Essential and Comfort Items You’ll Want on Your Next Multi-Day Rafting Trip
Have you ever noticed that when someone complains about camping or any multi-day trip outdoors in general, they are usually complaining over being ill prepared? Whether they couldn’t sleep, eat, were too hot or too cold, most problems and discomforts are avoidable through proper planning. The only thing that makes being outdoors miserable is not being properly prepared. Having to bear the elements without sufficient gear, or comfort items, makes the difference between an awful trip and a great one.
Before your next multi-day whitewater rafting trip make sure you have everything that you need and also make you much more comfortable. One of the greatest benefits of camping while rafting is that you don’t have to physically carry all your gear on your person. The raft bears the weight, you simply have to steer and paddle it along. This allows us to bring many more comfort items, which would otherwise be left behind due to size or weight. That said, let’s go over some items you should consider bringing for your next multi-day rafting trip and ones you should definitely bring.
Critical and Essential Items
The exact gear you will need depends on whether your rafting trip is guided or not. Typically, rafting companies provide water, food, cooking equipment, rafting and safety equipment, first aid, portable toilets, and waterproof storage bags. Be sure to check with the rafting company itself to make sure that nothing important is forgotten or that you need to provide yourself. If you are not using a rafting guide company, be sure to pack these critical items with your gear.
Once the critical items are taken care of, we move on to the essential items needed. Nothing will keep you happier during a rafting trip than having the right outerwear with you for any given situations. These include:
Hats: You’ll want a visor or cap to shield you from the sun during the day. You will be thankful for the extra amount of shade when the sun is beating down on you. Also, bring a warm beanie to wear at night. After a full day of being wet, when night falls and the cold sets in, any extra heat you can keep will make all the difference to your happiness and comfort.
Footwear: There are three sets of footwear you will need to consider bringing.
- Sandals and lightweight tennis shoes for wearing in the raft.
- Hiking shoes or boots in case you take an afternoon hike or need to traverse difficult terrain.
- Something warm and comfortable for camp such as camp slippers.
Don’t rely on your rafting sneaker to hike in or wear all day. Your feet will not be able to take being wet for very long and it’s important to give them a break and dry out when you can.
Clothing: Rafting presents various situations to pack clothing for: the potential of getting wet, traveling on land at higher elevations, hot summer days, and cool summer nights. Each of those conditions requires certain clothing items to remain comfortable. While rafting trunks work best, and if the water is cold you may want to bring a wetsuit in order to stay warm. If a wetsuit seems overboard, a splash jacket will help to keep you dry.
Bring clothes to wear at camp or when hiking. When night falls, temperatures drop, especially at higher elevations, which means you should bring a warm jacket and/or a sweater and long pants. Considering it might rain, bring a rain jacket or poncho just in case.
Finally, bring a pair of the almighty sunglasses. Spending a full day on the river is going to put a beating on your eyes as the sun reflects off the water and canyons. Similar to snow blindness, you can actually burn your eyes due to the waters reflection over a long period of time. Bring a good pair of UV protectant sunglasses with sunglass straps, you’d hate to look over the raft or hit a big wave only to have your glasses fall into the water.
Safety Items: Don’t forget to bring sunscreen when you go rafting. Getting sunburnt your first day out is bad enough, continuing to get burnt every subsequent day after is awful. There is also the risk of having a heat stroke. Avoid this pain by ensuring you use sunscreen every day before setting out and periodically applying it throughout the day, especially after you get wet.
You will also be thankful to bring bug spray as well. Insects can be a major pain when outdoors, especially when they are persistent and en masse.
Developing a blister on your hands from paddling can be painful, having to continue paddling without protection to those areas can be excruciating. Bring a basic first aid kit to treat any scrapes, cuts or blisters during your trip.
Camping Gear: At the end of a long day and after you’ve had your fill with dinner, you’ll want nothing more than to slip into a deep and full sleep. Be sure to pack a tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping mat. Your sleeping bag and mat are the most important factors that determine the quality of sleep you will be getting. The sleeping bag should preferably be synthetic in case it becomes wet.
Your sleeping mat should also be carefully chosen. You can use simple foam mats, but nowadays they have inflatable sleeping mats which help tremendously by giving you a firm yet soft surface to sleep on. Foam mats help to soften the ground, but any bulges or rocks you sleep on will be felt.
Beyond the first aid kit, you should also have a full medical bag. Your medical bag is only as good as you make it, so be sure you take everything into account when creating it. Consider the possible injuries that might occur and plan accordingly. Consider headaches, migraines, sprains, abrasions, cuts, tear, punctures, burns, splinters, specialty medication, and anything else you can fathom and pack accordingly.
Finally, the last essential item is a headlamp or flashlight. Come nighttime, any movement whatsoever is only possible safely if you can see where you are going. You can easily roll an ankle or step on something you don’t want to by walking blindly in the dark.
Once your critical and essential items are taken care of, you can then focus on those that will simply make the trip more comfortable. Your trip will feel luxurious as it is rare to be able to bring so much comfort equipment on a normal outdoor excursion and you can thank the size of the raft for that. When hiking with gear on you, the motto is “Ounces make pounds, and pounds make pain.” When rafting with gear, you simply have to worry about securing it properly and keeping it balanced in the raft.
Music: William Congreve once said, “Music has charms to soothe the savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend knotted oak.” Most people would agree with this, and being able to make or listen to music while out in the wilderness can easily lift the lowest of spirits or even elevate high ones further. Bring a guitar, banjo, harmonica, or any other small/portable instrument. Once the music start and people join in dancing and singing, you’ll quickly realize its worth. Even if you don’t own an instrument, you can still make music. Banging sticks, plucking taught strings, and clanking rocks can still be enjoyable, though using actual instruments do make a difference.
A Good Read: A good book can be man’s best friend, a welcome escape, and a great distractor. People often find reading a good book in nature allows for a greater ability to reflect on what is written. The calmness and quiet of the outdoors may help with that, but either way, bringing something to thumb through is always nice during your down time.
Games: Sometimes people have an urge to play games, and fortunately there are plenty out there that are worth bringing. You can bring almost anything from chess and card games to dominoes and horseshoes. There are travel-sized editions of nearly any game you could hope to play, so options are abound. Games are useful for playing around the campfire or for something to do while in the tent at night.
Sleep Aid: Again, your sleep is going to be important. Beyond a sleeping bag and mat, you can bring a camping pillow and extra blanket. Some children love to sleep with their favorite stuffed animal, some adults need eye masks. Bring whatever you can think of which will make sleeping more comfortable.
Food: Food is one sure way to quickly lift spirits, so bringing your favorite snacks and candy is important. It also helps to provide additional calories and energy. Typically, you should avoid bringing anything that melts or spoils. Be sure to bring your favorite drinks as well, such as soda and even alcohol. Kicking back at the end of a day, and cracking open a chilled can of beer from the river is delightful to say the least.
Hopefully if you bring the items mentioned, your next multi-day rafting trip will be significantly more comfortable and enjoyable. Sometimes all that is needed to make a bad situation good are a few simple pleasures. Having comfort items while out in nature is typically what tips this scale.
At Wilderness Aware Rafting, our utmost passion is being the best river rafting guides we can be. This ensures we offer the best service to our customers year after year. If you are interested in a Colorado Rafting Trip, multi-day rafting trip, or want to try rafting the Salt River near Phoenix, AZ, please be sure to contact us and find out what white water rafting trips we have available. If by chance you care to try and be a river guide yourself, you can send us your inquiries as well!