When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more here.

What To Wear When You Go White Water Rafting

Preparing for your first rafting adventure?

Knowing what to pack in advance will help you have a more enjoyable time out there.

And the first thing that you need to know is that you are definitely going to get wet when riding the rapids.

Most adventure companies that offer white water rafting trips do them come rain or shine, don’t think that a little rain will cancel they day’s activities.

If you are not out rafting on your own with a group of buddies, then the adventure company that schedules your excursion will give you a helmet and personal floatation device.

So, all you need to worry about is what you’re wearing.

White Water Rafting Clothing Checklist

The most important thing to remember when deciding that you will wear on your rafting trip is that you’re going to get wet.

So, you must keep that in mind when selecting your attire for the excursion. 

You should focus on clothing that will dry quickly, because you don’t want to be a soggy mess for the entire adventure.

colorado white water

Here’s a quick look at white water rafting attire:

Bathing suit

You will definitely want to put on a swim suit under your clothing.

For the women, stick with a two-piece suit instead of a one-piece.


Because it will be much easier for your bathroom breaks when you only have to pull down your swim suit bottoms instead of take off your entire bathing suit!

Quick dry shirt and shorts

Since you are definitely going to get wet, it makes sense to wear shorts instead of pants.

If possible, go for a some quick dry fabrics instead of cotton, which is stay wet longer and cling to your body uncomfortably.

It’s even better if you can look for water resistant and quick dry clothing at a local outdoor outfitter.

You should also bring a waterproof jacket in case it gets chilly on the raft.


Water shoes are a great choice for a rafting trip, but you don’t have to rush out to buy a pair if you don’t already own some.

A pair of old sneakers works just fine since they will stay on your feet and you likely won’t mind if they get too wet.

But be sure to avoid Crocs, flip flops and other types of shoes that can easily fall of your feet if you end up in the water.

I have a friend who actually lost both of her shoes on a white water rafting trip because she was wearing sandals without an ankle strap.

Sunglasses with retainer strap

Assuming that you’re going rafting on a sunny day, you’ll want to have some sunglasses to keep the sun’s glare out of your eyes.

Just make sure you’re not wearing your pricey Ray Bans, since you may lose them in the water.

Instead, go with a cheap pair of sunglasses and use a retainer strap to keep them secure around your neck.

Those rapids can be rough, and that means your sunglasses may fall off your face while rafting.

Waterproof Jacket and Pants

If your rafting trip is on a cold day or a rainy day, then you need to dress more warmly than you might expect. 

And to do that, you need a good pair of waterproof pants and a waterproof jacket. 

You can put these on over your clothing so make sure you don’t get too cold out there on the rapids.

Other Things To Bring

In addition to clothing, there are a few other things that you’ll want to bring with you on your rafting trip.

Definitely put on some waterproof sunscreen before setting out on the water. If you’ve got a small tube of it, then tuck it in one of your pockets so that you can reapply later on in the day.

You’ll also want a water bottle that you can attach to the raft, or your PFD, with a carabiner. 

And if your white water tour company isn’t providing snacks, then you’ll want to pack some in a dry bag that you can attach to the raft with a carabiner.

Final Word

You’ll want to resist the urge to bring towels in the raft with you since they’ll just get wet like you.

Instead, put the towels in your car or camp site so that you can use them to dry off once you’re done rafting for the day.

A change of clothes is also a good thing to keep in your car or the camp site.  You’ll also want to have a bag in your car for the wet clothing you change out of.

Just remember that the weather can change at any time, so pack some layers so that you can stay warm if its cold and peel off layers if it gets too warm.

Sharing is caring!