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What To Wear On A Float Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Lishe Husted



Float trips are a fantastic way to spend a day or a weekend in nature, enjoying the beauty of rivers and lakes while floating along the gentle current. Whether you’re planning a leisurely float on a calm river or seeking some excitement on a more challenging whitewater adventure, it’s important to dress appropriately for the trip.


Choosing the right clothing for a float trip is essential for both comfort and safety. You want to be prepared for sun exposure, water splashes, and the occasional unexpected dip in the water. Not only will the right outfit make your experience more enjoyable, but it will also keep you protected from the elements.


In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on what to wear on a float trip. We’ll cover everything from clothing essentials and footwear options to sun protection and swimwear choices. We’ll also give you some tips for dressing for the weather and offer advice on how to pack efficiently. So, let’s dive in!


Planning for the Float Trip

Before embarking on a float trip, it’s important to do some careful planning to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience. Here are some key factors to consider:

  • Location: Research the river or lake you’ll be floating on to understand its difficulty level, water conditions, and any necessary permits or fees. Consider factors like distance, accessibility, and facilities available at the launch and exit points.
  • Duration: Determine the length of your float trip, whether it’s a day trip or an overnight adventure. This will help you decide what items to pack and how much food and water to bring.
  • Group Size: Plan your float trip with a group of friends or family members. Not only will it make the trip more enjoyable, but it’s also safer to have others with you in case of any emergencies.
  • Weather Conditions: Check the weather forecast for the day of your float trip. This will help you prepare for any potential rain, wind, or extreme temperatures.
  • Equipment Rental: If you don’t own your own floatation devices or other equipment, research rental options in the area. Make sure to reserve equipment in advance to guarantee availability.

By carefully planning these essential details, you can ensure a successful and hassle-free float trip. Now let’s move on to the next important aspect: choosing the right clothing for your adventure!


Clothing Essentials

When it comes to clothing for a float trip, comfort and functionality are key. Here are some essential items to consider for your float trip outfit:

  • Quick-Drying Clothes: Opt for lightweight and quick-drying materials like nylon or polyester. Avoid cotton as it retains moisture and can leave you feeling wet and uncomfortable throughout the trip.
  • Swim Shorts/Board Shorts: A pair of swim shorts or board shorts is a must for a float trip. They are designed to be in and out of the water, providing comfort and freedom of movement.
  • T-Shirts/Tank Tops: Choose breathable and moisture-wicking t-shirts or tank tops to keep you cool and dry. Consider ones with built-in UPF protection for added sun protection.
  • Long-Sleeve Shirt/Rash Guard: Bring a lightweight, long-sleeve shirt or a rash guard to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays. This is especially important if you’ll be spending long hours on the water.
  • Windbreaker/Rain Jacket: Depending on the weather forecast, pack a windbreaker or rain jacket to protect you from wind and unexpected showers. Look for ones that are waterproof or water-resistant.
  • Brimmed Hat/Cap: Shield your face and neck from the sun by wearing a brimmed hat or cap. This will help prevent sunburn and keep you cool under the scorching sun.

Remember to choose clothing that allows for a wide range of motion and fits comfortably, without any tight restrictions. Additionally, consider layering your clothing so you can adjust to changing weather conditions throughout the day.


Next, we’ll explore the different footwear options suitable for a float trip.


Footwear Options

Choosing the right footwear for a float trip is crucial, as you’ll be navigating both in and out of the water. Here are some footwear options to consider:

  • Water Shoes: Water shoes are specifically designed for water activities and offer excellent traction in wet conditions. Look for ones with a sturdy sole, quick-drying material, and a secure fit to prevent slipping.
  • Sandals: If you prefer an open-toe option, consider wearing sandals with straps that secure your feet. Choose ones made from waterproof materials like rubber or neoprene.
  • Old Sneakers/Waterproof Hiking Shoes: If you don’t have water-specific footwear, opt for an old pair of sneakers or waterproof hiking shoes. These will provide traction and protection while keeping your feet relatively dry.
  • Aqua Socks: Aqua socks are lightweight and form-fitting, offering a barefoot-like feel while providing protection from rocks and debris. They are a good option for moderate water conditions.

Regardless of the type of footwear you choose, ensure that they fit securely and that you can comfortably walk on various surfaces, including slippery rocks and sandy riverbanks.


It’s worth noting that some float trips may involve portaging or walking around obstacles, so having proper footwear is essential for both safety and comfort.


Now that you have your clothing and footwear sorted, let’s move on to the next important aspect of your float trip outfit: sun protection.


Sun Protection

When spending long hours outdoors on a float trip, protecting yourself from the sun is crucial to avoid sunburn and potential long-term skin damage. Here are some essential sun protection tips:

  • Sunscreen: Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high SPF (at least 30) to all exposed areas of your skin. Reapply every two hours or more frequently if you’ve been swimming or sweating.
  • Lip Balm: Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm containing SPF. Lips are often overlooked but are prone to sunburn.
  • Sunglasses: Wear sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful UV rays. Look for sunglasses that wrap around your face for maximum coverage.
  • Wide-Brimmed Hat: A wide-brimmed hat provides shade and protection for your face, neck, and ears. Opt for a hat made from breathable material, like straw or lightweight fabric.
  • Protective Clothing: Consider wearing clothing with built-in sun protection, like long-sleeve shirts and pants made from UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) fabric.

It’s important to note that the sun’s rays can still be strong even on cloudy days, so it’s essential to practice sun protection regardless of the weather conditions.


Now that you’re prepared with sun protection, let’s dive into swimwear options for your float trip.


Swimwear Options

Choosing the right swimwear is essential for your comfort and enjoyment during a float trip. Here are some swimwear options to consider:

  • One-Piece Swimsuit: One-piece swimsuits provide full coverage and support, making them a popular choice for women. Look for swimsuits with straps that stay in place and offer additional bust support.
  • Bikini: Bikinis are a classic choice for those who prefer a two-piece swimsuit. Opt for styles with secure ties or adjustable straps to ensure they stay in place in water and currents.
  • Board Shorts: Board shorts are a practical option for both men and women. They offer coverage and can be worn over a swimsuit for added modesty and sun protection.
  • Swim Trunks: For men, swim trunks are a popular choice. Look for ones made from quick-drying materials with a built-in mesh lining for added comfort and support.

When choosing swimwear, consider the activities you’ll engage in during the float trip. If you plan on swimming or participating in water sports, opt for secure and form-fitting options that won’t hinder your movement.


Remember to bring a change of dry clothes for after the float trip, as wearing wet swimwear for an extended period can cause discomfort and increase the risk of chafing or infections.


Now that you’re well-dressed for your float trip, let’s explore some accessory options that can enhance your experience.


Accessories to Consider

Along with the essential clothing and swimwear, there are a few key accessories that can enhance your comfort and enjoyment during a float trip. Here are some accessories to consider:

  • Waterproof Bag/Case: Keep your belongings safe and dry by bringing a waterproof bag or case. This will protect your phone, camera, wallet, and any other valuables from water splashes and accidental submersion.
  • Floatation Device: Ensure your safety on the water by wearing a properly fitted and Coast Guard-approved floatation device, such as a life jacket or a personal floatation device (PFD).
  • Wet Wipes/Towels: Pack some wet wipes or small towels to clean your hands and face, especially if you plan on having snacks or meals during the float trip.
  • Waterproof Phone Pouch: If you want to take photos or have your phone readily accessible, consider using a waterproof phone pouch. This allows you to capture memories without worrying about water damage.
  • Snacks and Water: Stay hydrated during your float trip by bringing plenty of water and energizing snacks like granola bars or trail mix. Remember to pack your provisions in waterproof containers.

These accessories will not only add convenience but also contribute to your overall safety and enjoyment during the float trip. Don’t forget to bring a sense of adventure and a positive attitude!


Now that we’ve covered the essentials and accessories, let’s move on to dressing appropriately for varying weather conditions.


Dressing for the Weather

When planning for a float trip, it’s important to consider the weather conditions you might encounter along the way. Here are some tips on dressing appropriately for different weather scenarios:

  • Hot and Sunny: If you’re expecting hot and sunny weather, opt for lightweight and breathable clothing to keep cool. Wear a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and apply sunscreen generously. Consider wearing a long-sleeve shirt or rash guard for added sun protection.
  • Cool and Windy: In cooler and windier conditions, layering is key. Start with a moisture-wicking base layer, add a long-sleeve shirt or a lightweight sweater, and top it off with a windbreaker or rain jacket. Don’t forget to wear a hat to keep your head warm.
  • Rainy: If rain is in the forecast, bring a waterproof or water-resistant jacket and pants. Consider wearing a brimmed hat or a cap to keep the rain out of your face. Pack extra dry clothes in a waterproof bag to change into after the float trip.
  • Cool Morning/Evening: If you’ll be floating during cooler morning or evening hours, dress in layers to account for temperature changes. Start with a base layer, add a lightweight jacket or hoodie, and have a hat and gloves on hand to keep warm. As the day heats up, you can easily remove layers.

Checking the weather forecast before your float trip will help you determine the appropriate clothing to wear. It’s always better to be prepared for changing weather conditions to ensure your comfort and enjoyment throughout the journey.


Now that you know how to dress for the weather, let’s move on to some packing tips to make your float trip a breeze.


Packing Tips

Packing efficiently for a float trip is essential to ensure you have everything you need without carrying unnecessary weight or bulk. Here are some packing tips to help you make the most of your space:

  • Create a Checklist: Make a list of all the items you’ll need for the float trip. This will help you stay organized and ensure you don’t forget anything important.
  • Roll Your Clothes: Instead of folding your clothes, roll them up. This not only saves space but also reduces wrinkles.
  • Use Waterproof Containers: Pack your belongings in waterproof containers or dry bags to keep them protected from water splashes and potential submersion.
  • Pack Extra Dry Clothes: Bring extra sets of dry clothes to change into after the float trip. This will ensure your comfort during the journey back home.
  • Consider Food and Snacks: If you plan on having meals or snacks during the float trip, pack them in waterproof containers or consider pre-packaged items that are easy to carry.
  • Carry a First Aid Kit: It’s always a good idea to have a basic first aid kit with essentials like adhesive bandages, antiseptic wipes, and pain relievers for any minor injuries or discomfort.
  • Don’t Forget Your Essentials: Remember to pack items like sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, sunglasses, and any specific medication you may need.

By following these packing tips, you can make sure you have everything you need without overpacking or leaving behind crucial items. Remember to keep your load light and manageable for a more enjoyable experience.


Now that you’re well-prepared, it’s time to hit the water and embark on your exciting float trip adventure!



Preparing for a float trip involves strategic planning and thoughtful consideration of your clothing and gear. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience on the water.


Remember to dress in quick-drying clothes, choose appropriate swimwear, and wear protective accessories like hats and sunglasses to shield yourself from the sun’s rays. Pack essential items like waterproof bags, floatation devices, and first aid kits to stay safe and prepared during your adventure.


Consider the weather conditions and dress accordingly, layering up for cool and windy days and protecting yourself from the rain. And don’t forget to roll your clothes and use waterproof containers to maximize space and keep your belongings dry.


By carefully considering all these aspects and taking the time to pack thoughtfully, you can ensure a successful and unforgettable float trip experience.


So, gather your friends or family, plan your route, and set off on your next float trip adventure. Enjoy the beauty of nature, the tranquility of the water, and create memories that will last a lifetime.