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What To Bring On A White Water Rafting Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Glenna Beltz



White water rafting is an exhilarating outdoor activity that combines adrenaline-pumping adventure with breathtaking natural surroundings. Whether you’re a seasoned thrill-seeker or a first-time rafter, proper trip planning is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. One crucial aspect of trip planning is knowing what gear and equipment to bring along.


In this article, we will guide you through the essential items you need for a white water rafting trip. From clothing and footwear to safety equipment and navigation tools, we’ve got you covered. So, before you embark on your next rafting adventure, make sure to have these key items on your checklist.


Keep in mind that the specific gear you’ll need may vary depending on the location, duration, and difficulty level of your rafting trip. It’s always best to check with your rafting tour operator for any specific requirements they may have. Now, let’s dive into the essential gear you should bring for a white water rafting expedition!


Essential Gear

When preparing for a white water rafting trip, having the right gear is crucial for your safety and comfort on the water. Here are some of the essential items you should bring:

  • Life Jacket (PFD): A properly fitting personal flotation device (PFD) is a must-have for any rafting adventure. It will keep you afloat in case of an unexpected fall into the water.
  • Helmet: Protect your head from potential bumps and collisions with rocks by wearing a sturdy, properly fitting helmet.
  • Paddle: Your tour operator will likely provide paddles, but if you have your own, make sure they are suitable for white water rafting.
  • Throw Bag: This throwable bag with a rope is essential for performing rescues in case of emergencies.
  • Repair Kit: Bring along a small repair kit with tools and materials to fix any minor damages to the raft.
  • Dry Bag: Keep your personal belongings safe and dry by storing them in a waterproof dry bag.
  • Waterproof Case: If you plan on taking your smartphone or other electronics with you, a waterproof case will protect them from water damage.
  • Whistle: Carry a whistle to attract attention in case of an emergency or to communicate with your fellow rafters.
  • First Aid Kit: A well-stocked first aid kit is essential for treating any minor injuries that may occur during the trip.

These items are crucial for your safety and should not be overlooked. Make sure all the gear is in good condition and properly fitted before setting off on your white water rafting adventure.



Choosing the right clothing for a white water rafting trip is essential to stay comfortable and protected from the elements. Here are some clothing items to consider:

  • Swimsuit or Quick-Drying Shorts: Wear a swimsuit or quick-drying shorts as your base layer under a wetsuit or splash jacket. Avoid cotton materials as they tend to stay wet and can make you feel cold.
  • Wetsuit: Depending on the water temperature, wearing a wetsuit may be necessary to keep you warm. It provides insulation and protection against the cold water.
  • Neoprene Socks or Booties: Protect your feet from rubbing and blisters by wearing neoprene socks or booties. They also provide additional insulation.
  • Long-Sleeve Synthetic Top: A lightweight, long-sleeve synthetic top provides sun protection and an extra layer of warmth.
  • Base Layer: Depending on the weather, wear a moisture-wicking base layer to keep you dry and comfortable.
  • Insulating Layer: If the weather is cooler, bring along an insulating layer like a fleece jacket or sweater to keep you warm.
  • Rain Jacket: In case of rain or splashing water, a waterproof and breathable rain jacket will keep you dry.
  • Sun Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun’s rays by wearing a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses with UV protection.

Remember, it’s important to dress in layers so that you can easily adjust your clothing based on the changing weather conditions and your activity level. Additionally, consider bringing extra dry clothes to change into after your rafting trip to ensure your comfort during the journey back home.



Choosing appropriate footwear for a white water rafting trip is crucial as it provides traction, protection, and comfort while navigating the river. Here are some footwear options to consider:

  • Water Shoes: Opt for water shoes specifically designed for rafting. They are lightweight, drain water easily, and provide good grip on wet surfaces.
  • Sports Sandals: If you prefer more open footwear, sports sandals with sturdy soles and straps are a good choice. Look for ones that are water-resistant and offer full toe protection.
  • Old Sneakers or Aqua Shoes: If you don’t have specialized water shoes or sports sandals, you can wear old sneakers or aqua shoes with good traction. Just ensure they are securely fastened to your feet.

When choosing your footwear, keep in mind that they will get wet, so select materials that dry quickly. Additionally, consider the terrain you will encounter during the trip. Some rivers may have rocky sections, so choose footwear that provides adequate protection for your feet.


Whichever option you choose, make sure your footwear is comfortable, securely fitted, and allows for proper movement. Avoid wearing flip-flops or any footwear that can easily slip off while you’re in the water or walking on rough terrain. Having the right footwear will greatly enhance your rafting experience and help prevent accidents or injuries.


Personal Items

In addition to essential gear and clothing, there are personal items that you should bring along for a white water rafting trip. These items can enhance your comfort and convenience during the expedition. Here are some personal items to consider:

  • Sunscreen: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays by applying sunscreen with a high SPF rating. Choose a water-resistant formula that won’t easily wash off.
  • Insect Repellent: Depending on the location, insects can be bothersome. Apply insect repellent to keep bugs at bay.
  • Towel: Bring a lightweight, quick-drying towel to dry off after your rafting adventure.
  • Personal Medications: If you have any prescription medications or require specific medical supplies, be sure to bring them along. Keep them in a waterproof container to ensure their safety.
  • Camera: Capture the memorable moments of your white water rafting trip by bringing a waterproof camera or a protective case for your smartphone.
  • Cash and ID: Carry some cash and identification in a waterproof pouch or dry bag for any unexpected needs or emergencies.
  • Snacks: Pack some energizing snacks like granola bars or trail mix to keep you fueled during breaks or long rafting sessions.
  • Extra Plastic Bags: Bring some extra plastic bags to store wet items or to keep your belongings dry in case of rain.

These personal items can make a difference in your overall comfort and enjoyment during the trip. Remember to pack them in a waterproof container or bag to keep them safe from water damage. It’s always better to be prepared and have these items on hand, so you can fully enjoy your white water rafting experience.


Safety Equipment

Ensuring your safety is paramount during a white water rafting trip. That’s why having the appropriate safety equipment is essential. Here are some safety items you should bring along:

  • Rescue Whistle: Carry a loud, waterproof whistle to alert others if you need help or to communicate with your fellow rafters.
  • Knife: Pack a utility knife or a multi-tool with a sturdy blade. It can come in handy for cutting ropes or freeing yourself from any entanglements.
  • Waterproof Flashlight or Headlamp: In case of low-light situations or emergencies, a waterproof flashlight or headlamp can provide illumination.
  • Emergency Blanket: A lightweight, compact emergency blanket can help retain body heat and protect against hypothermia in case of unexpected cold weather or prolonged exposure to water.
  • Emergency Flotation Device: Consider bringing an inflatable emergency flotation device, such as a rescue throw bag or a buoyant sling, for additional safety measures.
  • Floatation Wristbands: If you are not a strong swimmer, wearing inflatable floatation wristbands can provide an extra layer of buoyancy in case you fall into the water.
  • Personal Locator Beacon (PLB): For remote or challenging rafting locations, carrying a PLB can be a wise decision. These devices alert search and rescue teams in case of emergencies.

In addition to these items, it’s important to listen to and follow the safety instructions provided by your rafting guide or tour operator. They will provide essential information on rafting techniques, safety protocols, and what to do in case of emergencies. Remember, your safety should always be a top priority when engaging in any outdoor adventure.


Food and Water

Proper hydration and nutrition are vital during a white water rafting trip to maintain your energy levels and stay hydrated. Here’s what you should consider when it comes to food and water:

  • Water: Carry an ample supply of water to stay hydrated throughout the trip. Opt for a reusable water bottle that is durable and can be easily secured to the raft.
  • Hydration Pack: If you prefer a hands-free hydration option, consider using a hydration pack that allows you to drink water through a tube. This can be convenient during active rafting sessions.
  • Energy Snacks: Pack portable and non-perishable snacks such as granola bars, nuts, or dried fruit to keep your energy levels up during breaks or longer rafting stretches.
  • Meals: Depending on the duration and arrangement of your rafting trip, plan your meals accordingly. Some operators provide meals, while others may require you to bring your own pre-prepared meals or supplies.
  • Cooler or Insulated Bag: If you need to keep perishable food items fresh, bring a cooler or insulated bag with ice packs to maintain their temperature.
  • Water Purification System: For longer rafting expeditions or when relying on natural water sources, having a water purification system such as a filter or water treatment tablets can be crucial to ensure safe drinking water.

Remember to pack food and water in secure, waterproof containers or bags to prevent any contamination or damage. It’s important to balance your meals with ample water intake to stay hydrated and fueled throughout your white water rafting adventure.


Navigation Tools

Having the right navigation tools can help you stay on course and ensure a smoother white water rafting experience. Here are some essential navigation tools to consider bringing along:

  • Maps: Obtain detailed maps of the river or area where you’ll be rafting. Familiarize yourself with the key landmarks, rapids, and exit points.
  • Compass or GPS: A compass or GPS device can help you navigate your way along the river and provide valuable information about your location.
  • River Guidebook or App: Invest in a comprehensive river guidebook or download a reliable river app that provides information about the rapids, river features, and key points of interest.
  • River Flow Gauge: Check the river’s water flow levels using a river flow gauge. This information can help you assess the difficulty and conditions of the river.

It’s crucial to thoroughly study and understand the river and its features before embarking on your rafting trip. Additionally, consult with experienced guides or locals who are familiar with the area to gain insights and tips about navigating the river safely.


Remember, navigation tools should be kept in a waterproof and easily accessible container to protect them from water damage. Utilizing these tools will help you navigate the river with confidence and make the most of your white water rafting adventure.


Camping Equipment

If your white water rafting trip involves overnight stays, having the appropriate camping equipment is essential. Here are some essential items to consider:

  • Tent: Choose a lightweight and waterproof tent that can accommodate the number of people in your group. Ensure it is easy to set up and durable enough to withstand outdoor elements.
  • Sleeping Bag and Sleeping Pad: Invest in a high-quality sleeping bag that is suitable for the temperature range of your camping location. Additionally, a comfortable sleeping pad provides insulation and cushioning for a good night’s sleep.
  • Camp Stove and Cookware: A portable camp stove and cookware set will enable you to prepare meals and enjoy hot drinks while camping. Opt for lightweight and compact options.
  • Food Storage Containers: Use durable, airtight containers to store your food and keep it safe from wildlife and pests.
  • Camping Chair: A foldable camping chair provides a comfortable seating option during downtime at the campsite.
  • Headlamp or Flashlight: Ensure you have a reliable light source for moving around the campsite at night.
  • Campfire Cooking Tools: If campfires are allowed, bring along essential campfire cooking tools like a grill grate, firestarter, and camping utensils.

Additionally, be sure to check with your rafting tour operator regarding their camping arrangements. Some operators provide camping gear, while others may require you to bring your own. Remember to pack all camping equipment in waterproof bags or containers to protect them from water damage and ensure they are easily transportable.


Proper camping equipment will enhance your outdoor experience, making your overnight stays comfortable and enjoyable.


Miscellaneous Items

Aside from the essential gear, clothing, and navigation tools, there are a few miscellaneous items that can come in handy during your white water rafting trip. Here are some miscellaneous items to consider:

  • Waterproof Camera: Capture the excitement and natural beauty of your rafting adventure with a waterproof camera. Make sure it is securely attached to your body or raft.
  • Binoculars: Spot wildlife, bird species, or scenic views along the river with a compact pair of binoculars.
  • Bug Spray: Keep pesky insects at bay by packing a reliable bug spray or insect repellent.
  • Cash or Credit Card: While rafting trips often provide most amenities, it’s always a good idea to have some cash or a credit card for unexpected expenses or emergencies.
  • Sun Hat and Sunglasses Strap: Securely fasten your sun hat and sunglasses with a strap to prevent them from getting lost in the water.
  • Book or Playing Cards: Relax during downtime by bringing a book or a deck of playing cards to enjoy with your fellow rafters.
  • Waterproof Watch: Keep track of time and stay on schedule with a waterproof watch that can withstand water exposure.
  • Trash Bags: Pack some extra trash bags to maintain the cleanliness of the campsite and leave no trace behind.

While these miscellaneous items may not be essential, they can add convenience and enhance your overall experience while rafting. Remember to pack them in waterproof bags or containers to protect them from water damage.


It’s important to note that the weight and space limitations on the raft may restrict the number of personal items you can bring. Always consider the practicality and necessity of each item before packing it for your white water rafting trip.



Proper trip planning is vital for a successful and enjoyable white water rafting adventure. By ensuring you have the essential gear, clothing, and equipment, you can navigate the river with confidence and stay safe throughout your trip.


In this article, we’ve covered the key items you should bring on a white water rafting trip. From safety gear like life jackets and helmets to appropriate clothing and footwear, each item plays a crucial role in enhancing your comfort and protection.


Additionally, navigation tools, camping equipment, and personal items can enhance your overall experience and make your journey more convenient and enjoyable. Remember to pack items like navigation tools, camping gear, and miscellaneous items that align with the specific needs and requirements of your trip.


Lastly, always prioritize safety. Familiarize yourself with the river, its rapids, and potential hazards. Listen to the instructions of your guide and follow their advice. With proper preparation and a responsible approach, you can have an incredible white water rafting experience.


So, whether you’re embarking on a thrilling white water rafting adventure for the first time or you’re a seasoned rafter, make sure to pack these essential items and get ready for an unforgettable journey on the water!