A float trip is an outdoor activity that combines the relaxing joy of floating down a river with the adventure of nature exploration. Whether you’re a seasoned paddler or a first-timer looking for a new adventure, knowing what to pack can make the difference between an unforgettable and exhausting journey. Here’s a comprehensive guide on what to bring on your next float trip.


Safety Gear

Safety always comes first, especially when you’re out on the water. Ensure you’re well-prepared with the following safety gear:

  • Life Jacket (PFD): A personal flotation device is essential, and it’s crucial to ensure it fits comfortably and snugly.
  • First Aid Kit: Include basics like bandages, antiseptics, tweezers, and pain relievers, along with any prescription medications.
  • Whistle or Air Horn: Useful for signaling in case of an emergency.
  • Rope or Throw Bag: For quick rescue if someone falls overboard.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Repellent: Protect your skin from harmful UV rays and pesky insect bites.

If you join a whitewater rafting or float trip outfitter, many of these items are provided for you, so you can just focus on enjoying yourself.



Dressing appropriately ensures comfort throughout your float trip. Choose lightweight, quick-drying clothing and pack for various weather conditions.

  • Swimwear and Quick-Drying Clothing: Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics to stay comfortable. A swimsuit paired with lightweight, breathable layers works well.
  • Water Shoes or Sandals: Protect your feet from rocky riverbeds and make walking through shallow water easier.
  • Hat and Sunglasses: A wide-brimmed hat and polarized sunglasses will protect your eyes from the sun’s glare.
  • Rain Gear: A lightweight rain jacket can be a lifesaver if the weather turns sour.
  • Dry Clothes: Pack a set of dry clothes in a waterproof bag to change into after the trip.

If floating during colder months, some professional tour guides will provide wet suits to help keep you comfortable.


Camping Essentials (For Multi-Day Trips)

If your float trip lasts more than a day, you’ll want to be equipped with essential camping gear to ensure a comfortable overnight stay.

  • Tent and Sleeping Gear: A compact, waterproof tent and a lightweight sleeping bag or hammock are ideal.
  • Cooking Equipment: A portable stove, lightweight cookware, and basic utensils should suffice.
  • Food and Water: Plan meals in advance, including non-perishable snacks. Carry ample drinking water or a water filter/purifier.
  • Cooler: A waterproof cooler will keep your food and drinks cold, especially if it’s a multi-day trip.


Navigation and Communication

Staying oriented and connected is crucial during your float trip. Be sure to pack the following items for navigation and communication:

  • Map and Compass/GPS: Know your route before setting off, and bring physical or digital maps for reference.
  • Cell Phone in Waterproof Case: If there’s service along your route, this can be invaluable.
  • Walkie-Talkies: For group communication when cell service is unavailable.


Floating Equipment

The right floating equipment is essential for a successful trip. Choose your floating gear based on the conditions and your experience level.

  • Floatation Device (Tube, Kayak, Canoe): Ensure it’s properly inflated and inspected before setting off.
  • Paddle/Oars: Essential for steering and maneuvering.
  • Dry Bags: To keep valuables like phones, wallets, and cameras dry.
  • Anchor or Tether Rope: Helps to keep your floating device secure during stops.


Entertainment and Extras

While the journey is often entertaining, you might want to enhance your experience with additional activities or gadgets.

  • Fishing Gear: If fishing is allowed, a lightweight fishing rod, tackle box, and bait can add to the fun.
  • Camera or GoPro: Capture the beauty of your surroundings and make memories to cherish.
  • Music Player/Speakers: Waterproof Bluetooth speakers or a music player can add to the ambiance.
  • Binoculars: For birdwatching and wildlife spotting.


Group and Logistics

Traveling in a group ensures safety and maximizes fun. Plan your logistics carefully to avoid last-minute hassles.

  • Buddy System: Always travel with a partner or in a group for safety.
  • Car Shuttle Planning: Arrange transportation back to the starting point if necessary.
  • Emergency Contact Plan: Share your itinerary with a friend or family member not on the trip.

Embarking on a float trip is a memorable way to enjoy the beauty of nature. By being well-prepared with the right gear and essentials, you can focus on what really matters: unwinding and having a great time. Happy floating!

Jackson Hole White Water (JHWW.com) is a leading provider of white water rafting and scenic float trips in the Jackson Hole region. They offer thrilling river adventures, expert guides, and high-quality equipment to make every waterway experience unforgettable.