Nothing says summertime like a river rafting trip with your favorite people. From single-day floats to multi-day river trips, enjoying the sunny weather in the great outdoors is sure to be a great idea.
To ensure your whole group has an enjoyable day (or days), planning your river float trip in advance with a comprehensive packing list is a good idea. No one wants to be stranded in the middle of the river on a summer day without the sunscreen they forgot to pack!
In this post, you’ll find all of my recommended float trip essentials as well as tips and ideas for planning the ultimate river getaway.
Download my FREE printable, the ultimate float trip checklist, and make sure you are more than prepared for your upcoming adventure!
Tip: Planning for a large group can be difficult. Download and share this checklist via Google Drive or Apple Notes with everyone in your group so multiple people can check off their contributions and ensure nothing is missed!
What Kind of Float Trip Should I Plan?
From canoe trips on the Mississippi to white water rafting down the Colorado River, there are many float trips to choose from.
Typically, if you float on a river with relatively calm water, you’ll have a few standard float types to pick from. You could choose a canoe, kayak, inner tube, or large raft (usually made to hold between 4 and 12 people). If you are floating with children or pets, I highly recommend choosing a large raft. Another great option is a canoe.
Tip: If you have a large group, I suggest renting a couple of the larger rafts to keep your items (and the majority of your party) together and then bringing your own inner tube or inflatable raft.
Here are a few great options:
If you like to plan your own outdoor adventures, you may choose to forgo an organized float through a company and bring your own supplies!
To my surprise, I found quite a few great raft options available on Amazon. This may be a good alternative to renting if you plan to go on multiple float trips.
Tip: Bring bungee cords to tie everything together if you have multiple floatation devices! These are also great for attaching your floating cooler to a raft.
What Time of Year Should I Float?
Hot days in the summertime are obviously ideal for a float trip. Enjoy sunning yourself on the raft or cooling off with a dip in the river water. However, float trips are also popular in the spring and fall months.
The changing colors of the fall leaves and cool waters provide quite a different floating experience than your traditional summer adventure. Swap the beer for warm tea or hot chocolate, and bring a few blankets to enjoy a cool day on the river. Just make sure you bring proper gear to make sure you are prepared for the season!
Cold weather essential items you may want to consider packing:
- Outer layers such as a warm jacket or coat
- Change of clothes (in case you get wet and cold)
- Long underwear (depending on the weather; it can get chilly on the water!)
- Light rain jacket (check the forecast before heading out, especially if it is the rainy season)
- Warm hat or beanie
- Rain gear, such as an umbrella or plastic cover for your personal items
- Wool socks (I recommend bringing an extra pair, too, in case they get wet)
- Rubber boots (keep your feet warm and dry!)
Be Sure to Pack These Float Trip Essentials:
Your specific packing list will obviously depend on the time of year and location where you float, but these basics will likely end up on most lists (especially for summer floats).
And remember… pack light and leave unnecessary items at home! Nobody wants to lug around a bunch of things that won’t be needed, especially on a hot summer day.
Inflatable raft or inner tube
Perfect for attaching to larger rafts if you are floating with a big group. Scroll to the top of this post for a few great options from Amazon!
Leave the designer ones at home and snag a cheap pair from Amazon.
Refillable water bottle
This insulated water bottle from Amazon will keep your water cold all day and is only $17!
A must for tying rafts together or attaching your floating cooler!
I highly recommend snagging a life jacket for your pup if you plan to bring them along!
Very helpful (and time-saving!) if you are bringing lots of inflatables.
Waterproof phone case
Personally, I’d leave my phone at the campground or in the car. But if you must bring it for music-playing or photo-taking, make sure you protect it!
Baseball caps or wide-brimmed hats are perfect for keeping the sun off your face.
Cooler/ floating cooler
Emphasis on the waterproof. I made this mistake, and not only was my speaker ruined, but we had no music for the rest of the float.
Where Should I Plan My Float Trip?
Float-trip river resorts are scattered across the country, so finding a great location in your state should be easy.
If you live in the mid-west, Missouri is known for being an excellent summertime floating destination. For recommendations and a list of the most scenic rivers, check out my post about the best float trips in Missouri!
If you like to travel and are looking to plan the ultimate summer float trip, check out this Thrillist article that highlights some of the best floating rivers in the United States.