Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed for a River Rafting Trip

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know You Needed for a River Rafting Trip

As the river season is nearing it’s end and shifting towards the winter snow; we’re ready to start preparing for the rafting season next spring.  Budgeting for essential gear and planning out your bigger purchases is the smarter move instead of scrambling last minute and paying full price for every item.   In March through April, shops will be looking to bring out their outdoor gear in preparation for the river sports season to start.  These items below will be a great guide towards any purchase, rental, or simply to best prepare for your next river adventure.

Swimwear or Athletic Attire

Whenever you get out on the river, you’re guaranteed to get at least a splash or two.  Having the proper clothing material or swimwear can truly make a difference in your experience.  Having a base layer of a swimsuit, quick dry shirt or shorts is highly suggested.  With any clothing material, one should avoid wearing COTTON at all costs. Wearing cotton will not keep one dry and warm when facing the cold river water and the summer heat.

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Proper Footwear

When considering footwear for your trip, having sturdy shoes or sandals are best on the raft.  Wearing athletic shoes can work but keep in mind, no matter what you wear; your feet will get wet.  One recommendation is to bring a secondary pair of shoes for once you get off the water.  Having to leave your trip with no dry clothes or dry shoes is definitely not a good feeling. 


It’s always best to have a strong support on your heel for all river conditions.  When looking at sandals, the back strap should be supporting the heel well for no loose footing.  Flip-flops and going barefoot is never suggested as there is no support, traction on your feet if something were to happen on your voyage.

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River Sandal

Wet Socks

Wet socks are a fantastic investment towards your trip if you are prone to getting cold easily and want to add an extra layer of warmth.  Raft guides will even suggest throwing these wet socks on with sandals.  Exposure helps them dry quicker, but you still have the support and layering you need with this combo.


Colorado’s elevation makes you that much closer to the sun, so even on a cloudy day, sunscreen should not be left behind.  Grab something at least SPF 55 or higher, and make sure it’s water resistant so you can stay protected at all times.


In these unforeseeable times for the season of 2021, one should always look towards the states’ mask policy and regulations from COVID.  Throughout the past year, rafting companies have been following state wide mandates that not only control how many people can travel on a raft, but also to wear a mask before and after the trip.  Buff masks over great sun protection on your neck and upper shoulders, so often you’ll see rafters with those.  Whichever mask you decide to bring, make sure to take it off while on the water as a safety precaution, keep your distance from others, and keep those masks dry while rafting so you can toss them back on once you eddy out.


Whether you’re wearing a helmet or not on the stretch of whitewater you’re headed to, packing a hat is a smart move.  When choosing a hat, having a bucket hat, brimmed baseball hat would be great to be able to wear with a helmet without any complications, and a nice wide sunhat works perfect for the more chill times on your adventure.

Water Bottle

No matter how long your rafting trip is, it’s always a good idea to bring water and hydrate.  In Colorado, the river may feel refreshing, but the low humidity and sun exposure can quickly make you dehydrated.  Having a water bottle on your trip is always accepted.  Pro tip: Bring a waterbottle with a loop and/or caribiner to easily attach it to the raft.

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Hydro Flask




Bright sun and hot summers are just enhanced when you’ve got water surrounding you.  Having polarized sunglasses will help protect those harmful UV rays.  Not having the right sunglasses or quality polarized can feel useless against the bright reflection of the sun when it hits the river.


Sunglasses Strap

If you are wearing higher end sunglasses or have perscription lenses; wearing straps to protect you from losing them to the river can be a lifesaver on your trip.  Whether you are going down Class V rapids to a leisure river cruise, we highly recommend snagging some of these before you head out on your trip.  Guides always love the saying “Be warned, the river has expensive taste!”

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Rain Jacket

Colorado can bring in some crazy weather during the ‘wet season’ in June and July.  Mornings can start off as dry and sunny, the by noon some dark clouds begin to loom in the distance and make their way over the Rockies.  Having a rain jacket when expectation of rain is in the forecast (or even just on deck in general) is a great thing to add to your packing list.

Protective Receptacles

On commercial rafting trips, it’s more often than not just suggested to leave all items of importance behind in your vehicle for when you return from the river.  For private trips, however, having dry bags, ammo cans, and even ziplocs or small containers is smart to keep all your articles safe from the river.  Don’t forget to strap in every single thing to the raft – the river is unpredictable and can toss whatever off in an instant.

All of the items mentioned are great tools for your rafting trip, whether it’s just a morning on the river or a multi-day overnight excursion.  Having these essentials can truly best prepare you for your adventure in Colorado.  For more information on gear rentals and more recommendations, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Colorado River Rentals.