Equipment and Gear

For your own safety and enjoyment, make sure that you know the different features of the raft. You will also need to learn the specific skills and get the right pieces of equipment. Equip yourself with the right skills and gear so you can enjoy rafting.

This list while incomplete will help you to enjoy your first few outings until you modify this list based upon your experiences. Knowing what to bring is the first step in rafting.

In order to have a safe and enjoyable experience, make sure to use the appropriate pieces of gear and equipment. Aside from a raft, you need paddles, proper clothing, and other tools and devices which will help make your paddling trip a successful one. In this section, take a closer look at the different pieces of equipment and gear used in rafting.

This list will depend upon the weather in which you are paddling. The best rule of thumb is to dress for the temperature of the water not the air. If you are paddling in cold water be sure to add a water proof paddling packet and a wet suit or dry suit as conditions dictate. Hypothermia can and does happen very quickly, especially when dealing with cold water and wind chills. Clothes made of cotton are not recommended as they increase your chances of hypothermia.


There are many different rafts on the market. A 14 footer is a good place to start. The 14 foot raft will hold 7 paddlers and two skilled paddlers can control one without difficulty. Weighting about 115 pounds a crew of two can load and unload the raft into the river and right it should it flip over.

Solo rafters might enjoy a raft like the 13 foot Cataraft now on the market. They are great fun and very capable in whitewater.

  • Read about the types of raft trips you intend to make.
  • Discuss your needs with local paddlers who use the same waters and the professionals at the local sport shop.
  • Tell the salesman about the intended use, places you will go and frequency for each type of water so he can make informed recommendations.
  • If possible go to a test session at the local river where many boats will be available to paddle.
  • Paddle as many different boats as possible until you decide what suits your ability and intended use.

You will need at a minimum the following equipment to paddle your raft:

  • Raft
  • Several paddles
  • A pair of oars
  • PFDs for each paddler
  • Helmets for each paddler.
  • Water proof containers like ammo boxes or dry bags
  • Bilge pump