Float Trip Packing List

River Float Trip Packing List: For Essentials to Ultimate

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When I tell you that river floating is one of my favorite activities, I am not lying. This is no joking matter. I go floating at every single opportunity that I can. I have been floating in 5 different states, and want to make that 50 before I’m dead. No, I don’t know how you’d float in Alaska, but I’ll figure that out later.

My first river float was in 2008 at my second summer theatre gig after college, and to say that I was mesmerized would be putting it lightly. Before then I had been Kayaking, Canoeing, and White Water rafting. But tubing or floating is like god’s gift to adventure-lazy people. It’s literally sitting with friends in an inflatable raft and you stop at sand bars, eat snacks and drink beverages and swim. How could you go wrong?

I’ve broken this down into sections: The Experience of Floating, A Strong Caution, Minimalist Packing list, Want a little more than Minimum, the Maximalist, The long-er term Float and what you’ll Want after your float in the car!

Disclosure: Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

The Experience of the River Float

I’m just going to assume, that you’re a newbie. Feel free to skip this if you’ve already done a few floats and you’re just wanting to cross-reference someone else’s list.

The entire experience of a river float trip begins with the place that will rent you your tube, give you directions and helpful things to know about your trip down the river, shuttle you to the drop-off point, some pick you up or some drop you off where you left your car.

But I must tell you, after reading an alarming number of google reviews for another article about floating in a specific city – I was flabbergasted at what I read.

This is no hate to the people running these places, but they’re often running on different times. Like river time. They’re often a bunch of dudes in or nearly just out of college. It’s not like a highly intricate system with checks and balance of impeccable customer service. Some are rather on the run down shacks on the hut on a side of the road.

They’re just dudes with tubes. 

So don’t schedule yours if you only have 15m window on either side of your 2 hour float before fancy-can’t-be-moved dinner reservations. This is a literal go with the flow (see what i did there) experience. So plan on it being a joyous ride and it will be so much fun.

Float Trip Packing List

Floating Trip Packing Strong Caution

I will start by saying this as loudly as I can: DO NOT BRING ANYTHING with you that you aren’t willing to lose. NOTHING. No expensive sunglasses, no jewelry (yes wedding rings are included imho), no cell phones, your only and favorite credit card, nothing. 

My rule? Leave absolutely everything that you wouldn’t cry if the river ate it at home or in the car (at your own risk). I have watched so many people lose things in the river. It’s just an inevitable part of the whole water thing.

Leave. Everything. You. Will. Be. Sad. When. It’s. Gone. At. Home.

Yes this may mean a trip to the dollar tree for a $1 pair of sunlgasses, but do it. 

Now onto the fun stuff:  I’m going to write this in section of minimalist must-bring float trip essentials to maximalist comfort queen – So it’ll be a rolling list depending on your adventure style and how long you’re planning to float and your personal style.

Float Trip Packing List  Necessities – For my Minimalist Friends

  • Sun Protection – No matter the type of day or how long your float is, it is a good idea to have sunscreen with you.
  • Sunglasses
  • Bathing Suit (I prefer wearing it with waterproof shorts)
  • Water Bottle with Water
  • Snack(s) that is waterproof protected
  • Shoes that can get wet, and strap onto your feet. The best shoes are those you can’t lose and will protect your feet from sharp rocks. Yes, crocs can work great.
  • Money and ID to rent Tube
  • Small waterproof baggies, like a zip lock to keep sunscreen, money, and snack, car keys inside

River Float Trip Niceities – For those wanting a little more comfort – All of the above plus:

  • Change of clothes, I always want clean undies, a clean tank top, shorts, and flip flops after a day in the sun.
  • Water Shoes – if you have these they can help a lot on the sandy/rocky beaches you may stop at on your river float trip
  • Cooler – The rafting place often offers bungee cords to connect you to a tube that you can put your cooler in with all your favorite foods and beverages.
  • Wide-Brimmed Hats, this is a great addition for those of us who burn easily. Plus, the Instagram photo ops love a sun hat!
  • Insect Repellent is always a good idea to be protected. Those sandflies can be rude.
Float Trip Packing List

River Float Trip Packing List for the Maximalist – For those who like to be extra prepared!

  • Old phone in a waterproof phone case, this is the only way that I will bring my phone!
  • Hand Sanitizer, it’s just nice after that river water connection to know your hands are clean before you eat your lunch!
  • Lip Balm, with the proper SPF of course
  • Beach Towels – If you have enough room it’s nice to have something to sit on and dry off with.
  • Waterproof Portable Speakers – Now I go back and forth on this, but I love my Wonderboom.
  • Light Rain Jacket or Cotton Sweatshirt, depending on the weather conditions – even if it’s not supposed to rain the rain jacket can be a nice waterproof item to help protect your skin from the summer day.
  • Duct Tape, LIsten you never know and it’s better to be prepared because that roll can do so many things!!

River Float Trip Packing List for Multi-Day River Trips

  • Quick-Drying Footwear may be nice
  • Warm Jacket
  • Rain Gear, no one likes to be soggy if it rains on the river.
  • Long Underwear – it gets cold at night!
  • Small Dry bags for all your storage
  • Food / Tent / Compact Sleeping Bag / Cooking Supplies for how long you’ll be gone

River Float Trip Packing List for your car, what you want after your trips!

  • Maybe the most obvious: Dry Clothes! It’s always nice to dry off and put on a fresh, not sandy pair of clothes.
  • Tennis Shoes – and socks: I always want more stable shoes after a day of soggy sandals.
  • Storage for wet clothes – this could be in a bag or cooler depending on what you have
  • Cold beverages in a cooler – If it’s warm weather this can be incredible to return to the car and drink.

I hope you have a good time in the great outdoors! I hope it’s sunny weather, but a slightly cool day so you aren’t a roasted lobster when you get off the river! Happy Floating Friends.

Float Trip Packing List

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