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The Boathouse Blog

Beyond the Packing List

How to pack like a pro for your next river trip

So, you have booked seats on an adventure of a lifetime: a river trip. The months and weeks of anticipation are turning into reality. You sent your last work email, set your auto reply, filled out your beer order, and bought out the sunscreen aisle from your local drug store. You’re almost there! Now…to pack. You’ve poured over our comprehensive packing list based on our years of experience. But there are a few key items that are hard to explain in just a list and will make your trip that much more enjoyable. Sarah Petrillo, one of our lead guides, goes “beyond the packing list” to expand on these key items:

Quick dry pants and long-sleeve shirt 

The sun on the river can be intense and we want to stress the importance of these 2 seemingly “overkill” clothing items. Slathering on sunscreen every couple of hours is a hassle. We suggest bringing a pair of full-length pants and a long-sleeve shirt for those days when you really don’t feel like re-applying. Make sure to bring quick-dry material for time on the water, like thin polyester or nylon. You will want to avoid materials with cotton (like jeans and sweatshirts) because they take a long time to dry out. After a couple of days in the sun, your skin will thank you for covering up. 

Our guide Wilson rocking full sun protection


Sundresses are one of the most convenient pieces of clothing that you can bring on a river trip. Being lightweight and airy, they are comfortable on a hot day, and simple to throw on once you get to camp. Our guides love this river dress: NRS Women’s H2Core Silkweight Hoodie Dress

A sundress is not just practical, it also pairs well with a canyon sunset

Something funky to wear

They say what happens on the river stays on the river. . . including your questionable outfit choices. So get a little weird and bring a costume or two. Tutus, Hawaiian shirts, funky leggings, and wigs all pack well in a dry bag. If you plan on having a costume night then let us know! We will bring a costume bag so that everyone can join in on the fun.

Lookin’ good! A costume night can really spice up a river trip! (That’s Sarah, author, in the purple dress with her family & guide buddies on the Salmon River)


Skin care is one of the most overlooked packing items on a river trip. The constant exposure to water, wind and sun is guaranteed to dry out your skin. We suggest bringing moisturizer and salve to put on at night in order to prevent dry, cracked lizard skin. Some of our favorite skin care products come from both Wild Carrot Herbals & Orchard Farm Soap. Both of these family owned companies produce skin care products with locally grown & sourced ingredients. Orchard Farm is owned by one of our guide’s family (Avery Jaeckel). The Boathouse Shop will be carrying products from both businesses for 2022.

Extreme “lizard skin” from river wear and tear

Camp shoes 

The shoes that you wear on the river should be different from the shoes you wear at camp. The straps commonly found on river shoes tend to rub and become abrasive next to wet skin. Sand and gritty pebbles also tend to cling underneath the straps, making the problem worse. You can avoid hot spots and blisters by bringing another pair of shoes to change into when you get to camp. A guide favorite for hot weather is crocs or flip-flops, because they are breathable and easy to slip on and off. For cold weather, we suggest bringing muck boots. 

Extra hat 

Nothing is lost to the river more than hats! Strong wind gusts, big rapids, and intense water fights often end up with hats going in the water. Bring an extra ball cap just in case. And a hat with a strap is a great idea to help keep those pesky wind gusts from stealing your hat!

Quick-Dry Underwear

Nobody wants to sit in a puddle of water all day. Unfortunately swim suit material does not dry out quickly and often leads to an uncomfortable undercarriage. We suggest wearing lightweight underwear. Our guides suggest merino wool underwear because it is soft, smell resistant, and dries out quickly. 


One of the greatest river companions you could have is a sarong: a long piece of cloth that can be wrapped or draped around the body. Sarongs are very versatile and have a thousand different uses. They especially come in handy for covering your legs or shoulders while sitting on a boat in order to protect them from the sun. On a hot day, you can dip them in the river and drape them over your body to cool off. They also work as a skirt or a changing towel in a pinch. You won’t want to leave this one out of your pack. 

Cole showing us that sarongs are not just functional, but fashionable too!

We are excited to pack our bags and get on the river with you! Additional information about packing can be found here: WWRE Packing List
If you need us to bring any special items, or have any more questions about packing, then feel free to contact us here:
Phone: (877) 426.7238
Email: info@windingwatersrafting.com