What to bring on your first rafting trip?

Whitewater rafting is an absolute blast. It’s a fun social activity, good exercise and a great way to get out and see some incredible areas of wilderness. With rafting being such a fun activity there’s not much that can take away from it, however bad equipment is one of those key things. To that end this article should give beginners an excellent guide to the equipment you should be bringing on an easy day trip with experienced guides.

Group of people wearing whitewater rafting gear
Now here is a group of happy rafters wearing appropriate on-river clothing!

The most important aspects of rafting gear is your on river clothing and equipment. This is the gear that will keep you warm and safe when on the river. Remember that you will get wet so any of your equipment must be suitably warm when soaked through.

Much of the on-river equipment that you will need when rafting will be supplied by the company or club that you are paddling with. They will supply a wetsuit, a PFD or lifejacket and a helmet. You need to make sure you bring along the following personal clothing for when you are on river.

  1. Enclosed shoes. These must protect your feet and allow you to swim and also walk on slippery surfaces. Often the best option is an old pair of running shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. Wetsuit booties are also good. Remember to bring warm socks to go underneath. Make sure they are not cotton. These will make your feet cold. If you often get cold or are thinking that you might be doing more rafting in the future, buying some wetsuit socks is an excellent idea. These keep your feet very warm and given the time your feet spend in cold water this is an excellent investment.
  2. Bathers or underwear to go under the wetsuit. If you are concerned about being cold then bringing a warm fleece or thermals to go under the wetsuit. Again make sure you do not wear anything that is cotton as it makes you cold when wet. Wool and synthetic materials retain their warmth when they are soaked.
Here is a set of clothes for very cold rafting conditions. Thermals, 2 wetsuits, a spray jacket and wetsuit socks will ensure that the wearer stays warm in the worst conditions.

When you get off river you will need the items below to keep you comfortable and happy.

  1. A towel, dry clothes and dry shoes. It is important to have a full set of dry gear to change in to at the end of the trip. You don’t want to be wet and cold on the drive back home!
  2. Money to cover petrol and food you might want to buy if we go to a bakery.
  3. It’s always good to bring snacks as rafting is a good way to work up an appetite!
  4. Plenty of bags, bring a pack to put all of your stuff in along with some plastic bags to contain all of your wet clothes.
Wetsuits and gear hanging on branches
Here we have our typical after trip changing area… This rafter has 2 bags, one for dry clothes and the other for all their wet gear.

To summarise here are the critical things you need –

  • Warm clothes and shoes to wear on river that will get wet (no cotton)
  • Towel and dry clothes to change in to after the trip
  • Money for petrol and food
Rafters on the river
If you’ve got any questions always feel free to get in touch. I look forward to seeing you on the river!

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