There is no better way to get away from it all then a raft trip through a wild and untouched landscape. With something for everyone, rafting lets you take on challenging whitewater rapids or simply float away the day and soak in the solitude. Whether you take a day trip whitewater rafting out on the river or bring your tent and spend a week exploring, there is nothing quite like viewing the hidden wonders of mother nature from a raft.
Types of Rafting
There is a style of rafting for everyone. Get your thrills on huge whitewater rapids and navigate the most extreme rivers, or take to the calm waters for a relaxing float through incredible landscapes with your family and friends. Need a break from it all? Get away on an extended rafting trip where you can spend weeks travelling in a solitude that you can’t find with any other activity.
Who's doing it?
Rafters are a diverse group of people who enjoy a myriad of different water activities. Some are drawn to rafting for the connection to nature, some enjoy the challenge and thrill of rafting whitewater rapids, while others just need a place to get away from the havoc of modern life and enjoy the company of their closest friends and family. Rafting is truly a life long sport that can be enjoyed all over the world!
Regardless of the discipline, every rafter shares that love of pushing off from land and flowing straight into their own unique adventures, far away from their daily worries and responsibilities.
Essential pieces of rafting gear
Want to start a rafting adventure of your own? The selection of rafting gear can seem a little intimidating, but we will make sure that you have everything you need with this list of essentials. A good rule of thumb when buying rafts and accessories is to buy the best quality equipment you can afford, especially when it's your safety on the line. Below are the top five things you will need to get started.
- Rafting Paddles and Oars - Next to your raft, your oars are the most important piece of rafting gear you'll need. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your rafting oars, like length and material.
- Rafting Lifejacket (or PFD) - Your lifejacket is one piece of equipment you never want to hit the water without. Just make sure your rafting PFD has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard and that it is designed for specifically for whitewater rafting.
- Raft Frame - This critical piece of gear allows you to mount countless rafting accessories including oar mounts for rowing, cooler mounts, and all your rafting drybags.
- Rafting Helmet - A helmet is a must when whitewater rafting. This is your head we're talking about, so buy the best one you can afford. This is no place to cut corners on the budget!
- Rafting Clothing - Dressing for rafting can be tricky, as you will be in a variety of climates, seasons, and water temps. As a general safety rule always dress for immersion and prepare for the worst case scenario.
- Rafting Drybags - When you go on an overnight rafting trip, you'll need a dry place to store your clothing and other gear. Even a day rafting trip will require a small drybag for keys and other small items. We have a huge selection of all sizes of top brand rafting drybags.
- Rafting Dry Boxes - Dry boxes are perfect for carrying kitchen gear and other key accessories you'll need on your rafting trip. Generally these custom made boxes fit directly into your raft frame.
- Rafting Coolers - Carrying your food down river will be easy to do with a big cooler designed specifically for rafting. These coolers also fit nicely either inside of your raft frame, or on top of it.
- Rafting Pumps - You're not going anywhere until you pump up your raft! This ca be an arduous task if you don't invest in a good rafting pump. We suggest either an electric raft pump or a big barrel pump for maximum efficiency.
- Rafting Straps - Straps are critical for tying all your rafting gear down, especially if you are running any whitewater. You'll need straps to secure drybags, dry boxes, and rafting coolers.
- Rafting Parts - There are many little rafting parts and gear that will help you secure items and be more organized. Check out our selection of rafting boat parts..
- Rafting Repair - When you own an inflatable raft, damage in inevitable. Be prepared and always carry a rafting repair kit.
- Rafting Booties - Protect your feet with a durable pair neoprene rafting booties. Have safe footwear while on the river is a must. You never know when you're going to have to run down the river shore, or walk through the water on rocky surfaces.
- Rafting Wetsuits - Neoprene wetsuits are the most popular apparel for whitewater rafting. If you plan on getting wet or if submersion if a possibility, a rafting wetsuit will bee you warm and safe.
- Rafting Knives - You should never be on the river without a rafting safety knife. You never know when you'll have to cut rope or be in another situation that requires a knife.
- Rafting Stoves - When you're rafting down a beautiful whitewater river, sooner or later you're going to need to eat! Checkout our large selection of lightweight rafting stoves.
Top Rafting Gear Brands
There are a lot of brands out there that offer great rafting gear, but we consider these brands to be the cream of the crop. We carry a large selection of rafting gear from all of these great paddling companies.
- Kokatat Paddling Gear
- Stohlquist Rafting PFDs
- NRS Rafts and Catarafts
- Astral Rafting Lifejackets
- AIRE Rafts and Catarafts
- Bravo Rafting Pumps
- Carlisle Rafting Oars and Raft Paddles
- Carlson Rafting Pumps
- K-Pump Rafting Pumps
- Paco Pad Rafting Sleeping Pads
How To Choose A Raft
Whether you’re new to rafting, or a long time whitewater river regular, buying your own raft is a great investment. Owning your own raft means that you will have much more freedom when determining the river and timing for your next rafting trip. Given the excitement of rafting, it’s no wonder so many individuals decide to go all in with raft purchases after enjoying a single whitewater rafting adventure. Let us help you look at some of the important factors to consider before buying your own raft. Choosing the right boat depends a lot on what type of rafting you plan to do, and our experts are here to help you, so give us a call and we'll walk you through your entire rafting purchase!
It’s important to determine your purpose before you buy a whitewater raft. The larger the raft, the more people and gear it can carry. The smaller the boat, the more nimble and maneuverable it will probably be and the more exciting the ride in whitewater. However, if you overload that smaller boat with too much rafting gear, you may well find that it is less maneuverable, which is especially important on smaller more technical rivers. If you’re planning rafting mostly day trips, a 12 to 13 foot raft is comfortable for a maximum of up to five or six people. A 14 or 15 raft will work well for up to seven or eight people. Now, for multi-day trips where you want to take more gear and people, you'll need something bigger. For these type of trips up to seven days, plan on a 13 to 14 foot raft for two people. For three or four adults, you’re looking at a 14 to 16 raft. Once the intended size of the raft has been determined, it’s important to think about the ideal raft material. PVC plastic is a common material that proves quite popular with recreational rafters. However, some consideration should also be given to alternatives, such as Hypalon rubber or polyurethane. These types of material are more expensive than PVC, but they also hold up better to wear and tear, making them preferable for challenging rafting trips. If you have any questions on size, just give us a call and our experts will walk you through all your rafting gear purchases!
Rafting gear is expensive. Often, a simple glance at a rafting package price tag is enough to dissuade enthusiasts from the prospect of owning their own raft. Add in the cost attached to brand new life jackets, helmets and other rafting gear, and it’s no wonder so many whitewater rafters choose to stick with rental equipment. But Outdoorplay can help ease that expense with a great package discount. Call one of our rafting specialists today and we'll work out a package for your new raft. 800-994-4327.
"Good on price, web experience, shipping, and follow-up. Excellent selection is why I choose Outdoorplay for many of the rafting needs for me and my son."
- Rob R.