Whitewater rafting is one of the most exhilarating experiences out there. You get to blast through rivers in a unique way and see remote wilderness areas that few others do. But it also takes a lot of work and skill to get good at it.

Killgore Adventures offers whitewater rafting trips down Hells Canyon. Our river outfitters have put together a quick list of five ways you can be a better rafter the next time you go out on the water.

#1: Learn Your Strokes

There’s more to rafting than simply paddling and propelling the boat forward. ┬áLearning a few basic strokes can help you maneuver your raft more effectively down the river. Two strokes you should learn are:

The Draw Stroke: When you need to maneuver your raft in a particular direction, you can use the draw stroke. Start by anchoring the paddle vertically in the water parallel to the raft. With the paddle standing upright and blade and shaft submerged you can use this anchor point for leverage to move the raft in the direction of the river.

The Sweep Stroke: This stroke is helpful when you’re in rough rapids or currents as it allows you to spin or sharply turn the raft. To perform a sweep stroke you need to be sitting in the back of the raft. Hold your paddle horizontally with the blade in the water. Grip the paddle and engage your core muscles to push against the current. This motion helps to rotate the raft in a circle.

#2: Hold Your Paddle Properly

As you sit in the boat, you’ll have an inside and outside hand. Your inside hand should be placed on the top of the paddle. Your outside hand should be on the shaft. Holding your paddle properly offers you better purchase and is easier to use. ┬áNot only will you have more leverage on the paddle, but by having your inside hand on the grip at the end of the paddle, you are helping to protect your fellow rafters from harm.

#3: Get the Right Gear

If you aren’t keeping track, taking up white water rafting as a hobby can get expensive fast. But it doesn’t have to. The right gear can be as complicated as an elaborate drysuit or is something as simple as an outfit made of fast drying materials. At its most basic, the right gear is any clothing that is not made from cotton. There’s a saying that cotton kills and that’s because cotton is a negative insulator. Basically, once your cotton shirt or pants get wet, they will stay wet and cold for a long time. This can lead to hypothermia at the worst of times and prolong discomfort at the best.

Additionally, make sure you’re always wearing your safety gear. This should include a helmet, life jacket, and a whistle. Should you be ejected from the boat, this gear will keep you safe from harm and keep you floating in the water until your raft team can rescue you.

#4: Cooperation is Key

The only way you’re going to effectively move down the river is if you cooperate with your fellow rafters. Make sure you listen to your river outfitter for instructions. They will tell you the right strokes to use and when to use them. if you start paddling or use a different stroke than your fellow rafters, you’ll find that the boat does not move as smoothly as it should.

#5: Start to Recognize the Signs of Different Water Levels

The water level of the Snake and Salmon Rivers will vary throughout the year and for a variety of reasons. For instance, earlier in the season the river might be full because of spring snowmelt and runoff. Deeper rivers with higher water levels will generally be calmer with slower rapids. The more shallow rivers with low water levels will be faster and more irregular. In some cases, the river might be no deeper than 5 feet. The water level and depth will change your experience and change how you move the raft through the water.

Book Your Whitewater Rafting Trip Today

Killgore Adventures offers afternoon and multi-day long white water rafting trips through Hells Canyon. We have all the gear you could need to enjoy your latest outdoor excursion with Idaho’s #1 adventure company. Book your whitewater rafting trip today.