The One Piece of Gear You’ll Wish You Had on a River Trip

4 Min. Read

Maybe you’ve heard you should add a sarong to your rafting trip packing list, but you aren’t exactly sure what it is or why you would need it. For those in the know, this thin, lightweight piece of fabric is a simple item, but a total game changer. It’s an essential piece of gear that has so many different uses on a river trip that you definitely won’t regret packing it. Plus, a sarong can easily be stuffed into any dry bag, so why not throw one in just in case?

11 Super Practical Uses for a Sarong on a Rafting Trip

11 Super Practical Uses for a Sarong on a Rafting Trip

1) Instant skirt or dress

Gentlemen, you’ll never go back to pants or shorts, we promise. Wearing a sarong as a skirt makes using the bathroom easier for ladies and allows guys a chance to dry out after spending the whole day in wet shorts. Just tie two corners together and make sure the knot is tight so you don’t lose it if a friend decides to give it a teasing tug. Or, for an effortless dress (perfect for an unexpected formal wear evening on any trip), tie the top two corners of your sarong around your neck and then tie the edges behind your waist to create an effortless dress.

2) Sun protection

You can tie a sarong to trees during lunch, drape it over your head and shoulders on a hike or lay it across your thighs on the boat to give your skin some relief from the sun. Your skin will thank you.

11 Super Practical Uses for a Sarong on a Rafting Trip

3) Cooling tool

On brutally hot days just dip your sarong in the water and drape it over your legs, shoulders, back, whichever part of you is roasting at the time. The soaked cotton will keep you cool much longer than polyester. You can also sit on it and use it as a protective barrier between your skin and hot dry boxes or coolers.

4) Fast-drying towel

No need to bring a beach towel on your river trip. A sarong is large enough to dry off with and wrap yourself in after a much-needed river bath. Plus, it dries in a fraction of the time as even the best designed quick-drying towels.

11 Super Practical Uses for a Sarong on a Rafting Trip

5) Personal changing booth

Want to quickly change out of your wet swimsuit and into shorts or pants, but avoid mooning the rest of the group? Wrap the sarong around your waist and discretely take things from wet and soggy to dry and comfy. Or, use it to rig a quick privacy screen near your tent. Just keep in mind that sarongs can be somewhat sheer when the sun hits it just right.

6) Substitute shawl or scarf

You’re often fully exposed to the elements when rafting. For a quick shawl or cover-up, you’ll be glad you brought a sarong. It can help protect sunburnt skin or provide a bit of extra warmth when the sun disappears behind the clouds and the breeze picks up.

11 Super Practical Uses for a Sarong on a Rafting Trip

7) Gadget protection

If you brought your good camera or GoPro and want to make sure it remains in one piece, wrap it in your sarong for a bit of added protection when keeping it handy at camp or stashed in your dry bag.

8) Picnic blanket or tablecloth

Do you try to practice Leave No Trace principles? Using a sarong as a picnic blanket or tablecloth will enable you to easily toss your crumbs in a garbage or compost receptacle when you’re finished eating.

9) Makeshift backpack

It is unlikely you will be packing a backpack along with you on a river trip. Luckily, your handy dandy sarong can be fashioned into a pack that will hold your water bottle and sunscreen for you on a hike or swimming hole mission.

11 Super Practical Uses for a Sarong on a Rafting Trip

10) Spare blanket or sheet

For some people, the comfort of having something lightly cover your body is essential for falling asleep. Depending on the time of year and your location, sometimes all you need is a sarong to send you off to dreamland. You can also use them on top of your Paco pad, like a sheet, to avoid sticking to the plastic in the summer heat.

11) A cushy pillow

Even if you’re going with an outfitter who provides a comfy pillow, you might prefer a fluffier, multiple pillow set up when you’re sleeping under the stars. Use your sarong to create an extra one by choosing your softest clothes (puffy coats work best) and wrapping it around them to hold the bundle together. Allow your head to sink into the pile and the sound of the river lull you to sleep.

Pro tip >> Be sure to choose one that is as colorful and bright as the places you’ll be exploring. It’s part of the fun!

Photos: Rig to Flip and James Kaiser

Sign up for Our Newsletter

Compare Adventures

Select up to 3 trips to compare