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How to Prep for the River

Whether you’re on land or water, packing for an adventure in a mountain town requires finessing your packing list to stay warm, well-hydrated, fed, and prepared for the unexpected. Here is an insider’s look at how to pack for a day on the river with Dave Hansen Whitewater, but what else do you need to know before hopping on the raft? Here’s a little guidance to mentally prepare yourself for a day of adventuring into something new. 

What do I wear before getting on the river?

Even on the hottest of days, our dry climate allows the mornings in Jackson to be cold. It is great to arrive at DHWW with your swimsuit on and river clothes over your suit, but we also have changing rooms at our office. If you plan to rent a wetsuit, you can arrive in whatever clothes you happen to be wearing.  No reservations are needed for wetsuit equipment, we have plenty for each trip!

What do I bring on the river?

The boat does not have any storage other than for any medical gear that might be needed on the trip. Anything you bring on the boat will need to fit securely in your pockets or a small dry bag that can be attached to you or the boat.

  • Quick-dry shorts
  • Synthetic long-sleeved shirt with a hood for sun protection 
  • Bathing suit
  • Sturdy footwear -sandals with straps (Chacos), water shoes, sneakers that you’re ok getting wet. 
  • Brimmed hat 
  • Sunglasses with a strap
  • Small tube of sunscreen
  • Water bottles with carabiners to attach to the raft
  • Tight-fitting hat 
  • Synthetic socks 
  • Synthetic long-sleeved shirt

Wetsuit or no wetsuit?

Everyone has different tolerances of cold water…some are used to jumping into lakes and swimming in oceans while others take 30 minutes to decide if they want to jump into a pool that is 90 degrees!  Wearing a wetsuit is by no means required, but we do say it is the best way to fully embrace the wetness of the trip…especially if you get cold easily.  During the earlier portion of the season of May/Mid June, when the water is still in the “freshly melted snow stage,” having a wetsuit is recommended.  On days when it looks like the weather might be a little cooler or rainy, the wetsuit is nice to have as well.  

If you are having a hard time deciding on whether or not you should get a wetsuit, then go ahead and rent one.  If you get too hot, we can always fix that on the river and get you wetter or you can jump in the river and become a member of our Snake River Swim Team.  If you are too cold, it is not a huge deal, but we can’t do too much about that until the trip is over.  Overall, we love it when everyone in the raft is just ready to get wet, sit in the front of the raft, and jump in the river; if renting a wetsuit helps you do that, then go ahead and get your neoprene on! 

We recommend wearing a wetsuit while whitewater rafting on a rainy day, a day below 65 degrees, or early morning or late evening trip. However, a wetsuit is not necessary for a scenic float. If it’s a warm and sunny day, we recommend that you wear clothes that you don’t mind getting wet, a swimsuit, and quick-drying synthetic materials such as nylon and polypropylene. 

What do I do with my personal belongings while i’m on the river?

The Dave Hansen Whitewater bus that takes you down to the river acts as your locker for the trip.  There is plenty of room on the bus to bring towels, a change of clothes, snacks and drinks (nonalcoholic only), and anything else you think you might need.  Although we are not responsible for valuables, people do leave phones, wallets, etc, on the bus as the driver is with it the whole time you are on the river.  You can also leave your valuables in your car or hotel room

What should I pack for after I get off the river?

Bring a towel, a set of dry clothes, and a bag to hold your wet clothes for the finish of your trip.  There are changing rooms at the end of the trip if you would like to get out of your wetsuit or your wet clothes.  

With over 14 trips every day with departures spanning from 8 am to 4:45 pm, it’s possible that you aren’t the first to wonder what a day on the river looks like. Check out our frequently asked questions page to learn more.

What NOT to bring on the river!

  • Your phone – there isn’t service on many sections of the river anyway, so it’s not worth it. And it will get wet!
  • A Bluetooth speaker. Music is not allowed!
  • Thong sandals. If you go in the river, you’ll likely lose these.
  • Cotton clothing (unless you want to stay wet the whole time)
  • Sunglasses without a strap. We wouldn’t want you to lose your sunglasses.

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River Flow 10,300 cubic ft / sec