaking is the multi-day exploratory missions.” He and his equally hard-charging brother share some of their adventures in the form of video documentaries at www.mountainmindcollective.com.
Gear Institute: Hi Todd. Tells us, what are you up to these days?
Todd Wells: Right now I am busy filming for Mountain Mind Collective’s upcoming feature film and training for the Spring/Summer race season. I will be back to China this March to compete in Red Bull China’s Nujiang River Race, but this summer I really look forward to shifting gears and focusing on exploring some new rivers in Northern B.C. and Alaska.
Gear Institute: When you head out on exploratory adventure like the one you have planned into British Columbia, what gear do you always make sure is in your pack?
Wells: An NRS First Aid Kit is the first must-have items. NRS does a good job of putting all the essentials together into one streamlined pack.
I also pack along an assortment of light climbing gear to get out of a situation where climbing out of a gorge is the only evacuation option: (two T-Grip Ascenders, Prussic cord, webbing, and sometimes even a lightweight 120-foot 6mm hydrophobic climbing rope)
Finally, I toss in my Iridium Satellite phone. I still haven’t gained the full trust of any GPS messaging devices, and the idea of being able to talk with someone via the SAT phone to initiate an evacuation is pretty reassuring.
Gear Institute: Safety first and last in your list. That’s great. Now, let’s give a shout out to the companies that sponsor your adventures. What gear from your sponsors do you always carry?
Wells: My PFD is an Astral Design Greenjacket. This lifejacket not only provides me with the floatation I need out on the river, but also has some amazing safety features (like the tow tether to tow people, kayaks, gear, etc. to shore) that make it an essential piece of gear. Oh, and it doubles as a climbing harness too!
My preferred boat is a Dagger Mamba 8.6. This is my favorite and most reliable kayak. I am comfortable taking this on any kind of whitewater and can trust that it will hold up in the most intense settings.
I use an Immersion Research Lucky Charm Sprayskirt on that boat. A sprayskirt connects the paddler to their kayak, keeping everything in between protected from the water. I can always count on my Lucky Charm to stay on, even when under extreme pressure and it keeps everything real dry to. Pretty much every extreme kayaker out there uses an Immersion Research Sprayskirt.
Gear Institute: Okay, in addition to the gear itself, what tips and pack techniques do you recommend for other paddlers?
Wells: I pack all my gear in Watershed Drybags because I can trust my gear will always stay dry, no matter how much wear or water the bags see. I use two Futa Float bags in the back of my boat, and a Chatooga bag for my camera gear, lunch and other easily accessible gear (I keep that between my legs inside my kayak). Bringing dental floss along for repairs on the river is always good too.
Gear Institute: Thanks for the great information. Anything else you want to share with our readers?
Wells: If you have never camped out of a boat try it out. My preference is obviously a whitewater kayak, but a raft, canoe or sea kayak can have a similar effect. It’s magical!