How to Prepare for a River Rafting trip: river rafting packing list
How to Prepare for a River Rafting trip: river rafting packing list

Whitewater rafting can be one of the most terrifying experiences of a lifetime. River rafters see incredible scenery, get excellent exercise, and experience fantastic adventure. There are great destinations to go river rafting all over the world, but many of the best rivers for whitewater rafting area in the United States.

River rafting

River rafting has been a sport for decades. The person credited with inventing river rafting is Bill Dvorak. In 1969, Dvorak was the first person to issue a river recreation outfitters license when he formed Dvorak Expeditions in Salida, Colorado. Dvorak created several safety guidelines and license requirements for gear and equipment used in whitewater rafting.

There are a lot of great places to go whitewater rafting in the United States. One of the most well-known is the American River, which starts in the Sierra Nevada and splits into the North Fork, Middle Fork, and South Fork before converging near Sacramento. The American River gives a wide selection of river rafting experiences, from easy rapids for beginners to hard stretches navigated by expert rafters.

Also, Whitewater rapids are rated based on the level of difficulty. Water speed, currents, the number of rocks, and other factors influence the river’s rating. The simplest rivers to navigate are Class I; Class VI rivers are considered impossible to run. As gear and equipment have become more advanced, many rivers previously defined as Class IV became Class V, and extremely skilled rafters have begun navigating them safely.

River Rafting: tips & tricks

Whether you are a beginner or a pro, these tips are valuable to keep in mind for a safe and enjoyable trip.


It is important, to be honest about your physical abilities and athleticism. From here, you can determine which class of rapids you can handle. If you are a beginner rafter, make sure to choose a low-level trip and don’t risk something dangerous, especially if you don’t have the experience.

Strap on a Flotation Device

All members of river rafting trips should wear life preservers at all times. Since anyone in a raft could be tossed out by a strong rapid at any time, not putting a life preserver can make that person in a life-threatening situation. By simply putting on and keeping on a life preserver, the danger can be mitigated.

Research Your Route

Knowing what’s going on can be extremely helpful while on a whitewater rafting trip. Before you head out on the adventure, make sure to spend some time studying the route you plan to take. By researching the stretch of river through which you’ll travel you can better prepare yourself to handle some of the challenges you can face, ensure that you are not caught off-guard.

Listen to your guide

Before I say this, I assume you will be going with a group. It is never safe to go alone or with individuals who do not have expert experience. Guides have the experience and knowledge needed to lead a group on an adventure, so listen to them. When they yell a command, you must obey to navigate the river most safely.

Stay focused

Although the water may seem calm, the river moves in powerful ways, so make sure that you stay alert and keep your guard. Many people choose rafting as an activity to be in the middle of nature and see the beautiful surroundings. Look around as you feel comfortable and there will be downtime to enjoy this scenery, but don’t space out or ignore other words while part of a rafting trip.

Have the proper gear.

White water rafting requires gear including the obvious, rafts and paddles. If you have to choose an adventure through a rafting agency/company, they will supply the necessary equipment before you get started. Other items you may need before rafting include life vests, helmets, wet suits, shoes, and a spare paddle. Life vests are required and will save the life if you end up outside the raft. Helmets are typically available for trips where there are known turbulence or large rocks present.

If you are rafting in cold weather, a wet suit is essential since it will keep your body warm and dry. Shoes must be worn to grip the raft and avoid slipping through the rough places. Most guides carry a spare paddle in case someone falls outside the raft. It is a great tool to pull the individual back in the boat. It is best to leave any electronic items such as cameras or telephones behind. Some guides provide water-proof areas to place these types of items, so be sure to ask before your adventure.

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River rafting packing list

List of what to pack


Most companies will provide some water at meals or on the boats but you can never have enough. Water bottles are fine just lying around on the bottom of the boat and the more water the better. Snacks also can be stuffed into plastic bags for calm sections of the rivers but make sure you bring enough for everyone in the boat. Companies usually have some sort of snack after the trip and before lunch.


Most trips taken during the summer are met with hot dry weather. Of course, there are exceptions but most of the time swim trunks and bathing suits are in order.

Women may want to wear shorts to prevent chafing while cotton shirts are to be avoided. Since the wet cotton is cool against the skin rafters may be warmer without shirts on. On cold days outfitters may offer paddle jackets for rent and wetsuits. Some include them in the price of the trip so it is best to check. Also, don’t worry about dry clothes until you get back to your car. Most of the time it is so hot by the time you have put the rafts back on the vans or busses you’re warm and dry.


Choose the proper and safety shoes or sandals for your feet. You can call the agency by phone for making sure what you must prepare for rafting. What type of shoes or sandals you should wear for escaping you from cuts and scratches. Remember that the sharp stones, shells, even the cut branch, or other potentially dangerous objects are lying surround the river.


It’s a bad rule but one that seems to always happen. If you own nice glasses and don’t put on a pair of straps you’re going to lose them. Cheap glasses are great because the loss factor is not as bad but if you have prescription glasses or want polarized lenses make sure you take straps and secure them to your head. It’s not a guarantee that they will stay there but I’ve gone through four seasons with prescription glasses and been ok.


Waterproof disposable cameras are best but if you have a waterproof case for your digital camera that should work fine as well.

Whitewater rafting gear

Here is a list of Whitewater rafting equipment that you’ll need in your rafting trip:

  • Raft
  • Paddles
  • Helmet
  • Paddler gloves
  • PFD or Personal Floatation Device
  • Throw bag
  • Rescue ropes
  • First aid kit

American river rafting

There is no other experience in the world like the American river rafting. You can choose to take a leisurely raft downlight rapids or take a violent thrashing through some serious waves. Rafting is a lot cheaper than cruise ships and other adventures you can do on the water, and it is a sheer adrenaline rush.

If you have never gone American river rafting before and this is something that you think you may be interested in, there are a few pieces of information that you are going to want to be aware of first. After all, American river rafting can be dangerous if you do not take the proper safety precautions and make yourself educated beforehand.

Get the Equipment

The first step in planning an American river rafting trip is to get all the necessary equipment. If you are getting a package deal through a company then you will want to check with them first to see what you need to bring extra and what comes included with the trip.

Make sure that you take the time to shop around for anything you do need to buy, so you can get the best deal and not end up having to spend a fortune just to get what you need

Pick the Location

Next, you will need to pick the location of your river rafting trip. If you do not have a ton of money then you should probably just stick to an area that is at least somewhat nearby. On the other hand, if you want to go all out or want to camp out overnight, you can go somewhere further.

Get Packed

You should make a checklist to remind yourself of everything that you need, and then go over this list when you are packing. The last thing you want to do is forget something and then get to your trip and find out that have left something important at home. Go over your list twice, to ensure that you have everything and make your rafting trip go as smoothly as possible.

Final Thoughts

Since many like to experience the thrill of the river by going whitewater rafting, take into consideration this is an intense activity that thrill seekers love since it lets them feed their craving for exciting and potentially dangerous situations. If you plan to venture out on a whitewater rafting experience, equip yourself with some knowledge of basic safety restrictions for the activity. By doing so, you can be sure that your fun on the river is as safe as possible.

River rafting FAQs