Your First Time River Rafting | What Gear Should You Bring?

To many people, white water rafting is not just a hobby but a lifestyle. They travel the world chasing capped rapids and beautiful vistas that can only be experienced at water level. River running can be enjoyed by people of all ages and experience levels.

Bringing the right equipment can really make the trip! Being prepared means all you have to do is show up and enjoy the fun!

Be prepared! Essentials you should bring for a day on the river should be:

Sun protection

Sunglasses, sunscreen, & hats are all necessary if you want to have a good time and not be miserable on your trip!


Water shoes are ideal because they don’t weigh you down once soaked in water. They offer protection from sharp rocks and can grip mossy stones. Non cotton T-shirts that dry quickly, athletic shorts, and a swimsuit are all good choices for rafting in the summer months. Remember - no flip flops allowed!

Food & Water

Bring a water bottle! Preferably one with a carabiner so you can attach to the raft. Light snacks high in protein, energy bars, or energy gels will do wonders to boost your energy quickly while out on the water.

In Case of Emergency

Duct tape. Yes, really. This can be used as a lifesaving tool in some situations. Need to fix a broken shoe? Hole in a raft? Bring a small supply and you’ll be thanking yourself you did. Your fellow paddlers will too! Another great item to bring along, would be a waterproof bag or dry sac to store any belongings in.

Of course if you have scheduled a raft with a guide company, they should be able to provide you with a life jacket, and a first aid kit.

There are some great equipment rental places like Northern Lights Rivers Lakes & Oceans right here in Bozeman & Kalispell that can set you up with the right gear, and even provide skilled advice for whatever adventure you are looking for.

Showing up in the right gear will help you look and feel like a seasoned pro on your first rafting experience. Now that you are prepared you can safely experience the beauty of your surroundings and the memorable thrill of rafting, which is surely going to have you coming back time and time again.