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  • Writer's pictureMikah Meyer

Ultimate River Trip Packing List

Updated: May 9

I’ve traveled on a lot of river trips over the years, and each time added to and updated this list to help myself and my friends best pack for multi-day river trips.

Now I’m sharing that list with you, to help you have the best river trip whether it’s your first or fiftieth!

(Here's a printable version of this list you can use as a check-list ↓ )

Download PDF • 52KB


  • Sarong (specifically the ones marketed to females) for sun protection. The thinner and bigger the better. You can use this to cover your legs on long, hot stretches of river. Or to dip in the water and cool off your legs with.

  • Sun shirts. 1 for every two days on the water, or one for every day if you want to be extra fresh. My favorite are the kind that cover your arms and have a hood for added sun protection. The overall aim is for light-weight, breathable, and sun protection.

  • Swim trunks/suit bottoms (you’ll most likely wear these during the day on the boat, then regular shorts or pants on the beach in the evening, but some people just keep on the swim trunks all day).

  • Actual, legit Rain Pants and Rain Jacket, with zippable pockets or ventilation zippers for extra comfort. ***A regular rain jacket is not sufficient. You need complete coverage for if a thunderstorm appears and you’re being hit with cold rain.

  • Buff or face covering/neck gaiter



  • Camp sandals (Crocs--or similar--are amazing)

  • Hiking shoes for side hikes. If you have KEEN or good water shoes, you don’t need separate. Otherwise, you’ll want close-toed, capable of 1+ mile hikes



  • Water bottle(s) (opaque, non-clear, is better to keep water cold from sun or tea warm)

  • Camp towel and biodegradable shampoo/body soap if wanting to river bathe

  • Sunglasses (I find polarized help contrast the water and canyons best)/Pescription glasses or contacts

  • Headlamp (charge ahead of time) *Something with red light is preferrable so you don't shine brightly and ruin the cones in others' eyes that allow them to see the night sky better!

  • Neoprene gloves, for cold weather trips only (usually May or sooner, or September or later, in North America)



  • Aquaphor lotion to rub on feet every night (every night, no matter what. You’ll thank me)

  • Baby/butt wipes/disposable wipes for cleaning off sunscreen, especially for your face

  • Hand sanitizer if you don’t like washing hands in river water with soap

  • Sunscreen. I find spray is the easiest to apply when your legs are soaked from water splashes, but all kinds work.

  • Lip Balm for dry weather + extra sunscreen protection due to prolonged lip exposure to the sun

  • Hand and Body lotion to apply at night (even if you’re not normally a dry skinned person, the constant water splashing will make your skin very dry and you’ll be glad you have it)

  • Stool softener and diarrhea meds (usually the guiding company has some, but especially if your stomach is sensitive, you’ll be glad you have both)

  • Personal medications or hygiene products



  • Cell phone or camera (if you have a nice DSLR, they can store it for you to use in the evenings, but using it during the day is at your own risk)



  • Your own sleeping bag (depending on if your tour company provides one or not). In May and before, or September or after, you'll want warmer ones. During June-August, it'll be hot and you'll want a non-warm sleeping bag.

  • Your own tent, depending on if your tour company provides one OR if you’re very

tall (I’m 6’ 1” and found I’ve often barely fit in the provided tents, so I like to bring my own, longer one)

  • Book

Tip guides 10-15% of trip price. Cash, check, or some do Zelle/Venmo now



  • Eye Cover if you don’t want to wake with the sun

  • Old, thin bed sheet to dip in water pre-night if you can't sleep in hot weather


To buy post airplane flight:

  • Beer/alcohol – More than you think you’ll drink. Unless you don’t drink alcohol, you’ll be glad you have more than normal. There’s so much down/hang out time on the beach and it’s a common part of river culture. Plus, if you don’t drink them, you can give them away to river friends who will be very thankful if they didn’t pack enough.

Not sure if a rafting trip is for you? Watch my short film, Canyon Chorus, below is see why it's the most amazing type of trip ever!


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