Dressing Guide: What to Wear for Summer Rafting

Whether commercial rafting or just an easy float on the river with your friends, prioritizing your comfort when summer rafting is advisable. Just like camping and other adventures, summer rafting requires essential gear for a fun experience. Some rafting companies will provide basic safety equipment such as floatation devices and helmets, but it will be up to you to ensure you wear the right clothing.

This guide tells you what to pack and wear for summer rafting. We will also give you a list of the items you should avoid to maximize your experience on the river.

Synthetic Fabrics

Investing in synthetic fabrics is advisable when rafting during the summer. Wearing synthetic fabrics like nylon and polyester will help maintain a comfortable body temperature when you get wet on the river.

Quick Dry Shorts or Bathing Suit

When summer rafting, you want to jump into the water, get splashed, and still have a dry pair of shorts during lunch. To ensure this, go for quick-drying shorts for your bottom. You will be more comfortable and mobile in loose-fitting pants or shorts in nylon fabrics.

For women, the first choice rafting outfit should be a bathing suit. Bathing suits are advisable even though you may need an extra layer over them as they dry quickly. Alternatively, wear a comfortable sports bra and nylon shorts or a skirt.

Strong Footwear

The river shoreline can be slippery and difficult to navigate barefoot, especially where rocks are also present. Therefore, consider shoes with traction for easy movement when going for summer rafting. Your shoes should also be waterproof and should stay on your feet even when wet. Water shoes or waterproof sandals with secure and comfortable back straps are advisable during summer. Back straps keep your sandals on your feet throughout your rafting trip.

If you are starting summer rafting, you need not invest in water shoes if you have a pair of old athletic shoes, you do not mind getting soaked. These shoes offer more protection to your feet as they will stay on your feet when swimming. Your old athletic shoes or sneakers should be broken in to avoid blisters. If you can afford paddle-wet shoes, you can get them at your nearest store for as little as $40. The paddle wet shoes design is such that they extend higher up the ankle, offering more protection and keeping your feet dry. These shoes also have extra traction, enabling easy movement on slippery ground.


Wearing a hat will protect your scalp, face, and ears from the harsh sun rays. You can wear a baseball cap or paddling hat but ensure you can cinch them tight to prevent them from being

washed overboard in the case of a big wave over the raft. If on a Class IV –V river, you will need to wear a helmet during your summer rafting. This will make wearing a hat under the helmet uncomfortable. Under such circumstances, consider a cap visor under your helmet.

Sun Protection Essentials

Protecting your skin from UV rays is vital when going for summer rafting. While the river may feel cool, the sun will reflect off the water and can be very strong on your body. To prevent the effects of the hot summer sun on your body, consider the following sun protection essentials when going for summer rafting.


There is nothing as bad as enjoying a great time on the river only to suffer through the next day with sunburns. Also, studies reveal that sunburns increase the risk of cancer. Hence, slather yourself with sunscreen before getting into the raft for your day’s trip and carry some more in your bag if going for more than a day or longer than six hours. Your sunscreen should be at least SPF 30 for good protection, and you should apply it on all areas exposed to the sun, including your neck, ears, hair, and parts where your clothes may shift. Water-resistant sunscreen is also advisable to keep intact while out on the river.


Protecting your eyes from glare is advisable through sunglasses giving UVA/UVB protection. Your eyewear should provide UVA/UVB protection. To secure your sunglasses, use retention straps.

Things To Avoid

As a thumb rule, avoid wearing cotton fabric when summer rafting. Despite being lightweight, cotton is highly absorbent and, once soaked, will stay wet. This will make you cold and uncomfortable on the water, especially on a longer summer rafting. Also, avoid heavy clothing like leather, jeans, and denim. Wearing such clothes will hinder your movement, making rafting uncomfortable and difficult.

As advised above, the right shoes are crucial for a fun rafting experience. The wrong shoes, including flip-flops, high heels, and Crocs, will fly off during your trip. Bulky and heavy boots, on the other hand, will restrict your movement.

Finally, you do not want to lose valuable items during your trip since your chances of recovery are minimal. Some items are also fragile and will break or get water damaged. While you can keep these items in a dry bag, they will damage if the bag accidentally opens or has a hole that leaks water. To be safe, leave important accessories such as your jewelry, phone, and wallet in your locked car or lockers provided by your host and access them after your trip.

Rafting in the Laurel Highlands

Looking for mild or wild river adventures? Laurel Highlands are wonderful places to enjoy your best rafting experience. Whitewater rafting is one of the most popular activities in the area, and tours are available on the Youghiogheny River at Ohiopyle State Park. With Class III and IV rapids, the river offers challenging adventures. However, there are also sections of the river that are suitable for beginners. With Class I and II rapids, the Middle Yough provides great opportunities for the perfect time with kids.

Ohiopyle is located at the confluence of the Youghiogheny and Casselman Rivers, and it is home to some of the most challenging rapids in the state. There are several companies that offer rafting trips out of Ohiopyle, and they offer trips for all levels of experience.

In addition to whitewater rafting, there are also several other water sports that can be enjoyed in the Laurel Highlands. These include canoeing, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. These activities are all less challenging than whitewater rafting, and they are a great way to explore the scenic rivers of the Laurel Highlands.


Summer rafting is a fun experience enabling you to ride the waves. This is why you should take proper precautions to maximize your fun during the trip. If poorly dressed, you will get cold during your adventure and ruin the fun. You can check with your tour company for the items they provide and recommend. The requirements will vary depending on the season you are rafting, but most will recommend the above during summer. By following the above guidelines and keeping a change of clothes in your car, there is no doubt you are set for your next adventurous and fun summer rafting experience.