Adventure Blog

What to Wear White Water Rafting (and what not to wear)

If you have a whitewater rafting trip booked, you may be wondering what to wear during your adventure, or, more importantly, what not to wear while rafting. We’re here to help! At Adventures on the Gorge, we’ve been taking adventurers rafting for decades, so we know a thing or two about whitewater rafting clothes.

First: What to Wear White Water Rafting, the Essentials.

We provide everything that you need for your trip! You’ll be outfitted with a helmet, paddle, and PFD (personal flotation device) prior to your trip. Your guides will make sure that your PFD is properly secured, but your other clothing is up to you unless you choose to rent a wetsuit, in which case, we got you covered (more on this later). 

When you’re thinking about what to wear rafting, you may think that you should wear a bathing suit. You’d be correct! Wearing a swimsuit is a great place to start. During the summer months, for men, wearing swim trunks and a synthetic shirt is recommended. For women, a swimsuit with shorts and a synthetic shirt is the most comfortable option. Wearing just a swimsuit (for women) can be a bit uncomfortable, so grab a pair of athletic shorts or board shorts to put on over your suit. 

During the spring (or if you’re rafting the Gauley River), then a wetsuit is recommended. If you don’t have your own, then you can rent a wetsuit from us! We also have splash jackets available to wear over your wetsuit. 

Now, onto your feet! What are the best shoes for whitewater rafting? We recommend old tennis shoes, or sandals that have straps that will secure them to your feet (think: Tevas or Chacos). If it’s cold, wool socks are a nice addition to keep your toes warmer, or neoprene booties or aquasocks. 

It may be sunny, so bring a pair of sunglasses on your rafting trip! But it’s also important to make sure that those sunnies are secure. Pick up a pair of straps before your trip, or purchase some in our store! Or, if you’d prefer, you can wear a hat underneath your helmet. Or! Wear a hat and sunglasses! 

You should also make sure to wear sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy out on the day of your rafting trip. Knees, necks, and arms are easily burnt when spending a day on the river, so take care of your skin and apply sunscreen!

What NOT to Wear (or Bring as You Raft the New River or Gauley River)

First, we really don’t recommend that you wear cotton. Cotton dries slowly and tends to make rafters chilly once wet (and you will get wet!). Synthetic clothing, like what you wear to the gym, will make for a much more comfortable rafting experience. 

You may love your jeans, but they don’t make for the best pants for the river. Swim shorts, gym shorts, or a wet suit are all much better options. It’s also important to wear shoes that stay on your feet, so leave the crocs or flip flops at home (or wear them after your trip!). 

You also don’t want to bring a towel. Yes, you are going to get wet. You may even swim while you’re on the river! But, if you bring a towel to the river, it will also get wet. And you don’t want to bring a towel on the bus because you may get picked up from your trip on a different bus than you were dropped off in. Once you’re back at Adventures on the Gorge, you can shower and put on dry clothes (and use your towel). 

This one is often forgotten about; wedding or engagement rings. There are many beautiful rings resting in the depths of the New and Gauley Rivers, so leave the rings at home unless you want to join the ranks of the many who have lost their rings on the river.

What are the five most important items you need for a rafting trip?
1. Synthetic clothes! Make sure you’re outfitted in clothing that isn’t cotton, you’ll be much more comfortable on the river! 

2. Sunglasses and/or a hat. Soak up the sun but shade your eyes and face! Don’t forget to pick up a strap for your sunglasses at our store! 

3. Shoes. Make sure that your shoes stay securely on your feet. Old tennis shoes or sandals that strap securely to your feet like Chacos or Tevas are recommended. 

4. Sunscreen. Avoid the rafters burn (you’ll know it when you see it!). Make sure to apply sunscreen before your trip and bring sunscreen along with you to reapply throughout the day. 

5. A smile! Rafting is fun! Make sure you pack your smile on your rafting trip!

Rafting at Adventures on the Gorge

Now that you’re fully outfitted, it’s time to go rafting! Have you booked your rafting trip for the New or Gauley Rivers? At Adventures on the Gorge, we have rafting options for everybody, no matter what your experience level is. 

For families with little ones as young as six, check out the Upper New River. This family-friendly trip provides fun and splashy rapids, helping to usher in a new generation of rafting enthusiasts. And, kids 6-11 raft for free with each paying adults (excludes Saturdays). 

For a little more adventure, check out the Lower New River. This trip is available as a full or half day, and travels through the heart of the New River Gorge National Park & Preserve. You’ll see iconic landmarks such as Endless Wall and the New River Gorge Bridge. 

Try our Best Run of the Day for those looking for the most adventurous trip we offer. Our guides will pick the best river and section for the day of your trip based on the water levels. You may raft the New River, or the Gauley (a special treat in the Summer!), or the Cherry!

In the fall, water is released from Summersville Dam, creating reliable water levels on the Gauley River. For 6-7 weeks during September and October, you can take on the mighty Gauley River. The Upper Gauley features world-class whitewater and is only recommended for those with rafting experience. The Lower Gauley is great for those who want to try out the Gauley but aren’t quite ready to take on the Upper Gauley.

Now, plan your trip and pack your bags; it’s time to go rafting!

What To Wear White Water Rafting

If you want to experience everything we have to offer, please call one of our adventure specialists.

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