Whitewater rafting and kayaking has blown up in the last decade. What’s not to love? Fun rapids, good company and getting out in the sunshine. Here is a list of 3 essential bags to make your experience a positive one. Getting out there and realizing you don’t have a way to keep your clothes dry or you don’t have a throw rope when you need one can be frustrating and down right dangerous.
In this discussion we will talk about 3 essential whitewater bags to bring with you. First up, the throw bag. Essential to keep one accessible. You never know when a bad situation is coming and it is best to be prepared. Second, a dry bag. Dry bags are very important if you want to keep your clothes dry. Getting to camp and finding out your change of clothes is wet is a real bummer, and in colder months could be dangerous. Lastly, a good gear bag. Obviously rafting requires lots of gear and organization. Having random gear spread out all over the raft is never a good idea. Down below we will go into details and break down the specifics of why these bags are essential.
Having a good throw bag around is a great idea. I usually carry two. One large 70ft bag to keep in the boat and one smaller one around my waist. Larger boat bags tend to have thicker, stronger rope and a farther reach. These come in handy if you need to rig up a Z Drag system or are great for tying off your boat. If you are on a large volume river, having extra reach is great if you need to bag a swimmer. A hip pack throw bag is also good to have for one very important reason. Because it is with you always. If you take a swim or need to run down the shoreline to set safety you will have a bag with you because it's attached to you. I've seen many times where someone needed a throw bag and didn’t have one around because it was forgotten back in the raft. When a situation is arising, every second counts. There are lots of other situations where you might find yourself in need of a piece of rope and it can come in handy to get you out of a jam. So get yourself and others around you in the habit of carrying at least one throw bag and preparing for any situation that could come up out there on the river.
Next up is the dry bag. There are so many styles and colors to choose from out there. Your best bet is to have multiple bags for different scenarios. A large volume dry bag with shoulder straps are great for multi-day river trips. They are easy to carry and fit a lot of gear. I would suggest these large volume bags for camp supplies such as tents and sleeping bags, things like that. Having a few smaller dry bags around your boat will help you keep organized. I always reserve one that has splash jackets and sunscreen, in case the weather takes an unexpected turn. Of course I also have one nearby with snacks and beverages. Also protecting your body and keeping warm is essential when you are out in the wilderness, so keeping your clothing dry is essential. Having dry socks and clothing to get into at camp is crucial to your boating experience. A medium sized bag can hold multiple changes of clothes and most importantly keep all that splashy whitewater out. Lastly a good dry thwart bag is very convenient, especially if you are a commercial raft guide. A dry thwart bag doesn’t need to be de-rigged to get into. You can simply get in and out of it without the hassle of straps. Plus, they double as a backpack for side canyon hikes, which is a great way to get more out of a river trip.
This last piece of equipment is something I didn’t know I needed until I got one. The great benefit of having a mesh gear bag is that all of your rafting gear stays together, and stays dry. Gear bags can be strapped onto your thwart to carry more gear down the river and help you keep organized. To me, it is the transportation from my house to the put-in where a gear bag really shines. Especially if you are a commercial raft guide. When I go rafting, I just go grab my gear bag. It is where all of my personal things live. Mine holds my PFD, Helmet, strap bag, small dry bag, river shoes, splash jackets, dry pants, sunscreen, first aid kit, repair kit and even my K pump. I rarely take it on the actual boat if I'm only doing a day trip. When I get done boating all of my gear goes back into that bag. I know where everything is and know that it will be dry next time. Also worth mentioning is that they protect your gear. Nothing is more damaging to your gear than the sun is. Mesh shades your gear from UV rays and as stated above keeps everything dry, protecting your gear from mold, wrot and mildew as well. So by investing in a good mesh gear bag, you are gonna save money because your gear won't wear out so quickly.
Let's wrap this up
So that's it folks. 3 essential bags to have on a whitewater rafting trip. We hope this guide was helpful for anyone just getting into rafting or even an experienced boater who is just getting back into the swing of things for the season. Remember there is always more to learn when it comes to boating. Our goal here on this blog is to give as much information as we can to newcomers to the sport, and to motivate people to get out on the river and enjoy life.
By: Jason Caligaris Jr.