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Do I Really Need Rain Gear?

By Marie • August 30, 2020

In Arizona? During the summer? Are you sure? Short answer: Yes! Good rain gear can make the difference between an enjoyable trip and a miserable one.

Where to buy rain gear:

Purchase staff approved rain gear in ARR’s online store or at your nearest outdoor retailer.

Arizona is hot. Why do I need rain gear?

We know it sounds a bit crazy, especially mid-summer when temperatures can easily hit 100ºF in the canyon, but the water itself is cold. It comes out of the bottom of the Glen Canyon Dam and can range from 50-70°F depending on the time of year. The relationship between cold water and hot air is usually a pretty nice one-cold water drenches you and the hot air dries you off quickly. However, the problem arises when:

– The sun is hidden behind the canyon walls. In the mornings the canyon is shaded for quite some time and not being in direct sunlight to dry off makes a HUGE difference. Especially when the rapids are close together.

– Weather in the canyon is unpredictable. Getting stuck in a rainstorm without proper gear is not fun. There may also be wind in the canyon, wind mixed with wet clothes can be quite chilly especially if you add in some cloud cover. Rain gear happens to work well as a windbreaker too. It is easy to cool down in the canyon (jump in the river!), but it can be hard to warm back up.

– Your friends decided you would be the best person to ride up front all day. The front seat is exhilarating through the rapids – and also blocks a majority of the water from hitting the rest of the row. You don’t want to be miserable and dreading the next rapid because you are wet and cold when you could be having the time of your life in your rain gear!

– If you are rafting with us in the early or late season (April, May, September, or October) you’ll have less sunlight and a bit cooler air temperatures than in the summer. There is also the chance of a winter storm rolling in. You may want to bring wool and fleece layers in addition to rain gear.

Occasionally, especially on our shorter trips, rain gear goes unused – that means you had rare perfect weather on your trip! However, as Kafka states it is “better to have, and not need, than to need, and not have.” Every time the benefits of bringing rain gear outweigh the negatives.

What to look for:

We recommend a quality, two-piece rain suit with a hood that cinches at the ankle, wrists, and waist for all trips 6 days or longer regardless of the time of year. For 3 day trips, bring a rain jacket, but pants are optional as you’ll be exposed to the elements for a shorter time.

Make sure that your raingear is waterproof and not just water resistant. Look for something that can keep you dry, but is also breathable. Plastic ponchos and wetsuits are not recommended for this adventure. Most of our season’s temperatures are around 100°F and there are large portions of flat water throughout the canyon. Most rain jackets have pit zips you can open up if you start to get warm between rapids. As the day warms up you’ll have the opportunity to take off your rain gear and store it in your dry bag for easy access. You’ll be happiest in lightweight, easy-to-remove layers.

“I was surprised that in July I was never too hot, but occasionally too cold (if I sat in the front of the raft for prolonged periods). Rain gear is a must!” – Mary, Seattle, WA

“I would advise taking the packing list very seriously. I almost didn’t bring rain pants thinking I’d be okay without them and I’m SO happy I bought and packed them in retrospect.” – Hanna, Portland, ORGuests wearing rain gear

No question too small!

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