What To Bring Whitewater Rafting

Welcome! We are so excited for you to come and experience one of our amazing river trips We want everyone to be prepared and know what to expect. Here are some tips on What to bring, what to wear and what NOT to Bring on your white water rafting trip with Tributary.


Tributary will provide the following gear/items for all our rafting trips.


Personal Floatation Device/Life-Jacket


Don't want to be up a creek without one...


So seagulls don't poke you in the coconut!


Flip Flops

We recommend river sandles or old tennis shoes

No Pets

Unfortunately claws and rafts don't mix


If you don't want to lose it, don't take it down the river

We urge you to leave your valuables at home. If you wish to bring a camera, please provide a case (preferably waterproof). However, it will not be possible to photograph during rapids.

On our Truckee, Trinity, South Fork American, and Middle Fork American River trip – Professional photographers are positioned along the banks taking photos of us running the rapids. These photos are available for sale at the end of the trip and the companies are in no way associated with Raft California. We do have links directly to their websites.

Extra money may be needed for meals en route to and from you trip, for souvenir T-shirts and photographs or a guide tip.


River attire is very casual and you should expect to get wet and dress accordingly. Quick-dry clothing is recommended. Anything cotton gets wet stays wet and does not keep you warm. Following this list will assure you a comfortable and well-prepared trip.

Please remember to tip your guide at the end of your rafting trip! If you forgot to bring cash, just contact our office to use a credit card. Some locations can provide credit card tip processing on a tablet.

  • Linens
    • Blankets
    • Pillow
    • Sleeping bag
  • Pillow
  • Flashlight w/ extra batteries
  • Insect repellent
  • Personal toiletries
  • Light jacket/sweater
  • Long pants
  • Dry shoes or sandals
  • Towel/Washcloth
  • Fishing gear/license – optional
  • Spirits (in moderation) – optional
  • Musical instrument – optional
  • Camp Chair – optional

Multi-Day Wilderness Camping and Rafting Trip Notes

These notes pertain to only our multi-day wilderness rafting and camping trips.

We include:

  • Dry Bags for your personal gear (we suggest putting in a duffel bag for easy packing)
  • 2 person tent (we include a 2 person tent for every 2 people on the trip)
  • Sleeping Pad (not a bag)
Please bring with you:
  • Your own linens (blankets, pillow and/or sleeping bag)
  • Pillow, teddy bear etc
  • Refer to the Overnight Gear List above as well

Recommended Spring Rafting Attire

We recommend cool weather clothing (as a precaution) for the months of April, May, and October and for days anytime during the season where rain or cool weather is a possibility. Please avoid wearing cotton since once wet this will just make you cold and wear quick drying materials such as poly-pro. We recommend that you bring the following attire for cold weather white water rafting:

  • Wetsuit & Splash Jacket (rent) OR DrySuit
  • Lightweight cap that covers the ears (you will be wearing a helmet so you don’t want anything too bulky)
  • Long Sleeve shirt or sweater
  • Windbreaker
  • Wool Socks
  • Wool gloves

Other Nitty-Gritty

Dress for the Water: Prioritize clothing based on the water temperature, not just the air temperature. Many of our whitewater rafting trips are in the mountains or are on rivers that flow from snowmelt. If water temperatures are below 70°F, opt for a wetsuit along with booties. We provide wetsuit rentals for an extra fee and recommend them in the spring and fall. Don’t worry about feeling too warm; the river water is close by to cool you down.

Layer Up: Even on warm days, it’s wise to have an extra mid or base layer for staying warm when wet. Each boat is equipped with a dry bag or gear bag for you to keep your extra layers.

No Cotton: Choose clothing made from quick-drying synthetic or wool materials like polyester, nylon, or merino wool to help maintain a comfortable body temperature, even when wet.

Sun Protection: Protect your skin from the sun’s rays with a sun hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The sun can be intense on the water.


Bottom Layers: Wear a bathing suit, board shorts, or quick-drying bottoms that won’t bunch up or chafe under a wetsuit. On warmer days, quick-drying water shorts are a good choice, preventing your bathing suit from sticking to the rubber of the raft.

Upper Body: Even on cloudy days, consider shielding your upper body from the sun with a long sleeve. Do not wear cotton. Wear a quick-drying athletic shirt for stretchiness and breathability. On colder days, layer up with warm, moisture-wicking layers, again avoiding cotton.

Footwear: Opt for water shoes, water sandals with heel straps, or old sneakers that can get wet. We recommend closed toed shoes over sandals. No flip-flops are allowed. You can wear wool socks underneath for added warmth.

Headwear: Bring a paddling hat or a baseball cap with a secure cinch to prevent it from being washed away in big waves. A cap visor offers extra sun protection.

Eyewear: Polarized sunglasses are ideal for reducing glare from the water. Don’t forget a retention strap to secure them. If you go for a swim your glasses will too.

Change of Clothes: After your river adventure, bring a set of dry clothes to change into. Wearing cotton is fine once you’re warm and dry.

Always Wear a PFD: Keep your life jacket on at all times while on the water, even in slow-moving areas. The shallows can be unexpectedly dangerous.

Helmets: On select trips, helmets are required and provided for all of our guests.

Valuables: We maintain that anything you bring with you on the river has the potential to get wet or lost. All non-essential valuables are encouraged to be locked in your vehicle. Your trip leader will then collect car keys and lock them up safely in our camp store.

Zippered Pockets: If you choose to bring your phone or other valuables with you, zippered pockets are highly recommended. It’s nearly impossible to retrieve items from the river. Your phone will most likely get wet from splashing rapids, even if you don’t go in the river. Waterproof cases are a great move!

Food & Snacks: Depending on your rafting trip lunch may be provided. Be sure to read through your trip information prior to getting on the river. We advise that every guest bring a 20oz bottle of water with them on their river trip. If your trip does not provide lunch, it is OK to bring snacks on the boat, but make sure they can be safely zipped into a pocket.

GoPros: We love media while rafting! It’s a great way to capture memories. Most sections of river will have a professional photographer with photos for purchase afterwards, but if you have a GoPro you’d like to bring it’s highly recommended and offers a fantastic perspective! Many of our helmets have a GoPro mount, ask for one when you arrive! Be sure to send us the footage after your trip 🙂

Our provided PFDs and helmets are specific for whitewater rafting and we require all guests to use our safety gear during trips. You are welcome to wear your own wetsuit.

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