Any overnight rafting or kayaking trip requires some general camping or backpacking gear. One of the wonderful things about rafting trips is that there is typically room for your oversized tent, drink cooler, steak dinner, and folding chair. So if you’re used to car camping, a lot of the equipment you use can be brought on the rio with you.

Some gear you will probably want: Tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cooler, comfortable chair, a stove, firepan, blaster, Dutch Oven, and tables.

Tents: During the heat of the summer, many people opt to forego the tent and sleep out under the stars. But weather can change quickly, so it’s a good idea to have some sort of shelter in case the skies open up and you get dumped on. A tarp can also serve the purpose of a shelter. Recommended tents: Mountain Hardware, REI, Eureka, The North Face, Kelty, Sierra Designs, Marmot.

Sleeping Bags: Before you go purchase a new sleeping bag, check to see what the weather is like in the area you are doing your river trip. You can always buy a silk or fleece sleeping bag liner which will decrease your bag’s temperature rating by 5-15 degrees. Many boaters prefer synthetic bags because they dry out quicker and if they get wet either from rain, or from a mishap on the river, your bag will still keep you (somewhat) warm. For hot summer trips, a lightweight bag from a sporting goods store would be fine as well. Recommended sleeping bags: The North Face, Marmot, Sierra Designs, REI

Sleeping Pads: Really, what you want is a waterproof, pvc-covered foam pad, usually referred to as a “Paco Pad” although there are other brands of them as well. The beauty of these thick, comfy beds is that you can pretty much plop down to sleep anywhere, even over small pebbles and sticks. Additionally, they double as a cooler cover , a comfortable rowing seat, and a place for passengers to sit at the front of the boat. If you’re looking for a another option, a standard Therma-rest or a cot would work make a fine river bed. Recommended river beds:  Jack’s Plastic, Maravia Sleeping Pads, Thermarest, Cascade OutfittersREI.

Coolers: What really matters is that you keep the thing closed most of the time. An organized packing job and a good “food dude” can usually make even a somewhat shoddy cooler do the trick on shorter trips. A few good coolers: Icee Kool by Galaxy, Yeti.

Chairs: While rocks work great, it’s a river trip for crying out loud, so bring all the comfy stuff like a nice big chair, kick your feet up, and relax a little. You deserve it. Cascade Outfitters and REI both have a plethora of camping chair options.

Stoves, Firepans, and D.O.s: Depending on what you plan to cook, anything from a small backpacking stove to a 6-burner expedition river stove will work. A one-burner blaster is usually nice for boiling water, a firepan is essential for bbq’s, and dutch ovens are a great addition to any river kitchen. Don’t forget the propane or the charcoal! Dutch Oven Pro, various stoves and firepans, Partner Stoves.

Bathroom (a.k.a. “Groovers”): Anything from an ammo can with a seat on it to a nice Jon-ny Partner bathroom will do the trick, but every river in CA requires that you carry out all human waste. 

Tables: pretty simple. They also serve to cover the hatches and create a seat (that you can then cover with a paco pad and make a really comfortable bed…). Partner Steel makes excellent tables, although you could also go for a cheaper option, bring a couple plastic saw horses and a piece of wood, and voila.

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