Packing the Ultimate Day Dry Bag

Whether you think of it as your river purse, briefcase, or man satchel, your small day dry bag is an essential element of your river gear. Below, a river guide shares what lives in her day bag and how to pack everything you’ll need between camp A and camp B.


Sunscreen & Lip Balm

Even on spring or fall trips, shielding your skin from the sun is a number one priority. Pack sunscreen in a sealable plastic bag to avoid UV protecting the inside of your bag (and gooping all your other items) and don’t forget the lip balm (with SPF)!

A whitewater rafting in Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River, Canyonlands National Park, Utah.

Sun Hat

Every river guide has chased a sun hat down the river on a windy day. An extra sun hat packed away will keep your nose shaded, despite any morning gusts.


Perhaps the most versatile river accessory, a lightweight sarong is a river must. Use it as a towel after a swim, shield your skin from the sun, or drape the fabric over your seat to keep sand or mud off your legs.


Extra Layers

In any river canyon the weather is unpredictable. Include your reliable rain layers and a lightweight fleece or long underwear top in your day bag to prepare for a chilly morning, afternoon thunderstorm, or surprise water fight.

Personal Toiletries

From contact lenses to medications to sanitary supplies, it’s always a good idea to keep important personal toiletries nearby and easy to access.


Camera (& Anything Breakable)

Don’t forget to capture the scenery, wildlife, big smiles and other memories of your trip! If your camera is not waterproof, pack it in a reliable bag or waterproof case. Any additional breakable items should also be packed in your day bag to help ensure they aren’t damaged in the boat loading/unloading process.

Final Notes on How to Pack Your Day Dry Bag

A dry bag only lives up to its name if you close it properly—check with your guide on the first day to ensure your rolling and buckling technique is correct! Less is more —your day dry bag should be easy to carry in one arm and swing on and off the boat.

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Top image credit: Andrea Herman


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