Top 5 Gear Essentials for a Rafting Trip
Great, you’ve signed up for a rafting trip. Now what? OARS will send you a packing list that will cover every single weather situation possible, from hail to heat wave. But what are the essentials? Here are the top five pieces of gear that guides consider must-haves, including a couple of my favorite brands to check out.
You only have two hands–why limit yourself to one by holding onto a flashlight? Join the 21st century and buy a headlamp, preferably one with a red light option so that bugs won’t bother you while you read at night. I recommend the Petzl Tikka Plus 2 Headlamp, or if you don’t care for a red light option, the Black Diamond MoxieHeadlamp is another good choice.
No matter what time of year, you’re gonna want to make sure this is in your dry bag (yes, even in the Grand Canyon in July/August). Trust me. Here I’m wearing a Patagonia Torrentshell Jacket. Also, the Marmot’s PreCip Jacket is another solid choice.
3. Long Underwear
An excellent insulating layer, I’ve worn my long underwear during rainy river days under a pair of shorts, and also under a fleece skirt on cold evenings in camp, as seen here. I recommend the warmer long underwear made of polyester or even merino wool–think Patagonia Capiline 3 Midweight or Terramar Thermawool TXO 3.0. Silk long underwear feels heavenly against the skin, though it is not nearly as warm as these other materials.
4. Lightweight, Insulating Jacket
Layering is key on the river, as you need to adapt to the varying weather changes that happen throughout the day. Early in the morning I throw on my jacket as I get up to start coffee, or I use it as an extra pillow at night; it’s always at the top of my dry bag. On the river I’d suggest synthetic over down filling, because of the wet conditions, (though Sierra Designs Dri Down Jacket holds up to river life quite well). Do yourself a favor and invest in a solid piece of gear that you’ll use at home as well: Sierra Designs Dri Down Gnar Lite Jacket, Marmot Dena Jacket and Columbia Mighty Lite II Jacket are all excellent choices.
5. Fleece Skirt
My fleece skirt is my most essential item on the river by far. So much so that I own three. These skirts, both long and knee length, are a boater’s dream. They feature elastic waistbands and come in a variety of fun, bright colors and patterns. Fairly compact, a huge draw to these cozy skirts is the fact that they make changing out of wet river clothes a breeze (no pun intended). This is the item that guests will time and time again ask me where I bought. Check out the patterns yourself at Cold River Fleece Skirts.