5 Important Things to Know Before Your First Rafting Trip

If you’ve always dreamed about whitewater rafting, why not make this the year you embark on this ultimate adventure? When you’re on the river, preparation makes all the difference between an amazing day and one that’s uncomfortable or even dangerous. Here are the five key things that novice rafters need to know before the first trip.

1. What to Wear
In warm weather, most experienced rafters recommend a one-piece bathing suit for women or swim trunks for men, paired with athletic shorts and a non-cotton T-shirt. Sunglasses are essential equipment at any time of year to protect your eyes from both the sun’s direct rays and the bright glare from the water. When it comes to shoes, water shoes with a non-slip sole are your best bet. If you opt for a cold weather rafting trip, it’s best to wear a wetsuit.

2. The Class Rating System
According to American Whitewater, rivers are classed according to an international system that ranges from Class I for slow-moving rivers, Class II for novice rafters, Class III for intermediate, Class IV for advanced, Class V for expert, and Class VI for extreme or exploratory rapids that are rarely or never attempted. For your first trip, make sure the river you choose falls into one of the first two categories.

3. Hiring a Guide
Unless you have a friend or family member who is an experienced rafter, hiring a guide is the safest way to enjoy whitewater rafting as a novice. Find a certified guide company in your area or the locale where you’ll be vacationing. As a bonus, they often have gear for borrow or rent, such as wet suits and dry bags for belongings.

4. What to Bring
Since you won’t be able to turn back once you hit the river, it’s important to bring the right gear. Carry a water bottle so you’ll stay hydrated for the duration of your trip. Also bring plenty of waterproof sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from the sun.

5. Commands to Follow
A successful rafting trip requires cooperation from everyone on the boat. This means that before heading out, you should familiarize yourself with both standard rafting commands and specific instructions from your guide. Hand signals are often used so passengers can communicate key information even with the rushing rapids.

In addition to this preparation, new rafters can consult the first-timers guide published by the Outdoor Adventure River Service.

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