If you have been white water rafting, you know the rush of adrenaline as you round a corner and see your first rapid. There is nothing quite like it. If you haven't been white water rafting, get out there. Here's what you need to know.
What is white water rafting?
White water rafting is an outdoor activity that involves riding on a raft down a river with rapids. While it is typically done for recreation, some people white water raft for competition. In fact, both canoe and kayak slaloms have been part of the Olympics on and off for decades. Today, white water rafting trips use a multi-person inflatable raft, a kayak, a canoe, or even an inflatable kayak, called a duckie, to navigate the waters.
What are the different types of rapids?
There are generally four different kinds of rapids, each with its own level of difficulty:
- Class I. The easiest type of rapid, with little to no obstacles and easy-to-maneuver waves.
- Class II. Some minor obstacles, such as rocks or small waves, but generally easy to navigate.
- Class III. More challenging rapids with larger waves and/or obstacles, such as rocks.
- Class IV. Difficult rapids with large waves and/or obstacles, such as rocks or trees.
Anything higher than a Class IV is too dangerous for the average rafting trip, but may be navigable for competition paddlers and adventure explorers.
What should you wear for white water rafting?
It is important to wear clothes that can get wet and that will protect you from the sun. No matter what the weather is like, warm or cold, it is still advisable to dress in layers.
Your base layer should be your bathing suit. If the day of your rafting trip is warm enough, you can strip down to your bathing suit and go for a swim during your lunch break or at the end of your run.
Over your suit, layer a long sleeve shirt that will protect you from the sun's UV rays while on the river. It should be made of a quick-drying material, not a cotton t-shirt. Cotton becomes water-logged quickly and is very slow to dry.
If the day starts off cold, wear a microfleece to stay both warm and dry. This type of material does not absorb water, but rather sheds it off.
White water rafting is not the time for flip-flops. You need something sturdy that will stay on your feet while you are digging into the water with your paddle. While you can wear any type of closed-toe shoes that can get wet, you will likely not want to wear your everyday sneakers. Try finding a water bootie with a sturdy sole or a water-resistant sandal designed for outdoor sports.
Is white water rafting safe?
There are always risks associated with any outdoor activity, but the risk can be greatly reduced by being properly prepared.
- Make sure to choose a reputable company with experienced guides.
- Be sure to listen to your guide and follow their instructions.
- Wear the proper clothing and footwear.
- Wear a helmet if one is available.
Most importantly, always use common sense. White water rafting is incredibly fun if you respect the river and its power.