An Essential Packing List for Your First Rafting Trip

Colorado river rafting trip

If you have not done this already, do you yourself a favor: get out a pen and paper and write “Take a Colorado river raft trip” on your bucket list. Colorado river raft trips give you the opportunity to experience nature in ways that you’ve never seen before. The rapid waters, the scenery around you, and the mild temperatures that you experience on a Colorado river raft trip are unmatched by anywhere else in the world. A successful whitewater rafting experience depends on getting good water flow from melting snow running off the mountains; the mountainous terrain of the Upper Arkansas River Basin creates once-in-a-lifetime Colorado river raft trip opportunities throughout the spring and summer.

We hope we’ve convinced you to sign yourself up for one of the many awesome single day or multi day rafting trips available throughout the Colorado river. If you are on board with our adventure, and this is your first time taking a rafting camping trip, we’ve put together a convenient packing list for you:

  1. River Shoes.

    Throughout your whitewater rafting adventures, you’ll be walking on slippery rocks, in soggy conditions, and possibly in areas with high water pressure. Of all of the gear you need to bring, investing in sturdy river sandals that have good tread will make your experience best.

    If you’re just “testing the waters” (pun intended) to decide your interest in whitewater rafting and don’t want to invest in good sandals, you could probably get away with an old pair of running shoes. However, this might get uncomfortable when they get soggy, and keep in mind that they definitely will not survive the trip.

  2. Sunscreen and Lotion.

    The sunny, wet, and sandy conditions of your whitewater rafting trip will quickly dry your skin out. Make sure to keep sunscreen on to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful UV rays, and pack some good quality lotion to soothe and moisturize your skin after a day of activity.
  3. A Wet Bag.

    Putting your wet belongings in your rafting bag will immediately make all of your clothes wet. You can get a nice wet bag that will separate your wet clothes and keep you dry clothes dry from any sporting good store. Unless you’re an avid rafter you can avoid this expense though, just keep a pack of Ziploc bags on hand so that you don’t end up with soggy close throughout your trip.
  4. Industrial Tape.

    There are about one million unpredictable situations that could occur during your Colorado river raft trip. It is not practical or even feasible to pack for every situation. Having industrial tape, such as duct tape or cloth medical tape, to repair your clothing or shoes, or any other situation that could occur will really save your buns.

  5. Off-duty Clothing.

    At the end of the day, when you set up camp, bring some small and easy-to-pack-away clothes to relax in. Consider some easy slip-on sandals, a T-shirt, and shorts. Store them in a Ziploc bag so they stay dry throughout your adventure and give you the chance to lounge when the day is over.

    As a bonus tip, we recommend bringing a simple sarong with you as well. A sarong takes up almost no space, and provides a cover while you change, the convenient blanket, a shawl, and the uses go on.


  6. Your Beverage of Choice.

    Depending on the whitewater rafting tour company you use for your adventure, all of your food needs will probably be provided for you. However, most people have a special drink that makes their day better. Maybe a cup of coffee in the morning or a nice hot cocoa at night, or an adult beverage, if that’s what makes your day better. Whatever your drink preferences, we recommend bringing it with you, so you can unwind or get ready for the day in the way you prefer.
  7. Extras, if you have the room.

    A couple extras that you’ll be glad if you have the room for include:
    • A mild rain poncho.
    • Pain relief medication, such as Ibuprofen or Tylenol.
    • Your favorite source of entertainment — a book, pen and journal, playing cards, etc.
    • A nice hoodie for camping.

Have you ever taken a Colorado river raft trip? Do you have other packing essentials that we didn’t mention? Please shout them out in the comment section below.


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