Once you have your awesome crew, the next thing to ask is……….
What should I bring on my American River rafting trip?
Whitewater rafting is a fun and exciting sport! Being properly prepared can make sure the day is enjoyable and leaves you fulfilled and happy when you lay down that night, not just tired and sunburned.
Breakfast: The most important meal of the day.
One of the most important things to remember is that you will be outside most of the day paddling, laughing, swimming, and hiking; all activities that burn loads of calories. Although it is something you will not bring along in a dry bag, having a good breakfast is one of the most important things you can do to prepare for the day.
Sunscreen, everyone’s best friend:
Next in line is plenty of sunscreen. Make sure you get some that is waterproof and high SPF. Even SPF 50 will only cover an eighth of your time in the sun, max! You can also bring SPF lip balm if your lips are prone to getting burned or chapped.
Clothing, be comfortable while having fun:
‘What should I wear’ is usually high up on the list of questions people ask, and dressing for your day can make the trip a lot more comfortable. Swim trunks and a shirt are a good place to start. The shirt provides protection from the sun and the swim trunks can make sitting on the rubber raft a lot more comfortable. Light long sleeve shirts and pants are available from outdoor retailers and will block the sun without overheating or restricting movement.
One saying that you might hear is “cotton kills”. While not strictly true, cotton is not the preferred material to provide warmth as it only works when dry and once wet “wicks” away heat. Polyester or other synthetic shirts are inexpensive and recommended on all but the hottest days.
Sunglasses, looking good while having fun:
Light reflects off the river and creates serious glare. Particularly if your eyes are sensitive to light, sunglasses are nice to have, but beware of expensive models, as the river has an appetite for them! Croakies (straps to hold them on your head) are available at the camp store for $5.
Hats, a little extra sun protection never hurts:
Helmets are mandatory on all trips and provide some shade, however, you may want a hat that will fit under your helmet. Particularly useful are baseball style caps. These add a visor with your helmet and total comfort when your helmet is off at lunch or while side hiking. Our own especially stylish trucker hats are available in the camp store and are great souvenirs too. If you take a hat make sure you still have sunscreen, as the sun reflects off the water and you can still get sunburned.
Shoes, your feet’s best friend:
Appropriate footwear is important, and at the very least sandals with straps around the heels (such as Teva’s) are required, and tennis shoes or another shoe with a closed toe is recommended. Bare feet and flip-flop style sandals are not allowed. In colder weather a pair of neoprene booties or wool socks are also recommended. Sandals are nice to have around camp or for changing into after the trip, so do feel free to pack them.
Water bottle, staying hydrated on the river:
Water will be provided on the trip but if you want to bring your own water bottle you are more than welcome to. We encourage people to bring their own reusable bottles and we have an ample supply of delicious water here in the Coloma Valley (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that they want to bring it home with them). Whether you bring one or not, remember to drink lots of water on the river. Even though you are getting wet all day you are still working hard and staying hydrated is important.
Wetsuits, keeping warm in the cold:
For most of the season wetsuits are not necessary. The River Center does have them available for rental and they can be provided upon request. If it looks like they will be required your guide will let you know and get you fitted. Feel free to ask ahead of time and you are always welcome to bring yours with you.
Cameras/watches/phones and the other electronic gadgets we all love:
These generally fall into the category of what not to bring on the river. Rafting is a wet and rowdy sport and any of these are subject to be damaged or lost. In the case of cell phones, service is not available for most of the trip, and guides will carry watches to make sure the trip is running on time. Photos are taken at several spots on the river and will be available for purchase after the trip. While you are welcome to bring a waterproof camera, realize that the opportunities for photos will be in the slower sections and at lunch when the raft is not paddling. Remember that your guide or rafting company cannot assume responsibility for your camera.
If you have any other questions on things to bring, feel free to reach out to our staff ahead of time or ask your guide before you head out on the water.
See you on the river!
Whitewater Operations Manager