5 Easy Costumes to Pack for a River Trip

3 Min. Read

The best part of a river trip is, of course, the rafting. But the nighttime atmosphere is a close second—things are cooling down, you’ve got a gorgeous riverside party venue, and you’ve likely got a few adult beverages to enjoy. Whether your crew has decided on a theme in advance or you’re throwing together an impromptu dress-up party, costumes are a tried-and-true river trip tradition. Toss one of these ideas into your gear to ensure you’ll be ready to join in on the fun.

5 Easy Costumes to Pack for a River Trip

1) Flashy Tights

Spandex has a way of upping the costume ante. Pair shooting star or American flag-themed leggings with your best wig or tutu, or trot them out as if they’re a perfectly normal part of your standard river wardrobe. Added bonus: obnoxiously-patterned tights give you unlimited range of motion, making it easy to add snap-kicks or cartwheels to your costume party routine. You’re basically dressing up as a superhero.

2) Evening Wear

This easy costume is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. Head to a local thrift store or Goodwill before your trip and grab some inexpensive and fun evening attire. Look for a fancy dress in bright colors or an old tuxedo jacket and you’ll be set. But to really do it up, make sure your outfit looks like it’s been stuffed into somebody’s closet since their prom in 1981. The funkier the better. Add some colorful costume jewelry, a flower lei or fun bow tie to the ensemble and you’ll be ready for a beachside soiree.

5 Easy Costumes to Pack for a River Trip

3) Mullet Wig

The mullet wig is as versatile as it is timeless. Bring two, black and blonde, and you’ll have no trouble convincing a friend to “Party On” with you. A mullet goes well with sparkles and sequins, a mostly-unbuttoned shirt, and, naturally, the old sun’s-out-guns-out look. Throw it on under a hat to keep the back of your neck from getting sunburned. Brush up on your movie quotes before the trip, as you’ll likely be expected to quote liberally from classics like Joe Dirt and, of course, Wayne’s World.

4) Pirate

The beauty of the pirate costume is that it requires virtually no preparation before your trip begins—and it gives you license to be totally irreverent. You’ve got a bandana with you, right? Tie it on your head. Unbutton that shirt down to around belly button level, and really let your greasy hair do its thing. If you’re really feeling festive, you can improvise an eye patch from pirated first aid kit items. Then, get ready to make your friends walk the plank. Or at least join you for a cold beer.

5 Easy Costumes to Pack for a River Trip

5) Footie Pajamas

Fuzzy full-body PJs aren’t just for kids anymore. Invest in a onesie, like a lion costume or a print of your favorite cartoon character, and you’ll be happy to have it for countless river trips. This costume’s appeal is in its simplicity: you literally don’t need anything else to make it work. Consider waiting until evening, when things have cooled down a little, to make your debut—pajamas may protect you from UV rays, but they certainly don’t breathe very well.

Photos: Jessica Oveson; Emily Nuchols; Madalyn Russell

Portrait of Emma Walker and her dog on the river

Emma Walker

Emma Walker is the author of the book "Dead Reckoning: Learning from Accidents in the Outdoors." She earned her M.S. in Outdoor and Environmental Education from Alaska Pacific University and has worked as a raft guide, avalanche educator, and backpacking instructor around the American West.

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