Essentials for whitewater rafting

rafting whitewater river water

If you are planning to go on a whitewater rafting trip, then you definitely need to know what to pack. Whitewater rafting is an adventure worth your time and money. It’s a great outdoor sport with many amazing experiences full of awe.

However, it being among the most challenging outdoor adventures, you need to equip yourself with the right gear and other personal essentials in order to enjoy the sport to the fullest.

If you are doing this for the first time, then you probably don’t know all the items you need to pack. Although most outfitters provide you with rafting equipment, you still need to bring along some personal items. The items you need will depend on the river you’re going to, the time of the year and the length of your trip. Even at that, there are those items you’ll need despite all that.

So, what should you pack when going whitewater rafting? Here’s a reliable packing list.


As for clothing, forget about carrying or wearing cotton clothing because when you get wet (which is a must) the clothes will retain the wetness for longer. You need clothing that’s can easily dry out although you still need to pack extra clothes which you’ll wear after the adventure. If the weather is warm, you can have a bathing suit or quick-drying pair of shorts with a long-sleeved sun shirt.

For cold or rainy weather, be sure to pack a windproof and waterproof jacket, windproof and waterproof pants, fleece sweater, synthetic leggings, wool socks and synthetic long sleeve shirt. A warm hat will also go a long way and if you wear glasses, don’t forget a retainer strap to avoid them falling off.


Another important item you’ll need when going for whitewater rafting is the paddling booties. Forget about crocs and flip-flops. They won’t protect your feet and don’t be surprised if you lose them in the river. You need shoes that will stick to your feet no matter how vigorous the adventure becomes. Paddling booties are great because they are designed to protect your feet and keep them warm.

Plastic bag

Once you are done with the adventure and have changed your wet clothes and shoes, you’ll want a safe place to keep your wet clothes. This is where a plastic bag comes in because when you put your wet clothes inside, you are sure they won’t wet your other items.

Water bottle

Before you leave home, ensure you fill your water bottle with water. Water is your best companion when going whitewater rafting. When buying, try to get one that has a carabiner so that it is easier for you to clip it to the raft for easier accessibility.


If you have been on various outdoor adventures, then you know how annoying it is to deal with sunburns thereafter. The only way you can protect your skin from sunburns during a whitewater rafting adventure is to use a long-lasting, waterproof and sweatproof sunblock. Apply generously on any exposed skin surface before you embark on the journey and continue doing so from time to time until the end of the trip.


If you want to have something to snack on during the adventure, then don’t hesitate to pack some healthy snacks. Just ensure you pack the ones that are easier to carry and don’t require hot or cold storage.

Soap and lotion

After the adventure, you’ll want to wash off. So, pack some soap, lotion and other essential toiletries you use when taking a shower. You need to give your skin a treat after the sun and river water exposure. This will also help you to relax.

Essential gear for whitewater rafting

These are the items you must have before you get into the river. Even if you won’t pack them from home, you can rent them out from your outfitter.


Without the availability of the right boat, then there is no rafting and that’s final. The rafts typically come in two types. The most common type is the symmetrical raft which can accommodate a maximum of 12 people while the other one is inline which cannot carry more than three people. When choosing the type, do so bearing in mind that in addition to the group members, you’ll need a space for the guide who’ll be together with you during the trip. So, if you are more than two, then go for the symmetrical raft.


Just like the boat, there is no trip without the paddles. They are the ones used to move the boat. Your guide will guide you on how to paddle correctly so that the boat can move in the right direction. Paddles are made up of hard materials to help keep you away from stones and other obstacles along the rivers.


A wetsuit also known as a neoprene suit is one of the most essential items you’ll need to have when going for whitewater rafting. You are going to spend time in the river and you are bound to get wet. Thus, the wet suit is meant to keep you dry and warm.

The suit is made of a kind of rubber material known as neoprene. This material is preferred because it’s water-resistant, stretchy and flexible. There are many available wetsuits for hire but if you are into water adventures such as kayaking, scuba, waterskiing and other water sports, it would be better to buy yours. It’s cheaper than renting out every time you need it.


You need a helmet to protect your head in case you hit a rock during this adventurous game. Not that it often happens but it is important to protect yourself just in case. Make sure you get a helmet that comfortably fits you. An oversized helmet may not give you the protection your temple and scruff needs during that kind of sport. So, make sure the helmet fits you perfectly before making the purchase.


A lifejacket is a must when going for a rafting trip. Its main task is to protect you against injuries that can occur when rafting. For it to protect you accordingly, the jacket needs to be the right size per your weight. The lifejacket should also be brightly coloured and heightened for you to be easily noticed.

The bottom line

The above list is a great overview of everything you’ll need during your next whitewater rafting adventure. Make sure you pack all of them so that nothing gets in your way when you are out there ready to enjoy the sport. Besides, having everything you need within reach will make the sport extremely adventurous as well as help create beautiful unforgettable moments.

Also, come prepared for some arm workouts. As much as the guide will help to power the paddle, it’s also your responsibility together with other group members to paddle hard and power the raft in the right direction. After all, this is what this adventure entails.

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