What To Bring On Your White Water Rafting Trip

These packing guides will help you gather what you'll need to make your rafting trip as enjoyable as possible. It's always a good idea to check the upcoming weather for your trip (links are included on each river's individual page at the bottom), and adjust accordingly. Also, don't forget to pack any special needs you may have, such as medicines. We supply all river equipment (rafts, paddles, life jackets), and have wet suits available for rent if you need one for your trip.

Choose the category that best describes your rafting trip:

  1. All Summer 1-Day Rafting Trips
  2. All Spring and Fall 1-Day Rafting Trips
  3. Overnight Rafting Trips
    Lower Kern - Kaweah - Kings - South Fork American - North Yuba
  4. Overnight Wilderness Rafting Trips
    Tuolumne - Merced - Middle Fork American - Forks Of The Kern

Summer 1-Day Rafting Trips

  • keenfootwearSwim suit or shorts.
  • Protective footwear: tennis shoes which lace tight, wetsuit booties, or rugged, protective sandals which securely strap on such as Keen Newports (pictured at right - visit http://www.keenfootwear.com). Bare feet or thongs are NOT SAFE on the river.
  • Secure headstraps for sunglasses or eyeglasses – if worn.
  • Sunblock cream. Plan to use plenty of sun cream (with a high SPF #) on exposed skin, but don't put sunscreen on your forehead – or waves will wash it down into your eyes! Protect your forehead with a sun hat (with chin-strap) or a visor.
  • Sun hat or visor with a chin strap.
  • Plastic water bottle filled with drinking water – we have jugs on the rafts to replenish these.
  • A change of clothes for the drive home.
  • A magnetic hide-a-key box under your car makes a good place to hide your car key while you're on the river.

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Spring and Fall 1-Day Rafting Trips

  • Plenty of warm clothes made of synchilla, polarplus, wool, fleece, capilene and similar materials which insulate well even when damp. Please avoid wearing cotton which when wet does not provide insulation and in cool or cold weather it will make you colder!
  • Waterproof paddle jacket, windbreaker, or rain suit.
  • Wool hat (or synchilla, polarplus, etc.).
  • Wetsuit – recommended on all rivers through May and year round on class V rivers. Wetsuits may be rented directly from Whitewater Voyages. Trip members renting wetsuits should bring their own booties or lace-on tennis shoes with thick wool socks.
  • If rain or cold weather is a possibility, bring extra wool, capilene, or pile clothing and a rain jacket or windbreaker to wear over the wetsuit. Cloth shorts worn over wetsuits make you less slippery and help you stay in the raft.

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Overnight Rafting Trips
Lower Kern - Kaweah - Kings - South Fork American - North Yuba

On these overnight trips, either everyone parks near camp, or the overnight gear is transported to camp by vehicle, so you can take not only the essentials, but also some extras, such as folding chairs!

  • Sleeping bag, small pillow and air mattress or foam pad.
    Self-inflating mattresses are the way to go.
  • Flashlight with extra bulb and batteries
  • Pants and shirt
  • Camp shoes and socks for hiking or loafing
  • Tent – compact tent in case of rain.
    These can be rented from Whitewater Voyages for most rivers.
  • Towel
  • Insect repellant
  • Toothbrush and basic toiletries

Optional Gear:

  • Small light tarp or flat poncho to use as a ground cloth - especially useful if you don't bring/use a tent.
  • Disposable waterproof camera.
    Note: We sell these on the South Fork American and Kern Whitewater Voyage's trips. Bring non-waterproof cameras at your own risk. We recommend insurance. Waterproof pouches and boxes are available at camera, sports and surplus stores – a good choice is the watertight, inflatable "Sport Pouch."
  • Clean set of clothes to leave in your car for the journey home
  • Wool or down coat, extra warm hat
  • Extra optical glasses with head strap or extra contact lenses – if worn
  • Fishing gear – light fly or spinning gear which disassembles into a compact protective case is best. Licenses are required.

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Wilderness Rafting Trips
Tuolumne - Merced - Middle Fork American - Forks Of The Kern

On our wilderness trips on which all overnight gear is carried downriver or (as on the Merced) ferried across the river on rafts, we provide compact waterproof bags for your gear. It is a good idea to keep your overnight gear together in a sturdy lightweight pack or soft duffle bag. On these multi-day wilderness trips, bring plenty of warm clothes but otherwise please pack lightly and compactly to keep the boats light and maneuverable.

Beer or cocktails welcome (in moderation) for camp. Because your safety is our primary concern, we ask that you do not drink alcoholic beverages on the morning of a trip or while on the river. No radios or firearms please.

  • Sleeping bag, small pillow and air mattress or foam pad.
    Self-inflating mattresses are the way to go.
  • Flashlight with extra bulb and batteries
  • Pants and shirt
  • Camp shoes and socks for hiking or loafing
  • Tent – compact tent in case of rain.
    These can be rented from Whitewater Voyages for most rivers.
  • Towel
  • Insect repellant

Optional Gear:

  • Small light tarp or flat poncho to use as a ground cloth - especially useful if you don't bring/use a tent.
  • Disposable waterproof camera.
    Note: We sell these on the South Fork American and Kern Whitewater Voyage's trips. Bring non-waterproof cameras at your own risk. We recommend insurance. Waterproof pouches and boxes are available at camera, sports and surplus stores – a good choice is the watertight, inflatable "Sport Pouch."
  • Clean set of clothes to leave in your car for the journey home
  • Wool or down coat, extra warm hat
  • Extra optical glasses with head strap or extra contact lenses – if worn
  • Fishing gear – light fly or spinning gear which disassembles into a compact protective case is best. Licenses are required.

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Other River Trips You Might Like:

South Fork American River Fun Run
Class III-IV - 1 Day

Lower Kern River Jungle Run
Class III-IV - 1 Day

Lower Kern River Big Water
Class IV - 1 Day

Lower Kern River Southern Sierra Escape
Class III-IV - 2 Days

Upper Kern River Snap, Crackle and Pop
Class III-IV - 1/2 to 1 Day

Kings River Mega Joy Ride
Class III+ - 2 Days

Merced River Foam Dancer
Class IV - 2 Day

Middle Fork American River Blaster
Class II-IV - 1 or 2 Days

Kaweah River Sequoia Shooter
Class IV+ - 1 Day

Kaweah River Sequoia Gateway
Class IV+ - 2 Day

Lower North Yuba Shangri-La
Class IV-V - 1 Day

North Yuba River Maytag Whirl
Class III-IV - 1 & 2 Days

Whitewater Guide School

Group Trips

" I've been on half a dozen trips with you folks. It's always great. This year we're going to try class IV. YeeHaw!!!! "
- Elise Pickins

" The 'Crawford Clan' of five had an awesome time on the North Fork of the American with Dan as our guide. Ian, Dan, Peter, and Glen were all excellent guides, friendly folks, and incredible people to hang out with. Our four boat posse only saw one other raft on the water all day, the water level was high and intense, and our guides took care of us while having fun right along with us. The offering of a free campsite was perfect for us city dwellers, and only added to our incredible journey. Chris, Zack, Brock, Monique, and our planner Mike all thank you kindly! "
- Chris
San Francisco, California

" We had a blast on the middle fork of the American on Sunday. Got within 30 yards of a large black bear. And really enjoyed the day with our guide 'Bean' thanks again. GREAT TRIP!!!! "
- Blake Ridgway
Santa Rosa, California

" My daughters and I have just had the best vacation ever, thanks to the staff of Whitewater Voyages! We were on your Tuolumne River trip on August 26-28. The weather was perfect and the river and side streams were absolutely incredible. But what made it all work was the teamwork of the guides and chef. Our heartfelt thanks to all of these marvelous people for making our trip truly memorable. "
- Ann C. Lynch

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Whitewater Voyages
11252 Kernville Road, Kernville, CA 93238
Call Toll Free: 800-400-7238
The Leader in California White Water Rafting Trips Since 1975

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