What to Wear when Whitewater Rafting - Alpine Activity

What to Wear when Whitewater Rafting

Going on a whitewater excursion may seem like a big deal to those who have never participated in this activity, and planning for it could certainly be challenging. Wondering what to wear when white water rafting? The sort of rafting trip or the time of year the trip will take place will be the main factor in determining what to wear on your whitewater rafting adventure.

In any case, it is best to dress accordingly. Splashy days can become scorching even in the Spring as the sun sinks beneath the clouds. Hopefully, this article helps you figure out the best clothing for your rafting expedition.

What to Wear White Water Rafting in Cold Water

Wetsuit for cold weather

Wetsuits are a fantastic choice for cold-weather excursions and are frequently linked with surfers or divers. It’s crucial to understand that neoprene, which is typically used to make wetsuits, is NOT waterproof. The clothing you wear beneath a wetsuit will become soaked.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, this is exactly how a wetsuit functions. Against the body, a layer of air and water has been trapped. This water is warmed to your body’s core temperature and acts as a warmer layer of protection against the cooler water around you.

In the event that you find yourself in the water rather than on your raft, the air stored in the suit will also give you a little extra buoyancy. Many people will utilize a “Farmer John” suit, which has short sleeves and long pants. Nevertheless, wetsuits come in a variety of styles.


Do I mean the scratchy sweaters you used to stay away from? It might come as a surprise, but wool is a great material for cold-weather water sports. It is one of the few fibers that retain its insulating qualities while wet.

In fact, in order to keep their hands warm, fishermen have been known to submerge their woolen mittens in water until the outside of the mittens freezes. Wool socks or gloves are the very minima that we recommend for outdoor adventures because anything more can become extremely heavy and lose its insulation when wet.

Synthetic Textiles

The same synthetic fabrics that keep you cool in the summer and toasty in the winter also wick away moisture. These work particularly well as base layers below wetsuits when layering.


A thinner fleece can be readily layered beneath a waterproof shell for increased warmth, and fleece makes excellent hats and gloves.

What Should I Avoid Wearing When Rafting on A Cold Day?

While it’s crucial to know what to wear, you should also be aware of what not to wear on a whitewater kayaking expedition, including:


Cotton while rafting on a cold day is a bad idea. Cotton absorbs moisture and holds onto it, which only makes you colder, and makes the clothing much heavier. The idea is to keep your core temperature up by dressing in layers and synthetic fabrics. It is important, therefore, that you avoid cotton clothing as much as possible.

Open Footwear

Sandals, slides, flip-flops, and similar open footwear are also a no-no. Rather, put on full-coverage shoes, such as sneakers or water shoes. Neoprene booties are excellent for chilly weather because they offer a layer of warmth to your feet. Wool socks can be worn with both sneakers and booties for extra warmth.

What to Wear for Whitewater Rafting in Summer

Thinking of going to enjoy the warm, sunny rapids of California? The following is a list of some things you should bring and certain things you should definitely bring along:

Shorts that dry quickly

Shorts made of nylon are ideal. A piece of quick-drying fabric is what you need to seek out. You want to be able to jump in the water, be splashed, and still have dry shorts for lunch. That will make your day a lot more relaxing.

Cotton T-shirt

A cotton T-shirt might be the last item you want to bring on a cold-weather trip, but it’s perfect for keeping cool and preventing sunburn on a summer trip. You can quickly find comfort by dipping your shirt in water and putting it on if you become too warm while sitting on the boat.

Worn-out Sports shoe

On a warm rafting trip, used athletic sneakers work nicely eg old tennis shoes and sports sandals. In the water, they stay on your feet and provide more foot protection than sandals. Making sure you’ve broken in your shoes before your vacation — regardless of the type of sneaker you wear — could greatly help prevent blisters.

A Wide brimmed hat

In really sunny regions, a hat is almost essential for your rafting outing; whether it is a ball cap or a sun hat with a wide brim. As we all know, it’s crucial to protect yourself from the sun. Your face, ears, and scalp will be protected from harmful rays by a hat. One exception is that you must wear a helmet while on a journey down a Class IV or Class V rapid.

Oftentimes it may be uncomfortable to wear a hat underneath or over your helmet. We advise you to wear a visor underneath your helmet instead to prevent this problem.


You must shield your eyes from glare, just as you would when snow skiing. To prevent sun-damaged eyes, it’s important to wear quality sunglasses (be sure they include UVA/UVB protection). To prevent losing your glasses out on the water, make sure to secure them with a retention strap.


The most crucial item of clothing to bring on your rafting excursion is this. Nothing is worse than spending a wonderful day on the river only to endure a painful sunburn the following day. Additionally, research indicates that each sunburn increases your risk of developing cancer.

Put sunblock on and do yourself a favor. Purchase one with a minimum SPF of 30. Apply it all over, and don’t leave out your neck and ears while doing so. Also, don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the part of your hair that is exposed to the sun if you’re not wearing a hat.

What to Avoid Wearing for White water Rafting in Summer

During hot summer days, it is important you avoid some things when going on white water rafting trips.

  1. Jean cut-offs

  2. Swimming would be challenging in extremely heavy cotton t-shirts with low-hanging sleeves.

  3. Flip-flops or boots!

What to Wear Whitewater Rafting in Spring

For any cool weather activities, especially spring rafting expeditions, wetsuits are the ideal option. They give you that slim jeans feel and offer a layer of insulation defense against the chilly water! Wetsuits come in a variety of designs, from shorties that reach just above the knees to ones that cover your upper body. These work well on milder spring days that aren’t cloudy or chilly.

The “norm” for the majority of river rafting trips is Farmer John wetsuits. They don’t have sleeves, but they protect you from your ankles to your shoulders. They allow you a full range of motion so you can paddle on your river journey.

If it is foggy or a little brisk outside, you must have this nylon splash jacket to protect the most sensitive areas of your body from the wind or breeze. You will need an additional layer underneath your splash jacket if it is going to be really chilly and the sun isn’t going to be shining during your springtime white water rafting excursion.

A cozy fleece sweater is a good idea; like pile or polypro, fleece keeps you warm even when it’s wet. You will feel dry thanks to its wicking characteristic, which transfers moisture from your skin to the outside of the garment.

Can you Wear a Bathing suit for a White water Rafting Adventure?

Yes, a bathing suit or swim trunks are the appropriate clothing to wear for a white water rafting trip. A life jacket is also a very essential piece of clothing to wear.

What You Should Not Wear Rafting?

Most experienced white water rafters steer clear of wearing or bringing the following items:

  1. Cowboy boots, Crocs, high heels, and flip-flops

  2. Heavy attire such as leather, cotton, or denim

  3. Clothing that is too tight or constrictive and limits movement

What Shoes do I wear for Whitewater Rafting?

The best shoes to wear on a rafting trip are definitely those with a tight heel or, at the very least, a strap that runs behind the heel.

White water rafting shoes can be difficult to find, but there are a few options to think about before venturing out. Since you’ll have to carry the raft into and out of the water, you’ll need the comfort and support of a typical shoe.

Tevas, Chocos, or water shoes that won’t get damaged when they get wet are the finest footwear to wear for white water rafting. White water shoes should be cozy enough to wear without socks, stay put even in swift currents, and protect your feet’s soles while you’re hauling the raft.

How Should I Wear My Hair for White Water Rafting?

While on the river, sloppy buns are a simple method to keep your hair out of your face, but it might be challenging to get your hair out of the head tie if you need to. Additionally, the water and wind may cause it to tangle.

The braid is a tried-and-true river hairdo that is especially helpful for rafters with curly or kinky hair because it reduces knots and dreads. There are several braid styles you can explore, but a straightforward braid capped with a trucker hat is a reliable option. A well-done braid or braids will last for a few days, eliminating the need to comb or fuss with your hair.

To ensure that it won’t fall out of your hat if the wind picks up, you can even braid your hair around the snap band.

You can also make use of a headband or bandana to hold your damp hair in place if it happens to get wet.

Do You Bring Your Phone White water Rafting?

We are all aware that cell phones and water do not mix well. Our best suggestion is to not. Most people feel the need to take their phones while rafting to enable them to take pictures. However, during paddling, you will be unable to juggle both activities and most likely be lost in the excitement to remember. Also, you could have your friends at the shore get pictures of you in action.

What to Wear When River Rafting

When you travel on rafts in whitewater, you need a few necessities. Foot protection, a swimsuit/bathing suit that may be worn underneath a rain suit, and sun protection are all essential pieces of clothing.

It’s critical to understand that wearing damaged equipment is not safe. When on a whitewater rafting trip, your clothing should keep you dry and protected from the elements. For cooler locations, several outfitters offer wet suits, sleeveless jackets, and sweatshirts.

River Rafting Footwear

There are many aspects to consider while choosing the best footwear for river rafting trips. Old Run Shoes are currently the most popular brand of river sandals, followed by Astral Brewer and Chaco.

Bathing suits

Both men and women can wear board shorts. To make bathing at night easier, women choose to wear bi-piece swimsuits or sports bras with short sleeves. The swimsuit should be simple to put on and not require wrapping beneath the wet suit so it is accessible. In these circumstances, bigger weights and shorter bottoms will typically work better.


For rafting, a PFD that has at least 22 lbs of flotation and can be adjusted, should be able to sit on your shoulders excellently. If not in perfect condition, without damage or fading, life jackets should be of class III or IV. Commercial outfitting vendors frequently offer their clients a PFD or helmet but frequently decline a PFD.

White water Rafting Essential Items to Bring

During a rafting trip, it is important you take bathing suits, heel strap shoes, and a life jacket. Whitewater rafting is a fantastic outdoor activity that can offer the thrills that thrill seekers love.

Before heading out on your adventure, be sure to read our tips for staying safe on the rapids.


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