Packing Right for Taking Kids Rafting

by | July 2, 2021

If you are taking your kiddos on their first river trip, packing everything you might need out there can present a major challenge. As someone who is NOT a parent yet, these What-To-Bring lists are very introductory, and come from overhearing LOTS of parents say “Oh, we should have brought that!” These lists are also subjective based on weather, temperature, and trip length.

Open to suggestions on this one.


  • The kiddo’s favorite snack. 

When kids get hungry, it can be no fun for anybody. When kids have their favorite snack on hand, it can be the best day ever.


Sun hats, sun shirts, sun protection of all kinds. A sunburned kid is often a grumpy kid, rightfully so. Kiddos who are SPF-soaked are much more likely to be whitewater-stoked.

  • Water bottle.

Even if you’re just heading to the river for the day, staying hydrated is still the most crucial ingredient for a great adventure.

  • Good shoes.

Heel strap, waterproof, comfortable.


  • Again, snacks are always a good idea.

This one is especially important if you’ve got a picky eater, or dietary concerns. For long days on the river, having that extra pick-me-up for the little ones can be a lifesaver.

  • Again, extra sun protection.

Hats, sun shirts, and anything else a kiddo may leave out to dry on a rock at lunch and not realize it’s missing until you’re at camp.

  • Cold-weather camp layers.

If you’re on a high-elevation river for multiple days, nights will be surprisingly cold – even in July. Bringing a few warm layers (ideally fleece or wool) for kids to bundle up is essential. Good camp shoes (dry sneakers, booties, flip flops) are also a must-have.

  • For kids that take any daily meds.

It’s a good idea to split your supply into 2 locations- usually one set with your personal gear, and the other stashed safely into a first-aid kit or cooler. (Especially if meds need to be refrigerated!)

With all that in mind, it’s important to remember that less is more out on the river, too. It’s hard not to overpack and it’s hard not to forget something, especially with kids involved. For first-time river trippers, you figure out pretty quick what you consider essential on the river, and what you could probably leave at home next time. Just be prepared for the We-Should-Have-Brought-That Moment on every river trip, ever.