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Summer Rafting Tips: Do-s and Don't-s

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/7/2006 | Travel

If you have never done whitewater rafting before, you are probably a little nervous. You have seen it on TV, and what you've seen makes you think it's too damn difficult. Will you be able to keep your balance? Will you do the right thing at the right moment? Can you keep your cool?

Well, you can rest assured. Rafting looks more difficult than it really is. Even complete novices usually do pretty well the first time, provided of course that the water isn't too difficult, and they have expert guidance. Still, you'll do well to keep some tips in mind some basic do-s and don't-s of this terrific and exciting adventure sport.

First, clothing. What sort of clothing should you bring to your summer rafting trip? Synthetic is best for almost all types of water-based sports, and rafting is no exception. Cotton stuff may be comfortable in the summer, but it's best to avoid them when you're going rafting. Avoid jeans. Also, wet suits and spray jackets are only useful in the winter or if the weather is too chilly. Give them a pass during the summer months, and save the cost.

Footwear is a somewhat neglected part of rafting gear. Your concentration, performance and comfort depend largely on what you have on your feet. Watersport sandals are best if you can afford them, but high-quality tennis shoes will do the job. You don't really need wetsuit booties in the summer.

If you want to preserve fond memories of your daring adventure, you shall need a camera. But make sure it's waterproof! Not the whole stretch of water will be rapids you shall have plenty of opportunity to click away on calmer water. But still the single-use waterproof varieties are the best for this kind of thing.

Also, if you do not want to leave pictures of horrible sunburn to posterity, you had better bring along generous measures of sunscreen. And adding a pair of sunglasses to your gear will help you to cut the glare from the dazzling water, as well as make you look cool on the pictures!

Before starting out on the raft, make sure you're getting all that you paid for. For example, there's the PFD. You may not be all that great a swimmer, and you're feeling a bit nervous about capsizing and getting in the water. Can you handle it?

Well, you shouldn't really have to worry. The fee you paid includes the charges for a PFD a personal flotation device. This is usually provided in the form of a life jacket that spreads over you chest and back, with a hole in the middle through which you insert your head. Make sure that you have it on before you get on the vessel.

What's more, there are probably a number of kayaks waiting somewhere close by to pick you up as soon as you hit water. And there are expert guides either on your boat itself, or within a distance of one or two boats. If you want to be sure of having a guide on your own boat, you can usually arrange it by talking to the organizers in advance.