What To Wear, And To Not Wear White Water Rafting?

What To Wear, And What To Not Wear White Water Rafting

Bathing suits, sun protection, sturdy footwear, and hat are some of the most important things you must wear when white water rafting. Apart from giving you an ample amount of comfort, these things will also give you protection from the harmful rays of the sun throughout your trip. This way, you can fully enjoy the experience.

What to wear when white water rafting?

White water rafting is a great adventure sport. Aside from the views of the surrounding area, this activity also lets you feel a good adrenaline rush as the rapids move your kayaks or boats.

However, to fully enjoy such an awesome experience, you also need to think about what you’re wearing. It also depends on the difficulty of the white water rafting trip you’re taking.

Yes, you read it right. Even if it’s just an adventure sport and you think you’re going to get wet anyway, you still have to wear the right set of clothes and gear.

Typically, you will need sun protection. This includes synthetic clothes that will help shield you from the harmful rays of the sun. Of course, you also have to wear your sunscreen regardless of the season you’re doing the activity.

Sturdy footwear is highly advisable too, such as closed-toe athletic training shoes or water shoes. Since it’s going to be a rough ride, you might want to leave your stilettos or other favorite dress shoes at home.

Remember, most guides use inflatable boats. So, any footwear with sharp details on them, such as heels and studs is a no-no as they could easily tear your boat. Also, the paths to the river are usually rugged. Thus, your fancy dress shoes won’t do you any good here.

What to wear white water wafting in spring?

Spring is a good time to go white water rafting. Winter has just set out and the snow is most likely melting. The foliage is growing, animals are out and about after hibernating – it’s a good season to enjoy white water rafting all-in-all.

While winter is done, spring still brings some chills in the air. The first thing you’d want to avoid again is wearing anything made out of cotton as it has poor insulating properties.

The perfect outfit for white water rafting during spring is a lightweight rashguard made out of fleece. It has great insulation and it can absorb water well too. Most importantly, it’s light so you aren’t burdened by it even if it gets wet.

A good alternative to this would be a synthetic long sleeve shirt. You don’t need to layer your clothes too much when spring white water rafting as it’s less cool.

For your feet, make sure you wear wool or pile socks to keep them nice and warm. The first part of your body that gets cold are your feet so a layer of protection for them wouldn’t be such a bad idea.

What to wear white water rafting in summer?

What to wear white water rafting in summer?

During summer, expect more sun. Even if you’re white water rafting in non-tropical countries and you don’t feel the heat of the sun that much, you should still make sure that you’re wearing enough sun protection.

For trips during the summer season, it’s advisable to wear a quick-drying set of undergarments. Instead of your regular cotton underwear, try to use your bathing suit – such as your bikini, for rinstance, for women.

Then, top it off with quick-drying shorts or shirts, such as a rash guard or board shorts. As much as possible, try to avoid clothes that are made with cotton. Fabrics like this get cold when wet.

Also, skip the jeans. It’s kind of tempting to dress your best for the photos during trips like these. But, jeans get heavier when wet.

You may also wear a pair of sunglasses. But, since it’s going to be a rough ride, make sure to bring a retainer strap so you won’t lose it.

Of course, never forget yoru sunscreen. Even if the place has good shades, don’t fall for it. Neither the trees nor your clothes can completely block the harmful UVA and UB rays from getting to your skin.

So, to be sure, always wear your sunscreen even if you’re wearing a long-sleeved rashguard. Also, don’t forget to reapply it.

What to wear white water rafting in winter? 

White water rafting is still an enjoyable activity even in winter. Some would say that it’s a bit more extreme as cold water is denser – thus heavier than warm water. If you’re planning on white water rafting in winter, you need to be prepared as proper clothing is a must more than anything.

The key here is to find clothing that offers the best insulation and protection from the cold. One of the issues you might face when white water rafting in winter is hypothermia.

The best clothes to wear are wetsuits, splash jackets, and river shoes. These have built-in protection from the cold and will make white water rafting in winter a lot safer. However, that’s not all that you should wear. Layering your clothes is essential when white water rafting.

Beneath these clothes, make sure to add in a swimsuit and other synthetic layers that will help heat regulate throughout your body. The best material to have under your outer layer of clothes is fleece as these are built for heat regulation. Avoid cotton as much as possible as not are these bad at regulating heat, they also get heavy when wet.

For your head, a fleece or wool winter hat or a beanie are going to be perfect. Again, don’t wear any headwear made out of cotton. When buying headwear, make sure that it’s a snug fit so that it doesn’t fall off while you’re rafting. 

For your feet, fleece or wool socks are a must but do not wear anything made out of cotton as well. Wear any shoes that you would when white water rafting outside of the cotton.

What to wear white water rafting in fall?

During the fall season, the temperatures start to drop, especially in countries that experience winter. So, you may want to keep yourself warm.

For this season, it’s advisable to wear technical fabric or woolen clothing. These clothes are known to have good water absorption resistance. These will keep you dry and, at the same time, warm.

You may also layer your clothes. Yes, this may seem a lot, but this will help you enjoy your trip better by keeping you warm and dry throughout the trip.

Experts suggest still wearing synthetic waterproof clothing. Then, top it off with a layer of clothes that are less water absorbent. And, use a splash jacket to keep the water at bay.

If you’re wearing closed shoes, you may want to wear wool or fleece socks. They will also help keep your feet warm and dry.

For rafters who prefer wearing a hat, wool is – again – a great material.

What to not wear while water rafting?

What to not wear while water rafting?

We’ve told you what you should wear while white water rafting for various seasons. What about things you should avoid wearing?

The rules may seem a bit too much, but here this out. Again, to make sure you’re able to make the most out of your trip, you must wear the right clothes. So, what should you not wear, then? Here are some of them.


You’ve probably read this a few times throughout this article already but this one’s still worth mentioning – AVOID WEARING ANYTHING MADE OF COTTON. Yes, cotton is a very comfortable clothing to wear – but not when you’re white water rafting.

Unfortunately, cotton is a bad material for white water rafting because it has poor insulation, it takes longer to dry, and it gets very heavy when wet. Go to materials for white water rafting are wool, fleece, polyester, or anything that’s waterproof or quick drying.

Tight Clothing

Avoid wearing any clothing that’s too tight and that can hamper your movement. This means that jeans and other tight bottoms are out of the question as well.

Flexibility is a must when white water rafting.  And, of course, you wouldn’t want clothes that easily tear while doing a physically demanding activity, right?

Most people wear flexible leggings for their undergarments. They layer it with swimming trunks while white water rafting.

Uncomfortable Footwear

Your shoes should be something that’s flexible and durable.

Most people wear water shoes so that they can easily walk on the river if needed. Ideally, you’d want to avoid wearing flip-flops, crocs, high heels, and even cowboy boots while rafting as this can limit your movement on the raft.

Don’t worry, there are good water shoes and other athletic footwear in the market today. You have many designs to choose from.


Lastly, avoid wearing your valuables while white river rafting. Smartphones, jewelry, keys, wallets, and other valuable items should be left behind.

If you have no place to leave your keys, wallets, and smartphones safely, you may want to invest in a good dry bag. It will keep your valuables safe and dry. It’s easy to bring anywhere too.

There are also waterproof pouches for your smartphones too. They’re like ziplock bags but are thicker and they have added locks to ensure that not even a drop of water will get in.

Most of them are transparent too. So, if you need to take pictures or videos, you can still use your phone while it’s inside the pouch.

What you wear plays a crucial part n your trip. So, before your trip, make sure to ask around or do a quick research on what to wear white water rafting depending on the season.

About Carla

I'm a journalist passionate about extreme sports. I love writing and reading stories about those brave people that are going beyond the limit of their physical capabilities.

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