If you’re an adventurer- or are among the 68% of Americans who want to be more adventurous- there are a lot of options for you. Seeing new areas is a lot of fun, as are extreme sports. White water rafting is an activity that combines these two things and allows you to have the experience of a lifetime.
Here, we’re going to give you some rafting tips so that you can have fun and stay safe while experiencing more of the world. Read on to prepare yourself for expanding your horizons in the best possible way!
1. Choose the Right Trip
Before you go white water rafting, you’ll need to choose the trip that appeals most to your needs. There are a couple of questions that you need to ask yourself before setting off. Considering the options available to you will ensure that you have as fun a time as possible while on your trip.
Where Do You Want to Go Rafting?
When considering where you want to have your rafting experience, there are a few things you should ask yourself.
- What kind of weather/temperature do you want to go rafting in?
- What sorts of wildlife do you want to see?
- How strong of currents are you comfortable with?
If you’re really invested in warmer weather, Georgia and Florida are good places to go rafting. However, you’re likely to have a better overall experience in a place like Idaho, where there are strong currents, more sites to see, and a greater amount of wildlife that you can experience.
How Long Do You Want to Be on the Water?
There are generally two options for rafting trip lengths: day trips and half-days.
If you’re a first-timer, you probably will want to try a half-day trip for your initial experience. White water rafting is physically demanding, and you don’t want to overwork your muscles if you’re not used to strenuous activity.
However, for those who have gone rafting before, a day trip is the better alternative. You’ll get to go further from your campsite and therefore see more of the natural world around you. Also, full-day experiences usually include food, which is another plus.
2. Dress Appropriately
When you go white water rafting, it’s important that you wear the appropriate attire. If you don’t, you’re going to be very uncomfortable, especially when you (inevitably) get wet. Wearing the wrong clothes could also become a safety hazard because cold water getting into your clothes for extended periods can cause hypothermia.
In the Summertime
If you’re going rafting in the summer, you’ll want to wear:
- A well-fitting swimsuit
- A t-shirt or tank (over the swimsuit)
- A tight cardigan (in case you get cold when water splashes on you)
- A baseball cap (to keep sun and water out of your eyes
- Water shoes or sneakers
While many people wear flip flops in the summer, this can be dangerous while rafting. If your sandal catches on a rock, it could pull you right off the raft. Loose clothes also carry this risk. Also, flip flops are prone to falling off, which will leave you without a shoe when they float away.
For the Colder Months
If you’re headed off on a fall, spring, or winter adventure, you’ll need:
- Wool sweaters, pants, and socks (wool provides insulation and warmth even when wet)
- A wool cap (you don’t want to lose heat in your neck and face)
- A wetsuit (underneath your clothes)
- Paddling pants and jackets (to keep the spray off your body)
- Water shoes
Note that you also will want to bring a towel, a hairbrush, and a change of clothes so that you can be comfortable again after your time on the water.
3. Wear Your Safety Gear
In addition to wearing the right clothes, you’ll need to wear the safety gear that your tour provides for you. It’s tempting to abandon the life jacket and hard, cumbersome helmet that your tour guide gives you, but this is a terrible idea. White water rafting isn’t a light and easy float- it’s a pretty extreme (and extremely fun!) activity in which safety must be taken seriously.
This is because currents are often fast and rough and there are a lot of rocks within the natural rivers that you’ll be rafting on. If your raft were to hit something or flip over, you would be at risk of hitting your head or being pulled away. Life jackets and helmets prevent this from happening.
Make sure that you listen to your guide and apply these items to your person properly. Fasten them tightly around your head and body before heading off on open waters. You don’t want them to fall off or for the helmet to jostle around and bang you in the head!
4. Listen to Your Safety Guide
As we said, you need to to your safety guide and apply your clothes properly. However, this is a principle that extends to white water rafting as a whole: you need to listen to your guide at all times.
White water rafting guides are people who have trained to ensure the safety of everyone under their charge. They also are enthusiastic about the sport and know a lot about how to make it as safe and fun as possible. Listening to them closely and taking what they have to say to heart will make your experience much more pleasant.
Before you set off, your guide will likely detail the different aspects of your experience and what you can expect. This will prevent you from encountering any surprises and ensure that you know what you’re doing. They also will brief you on what exactly you need to do to maintain control of the raft. This is important for everyone to hear, but it’s especially important for first-timers.
Also, your guide probably knows a lot about the area that you’ll be rafting in. They can give you interesting facts about what you’re looking at and enhance your experience greatly!
5. Know What to Watch Out For
While this is something that your tour guide will likely go over with you, it’s critical that you do your research and know what you need to stay safe against while on your journey. While there are many potential safety hazards while white water rafting, accidents are easily avoidable as long as you take appropriate safety measures.
Some of the most important things you can do to prevent incidents are:
- Learning to swim before your trip
- Talk to a doctor and make sure you’re in good enough shape for strenuous activity
- Get off your raft (when safe to do so) if you feel yourself becoming overexerted
- Avoid rocks, especially sharp ones, and wear your helmet
Safety hazards shouldn’t discourage you from rafting! You will likely be fine as long as you follow appropriate procedures. However, it’s important to prepare for all possibilities and know what you’re getting into.
6. Keep Your Hands on the T-Grip
The T-grip is the end of your rafting paddle where your hand should be. Usually, the T-grip is easy to see and find because it will be in another color than the rest of the paddle. This is usually orange, the universal color for water safety.
One of the most common white water rafting injuries takes place when someone takes their hand off the T-grip. Since paddles are long, those that aren’t constantly being held at the end are likely to hit another rafter in the face and injure them. Accidentally hitting this rafter into the river is another possible issue that you want to avoid, as is snagging the T-grip on something and overturning the entire raft.
7. Stay Hydrated
While on an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime adventure like white water rafting, it’s easy to forget about and neglect your physical needs. However, if you don’t continue to drink enough water, you run the risk of passing out from the strenuous activity. If this happens, you may fall into the water and get injured before your guide has the opportunity to fish you out.
Luckily, this is an easily avoidable issue! Bring a large metal water bottle onto the raft with you. You can ensure that it doesn’t fall out of the raft or bounce away on rocks by securing it to your person. A metal carabiner should do the trick nicely- you can fasten it to your clothing tightly with this,
8. Have Fun!
No matter what you do, white water rafting is an experience that you’ll never forget. Have fun with it! You’re about to see sites that you never would be able to see otherwise, become one with nature in its purest form, and fall in love with the world of sports and activity. Make the most of it!
More Rafting Tips for Your Adventure
Now that you know some of the most important rafting tips so that you can have fun and stay safe while on the open waters, it’s time to learn more about what you can do on your next adventure.
Check out the ‘world travel’ tab on our home page to learn more about the destination that you’re headed to when white water rafting. Here, you’ll learn all of the other things you can do while on your trip so that you can make the most out of every moment!