Do’s and Don’ts for river trip packing

Posted July 8, 2011 by Malina

You and the fam are heading off for an overnight wilderness river trip and your guide has handed you a weird-looking rubber backpack called a “dry bag” and tells you to pack up your stuff.  You look at the pile of items in your trunk and think “I can’t possibly fit all my things in there……” so you say  “oh Mr. Guide Man, can I please have another 5 dry bags?  I need to bring my inflatable couch and three board games and a case of my son’s fav soda, and the wife wants her hair dryer sooooo….”

I know what you’re thinking:  I would never bring such silly things on a river trip.  To which I say, are you sure?  Because we find people just like you trying to bring all kinds of crazy stuff with them on the river all the time.

So, a few suggestions–because packing properly for your trip really will help make it a better experience.  It takes less time, and less room in the car!  It’s less to carry from the boat to your camp site!  It will fit properly in the dry bag and then actually stay dry! Remember that a wilderness river trip is very different from car camping because everything you bring has to be carried in by hand, not driven in by vehicle. 

DO pack the necessary items:

1) The Golden Rule: less is more.  You really don’t need much.  Honest.  Cross our hearts and hope for 45 years of drought.

2)  Clothing: You basically need something to wear on the river, and something to change into at night.  So bring your suit, shorts, sunglasses and sandals, and then bring a t-shirt, maybe a pair of pants, and a cozy hoody for the evening.  That’s it!

3) Sleeping stuff:  bring a sleeping bag, a pad, and use your hoody for a pillow.  A flashlight  or headlamp is key for nightime navigation, but you do not need a tent.  None of our guides use tents, and frankly, most guests who insist on them don’t use them either.  Funny thing is, once you get to camp, all you want to do is relax–not fight with rain flys and tent stakes.  Trust us on this–we’ve been telling people this for 50 years.

4) Personal items:  Bring your toothbrush/paste, sunscreen, and chapstick. And of course essential meds.  Leave your special face cream, exfoliating scrub, wash cloth and hair gel at home.  You won’t use it or miss it, guaranteed.

5) Entertainment:  Sure bring a book or a magazine or a travel-sized chess set or dominoes.  But leave the horseshoes, badmitten, and entire Harry Potter series at home.  You booked your trip to enjoy the canyon, each other’s company, and some peace and quiet, right?  Thought so.  Leave the extraneous time-suckers in the car.

6) Finally, pack your good humor, your love of life, and some good stories or jokes to share–that’s what you’re going to remember long after your trip is over!

DON’T bring huge, heavy, awkward, extraneous items:

Massive mattresses, beach towels, costco-sized toiletries, computers, phones, cases of beverages, electronics, a hibachi grill, hiking boots, your dog, 5 pillows, camp lounge chairs, etc . . . 

(above:  If really want to live in a bubble, why are you rafting in the first place!? Live in the now!)


Back to Top

Email Newsletter

Get season updates, latest rafting videos & blogs, plus enter to Win a Free Trip for Two! Learn more