Winter is here, temperatures dropping, but here at Hells Canyon Raft we are always thinking about our upcoming summer river trips! One of our most frequently asked questions from our guests about to embark on one of our adventures is “What special items would you pack?”  Don’t worry, you will receive a detailed packing list once you book your trip.  But to answer this question in a way that goes beyond the packing list, here are five river essentials from one of our most seasoned guides, Haley!

  1. Prescription Sunglasses/Contacts: as a guide with glasses, one of my most important river items is my prescription sunglasses. The sun is strong on the river, and it’s important to protect your eyes from getting damaged. Sometimes I swap out the prescription sunnies for my contacts so I can wear fun and colorful sunglasses, but whatever I’m doing I always protect my eyes! If it’s possible for you, I would also recommend bringing a backup so you’re not stuck with nothing if anything gets broken or goes missing. 
  2. Long-sleeved collared shirt: as soon as I arrive at camp one of the first things I do is change into a shirt that is dry, long-sleeved, and collared. I like wearing a shirt with quick dry material and long sleeves because it protects from the sun AND keeps me cooler during the summer months. Bonus points for shirts that are fun or fashionable with an SPF!
  3. Wet wipes: you’ll be grateful for something to clean your face with at the end of a day of fun and sun on the river. We call it a “wet wipe shower” when you clean up before getting into your sleeping bag. Having wet wipes on hand is an easy way to make sure you will feel refreshed and relaxed during your river trip!
  4. Foldable pocket knife: as a river guide I am always finding new uses for a pocket knife on the river. Pocket knives can be used for any situation from emergency sandal repair to tightening screws on sunglasses to slicing open an apricot from one of the fruit-growing trees in Hells Canyon. You certainly won’t regret having a multi-tool on your rafting adventure.
  5. Twine or paracord: similar to a pocketknife, there are endless uses for some durable string when traveling in the wilderness. I always carry paracord with me and most frequently I find myself using it to hang wet clothes out to dry. There are plenty of other times when I find myself needing to tie, fasten, or secure something with cord. Cheap and easy to find, I always have paracord with me.
  6. Disposable camera: this is an optional item that certainly isn’t included in the packing list, but is one of my favorite things to bring on a river trip. Part of the reason I am a guide is because I love being on trips where I don’t look at my phone for days on end. Having a disposable camera means I don’t have to take my phone out, even for pictures! Some cameras are waterproof and others are not, which is something to consider when going out on a river, but either way if you bring a disposable camera you are sure to have priceless and unique photographs to remember your trip!
  7. For fun- glitter nail polish: putting on nail polish is a perfect afternoon or lunchtime activity when you are taking a break from swimming in the river or fishing. This activity serves multiple purposes because the glitter sparkles in the sun AND conceals any dirt that might be under your nails after a few days in the outdoors.

In my professional opinion, any river trip you go on is bound to be a boatload of fun. This year I rafted over one thousand miles on many different rivers, so I know a few things to bring on trips that allow you to maximize enjoyment. Bringing any of these items for extra credit will add a piece of comfort, ease, or fun to your river trip that will make you feel a little bit more at home. Packing your river bag is also an art, check out our short YouTube video for tips!  We can’t wait to see you next on one of our next trips! 


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