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Packing for an overnight river rafting trip in Idaho might sound daunting, but it’s easier than it sounds – especially with a bit of expert guidance. We’ve been doing this a long time and after hundreds of trips down the river, we’ve got this packing thing down to a science.

We make it easy for you. When you book a river trip with Hells Canyon Raft, you’ll receive a very specific packing list that guides you in preparing for your Idaho rafting trip. Our list covers all the details and the things you might not think of, like a strap for your sunglasses or lip balm. While this blog post definitely doesn’t cover the full list, here are some highlights, including insider tips from owners Kurt and Heidi:

First, let us take some things off of your checklist. We provide tents, deluxe sleeping pads, freshly laundered sleeping bags, two waterproof gear bags for each person (one large, one small), camp chairs, fishing gear (feel free to bring your favorite rod though), and everything we need for cooking and eating our delicious and hearty meals.

Follow our lead.  We’ve worked hard on creating our packing list for our guests so you don’t have to stress. Use our list. Be prepared but try not to over-pack; river life is really quite simple. Traveling light makes your trip more enjoyable, we promise. Just follow our guidelines and you’ll be in great shape.

Shoes make the (wo)man: You’ll need river shoes that strap on or tie. This can be heavy-soled, strap-on river sandals like Chacos or Tevas or sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet. We do not allow slip-on water shoes – they are just not sturdy enough. Sandals dry easily and you can do almost anything with them – hike, kayak, raft, play at camp. Most importantly: Make sure to break in your new river shoes before you come. You’ll also want some camp shoes to change into. This can be flip-flops or sneakers.

No wardrobe malfunctions: Weather is dynamic, so your choice of clothing should take that into consideration. You’ll want mostly quick-drying, synthetic layers. Things that do double duty are great, such as a base long underwear layer you can wear both on the river and for cooler mornings. A long-sleeved sun shirt is a necessity – you’ll find it beneficial to cover up during hot days. You’ll also need a fleece jacket for cooler mornings or evenings, especially during early or later season trips, and a rain jacket. Most of your clothes should be synthetic (including the undies if you choose that instead of a swimsuit!), but a couple pieces of comfy cotton for camp is heavenly. A cotton t-shirt or sweatshirt and shorts or skirt will feel good on your skin after a long day outside.

Protect yourself from Ma Nature: Good quality sunglasses with a strap, plenty of sunscreen, sun hat with a strap and a water bottle are the best ways to stay feeling good and healthy in long days of sunshine. Make sure you have a decent sized water bottle with a top that can be attached to the boat using a carabiner.

Leave the bling at home. We strongly recommend you leave expensive jewelry, watches, and similar items at home. These things don’t fare well in the elements, but more importantly, if lost in the river or the sand they will most likely be a donation to the River Gods.

Take it from our fearless leaders:

With countless river miles under their belts, owners Kurt and Heidi Armacost know a thing or two about how to prepare for a trip. Whether you’re going on a Hells Canyon River trip on the Snake River or a Salmon River Rafting trip, these are a few of their favorite things to have on the river:

Heidi’s List:

  • Long sleeve white blouse to cover up from the sun’s strong afternoon rays. (This shirt will likely not finish the trip in pristine white shape, though. Thrift stores are your friend here!)
  • Loofa for baths in the river
  • Fun summer dress for dinnertime and enjoying cool breezes
  • Wipes to clean your face at night and a good face cream and lotion after a day in the sun

Kurt’s List:

  • Flip-flops for evenings at camp but Chacos for the rest of the time – Kurt wears his on the river and for all the hiking. Make sure to break in your shoes!
  • Fun beach shirts for camp.
  • A light fleece under your splash jacket for the cool mornings, even in July. But it doesn’t take long to heat up!
  • A bar of Ivory soap: it floats and is biodegradable.
  • An extra fleece jacket instead of a pillow, but Kurt can sleep anywhere. This isn’t required…

Again, this list is just a few of the highlights. If you use our packing list, you’ll have everything you need. We also answer many of your questions on our FAQ about Rafting page.

There are often more questions though, especially ones of a more “personal” nature like where we go to the bathroom or how to handle a woman’s special time of month. We are always available via phone or email to discuss your concerns and set your mind at ease. We can pretty much guarantee that whatever your question is, it’s not the first time we’ve heard it.

Just remember, we’re here to help you figure out how to be comfortable, happy and safe on the river. That’s why you’re heading down the river with Hells Canyon Raft – because our experience helps make your experience spectacular!

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