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What To Wear Rafting: A Guide To Choosing The Right Clothing And Gear

Planning a rafting trip? Make sure you have the right clothing and gear for a safe and comfortable experience. Our guide covers everything from quick-drying materials to UV protection, footwear, headgear, accessories, and layering options for men and women.

Choosing the Right Clothing for Rafting

When it comes to rafting, choosing the right clothing is crucial for both comfort and safety. The clothing you wear should be quick-drying, breathable, and provide UV protection. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors.

Quick-Drying Materials

Rafting involves a lot of water, which means you’ll get wet. That’s why it’s important to wear clothing that dries quickly. Fabrics like nylon, polyester, and spandex are great choices because they wick moisture away from your skin and dry quickly. Avoid cotton, as it takes a long time to dry and can leave you feeling cold and uncomfortable.

When choosing quick-drying clothing, look for pieces that are also lightweight and packable. This makes it easy to bring along extra layers in case the weather changes or you get wetter than expected.

Breathable Fabrics

Along with being quick-drying, your rafting clothing should also be breathable. This means it allows air to circulate and prevents you from feeling hot and sweaty. Look for fabrics like mesh, merino wool, and synthetic blends that are designed to wick moisture away from your skin and allow air to circulate.

Breathable clothing is especially important if you’re rafting in a warm climate or if you’re exerting yourself. It can help prevent overheating and keep you feeling comfortable throughout your trip.

UV Protection

Finally, your rafting clothing should provide UV protection. The sun’s rays can be intense when you’re out on the water, so it’s important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays. Look for clothing that is rated for UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) and provides at least 30+ protection.

In addition to wearing clothing with UPF, you should also wear a hat and sunglasses to protect your face and eyes from the sun. This will help prevent sunburn and reduce your risk of long-term skin damage.

Overall, choosing the right clothing for rafting is all about finding pieces that are quick-drying, breathable, and provide UV protection. By keeping these factors in mind, you can stay comfortable and safe on your next rafting adventure.

  • Quick-drying fabrics: nylon, polyester, spandex
  • Breathable fabrics: mesh, merino wool, synthetic blends
  • UV protection: UPF-rated clothing, hat, sunglasses

Footwear for Rafting

When it comes to footwear for rafting, it’s important to prioritize safety and comfort. You’ll be navigating rocky riverbeds, slippery surfaces, and potentially encountering unexpected obstacles. Choosing the right footwear can make a big difference in your overall experience on the water.

Water Shoes

Water shoes are a versatile option that can provide both protection and traction in wet environments. Look for shoes that are lightweight, quick-drying, and have a non-slip sole. They should also have a snug fit that won’t slip off your feet if you take a spill. Some water shoes even have a built-in drainage system to help keep your feet dry.

Sandals with Straps

Sandals with straps are a popular choice for rafting because they are breathable and easy to slip on and off. However, it’s important to choose sandals that have a secure strap system to keep them from falling off in the water. Look for sandals with adjustable straps that can be tightened for a snug fit. Avoid sandals with buckles or metal parts that could cause injury if you take a fall.

Sneakers or Hiking Shoes

If you’re planning on doing some hiking or walking to reach your rafting destination, sneakers or hiking shoes can be a good choice. They provide more support and protection than sandals or water shoes, and can help keep your feet dry if you encounter any unexpected water. Look for shoes with a non-slip sole and good traction.

When choosing footwear for rafting, it’s important to consider the specific conditions you’ll be facing. If you’ll be navigating rough terrain, water shoes or sneakers may be the best choice. If you’re looking for comfort and breathability, sandals with straps may be the way to go. Whatever you choose, make sure your footwear fits well and provides the protection and support you need.

Here’s a table summarizing the pros and cons of each type of footwear:

Footwear Pros Cons
Water shoes Lightweight, quick-drying, non-slip sole, drainage system May not provide as much protection as other options
Sandals with straps Breathable, easy to slip on and off, adjustable straps May not be as secure or supportive as other options
Sneakers or hiking shoes Supportive, good traction, can help keep feet dry May not be as breathable or quick-drying as other options

Headgear for Rafting

When it comes to rafting, headgear is often overlooked but it is just as crucial as any other piece of clothing or gear. There are two main types of headgear that are commonly used for rafting: sun hats and helmets.

Sun Hat

A sun hat is a great option for rafters who prefer a lightweight and breathable option. A good sun hat should have a wide brim to protect your face and neck from the sun’s harmful rays. Look for a hat made from a quick-drying material like nylon or polyester, as this will help keep you cool and dry throughout your trip.

One popular option is the Sunday Afternoons Adventure Hat, which is made from a lightweight and breathable fabric and has a wide brim for maximum sun protection. It also features a chin strap to keep it securely in place while you’re on the water.


A helmet is an essential piece of safety gear for rafting, especially if you’re tackling more challenging rapids. A good rafting helmet should fit snugly and securely on your head, without any wobbling or slipping.

Look for a helmet that meets safety standards like the ASTM F1492-15 or CE EN 1385, which are specifically designed for water sports. These helmets are made from durable materials like ABS plastic and feature impact-absorbing foam to protect your head from collisions with rocks or other obstacles.

One popular option is the WRSI Current Helmet, which meets both ASTM and CE safety standards. It features a multi-impact shell and an adjustable strap system to ensure a snug and secure fit.

Accessories for Rafting

When it comes to rafting, there are a few key accessories that can make all the difference in your experience. These items not only enhance your safety but also your comfort and enjoyment on the water. Here are three essential accessories for rafting:


Sunglasses are a must-have accessory for any rafting adventure. Not only do they protect your eyes from the sun’s harmful UV rays, but they also shield your eyes from wind, water, and debris. When choosing sunglasses for rafting, look for a pair with polarized lenses that reduce glare and provide clear vision on the water. Some popular brands for water sports sunglasses include Oakley, Costa Del Mar, and Smith Optics.

Waterproof Watch

A waterproof watch is another essential accessory for rafting. A watch helps you keep track of time while on the water, allowing you to stay on schedule and avoid getting lost. Additionally, a waterproof watch is designed to withstand water pressure and keep functioning even when submerged. Some popular brands for waterproof watches include Casio, Timex, and Garmin.

Waterproof Bag or Pouch

A waterproof bag or pouch is an important accessory for keeping your belongings safe and dry while on the water. Whether you’re carrying a phone, wallet, or camera, a waterproof bag or pouch will protect your items from water damage. Look for a bag or pouch that is made of durable, waterproof material and has a tight seal to keep water out. Some popular brands for waterproof bags and pouches include Sea to Summit, Aqua Quest, and DryCASE.

In summary, sunglasses, a waterproof watch, and a waterproof bag or pouch are essential accessories for any rafting adventure. These items will help keep you safe, comfortable, and prepared for whatever the water may throw your way. Remember to choose high-quality products from reputable brands and always prioritize safety while on the water.

Layering for Rafting

Rafting is an activity that can be done in different weather conditions, and it is essential to have the appropriate clothing to ensure comfort and safety. Layering is crucial when rafting because it allows you to adjust your attire according to the weather condition and your level of activity.

Wetsuit or Drysuit

Wetsuits and drysuits are two types of clothing that are commonly used for rafting. A wetsuit is a type of neoprene suit that is designed to keep you warm in cold water by trapping a thin layer of water between your skin and the suit, which is then warmed by your body heat. Drysuits, on the other hand, are made of waterproof materials that keep water out entirely, keeping you dry and warm.

When choosing between a wetsuit and a drysuit, consider the water temperature, your level of activity, and your personal preference. If you plan to raft in cold water, a drysuit is a better option because it offers full protection from the water. However, if you are rafting in warmer water, a wetsuit may be more comfortable because it allows your body to regulate its temperature better.

Rash Guard

A rash guard is a type of shirt that is designed to protect your skin from the sun and prevent rashes caused by friction between your skin and the water. Rash guards are made of quick-drying and breathable material, making them an excellent option for rafting.

Rash guards come in different styles, including long-sleeved and short-sleeved. When choosing a rash guard, consider the weather conditions and your level of activity. If you plan to raft in a hot and sunny environment, a short-sleeved rash guard may be more comfortable. However, if you are rafting in colder weather, a long-sleeved rash guard may be a better option.

Fleece or Insulated Layers

Fleece or insulated layers are essential when rafting in cold weather. Fleece is a synthetic material that is lightweight and has excellent insulating properties. Insulated layers, on the other hand, are made of materials such as down or synthetic fibers that provide excellent warmth.

When choosing fleece or insulated layers for rafting, consider the weather conditions and your level of activity. If you plan to raft in extremely cold weather, a thicker and more insulated layer may be necessary. However, if you are rafting in milder conditions, a lighter fleece layer may be sufficient.


Clothing Item Purpose Recommended Material
Wetsuit Keep Warm in Cold Water Neoprene
Drysuit Keep Dry in Cold Water Waterproof Material
Rash Guard Protect Skin from Sun and Rashes Quick-Drying and Breathable Material
Fleece or Insulated Layers Provide Warmth in Cold Weather Synthetic or Natural Insulating Material

Specific Considerations for Women

Women have unique clothing considerations when it comes to rafting. From sports bras to moisture-wicking undergarments, choosing the right gear can make all the difference in ensuring a comfortable and safe experience on the river.

Sports Bras

One of the most important pieces of clothing for women when rafting is a supportive and comfortable sports bra. The right sports bra can help prevent discomfort and potential injury during the rigors of rafting. Look for a sports bra that provides ample support, has moisture-wicking properties, and fits snugly without feeling constricting.

Swimsuit or Bikini with Cover-Up

When it comes to choosing a swimsuit or bikini for rafting, it is important to consider both comfort and modesty. Opt for a swimsuit or bikini that is comfortable to move in and made of quick-drying material. It is also a good idea to bring along a cover-up for added protection from the sun and modesty during rest stops.

Moisture-Wicking Undergarments

Moisture-wicking undergarments are a game changer for women when it comes to rafting. These undergarments help prevent chafing and irritation during long days on the water. Look for underwear made of moisture-wicking material and avoid cotton, which can trap moisture and lead to discomfort.

In addition to these specific considerations, women should also follow the general guidelines for choosing the right clothing for rafting. Opt for quick-drying materials and breathable fabrics to stay comfortable in changing weather conditions. Look for clothing with UV protection to shield your skin from harmful rays. And, don’t forget the importance of layering with a wetsuit or drysuit, rash guard, and insulated layers.

When it comes to footwear, water shoes or sandals with straps are the best options to keep feet protected and secure in the water. And, for headgear, both a sun hat and helmet are important for protecting your head and face from the sun and potential hazards on the river.

By taking into account these specific considerations as well as general guidelines for rafting clothing, women can ensure a safe, comfortable, and enjoyable experience on the river.

Specific Considerations for Men

When it comes to rafting, it’s important for men to choose the right clothing to ensure their comfort and safety on the water. Men should consider the following specific clothing items to make the most of their rafting experience.

Board Shorts or Swim Trunks

Board shorts or swim trunks are a great option for men who want to stay comfortable and mobile while rafting. These shorts are typically made from quick-drying materials that won’t weigh you down in the water. They also come in a variety of lengths and styles, so you can choose a pair that fits your personal preferences.

When choosing board shorts or swim trunks for rafting, look for a pair with a secure waistband to keep them in place while you’re moving around on the boat. You may also want to consider a pair with pockets to store small items like sunscreen or snacks.

Moisture-Wicking Undergarments

Rafting can be a sweaty, high-intensity activity, so it’s important to choose the right undergarments to keep you comfortable. Moisture-wicking underwear is a great option for men who want to stay dry and avoid chafing during their rafting trip.

Moisture-wicking underwear is typically made from synthetic materials that pull moisture away from the skin, allowing it to evaporate more quickly. This can help keep you cool and dry, even during the most intense parts of your rafting adventure.

Rash Guard or T-Shirt

A rash guard or t-shirt is a must-have for men who want to protect their skin from the sun and avoid irritation from the straps of a life jacket. Rash guards are typically made from lightweight, breathable materials that provide UPF sun protection.

When choosing a rash guard or t-shirt for rafting, look for a style that fits snugly but allows for a full range of motion. You may also want to consider a long-sleeved option for added sun protection.

In conclusion, when it comes to rafting, men should choose clothing that is both functional and comfortable. Board shorts or swim trunks, moisture-wicking undergarments, and a rash guard or t-shirt are all important items to consider. By choosing the right clothing, men can enjoy their rafting trip to the fullest while staying safe and comfortable on the water.

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