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Cold Weather Rafting

Cold Weather Rafting – How To Stay Warm on the River

Rafting is great summertime fun but who said the fun has to end when the weather turns cold?

Is there anything more fun than rafting in colder weather when the views are different and water is quiet.

This article will give you the tips you need to stay warm, dry, and comfortable during the cold months so you can enjoy the beauty and mystique the river has to offer year-round. 

Cold Weather Rafting Tips for Staying Warm and Dry

Although it can be a breathtakingly beautiful experience, if you plan on riding the river during the colder months you need to be prepared for cold winds, and the possibility of getting wet. 

Cold Weather Rafting – How To Stay Warm On The River

This section will give you tips on how to be prepared for whatever conditions you may encounter so you can get the most out of your winter rafting expedition. 

Head to Toes - Keep Your Body Warm

Keeping your body warm is a top priority when on a winter rafting trip. Starting with your head, be sure to wear a warm hat that is made with a material that dries quickly. Always pack a spare winter hat in your dry bag in the event you get wet. 

It is recommended that you keep your hood zipped up to prevent wind from getting on your neck. This simple act can make a big difference in your warmth and comfort level.

rafting in winter 

Cotton may be the fabric of our lives, however, when it comes to dressing your core be sure to steer clear of cotton materials as they take significantly longer to dry. Dress in thin layers using materials such as neoprene, fleece, and wool. 

Dressing in layers allows you to shed some clothing if you get too hot so you don’t overheat and begin to sweat. Sweating while out in cold weather can lead to serious issues such as frostbite or hypothermia. 

rafting with a jacket on

One way to combat the issue of getting wet is to invest in a good quality cold-water wetsuit as an extra layer of protection.

Your outer layer should consist of rain gear. Be sure not to skimp on the rain gear as it can make a huge difference when you are trying not to get wet. 

Protect Your Paddlers and Piggies

Keeping your hands warm and dry is essential as you will need them to paddle and hold on. Be sure to bring multiple pairs of neoprene and/or wool gloves to keep your fingers from freezing to the paddle. This is another item that is small so packing extra won’t take up too much space in your dry bag. 

Another really important thing to remember is your feet. It is imperative that they stay dry. Pack multiple pairs of socks and if you have the room an extra pair of shoes/boots. 

Most experienced rafters recommend that you pack clothing to wear while on the river bank and a set for while on the raft; this way you can let one dry while you are resting.  

Keeping Your Insides Warm and Fuzzy

If your body is not properly hydrated it will not function properly and you will find yourself rendered cold and useless. To prevent serious issues such as dehydration or hypothermia bring plenty of drinking water as well as warm beverages. 

Great options to bring in your insulated drinking containers to keep you feeling toasty on the inside are: 

  • Beef, chicken or vegetable broths
  • Coffee
  • Hearty stews/soups
  • Hot chocolate 
  • Hot tea

Nowadays insulated mugs can keep liquids warm for 12 hours or more so you can take a long trip and not worry about drinking iced coffee or frozen chicken noodle soup when you need to warm up the most. 

A Few Other Cold Weather Rafting Tips

Here are a few other things to consider if you want to stay warm and dry on a cold-weather rafting trip. 

Pack Some Instant Warmth

For times when you or someone on your crew gets colder than they should it never hurts to pack some instant hand/feet warmers to get warmed up quickly. Just be sure to take them back out with you as they are not environmentally friendly. 

Stay Warm While Sleeping

If you are adventurous enough to take an overnight rafting trip during the cold months be sure that you pack some extra layers to put in your sleeping bag for insulation. 

When possible, heating up water to put in bottles as sleeping bag warmers is also an option; just be sure that the lid is on tight so you don’t wake up soggy and cold. If you are really cold, try throwing in a hand warmer or two if water bottles are not a viable option. 

When the Sun Goes Down – Take It Inside

This may seem like a statement that Captain Obvious would say, but don’t forget to bring in your gear when the sun goes down. 

There is nothing worse than waking up to realize that you left your spare rafting outfits hanging outside all night in a tree and now they are stiff-as-a-board. Bring your boots in too. Sometimes when you have been on the water all day you can get tired and forgetful. 

Play Musical Seats to Stay Warm and Dry 

Another way that everyone can stay warm and dry is to rotate seats every so often to give everyone a chance to be in the back and away from the extra splashing the front paddlers tend to receive. 

Take a Chill Pill – Save the Raging Rapids for Warmer Months

Another way to ensure you don’t get too wet on your winter rafting excursion is to choose a more calm rafting trip; rather than the raging rapids you may normally opt for in warmer months. 

Sometimes it is just nice to take a gentle float downstream and enjoy what mother nature has to offer. You can get some excellent photographs when you are on a slower trip as well, just be sure to bring a waterproof camera. 

Get the Most Out of Rafting Year Round

As you can see, if you are properly prepared, you can enjoy all that rafting has to offer regardless of what the weather is doing. Remember not to skimp when it comes to rain gear and always bring extra gloves, socks, and winter hats. If you heed the tips in this article you are sure to have a great rafting trip that you and your crew will remember for years. 







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