Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

What I Wish I Brought On My Grand Canyon Rafting Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Wanda Gleason



Embarking on a grand canyon rafting trip is an adventure of a lifetime. The towering cliffs, breathtaking views, and thrilling rapids make for an unforgettable experience. However, to ensure that your trip goes smoothly and that you have everything you need, proper trip planning is essential. In this article, we will explore the essential gear and supplies you should bring with you on a grand canyon rafting trip.


Whether you are a seasoned rafter or a first-time adventurer, having the right gear can make all the difference. From camping equipment to navigation tools, each item plays a vital role in ensuring your comfort, safety, and enjoyment during the trip.


Additionally, packing the right clothing and footwear is crucial for the varying weather conditions and physical demands of rafting. Sturdy and water-resistant apparel, along with appropriate footwear, will keep you comfortable and protected throughout the journey.


Of course, your personal items are also important to consider. From toiletries to medications, having your essentials with you ensures that you can maintain your hygiene and health even in the remote wilderness of the grand canyon.


When it comes to sustenance, proper water and food supplies are crucial. Staying hydrated and well-nourished is key to your physical and mental well-being during the trip. Additionally, having safety equipment such as life jackets, first aid kits, and emergency communication devices is vital to ensure your safety and the safety of your fellow rafters.


While the grand canyon itself provides an awe-inspiring backdrop, it’s always a good idea to bring along navigation tools to help you explore and navigate the expansive waterways and trails. Maps, compasses, and GPS devices can be incredibly useful for staying on the right path.


And let’s not forget about entertainment and recreation! While the grand canyon offers plenty of natural wonders to marvel at, it’s also a great idea to bring along books, cards, or other forms of entertainment to enjoy during downtime.


In addition to all the essential gear, there are miscellaneous supplies that can come in handy. From extra batteries to repair kits, these items can save the day when unexpected situations arise.


So, let’s dive into the details of each essential category and discover what items are a must-have for your grand canyon rafting adventure. By being prepared and packing smart, you can make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience and create cherished memories that will last a lifetime.


Essential Gear for Rafting

When it comes to rafting the grand canyon, having the right gear is essential for a safe and enjoyable trip. Here are some of the key items you should consider packing:

  • Raft or Kayak: Depending on your preference and experience, choose either a raft or kayak that is suitable for the grand canyon’s Class III to Class V rapids.
  • Paddles and Oars: Bring along sturdy and reliable paddles and oars that are designed for river use. Ensure they are properly secured to prevent loss.
  • Life Jackets: Every person on the raft should have a properly fitted and U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Safety should always be the top priority.
  • Helmet: Protect your head during challenging rapids by wearing a helmet specifically designed for whitewater rafting.
  • Throw Bag: This essential safety tool allows you to throw a rescue line to someone in the water in case of an emergency.
  • Repair Kit: Carry a repair kit with adhesive patches, a pump, and extra valves or plugs in case of any equipment damage.
  • Dry Bags: Keep your belongings safe from water damage by packing them in dry bags. These waterproof bags are a must-have on the river.
  • Bailer or Bilge Pump: Quickly remove excess water from your raft with a bailer or bilge pump.
  • Waterproof Camera: Capture the breathtaking moments of your rafting trip with a waterproof camera. Ensure it is securely attached to avoid accidental loss in the river.

These are just a few examples of the essential gear you should consider bringing for your grand canyon rafting adventure. Each item serves a specific purpose and contributes to a safe and enjoyable experience on the water. Remember, it’s important to invest in high-quality gear that is appropriate for the river conditions and your level of experience.


By having the right equipment, you can navigate the grand canyon’s rapids with confidence and fully immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of this natural wonder.


Camping Equipment

When embarking on a grand canyon rafting trip, camping along the riverbanks is a part of the adventure. Here are some essential camping equipment items you should bring:

  • Tent: Choose a waterproof and sturdy tent that can withstand the elements. Make sure it is easy to set up and provides enough space for all occupants.
  • Sleeping Bags: Opt for sleeping bags that are suitable for the expected temperatures and offer adequate insulation. Consider compressible bags for easy packing.
  • Sleeping Pad: A comfortable sleeping pad provides insulation from the ground and ensures a better night’s sleep. Choose one that is lightweight and easy to pack.
  • Camp Stove: Prepare meals while camping with a reliable camp stove. Ensure it is compatible with your fuel source and easy to use.
  • Cooking Utensils: Pack basic cooking utensils like pots, pans, and utensils for preparing meals while at the campsite.
  • Camp Chairs or Stools: Rest and relax at the campsite with lightweight and compact camp chairs or stools.
  • Campfire Supplies: Check local regulations for campfires and bring necessary supplies, such as firewood, fire starters, and a portable fire pit, if permitted.
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: Navigate the campsite in the dark with a reliable headlamp or flashlight. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries.
  • Camp Kitchen Setup: Organize your cooking and food preparation area with a camp kitchen setup that includes a table, storage bins, and dishwashing supplies.
  • Trash Bags: Pack extra trash bags to properly dispose of waste and keep the campsite clean.

These camping equipment items will ensure your comfort and convenience during your grand canyon rafting trip. Remember to pack lightweight and compact gear to maximize space and minimize the weight of your overall load. Additionally, be mindful of any camping restrictions or regulations in the area and follow Leave No Trace principles to preserve the wilderness.


With the right camping equipment, you can enjoy peaceful nights under the stars as you take in the grandeur of the grand canyon.


Clothing and Footwear

When it comes to clothing and footwear for your grand canyon rafting trip, it’s important to strike a balance between comfort, protection, and versatility. Here are some essential items to consider packing:

  • Swimwear: Pack swimwear for those moments when you want to cool off or take a dip in the river.
  • Quick-Drying Shirts: Opt for moisture-wicking and quick-drying shirts to keep you comfortable during the day.
  • Lightweight Pants or Shorts: Choose lightweight and breathable pants or shorts for hiking and other activities on land.
  • Long-Sleeve Shirts: Protect your arms from the sun and bugs with long-sleeve shirts made of lightweight and breathable fabric.
  • Insulating Layers: Pack insulating layers such as fleece jackets or vests for cooler evenings and early mornings.
  • Rain Gear: Prepare for potential rain showers with a waterproof and breathable rain jacket and pants.
  • Sun Hat or Cap: Shield your face and neck from the sun’s rays with a wide-brimmed hat or a cap with a neck flap.
  • Sunglasses: Protect your eyes from the sun’s glare with sunglasses that provide UV protection.
  • Hiking Shoes or Sandals: Choose sturdy and comfortable footwear that is suitable for hiking on various terrains. Consider water shoes or sandals for water activities.
  • Socks: Bring extra pairs of moisture-wicking and quick-drying socks to keep your feet comfortable and prevent blisters.

Layering clothing is essential as it allows you to adjust to changing weather conditions and varying levels of activity. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics that dry quickly to keep you comfortable even when you’re sweating or in wet conditions.


It’s also important to be mindful of the environmental impact. Pack clothing that is durable and can withstand the rigors of the trip. Avoid bringing excessive amounts of clothing and opt for versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched.


By choosing the right clothing and footwear, you’ll be prepared for the elements and able to fully enjoy your grand canyon adventure.


Personal Items

When preparing for your grand canyon rafting trip, it’s important not to overlook the personal items that can make your experience more comfortable and convenient. Here are some essential personal items to add to your packing list:

  • Toiletries: Pack travel-sized toiletries such as toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, shampoo, conditioner, and sunscreen.
  • Medications: Carry an ample supply of any prescription medications you require, as well as over-the-counter medications for common ailments.
  • First Aid Kit: Prepare a comprehensive first aid kit with bandages, disinfectant, pain relievers, antihistamines, and any other necessary medical supplies.
  • Personal Hygiene Items: Don’t forget items like a travel towel, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, and menstrual products for personal hygiene.
  • Personal Documents: Keep important documents such as identification, insurance cards, permits, and emergency contact information in a waterproof bag.
  • Cash or Cards: Bring some cash for emergencies and situations where card payments may not be accepted.
  • Electronics: If desired, pack essential electronics such as a smartphone, camera, and portable power bank, but be mindful of protecting them from water damage.
  • Journal and Pen: Capture your thoughts and memories in a journal, and bring a pen to document your experiences.
  • Reading Material: A book or e-reader can be a great way to unwind during downtime at the campsite or on the river.
  • Personal Comfort Items: Consider bringing small comfort items like a pillowcase, earplugs, or a small blanket to enhance your sleeping experience.

These personal items may seem small, but they can greatly contribute to your overall comfort and well-being during the trip. Remember to pack them in waterproof bags or containers to protect them from water damage.


Consider the specific needs and preferences of each individual in your group to ensure that everyone has the personal items necessary for a successful and enjoyable grand canyon rafting adventure.


Water and Food Supplies

Proper hydration and nourishment are crucial for sustaining your energy and overall well-being during a grand canyon rafting trip. Here are some essential tips for water and food supplies:

  • Water: Staying hydrated is of utmost importance. Bring enough water to last the duration of your trip, considering the number of people and the estimated daily water consumption. Opt for reusable water bottles or hydration packs.
  • Water Filtration System: Depending on the length of your trip, consider bringing a reliable water filtration system such as a filter, purifier, or water treatment tablets. This allows you to safely drink water from natural sources along the journey.
  • Non-Perishable Food: Pack a variety of non-perishable food items that are easy to prepare and provide the necessary nutrition. Examples include trail mix, energy bars, canned food, dried fruits, nuts, and jerky.
  • Cooking Supplies: If you plan on cooking meals, bring appropriate cooking supplies such as a camp stove, pots, pans, utensils, and fuel. Consider prepping and portioning meals in advance for convenience.
  • Cooler: If space allows, bring a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs to store perishable items like fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and meat.
  • Meal Plan: Create a meal plan ahead of time to ensure you have enough food and to avoid overpacking. Consider dietary restrictions and preferences of the group members.
  • Extra Snacks: Pack extra snacks for quick energy boosts during activities or when you need a little something between meals.
  • Waste Management: Properly dispose of food waste and adhere to Leave No Trace principles. Pack out any non-biodegradable waste and dispose of food waste in designated areas.

It’s essential to plan and pack enough water and food for the duration of your grand canyon rafting trip. Stay hydrated, consume nutritious meals, and be mindful of food safety practices to ensure a healthy and enjoyable adventure.


Remember, the grand canyon is a protected area, and it’s important to minimize waste and preserve the natural environment. Pack thoughtfully and consider lightweight, compact, and eco-friendly options for your water and food supplies.


Safety Equipment

When embarking on a grand canyon rafting trip, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some essential safety equipment items you should include in your packing list:

  • Life Jackets: Every person on the raft should have a properly fitted and U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket. Ensure they are accessible and worn at all times on the water.
  • Throw Bag: This essential safety tool allows you to throw a rescue line to someone in the water in case of an emergency. Familiarize yourself with its proper use.
  • First Aid Kit: Prepare a comprehensive first aid kit with bandages, disinfectant, pain relievers, antihistamines, and any other necessary medical supplies. Include any personal medications or emergency supplies specific to individual needs.
  • Emergency Communication Devices: Carry a reliable emergency communication device such as a satellite phone, radio, or personal locator beacon (PLB) to call for help in case of emergencies in remote areas.
  • Helmet: Protect your head during challenging rapids by wearing a helmet specifically designed for whitewater rafting. Ensure it fits properly and is securely fastened.
  • Whistle: Carry a loud whistle to attract attention in case you become separated from your group or need to get attention from others in an emergency situation.
  • Knife or Multi-tool: Have a versatile knife or multi-tool that can assist in various situations, such as cutting ropes or assisting in emergency situations.
  • Waterproof Bag or Case: Protect valuables and essential items such as phones, cameras, and documents with waterproof bags or cases. This ensures they stay dry and functional.
  • Emergency Blanket: Pack an emergency blanket to provide warmth in case of unexpected cold temperatures or emergencies.
  • Fire Starter: Include a fire starter kit with waterproof matches, a lighter, or another reliable method to start a fire for warmth or to signal for help.

These safety equipment items are essential for your well-being and preparedness during the grand canyon rafting trip. Familiarize yourself with their proper use and ensure that everyone in your group understands their importance.


Additionally, it’s crucial to have a thorough understanding of the risks and challenges of rafting in the grand canyon. Stay informed, follow safety guidelines, and be prepared for unexpected situations to ensure a safe and enjoyable adventure.


Navigation Tools

When venturing into the vastness of the grand canyon, having reliable navigation tools is crucial for staying on course and exploring the area safely. Here are some essential navigation tools to consider including in your packing:

  • Maps: Carry detailed maps of the grand canyon, including topographic maps and river maps. Familiarize yourself with the routes, landmarks, and potential hazards before setting off.
  • Compass: A compass is a valuable tool for orienting yourself and maintaining a sense of direction, especially in areas with limited visibility or when electronic devices fail.
  • GPS Device: Consider bringing a reliable GPS device or smartphone with GPS capabilities. Load it with relevant maps and waypoints to assist with navigation.
  • Waterproof Case or Bag: Protect your maps, compass, and GPS device from water damage by storing them in a waterproof case or bag. Ensure it is easily accessible and secure.
  • Whistle: Besides its use as a safety item, a whistle can also be used for navigation. Familiarize yourself with whistle signals and their meanings to communicate with other members of your group.
  • Guidebooks or Information Guides: Invest in guidebooks or information guides specific to the grand canyon to provide valuable insights on landmarks, trails, and potential points of interest.
  • Binoculars: Binoculars can help you observe distant landmarks, wildlife, or potential obstacles along your route. Choose lightweight and compact binoculars for ease of carrying.
  • Wristwatch or Timekeeping Device: Keeping track of time is important for estimating distances, monitoring progress, and adhering to any specific time constraints.

These navigation tools will assist you in safely navigating the grand canyon’s vast and intricate network of waterways and trails. Familiarize yourself with their use before your trip and consider taking a navigation course to further enhance your skills.


However, it’s important to remember that navigation tools should complement basic navigation skills, such as reading the landscape, observing natural landmarks, and listening to experienced guides or locals. Be prepared, stay vigilant, and remain adaptable in case of unexpected changes or challenges.


Entertainment and Recreation

While exploring the grand canyon is an adventure in itself, there may be downtime between activities or evenings at the campsite when you’ll want to relax and unwind. Here are some entertainment and recreation items to consider packing for your grand canyon rafting trip:

  • Books: Bring along your favorite books or e-books to enjoy some quiet reading time during the trip. Choose genres that inspire and captivate you.
  • Playing Cards: A deck of playing cards can provide endless entertainment. Play classic card games or learn new ones with your fellow rafters.
  • Board Games: Pack small, travel-sized board games that can be enjoyed by the group. Look for compact versions with magnetic pieces for easy transportation.
  • Musical Instruments: If you have musical skills or enjoy playing instruments, consider bringing a compact and durable instrument to entertain yourself and others.
  • Photography Equipment: Capture breathtaking moments and stunning landscapes with a camera or smartphone equipped with a quality lens. Experiment with different techniques to unleash your creativity.
  • Binoculars: Enhance your wildlife viewing experience by bringing binoculars to observe birds, animals, and other natural wonders from a distance.
  • Nature Guidebooks: Bring guidebooks dedicated to the flora, fauna, and geology of the grand canyon. Learn about the unique ecosystem and enhance your understanding and appreciation of the environment.
  • Sketchbook and Art Supplies: Unleash your artistic side by bringing a sketchbook and art supplies to capture the beauty of the grand canyon through drawings or paintings.
  • Journal: Keep a journal to record your thoughts, reflections, and memories throughout your grand canyon adventure. Documenting your experiences will be a priceless keepsake.
  • Binoculars: Enhance your wildlife viewing experience by bringing binoculars to observe birds, animals, and other natural wonders from a distance.

These entertainment and recreation items will keep you engaged and entertained during downtime on your grand canyon rafting trip. Remember to strike a balance between enjoying these activities and fully immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring natural beauty that surrounds you.


However, it’s important to be mindful of your surroundings and considerate of others. Keep noise levels to a minimum, respect the tranquility of the area, and follow any rules or guidelines set by the park or tour operators.


Take the opportunity to truly connect with nature and appreciate the peacefulness and tranquility that the grand canyon offers.


Miscellaneous Supplies

When packing for a grand canyon rafting trip, there are a few miscellaneous supplies that can come in handy for various situations. Here are some items that you should consider including in your packing list:

  • Batteries: Bring extra batteries for your electronic devices, including flashlights, headlamps, cameras, and GPS devices.
  • Repair Kit: Pack a small repair kit with items like duct tape, zip ties, and patching material. These can be used for quick fixes on equipment or gear.
  • Multi-tool or Pocket Knife: A versatile multi-tool or pocket knife can be incredibly useful in a wide range of situations, such as cutting ropes, fixing gear, or preparing meals.
  • Ziploc Bags: These handy bags can help organize and protect smaller items from water damage or keep wet items separate from dry ones.
  • Personal Floatation Device (PFD) or Dry Bag: If you plan on bringing electronic devices or other items that must stay completely dry, consider investing in a personal floatation device (PFD) or dry bag.
  • Garbage Bags: Bring a few garbage bags to help keep your campsite clean and properly dispose of any waste during your trip.
  • Insect Repellent: Protect yourself from pesky insects by packing insect repellent. Look for options that are effective against mosquitoes and other biting insects.
  • Sunscreen: The grand canyon’s sun can be intense. Remember to bring sunscreen with a high SPF rating to protect your skin from harmful UV rays.
  • Extra Rope or Cordage: Additional lengths of rope or cordage can come in handy for various purposes, such as setting up a clothesline, securing gear, or constructing a shelter.
  • Binoculars: If you enjoy bird watching or spotting wildlife, bringing a pair of binoculars can enhance your grand canyon experience.

While seemingly small, these miscellaneous supplies can make a big difference when it comes to convenience, organization, and preparedness on your grand canyon rafting trip. Don’t underestimate the value of these items in providing solutions to unforeseen circumstances or unexpected needs.


Remember to pack these miscellaneous supplies in waterproof and durable containers or bags to protect them from water damage and ensure they are easily accessible when you need them.


By being prepared with these additional items, you can handle various situations with ease and maximize your enjoyment of the grand canyon’s stunning beauty.



A grand canyon rafting trip is an incredible adventure that offers breathtaking views, thrilling rapids, and a chance to connect with nature on a whole new level. As you prepare for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, it’s important to pack the essential gear and supplies that will ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment throughout the journey.


From essential rafting gear such as life jackets and paddles, to camping equipment like tents and sleeping bags, every item plays a crucial role in making your trip a success. Proper clothing and footwear will protect you from the elements, while personal items like toiletries and medications keep you healthy and comfortable.


Water and food supplies are vital for maintaining your energy and hydration levels during the trip, and safety equipment including first aid kits and communication devices provide peace of mind in case of emergencies.


Navigation tools help you explore the grand canyon with confidence, while entertainment and recreation items offer a chance to relax and enjoy the moments of downtime. Don’t forget about the miscellaneous supplies that can come in handy in various situations.


By considering each category and packing smartly, you can embark on your grand canyon rafting trip with the confidence that you have everything you need for an unforgettable adventure.


Remember, while it’s important to be prepared, it’s also essential to respect and preserve the natural environment. Follow Leave No Trace principles, adhere to park regulations, and be mindful of the impact you have on the grand canyon’s delicate ecosystem.


So, gather your gear, plan your meals, and get ready to experience the grandeur of the grand canyon. Let the rushing rapids, towering cliffs, and serene beauty of this natural wonder captivate you as you embark on an extraordinary journey of a lifetime.