What You Need To Know For Your First Multi-Day Guided Rafting Trip

Ahead of your first multi-day guided whitewater rafting trip, stories of unending thrill in fast waters, epic rapids and breathtaking scenery are sure to get you in the mood. Yet, the excitement and anticipation of on an adventure-filled rafting trip could be drowned by the fear of the unknown, especially for the first-timer. An exhilarating rafting experience, paddling while connecting with fellow adventure-seekers could get spoiled even before it starts.

Our outfitter partners will be there every step of the way, but here are some additional thoughts on how to prep and pack to set the stage for an unforgettable multi-day rafting trip.

A First-time Rafter’s 'Must-know' List


One of the things to be clued into is how ready your body is. There is a level of physical fitness required to withstand the rigors of paddling through whitewater. Unfortunately, your typing finger muscles won’t come in handy on the river, as muscle groups that get little attention at home or in the office are sure to receive particular attention on the water. These include: your biceps, triceps, quads, middle-back, and deltoids.

There are also short ‘sprints’ of paddling through whitewater that will test your aerobic endurance as well as strength, depending on length of the rapid or wind direction. High-intensity-interval-training (HIIT) style workouts will prove most effective in conditioning both your muscle strength as well as endurance to handle these short spurts.


Now, we’re not saying you should have your compass handy throughout the trip — our outfitter partners are experienced pros and know the river, rapids, and surrounding areas very well – but we do recommend you familiarize yourself with the progressions you’ll make on the river each day. So be sure to review the itineraries and locations for each trip. Plus, it’s more fun to know your way around the river when you tell the story of your trip after it’s over!


When packing for an outdoor adventure of this type, there’s nothing like a one-size-fits-all rafting trip. And how you plan for a week-long summer paddling trip is a lot different from what you’d carry on a weekend spring whitewater or fall float trip.

But that doesn’t mean packing for your whitewater rafting trip needs to be a daunting experience. For your first taste of multi-day guided tours in whitewater rafting, let’s get you familiar on what to bring and what not to. An ideal whitewater ‘good time’ checklist must contain several weather-appropriate outfits, sleeping essentials, and personal belongings to make your trip a great experience.

Note, many of our trips include a trip-specific packlist and detailed information on what’s provided by the host outfitter, many of which include the items listed below, but nonetheless, consider this your comprehensive first-timer rafters’ packing guide:

  • Dry bag: always a necessity to store all your fragile and delicate items, especially those that need to remain dry and free from any moisture. You will need it with you throughout the trip, especially when paddling in the water
  • Water-proof pants and jackets: pack a few pairs of each. Don’t forget to go for premium quality ones, especially because yours will be several days’ trip
  • River shoes: snag yourself a pair of sturdy water shoes; flip flops won’t do the trick
  • Quick-drying clothes: preferably, go for light-colored quick-drying (non-cotton) clothes. And don’t forget the swimsuit. Some trips require wetsuits – so be sure to check that as well
  • Extra layers: not all rafting destinations are warm and homey at night. A river canyon can be a cold adventure travel destination at times. So, don’t forget to bring along a few more layers, including long underwear, sweater, polartec, wool items
  • Sleeping gear: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and other overnight camping gear should always be included on your checklist. As for your choice of a sleeping bag, make sure you pack a season-appropriate one that will make your nights as comfortable as possible
  • Re-usable Water Bottle: paddling on the river, especially in summer, will dehydrate your body very quickly. Be sure to bring a few re-usable water bottles for you multi-day guided rafting tour
  • Sun Protection: this includes sunscreen, lip balm, long sleeve shirts if you’re more sensitive than most to the sun, hat with a visor (great for sun protection), and moisturizer or aloe just in case
  • Camp clothes: long-sleeve shirt, long pants, socks, fleece jacket, etc
  • Electronics and accessories: although we recommend fully immersing yourself in nature and ‘unplugging,’ some electronics are necessary: flashlight and/or headlamp and batteries, if your phone is also your camera and you want to snap up the breathtaking landscape to document your stay, be sure to bring a water-proof pouch (with neck strap) and a portable charger
  • Toiletries: we won’t waste the breath going through the list; you know better than we do what you use every night and morning
    • But don’t worry much about toilet paper; most of our outfitters have you covered with that and all your “Groover” needs
      • If you don’t know what we mean by Groover: it’s the formal restroom-on-board and complies with the Leave No Trace guidelines. You didn’t think you were going to poop in the river, did you?

Enjoy your trip!

A well-planned multi-day guided whitewater rafting trip should be a beautiful, calming, and rejuvenating reprieve from your daily life. And we’re committed to making it that way for you, whether it’s your first or hundredth time on the water. Be sure to take a look at our multi-day rafting trip options, and know we’re here to help make your paddling trip – with all of the rapids, landscapes, evenings at camp, and even your trips to the groover – fall seamlessly into place as an unforgettable, life-changing experience.