Top 10 Characteristics of a Dirt Bag Boater


I don’t know. You tell me. I was wondering what I was going to write about this week and it hit me right on the head — a pine cone that is.  I was killing some time at the takeout a few days ago, (because I forgot my kayak gear), and was actually relaxing.  I found this old dirty towel, tucked under the van seat, a couple of wet PFD’s (life preservers), and some lukewarm water and made myself a riverside nest.

What is a dirt bag kayaker? Am I one? Do I know any? What characteristics define the role of a true dirt bag kayaker? We’ll get to that in a minute. For now, though, maybe I should tell you about me and how I fit into the picture.

Well to start, I am a dedicated Missoula kayaker who needs to paddle every day, but I don’t know if I would truly consider myself a dirt bag.   Some of my friends might consider me a prima donna, but I know I can hang with the dirt bags — easily. Trust me, I have absolutely nothing against dirt bag kayakers because if I did, it would narrow my friends down to a couple.

In this state of random relaxation — after the pine cone hit me in the head — I decided to compile a checklist of the qualifications I think defines a dirt bag boater.

Drum roll please…

1.  Thrifty in every sense.

2.  Home is in the back of a Subaru or truck 8 months of the year or more

3.  Dirty, stinky, feet

4.  Works just to quit as soon as a good river trip comes along

5.  Gear is many times marginal, but still able to function on river

6.  Owns a dog with a collar that is a beat up NRS strap

7.  Relies on Snicker bars (poor man’s power bar) to get through the day

8.  Beside the river, lives a simple life, needing  little besides the river and essential gear

9.  Has no problem wearing mismatched flip flops

10.  Hamm’s, Rainer, and Olympia are top shelf beers

These are just a few of the things that come to the mind of this Missoula kayaker. I know I’m missing lots of things so please contribute to this piece. I want to know what you think defines a dirt bag boater.


Like this blog by one of Missoula’s legendary kayakers?  Check out these other blogs by Jason Shreder, owner of Zoo Town Surfers: Go with the Flow and Get in the Know or Kayaking the Lochsa River or The Sellway River – A Preason Kayaking Treat .

You may also want to check out our page on Missoula Kayaking, Canoeing, and Rafting.

See Jason Shredder’s “Go With the Flow” archive.


Jason Shreder, owner of local whitewater company Zoo Town Surfers. I love Missoula, the great community, and all the awesome water that surrounds it.  I’m constantly moving and 90% of that movement involves kayaking, rafting, working, and hanging out with my awesomely supportive girlfriend and dogs.