What to Wear for River Rafting: The Complete Guide

What To Wear For River Rafting: The Complete Guide

White water rafting or river rafting is an exciting sport and an excellent outdoor recreational activity.

It allows you to navigate through the river rapids water using an inflatable boat.

As you go up and down the river rapids, the thrill is often accompanied with risks and challenges so rafting requires a great deal of teamwork.

While you don’t have to be a professional swimmer to enjoy rafting. All it takes is a simple set of instructions from the outfitters and you are ready for the ride.

Yes, you are ready for the adrenaline rush and thrill, but are you dressed properly?

Many people plan a rafting trip with their friends and family. They search for the best outfitter with an experienced guide and reliable equipment. It is obvious that people want safety on this bumpy ride.

So they go for the company which offers the highest levels of safety, have a first aid kit and other necessary equipment on board.

While some do their research for choosing the best and most reliable outfitter, many people are confused about how to dress up for rafting. If you are one of them, this guide is for you.

It includes all the information you need about rafting clothing. Whether you want to go for river rafting in summers or winters, having the right gear will allow you to make the most of your ride.

Below you will find out what to wear and what not to wear. Though the type of dress you choose for rafting clothing is critical, choosing the right material is equally important.

So if you are confused about the right type of material for your rafting clothing, you can find out relevant information here.

Let’s get started with a few tips using which you can make your rafting trip a trip to remember.

Significance of Dressing Appropriately for Rafting

Significance Of Dressing Appropriately For Rafting

River rafting is a wet sport.

Whether you stay on the boat or you dive into the river, you are bound to get wet.

And for this very reason, you need to dress appropriately for rafting. Below, you will find out what to wear and what not to wear for river rafting.

What do you wear for river rafting?      

All outfitters provide the equipment necessary for rafting. You will get a helmet, life jackets and paddles.

However, you will need to take care of other essentials such as clothing, shoes and sunglasses.

Though most outfitters provide these rafting essentials on rent, it is always a good idea to bring your own stuff. Let’s have a look at what you will need on your rafting adventure.

Rafting Clothing

Wet suit

Wet suit is a special type of swimsuit which keeps you warm. It is water proof and is designed to insulate the body.

Swimsuit

Swimsuit is a must. Regardless of the season, you need a swim suit which you can wear under the wet suit or along with your shorts or pants.

Shorts or Pants

Always go for synthetic material when choosing pants or shorts. Avoid denim or cotton pants or shorts as they retain water, become heavier and do not dry quickly.

Almost all outfitters rent good quality pants or shorts for your rafting ride, but bringing in your own pair will give you all the comfort you need on your rafting adventure.

Shirt

Many people prefer to wear a shirt over their swimsuit. If you are one of them, choose a tightly fitted shirt. It works best under wet suits.

Choose the shit you are most comfortable in keeping in mind the weather.

If you are comfortable with the sun and want a tan, go for a tank top but if you want to protect your hands from the sun, a long-sleeved shirt is ideal.

Extra Layers

Keeping a light weight jacket along is always recommended on your rafting ride.

A light wear jacket made from a synthetic material such as polypropylene or neoprene is ideal. It dries up quickly and provide you all the warmth you need when you are wet and cold.

Shoes

SHOES

While most people still manage to take care of their clothing, footwear is often the most neglected area.

Many people do not realize that they need proper footwear because they are required to walk through the shallower parts of the river and the river bed is full of rocks which are often sharp and slippery.

So as you are boarding on the raft and getting off it, it can be very painful to walk if you are not using the right footwear.

So always keep in mind that the right footwear can make a whole lot of difference.

When choosing the footwear for rafting, always remember,

Do not Wear Slippers or Flip Flops

Rafting is an extreme water sport.

Though many people choose flip flops as they come off easily but keep in mind that they can fall of the raft as easily.

In case that happens, you will not have the protection against the rocky, river bed and you might end up hurting your feet.

Go for Strapped Sandals

It is best to go for strapped sandals. Secured by Velcro, these straps allow you to adjust the grip of your shoe according to your comfort.

They also provide adequate grip and safety as you walk into the shallower parts of the river while getting on the raft and coming off it.

An added advantage! Strapped sandals dry quickly. So you can wear them as you leave your home, go rafting and come back in the same pair.

Cool isn’t it?

Crocs Can Be an Option

Crocs are often an option. They stay on your feet most of the time and they dry up quickly. While they give the perfect outdoor look to your attire, they do not have the best grip.

So as you walk in the river, there is a good chance that you might slip. Also, since they are designed to be worn slightly loosely, they can float away as you enjoy the river rapids. 

If You Have No Other Option, Go for Sports Shoes

Jogging or sports shoes is something most people prefer. You can wear jogging shoes as they provide full coverage to your feet. However, they can slip easily on wet surfaces.

So before you walk in the river, it is possible that it might even slip in the wet surface of the raft. Also, sports shoes do not dry up easily.

So if you are planning to wear sports shoes to your rafting adventure, make sure you have an extra pair of shoes to drive back home as coming back home in wet shoes can be quiet uncomfortable.

Don’t Forget the Socks

Socks is probably the last thing on your mind when planning rafting. But they can be a life saver.

So if you are rafting during the cooler months, woolen socks can help keep your feet warm during the trip. However, you don’t need socks if you are rafting during warmer months of the year.

Sunglasses

If you are planning a rafting trip on a bright sunny morning, then you need a good pair of sunglasses. Certainly you don’t want to be stuck with the sun all day.

But at the same time, you wouldn’t want to lose your favorite pair of glasses on your rafting adventure. So go for glasses which provide a comfortable fit even during the most rough rapids.

At the same time, provide protection to your eyes from the harmful UV rays of the sun.

Accessories

Towel

As you head out to the river, don’t forget to keep a dry towel. You will definitely need one at the end of your trip. You don’t have to go for a bath sheet.

All you need is a regular sized towel which is enough to dry up after you are all wet. At the same time, it should be small enough to fit in your bag.

Sunscreen

You would certainly not want to get stuck with the sun for a few hours and tan your skin. As you head for the river, lavishly apply a good quality sunscreen.

It will not only save you from tanning but will also protect your skin against the harmful effects of UV rays. But sunscreen is something you won’t need on the raft.

So apply it well before your rafting adventure begins.

What Not To Wear?

What Not To Wear?

Now that you know what to wear, it is equally important to know what not to wear. This information will prevent you from carrying unnecessary baggage to your rafting trip.

Denim/Jeans

Jeans/denim retains water and dries up slowly. As since you are bound to get wet on our rafting trip, opting for jeans can make you really uncomfortable.

Cotton Clothing

Similar to denim, cotton takes up a lot of time to get dry. Though it won’t get as heavy as denim, it is definitely not comfortable to be in an outfit which takes so long to dry.

Inappropriate Footwear

Don’t go for slippers, flip flops and any other type of footwear which can slip on wet surfaces. Also avoid wearing jogging or sports shoes as they can take very long to dry up.

Jewelry and Other Accessories

Taking care of jewelry and other accessories can be very difficult as you go rafting on the river rapids. Also wearing jewelry on rafting can increase the risk of injury or scratches on the skin.

Plastic Poncho

Don’t bring a plastic poncho on your rafting trip. It won’t keep you dry if it is rainy. Plus plastic ponchos are water resistant but not water proof so at the end of the day, you will be dampened. 

A Few Considerations When Heading Towards the River

A Few Considerations When Heading Towards The River

Take Weather into Account

Weather is one of the key considerations when choosing gear for river rafting. Weather conditions on the river change seasonally so it is important to dress accordingly.

If you are rafting in warmer weather, you should dress lightly. Remember to bring along a bathing suit, some old sneakers or water shoes if you have a pair.

You might also need to bring in a pair of shorts, a t-shirt (quick dry), a hat and sunglasses. Since the river rafting trip is usually a few hours long, it is important to wear a lot of sunscreen.

On the other hand, if you are rafting during the cooler months of the year, it is recommended that you go for heavier clothes. Make sure you dress up in layers which will definitely keep you warm, if not dry.

Adding a fluffy fleece jacket over the swimsuit will give you insulation. Wearing a woolen cap will protect your head from the cold air and water.

Type of River

All rivers are classified into six categories based on the type of rapids. River rapids are sections of river characterized by increased water turbulence due to steep gradient.

Category one is the easiest with limited or no rapids. This is generally safe and you are not expected to wear a helmet or other safety gear as the flow of the river is relatively stable.

But in case of higher categories of river where there are more extreme and dangerous rapids, it is risky to go without a helmet. So decide your gear keeping in mind the type of river you are rafting in.

Type of Material

For some people, it is given that they need a swimsuit and a pair of strapped shoes as they head towards the river. But many people choose the wrong material for their outfit.

It is important that you always go for synthetic material which is not waterproof but dries up quickly.

So always go for woolen, fleece, neoprene, polyester or any other quick drying fabric instead of cotton or any other pure fabric material.

What is Neoprene? – The Best Material for Rafting Clothing

As mentioned earlier, synthetic material is ideal when choosing the material for your rafting outfit. But there are many types of synthetic fabrics to choose from. One of the best choice is neoprene.

It is a brand name of polychloroprene, which is a synthetic substitute of rubber. It is produced by a process called polymerization. Chloroprene is polymerized to produce neoprene.

Due to its distinct properties, neoprene has wide commercial application.

It is commonly used as orthopedic braces, for electrical insulation and as laptop sleeves. However, one of the most important uses of this material is in swimwear.

Should You Wear Neoprene Clothing to rafting?

SHOULD YOU WEAR NEOPRENE CLOTHING TO RAFTING?

Neoprene is considered as one of the best materials for rafting outfits. There are a few reasons for that

Neoprene is Impermeable

Neoprene is impermeable. It forms a barrier between the skin of the person and all other elements.

Though this makes neoprene a piece of fabric with zero breathability, it provides insulation from external conditions.

This property makes neoprene an ideal material for rafting clothing as it protects the body from cold water making it completely waterproof.

It is Elastic

While neoprene provides a perfect barrier against river water, it provides a great stretch. The elasticity of this material allows swimmers to get into their swimsuit easily.

Neoprene Retains Heat

Most synthetic materials are sensitive to heat. They can melt as the temperature slightly increases. However, neoprene is heat resistant. Also, this property prevents the water from escaping the suit.

This triggers another action. As your neoprene swimsuit gets wet, the water gets absorbed in the cells of the fabric.

This retained water gets heated due to body temperature. In turn, your body stays warm even when your swimsuit is wet.

It is Not Woven 

Unlike most other types of fabric, neoprene is not woven. Instead, it is formed. It can also be pre-made literally into any shape and size. So it saves a lot of work in terms of customization.

In all, neoprene is the best material for swimsuits because it keeps the divers warm and waterproof even when they are fully submerged in river waters.

Ready, All Set!

A well thought out and the appropriate outfit is critical when planning river rafting.

It can make all the difference as you head out for your adventure. But an outfit is not all that you need.

As you head out to the river, you need a dry set of clothes, wear appropriate footwear, sunglasses and a dress made from the right material.

So if you follow the tips highlighted above, there is no doubt that you won’t enjoy your rafting adventure.

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