A certain thrill comes with the adventurous experience of whitewater rafting. Traveling through the rapids of a river while witnessing the strength of nature is nothing short of wonderous and exciting. However, while it is full of fun, whitewater rafting also has the potential to be dangerous to those without as much experience. For those with either a passion or curiosity for this water sport, it’s good to be aware of the essential dos and don’ts of whitewater rafting.

Do Listen to the Guide

The guide of a whitewater rafter venture is familiar with the river and is there to ensure the safety of everyone on the raft. They are the ones who are able to shout out proper directions in case of an emergency. While the guide is there to help, it is still important to have a rudimentary understanding of the proper practices and habits to follow. Guides are great people to depend on should anything go wrong, but the ideal scenario is that they are there as insurance while the rest are as self-sufficient as possible.

Don’t Leave the Raft

When going with the ebb and flow of a river, the strong currents are difficult to navigate when outside of the boat. The last thing you want is the river sweeping you away with little ability to resist it. While there are times that leaving the raft is appropriate, if you are not familiar with the area, it is best to stick to the advice of a guide before exiting. Another reason it’s good to adhere to this rule of thumb is that there are sometimes dangerous parts of a river you won’t see as you step out. Jagged rocks lie underneath and are capable of cutting clothes and skin alike. Only those familiar with the river and its layout are qualified to make the operative decision to leave the boat.

Do Rest Beforehand

Whitewater rafting is an intense sport that puts your body to the test. Strength and stamina are necessities in the water and matter for each person in the raft. Resting beforehand includes more than getting a proper amount of sleep, however. It is also integral that you and everyone you ride with eat a balanced and nourishing meal before embarking. Protein is great for helping your muscles recover after an intensive workout, while eating carbs provides extra energy to expend on long trips.

Don’t Extend Past Your Capability

After enough trips in the water, many people become impatient with the desire to tackle the rivers on their own. However, it’s important that you ensure you are fully capable of taking care of yourself and others. Depending on the river’s difficulty, the consequences can be fatal in the worst-case scenarios. While the sport is relatively safe when managed well, it is not impossible to run into fatal or life-threatening situations, even for experienced rafters. Those who wish to brave the rafting trip should have plenty of experience or familiarity with it before trying it out.

Do Ask Questions

Asking questions is a good habit to get into when starting. The guide or whoever is leading the trip is sure to have abundant knowledge that they are more than ready to share with others. Knowing what to do in emergency situations and proper paddling techniques are a few examples of useful information they can give you. More knowledge never hurts anyone, and being cautious on your first trips out is alright. There is plenty to learn through experience, like most things, but it’s always safer to ask than to guess. The most important thing to remember is that safety is a key element of having fun on the water.

Don’t Panic

Every so often, the boat tips over, or someone falls out of the raft. It is essential that you stay calm when put in any of these unexpected situations. While whitewater rafting is not extremely dangerous, it only escalates when people panic and do not listen to instructions. In other circumstances, when you are the one people rely on, it is key that as people look to you for help, you appear prepared. Confidence and know-how are the main things people look for when something goes wrong.

Do Wear Appropriate Clothing

It is good to wear clothing that does not hinder your movement in the water. There are different ways to handle getting in and out of the water, but it is best to make that task more straightforward by wearing clothing suited to your environment. No one wants to struggle with the current of the water in baggy clothes, as excess fabric makes it easier for the river to pull you in. Skin-tight suits or short clothing that is less prone to getting caught by something are ideal for these trips.

Don’t Bring Things You Don’t Want To Lose

One of the biggest mistakes that newer rafters find out about sooner rather than later is how easy it is to damage a new cell phone or lose an item. Whitewater rafting is fast and intense. As a result, things may fly if not secured. While it is nice to film water sports such as this, it’s good to understand that there is always a chance that you are going to lose the device used to record it. While there are no hard rules beyond the general safety tips, it’s wise to operate with the assumption you are going to lose the items you bring with you. If you can’t bear to part with it, leave it behind.

Before you decide to go out with your whitewater packraft, it’s a good idea to consider the dos and don’ts of whitewater rafting. There are many things to become familiar with in this intense and unique water sport. There are bound to be moments where you can put the knowledge you collect to good use on the water. While there is no guarantee that everything goes swimmingly each time, whitewater rafting is an adventure you’ll never forget. Empower yourself with know-how and approach the rapids with confidence.

Essential Dos and Don’ts of Whitewater Rafting
November 01, 2022 — Adrian Landia