By James Eastwood from Venchas (Adventures)
Deciding on what to wear when white water rafting is essential as it provides that safety barrier against injuries as you white-knuckle down the rapids. The right gear can also offer a comfort level so you can stay out on the water for longer doing what you love to do. This article will help you determine how much gear you should wear and the essentials that you will need to keep you consistently comfortable throughout the varying seasons.
Consider the weather
Just the same as with anything you do, you have to take into consideration what weather you are expecting for that day. Traveling down the rapids on a baking-hot day is different from making the same trip in the middle of winter. One thing that remains constant is that you will have a plastic helmet that never really sits comfortably on your head, and you will have a bulky lifejacket.
The first thing that you have to consider is that you are going to get wet. It is not a matter of if you get wet, but how soon you get wet. Once you get wet, it may mean that you are going to remain wet all day long. So the trick is to select clothes that will dry out quickly. You do not want to be wearing a fabric that retains the water and stays that way for hours.
The second thing to consider is that you are going to get wet and you do not want to be wearing clothes that may get spoiled by what could be dirty river water. It’s not a fashion show, so choose practical clothing that can either handle the sheer amount of water or that is unimportant to you. In the latter case, you can throw the stuff away if it is clothing that has reached the end of its life anyway.
When choosing your clothes, bear in mind that it is not beyond the realms of possibility that you fall out of the raft and will have to swim back to the raft and climb back in. Do not wear long, trailing clothes that will absorb water, holding you back. Sure, you will be wearing a lifejacket so you won’t sink, but you still don’t want the extra weight.
Cold weather white water rafting
In cold weather, there is an added challenge, just keeping warm. You are going to have to search out clothes that will keep you warm, no matter what the weather throws at you. It can get cold out on the river, and it is just no fun if you are cold all the time. There is also a risk of hypothermia in extreme weather. Remember, it is not only the water from the river you may have to deal with, what if it is raining hard?
The best solution is a wet suit. Neoprene can keep you warm while allowing you free movement to paddle. There are many styles of wet suit, but probably a sleeveless one is best for white water rafting, as the lack of arms allows you greater mobility.
Many stores will rent you a wet suit, make sure you try it on in the store.
Here are a few surprising facts about wet suits, which will help you decide if this is your solution.
- Wetsuits are not designed to keep you dry! The idea is to let in some water and let your body heat it, and in that way, you are kept warm, with this layer of warm water.
- Wetsuits give you a rash. In the past, this may have been true to some extent, but modern material is less abrasive, and they fit better these days.
- There is not much difference between wetsuits: Wetsuits can vary in cost from $50 to $650, and there is a big difference in quality between them. There is a variety of thicknesses ranging from 2 mm to 6 mm. The stitching varies, and some have taped seams, others do not. Finally, some have linings, and others are just a single layer.
“If you are experienced in outdoor activities, you will know this critical maxim.
Cotton might appear to be the ideal clothing for white water rafting, but cotton is an inferior choice. Once cotton gets wet – it stays wet, gets heavy, and offers no warmth. Avoid cotton clothes for your trip at all costs.
Warm weather outfits for white water rafting
In warm weather, it is much simpler, and you do not need the expense and trouble of wet suits. You can get by with a minimum of clothes. The following are examples of good choices.
- Snug fit shorts made of synthetic material is a great start. Snug fit clothes will trap body heat, and synthetic materials will dry much quicker.
- Tank top or short sleeve top again made from synthetic materials.
- You may prefer a long sleeve top to protect from the sun made from anything other than cotton.
Shoes for white water rafting
Shoes are pretty important when you are white water rafting. Your feet are going to be used to brace yourself, and you may need to wedge your foot somewhere and use it to lock yourself in place and stop yourself being thrown out of the raft. And you may need sturdy shoes for walking along the river banks. Flip flops are useless as they come off so quickly and offer little protection for the foot. I can see why people might consider them ideal as it does not matter if they get wet, but they have far more disadvantages than advantages. Sandals that have toe protection may be suitable for some trips, but a better solution is athletic training shoes or even better, water shoes, but essentially the shoe must protect your foot, not be too heavy and not come loose if you end up swimming.
Other things to remember to take
There are a few other things to remember. First of all, bring sun protector cream. It is so easy to get burnt when out on the water. Bring a waterproof bag you can clip onto your belt, for all those things that you want to keep dry. If you wear glasses and they are loose, you may lose them overboard. Wear one of those cords that go around the back of your neck as an added precaution. A first aid kit is a non-contestable item that should always be brought, continue reading here for the best IFAK’s of 2020.
Enjoy your rafting experience.
With the right clothes and kit, it can make all the difference and allow you to have a great day of rafting. If you want to read more about adventure and camping gear check out some posts from our friends at Venchas here.