Whitewater rafting is one of the most fun and exhilarating outdoor activities you can do with friends and family. Planning ahead will help guarantee a great day on the river. Make sure to check the weather the morning of your trip and make any necessary adjustments to your gear bag. Here is a list of items that will make your day extra fun and safe. 

What to wear whitewater rafting …  

Of course, plan on getting wet on your whitewater rafting trip and dress accordingly.  Synthetic fabrics are much better than cotton garments as they quickly adapt through wet/dry periods as opposed to cotton, which holds moisture and keeps you cool when wet. 

Start your rafting outfit with synthetic shorts, a bathing suit, or a similar garment. A synthetic long sleeve or t-shirt under your PFD is next. Consider long sleeves for sun protection.  A baseball hat with a brim can fit under a safety helmet and reduce sun exposure.  Sturdy footwear is essential for rafting – most shoes and sandals with a heel strap will work for whitewater rafting. Consider shoes with extra traction for slippery and uneven surfaces near the river.  

What not to wear on a rafting trip …  

Again, avoid cotton items that hold moisture and cool the body. Avoid loose items such as dangling jewelry that can get caught on your safety gear. Leave valuable jewelry at home. Wear long hair in a braid or low ponytail that will fit with a safety helmet. Leave the flip-flops at home -you will likely be asked to find another footwear option as flip-flops do not stay on your feet in the water and offer little traction alongside the river and in the raft. 

Extra Items that can make a difference on your rafting trip …  

  • Apply sunscreen before rafting and don’t forget to re-apply if you are in the sun for a long time. A small tube will fit in a zipper pocket in your shorts or shirt. 
  • Sunglasses really help with comfort and enjoyment on a whitewater rafting trip by protecting your eyes from the sun and water splashing. Make sure your sunglasses are attached with a strap.
  • Want to capture the memories? Bring your GoPro and mount it safely to your body or safety equipment.
  • To stay hydrated on the trip, bring a water bottle with a carabiner to attach to the raft.

How to dress for whitewater rafting if it’s cold or raining …  

Cool conditions require extra layers of the regular items required for rafting. Commercial raft locations will likely provide neoprene wetsuit pants, jackets, boots, or rain jackets on cold days or in cold water. Add full-length synthetic layers on the top and bottom under the neoprene. And don’t forget warm socks – wool, fleece, or synthetic blends.

What to bring after your rafting trip …  

Always bring a change of clothes and shoes for after rafting. Warm, soft layers after a  cool day on the river feel extra good, and we recommend bringing an extra towel or two to dry off before changing. Don’t forget a bag for all the wet stuff on the ride home.  

Summarizing what to bring and wear on your next rafting trip …  

What you bring whitewater rafting can depend a lot on the weather, water temperature,  and season. Being well prepared will contribute to having a safe and enjoyable trip.

Basic packing list includes: 

  • bathing suit
  • synthetic shirt(s)
  • sport shoes
  • water bottle  
  • sunscreen
  • baseball cap
  • sunglasses with strap
  • GoPro
  • change of clothes
  • towels
  • bag for wet clothes

The rafting outfitter will supply all the safety equipment, but it’s up to you to wear the right outfit to have fun on the rapids!

Have a great day on the water!

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