Whitewater rafting party for river station gear.

You’re Invited to a River Costume Party

Riverside costume parties have a grip on the whitewater rafting community from the Gauley to the Rogue and everywhere in between. Something about combining silly clothes and the great outdoors that appeals to boaters. Whatever the reason, river trip costume parties are a time-honored tradition.

So, make sure you pack at least a couple of costumes. If you don’t know where to begin, you’re in the right place. Here are six all-time classic costume ideas for your next rafting trip.


Onesies are one-piece (hence the name) full-body suits that come in every imaginable color, character, and size. You could easily find dragon onesies complete with wings and a tail, cows with udders, neon unicorns, cartoon characters, and the list goes on.    

The best part is they are comfortable enough that you won’t have to change into pajamas on onesie night. Besides being a boatload of fun, onesies are convenient self-contained costumes. You don’t need any accessories or even undergarments. (No judgment here.)

Of course, as fun as onesies are, they are better suited for cooler weather. Think fall or winter rafting trips for a successful onesie night.

Hiking the Grand Canyon in a Tu-Tu whitewater rafting trip.

Tu-Tu Tuesdays

Tutu Tuesdays allegedly originated at Burning Man as a way to get participants involved in the activities and foster self-expression. Gratefully, the tradition made it to the river, where you can tell what day of the week it is based on a group’s attire.

Tutus are perfect river costumes because they don’t take up room in your dry bag, and you can wear them with any outfit, including over a dry suit, kayak skirt, or splash gear. The nylon material is river water resistant, so you can wear it all day and into the night, including for side hikes, waterfall plunges, and big rapids.

 Scouting a rapid in the grand canyon for whitewater rafting.

Cold Ass Honkey

In this case, “Cold ass honkey” comes from the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song “Thrift Shop.” Thus, for a Cold Ass Honkey party, wear the most absurd thing you can find at a second-hand store. Wearing a Cold Ass Honkey outfit and seeing everyone else’s is as fun as finding one. 

When hunting for something ridiculous, don’t be afraid to check out accessories, sporting goods, and free-size items (clothes designed to be flowy and loose, like serapes, tunics, and cloaks.) 

You will be surprised at the hilarious and, sometimes, horrifying stuff you can find at a thrift store when you’re willing to do a little digging.


It doesn’t have to be October to enjoy Halloween. You can celebrate Halloween at any time of the year on any river. All you need is a costume. Grab an old Halloween costume or find something at a thrift store.

Or use Halloween as an excuse to be creative and turn your river gear into something clever. Although, you might have to plan your costume around the season.  Opt for something warmer for late fall, winter, and spring rafting trips, like Cruella De Vil in a fur coat. In the heat of summer, look for something more lightweight. If it offers sun protection, even better.  

Halloween whitewater rafting party in the Grand Canyon.


Pirates and river runners have a lot in common. Both travel by water, enjoy drinking, and have questionable hygiene practices, making the pirate party an obvious favorite. Pirate costumes range from quite involved (and expensive) to as simple as everyday clothing. For river trips, we prefer something easy, like wearing a bandana. 

You can also tie a sash around your waist, turn an old t-shirt or dress into a ragged pirate's top, or construct an eye patch out of duct tape. Don’t forget to speak like a pirate, with lots of “Avast mateys,” “Arrrs,” and “Ayes.”

Raft Guide Prom

Raft Guide Prom is a staple tradition on whitewater rafting trips. Some proms are based around a life event like a birthday, wedding, or other celebration, but you don’t need a reason to dress up in fabulous formal wear for an evening.   


In other words, throw an evening-wear outfit into your dry bag. As with all things river trip, the sillier, the better. Think sequins, flashy colors, retro floral print, and big bowties or hats. And don’t forget to accessorize with beads, wigs, flower leis, or feather boas. For shoes, ditch the heels and fancy loafers. Sandals and bare feet are best. 

River Trip Ready

River trips are good for many things: Testing your abilities, disconnecting from normal life, and immersing yourself in beautiful places. They’re also a great excuse to get a little silly and play dress up with your friends.

With that in mind, what is your favorite river costume party? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to share with anyone planning a river trip.


By: Megan McPartland


Check out our safety lineup!

Back to blog

Leave a comment