What should I wear on my rafting trip?

By Krystal • November 7, 2019

The Grand Canyon is a land of extremes. It is important that you follow the packing list to cover the varying weather conditions you may encounter on your epic journey through the canyon. Below you’ll find recommendations on what to wear both on the rafts and in camp. You likely own a majority of these items, but there are a few essentials you may need to purchase.

On the Rafts:

Let’s start with the basics. Your first layer will be quick drying underwear or swimsuit/trunks. Ladies, you’ll want to wear a 2-piece swimsuit or sports bra and underwear to make peeing into the river easier.

Next, cover up with a long sleeve shirt for sun protection, and quick-dry shorts or pants. Looser fitting shirts allow for more air flow and can help you feel cooler. As you’ll be getting wet throughout the day be sure to pack light-weight, moisture-wicking and/or quick-drying athletic clothes. Many people opt to wear this outfit for side hikes, splashing in the waterfalls, and braving the rapids.

On the rafts you’ll want to wear river sandals or amphibious shoes. Be sure your shoes are broken in, have good tread, and attach securely to your foot with laces/straps. If you need help deciding which shoes to bring, check out our footwear guidelines and tips.

Typically, you will want to start off the day in your quick-dry clothing with rain gear as your outer layer. Most guests use rain gear, even during the hottest months of the year. The rain gear acts as a barrier between you and the chilly 50-degree water of the Colorado River. Mornings spent rafting can be surprisingly cold while in the shade; some days you may even need to wear your fleece under your rain gear. You’ll have an opportunity to take your rain gear off once you warm up. You may need to de-layer and re-layer throughout the day, so keep your rain gear stowed in your day dry bag for easy access.

If your trip is in April/May or September/October, you will likely want to bring additional layers. This is a great time for hiking and camping in the canyon, but the colder temperatures can make for a challenging combination with the cold river water. Be sure to check out our tips for cold weather.

If you are rafting with in the summertime, don’t worry there is an easy way to cool down. Just dunk your shirt/hat/bandana/sarong in the river or jump in! There are lots of ways to beat the heat – see more tips for hot weather. However, there is no quick fix for a sunburn. The easiest way to protect yourself from the Arizona sun is by covering up. We recommend long sleeve shirts and pants. Don’t forget a wide brimmed hat and sunglasses with Chums. Bring lots of sunscreen and use it! Trust us; it is not fun sitting in the hot sun with a sunburn.

At Camp:

After helping to unload the rafts and setting up your campsite, you’ll want to change into dry, comfy clothes for hanging out and sleeping. Camp clothes can be whatever you’re most comfortable in. The idea is to have a set of clothes for hiking and rafting during the day and a separate set to change into at camp. This system helps to make wearing the same clothing for multiple days more comfortable. It is nice to change out of wet clothing and into a cleaner, dry outfit at the end of the day. Skirts or dresses are comfy choices for women and provide a privacy curtain when peeing in the river. A Hawaiian shirt isn’t a bad choice either. Just be sure to never wear your river clothes in camp, and never wear your camp clothes on the river!

3 day trip:

The first day of your trip will be spent at the Bar 10 Ranch, so you will want to bring clothes that you are comfortable in for activities like skeet shooting and horseback riding.

You may feel like you overpacked if you have hot, dry weather your whole trip. That is WAY better than being caught unprepared.

Consult the packing list in your trip packet for further details and let us know if you have any questions!