Considering doing a multi-day Yosemite white water rafting trip? Wondering what it entails and what you should plan on bringing? Here are a few packing tips and tricks to help make your rafting adventure rock.
Multi-day trips are a unique way to enter and experience the Yosemite back country. From the moment you push off the rafts from your put-in spot you start to view the river canyon and surrounding mountains from a new perspective. You quickly leave behind the world of traffic jams, electric lights, and other signs of “civilization” and the sounds and smells of the river and surrounding forest begin to take over. The views are magnificent. Rocky canyons studded with oak and pine, and the constant sparkle and ever-changing display of rocks and water awaken the senses.
Sierra Mac offers 2 and 3-day rafting trips on the Main Tuolumne as well as a combined Cherry Creek/Upper Tuolumne + Main Tuolumne option. Both allow guests to savor their time the river. Sierra Mac provides all essential rafting gear including rafts, oars, paddles and personal flotation devices. We also provide all meals and utensils while you are on the river where our guides prepare your meals. Thus you really only need to consider your own personal items when packing for your overnight adventure.
Essentials for on the river
Packing for summer day-trips is pretty simple. A good sun hat and plenty of waterproof sunscreen with a factor of at least 30 is mandatory. Keep applying throughout the day to all exposed areas. Sunglasses with a retention strap will protect your eyes and allow you to see into some of the light that is bouncing off the rapids. Wear some shorts made from some quick drying fabric, this will make you more comfortable while sitting on the raft, in the water, or on shore. To stay cool during the day you want to wear clothing that will act as an evaporative cooler. A cotton t-shirt or an old long sleeve cotton dress shirt that you can get wet will work great. There are also shirts available with built in SPF sun protection. Footwear needs to be securely attached to your feet (no flip-flops). Protect your feet by wearing an old pair of sneakers that you don’t mind getting wet or a quality pair of athletic sandals. If you do wear these, don’t forget to put sunscreen on the tops of your feet. Wearing some cotton socks and getting them wet will help your feet to stay cool all day.
In cooler weather the focus is more on staying warm. For spring rafting Sierra Mac always provides our guests with a westsuit and/or a splash jacket as needed. If you plan on wearing a wetsuit, you may want to bring a thin wool silk or synthetic layer to wear underneath.
Packing for Overnight Rafting Trips
Packing for multi-day rafting trips is a bit of an art. Space on the rafts is somewhat limited. We will issue you a waterproof bag for all personal gear when we meet you in the parking area the morning of your trip. Pack light! The bags are about the size of a 30 gallon trash bag (3.8 cubic feet.)
You will need to provide your own tent, pad and sleeping bag, these items are also available for rent from Sierra Mac. If you are renting gear from us, sleeping bags, tarps and sheets will already by in your dry bag when we give it to you in the morning. Tents and sleeping pads are already on the boats and will be available when we reach camp for the night.
During the summer you can expect hot days and warm nights. Spring and fall weather is generally mild but rain showers can occur at any time. During shoulder seasons, please bring suitable rain gear (see gear list.) No hard suitcases or large backpacks – soft duffle bags or stuff sacks are best. If you bring your own stash of personal beverages they need to be in aluminum cans or unbreakable containers. Wine bottles are acceptable. Do not pack beverages in your dry bag – keep them separate and give them directly to the guides at the launch site for safe storage in the cargo boat. Place the items you would like to access during the day in Ziploc bags (camera, medicines, sunscreen, etc.) and give them to your guide for placement in your boat’s communal dry bag.
Shorts and/or swimsuit
T-shirt or long sleeve cotton shirt (see below)
Tennis shoes or closed toe river shoes with good tread
Ball cap or other visored cap that will stay on
Sunglasses (with security cord) (an extra pair is not a bad idea)
Passengers with extreme sun sensitivity may wish to wear quick-dry long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
Wool, silk or synthetic layer under wetsuit
Wetsuit and splash jacket (if needed provided by SMRT)
Wool or neoprene socks
Tennis shoes or wetsuit booties
Sunglasses (with security cord)
Wool hat or ball cap
For warmth, layering wool or synthetic performance garments under a wetsuit and splash jacket is best. Avoid wearing sweats or cotton clothes of any kind on the raft – they never dry out and keep you cold.
Extra tennis shoes or sandals for day hikes
Sweater or other warmie
Air or foam mattress
Tarp or ground cloth
Tent (optional) Many summer guests choose to sleep under the stars.
Small towel & Toiletries
Flashlight and batteries (pack separately to prevent turning on in bag)
Headlamps work great on overnight trips!
Extra plastic zip-lock bags for storing odds & ends.
Personal water bottle (you can fill from our big jugs)
Sun block, lip balm, medications (packed in a plastic zip-lock bag)
Camera (waterproof models strongly advised)
Rain jacket and pants
Fishing license and gear (hard shell case)
Bike gloves to protect hands while paddling
Small (waterproof) day pack or fanny pack
Reading material, journal and pens
Cards or games
Keep it simple
If you prepare duffle bags and stuff sacks with all of your gear before arriving at our trip meeting spots it will make packing items into overnight bags that much easier. It will also help you find items when you need them in camp. Your overnight gear will be loaded and tied into the rafts at put in, so hold onto things you may want to access during the day (sunscreen etc.). A separate “day bag” will be provided on each raft for those items. If you have further questions about what to pack, please call us at 209-591-8027.