While it might still be too cold to go out on a rafting trip, that doesn’t mean you can’t start developing your packing list now. If you’ve only gone on day-long rafting trips, you probably pack pretty light. Generally, you’ll bring plenty of water and sunscreen, some snacks, and maybe a headlamp if you’re running late. But when you go on multi-day trips, your packing list has to be far more thorough. For those new to multi-day backcountry trips, figuring out what to pack and what to leave behind can be confusing at best, downright impossible at worst.

Lucky for you, the experienced Idaho river outfitters at Killgore Adventures have got your back. We’ve put together a quick packing list for you to use before your next trip.

Rafting: The Most Luxurious Form of Backcountry Travel

It’s important to remember that you can bring a few more luxuries with you when you’re rafting than you can when back or bike packing. The raft itself is akin to a water-borne station wagon, so you can bring things like coolers, extra sleeping pads, and even fun river swag like costumes and instruments. That said, don’t go crazy, as you have to share space in the raft with your fellow adventurers. Here are the essentials you should bring.

Food and Kitchen Gear

You should pack a cooler with all of the food you’ll need for a few days. Since you’ve got a cooler, you can put ice packs in there to keep fresh fruits, vegetables, and even meat cool and fresh for a few days. 

You’ll want to have a decent kitchen set up as well. We recommend something like a propane two-burner stove with a pot, pan, and spatula. If you didn’t prep your food ahead of time, make sure you bring accessories like a cutting board and knife.

Dry Bags

When backpacking, you can get away with a simple trash bag to line your pack and keep your gear dry. But it should go without saying, while rafting, all of your gear is going to get wet whether you want it to or not. That’s why we recommend something like a 60-liter dry bag. These are made from rubberized materials that are seam-sealed or welded together to keep water out. Your bag should be big enough to fit things like your tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a change of clothes, and other accessories like headlamps, hygiene kits, and more. This is the one piece of kit you don’t want to go cheap on. Buy once, cry once, get the right bag the first time.

Sleeping System

A multi-day river trip is taxing in every sense of the word. You’ll be working harder than you ever would in the front country, making your eight-hours of sleep more important than ever. Your sleep system should be dialed in, comfortable, and inviting. 

We suggest starting with a synthetic sleeping bag rated for 20 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature rating will keep you warm throughout the spring and summer rafting seasons. Synthetic bags will keep you warm even if the bag gets wet (and trust us, it will happen eventually). While they don’t pack down as small as down bags, that’s less of a concern for river rafters. 

Ditch the closed-cell foam sleeping mats, and instead spring for an inflatable sleeping pad. On rafting trips, you’re basically car camping, so you can afford to bring your nice sleeping pads. Really, any air pad is fine, but we treat ourselves to the nice thick ones that are more like mini-mattresses than simple pads. A pillow is also a nice addition that makes a big difference in your quality of sleep.

Finally, don’t forget a tent, tarp, or bivy. While you might get lucky and can cowboy camp under the stars most nights, a shelter of some kind will be a welcome retreat on rainy days, or during particularly windy days. 

Day-to-Day Essentials

A while back, we put together a post on packing for a rafting trip that covered some of the things you’ll use every day while traveling. To recap, make sure you’re wearing moisture-wicking layers and sturdy shoes. Items like sunscreen and a water bottle should always be near at hand. Don’t forget to put safety first, and make sure you don’t take any risks you don’t have to while you’re out on the river. 

Book Your Whitewater Rafting Trip in Idaho Today

Ready to experience a multi-day whitewater rafting expedition of your own? Then it’s time to book a trip with the Idaho river outfitters at Killgore Adventures! We know the best routes and rapids in Hells Canyon, and our multi-day trips are an incredible way to experience this seldom seen part of Idaho. Find out more and then book your trip today!