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Packing for a River Rafting Trip, the Grand Canyon

Packing list for Rafting the Grand Canyon
packing for a river rafting trip. What's in my bag

Just when you think you’ve got carry-on packing down, you book a two week long rafting and camping adventure, and it’s back to square one. We are traveling with a rafting company which saves us having to pack food and equipment, but we’re still challenged with what to bring. We’ll be on the river in the morning, with white water conditions, and hiking in the afternoon. The temperature will range from 40s at night to near 100 midday. And we need to fit everything in a duffel with maximum weight 20 lbs. So what’s on our packing list for river rafting?

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We chose Western River Expeditions for the river rafting section of our trip – a 7 day Grand Canyon adventure. In addition to some truly amazing guides, this company supplies tents, sleeping bags, and dry bags for our gear. If you are rafting on your own, you’ll want to ensure you have a way of keeping your supplies dry and stable on the raft. Check out these dry bags.

[Post trip updated info in rust.]

Read about an average day on this anything-but-average trip – Rafting the Grand Canyon

What are we packing for a river rafting trip?

White water rafting gear list: the rafting bags:

1. Duffel Bag – we chose the Eagle Creek Load Hauler as we owned it already and it converts to a backpack for easier carry.
The bag performed well, but a less expensive, tough bag would have been better for the gritty conditions on the river. Recommendations: Eagle Creek No Matter What duffel, or  Patagonia black hole duffel

2. Personal Item – day pack/tote – we are bringing one lightweight packable daypack for the two of us. Recommendation: Osprey Daylite daypack

You will be making and breaking camp everyday. Having your gear organized will make life infinitely easier. Pack your clothes and gear in colorful, lightweight packing cubes.

White water rafting gear list: rafting gear:

White water rafting gear list: clothing:

Women: include a long skirt or sarong to give some quick privacy. Once camp is set up, you’ll have tents and a private area for a bathroom, but mid-day its good to have another option.* I am bringing a carry-on cozy from Diane Kroe which converts from skirt to top, scarf, and picnic spread!

White water rafting gear list: shoes:

Sturdy water shoes or multi-sport shoes – make sure you have good tread and support


16. Our favorites – Chaco Outcross is an athletic shoe with vents for water runoff.

Sandals for camp. We regretted bringing flip flops as they gave no purchase on sandy shores and would recommend a more secure sandals.

[optional] Hiking shoes – heavy but necessary if you’re planning some serious hikes before, during, or after your rafting trip. Most hikes on the river involved fording streams, etc., so these were not used.


Our favorites – Merrell Moab for men or women is a good solid shoe.

White water rafting gear list: camping and hiking gear:

White water rafting gear list: technology:

A week on a river is a perfect time to unplug. No wi-fi, no charging stations. Just the river, the stars, and friends.

But if you might want to include in your packing…

Women15. A extra-small crossbody bag as a purse on travel days and evenings at a lodge. I use a Tom Bihn travel cubelet which is super lightweight and convenient.

On every packing list: My Must Have Travel Accessories

Read before you go on a National Park adventure

If you’re traveling to one of the U.S. National Parks, we highly recommend reading this book by Mark Woods. It’ll put you in the right frame of mind for your adventure!

TRAVELOGUELassoing the Sun by Mark Woods“In this remarkable journey, Mark Woods captures the essence of our National Parks: their serenity and majesty, complexity and vitality–and their power to heal.” –Ken Burns

We WISH we’d brought these books for our trip!

Nature GuideField Guide to the Southwestern States by National Audubon SocietyThe most comprehensive field guide available to the flora and fauna of the American Southwest–a portable, essential companion for visitors and residents alike–from the go-to reference source for over 18 million nature lovers.
 GuidebookBelknap’s Waterproof Grand Canyon River Guide by Buzz BelknapThis mile-by-mile color Waterproof Guide to the Colorado River through Grand Canyon features shaded relief/topographic maps, and special sections on history, archaeology, geology, natural history and photography.

Have you taken a river rafting trip? Were there things you brought that we’ve left out? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

Havasu image Photo by Cara Fuller on Unsplash
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