Our Favorite River Guides & Top 10 Essentials for a Multi-Day Rafting Trip

Jun 19, 2024

Check out our Favorite Multi-Day Rafting Spots

Before we dive into the essentials for a successful multi-day rafting trip, let's take a moment to explore some of the best whitewater rafting destinations in the West and Mountain States. These spots offer breathtaking scenery, thrilling rapids, and unforgettable experiences. Additionally, we've highlighted top guides and outfitters for each river to help you plan your adventure.


John Day River, Oregon

The John Day River is a gem for multi-day rafting enthusiasts. Known for its scenic beauty, the river flows through a deep canyon with striking basalt cliffs and abundant wildlife. It's perfect for those looking to combine moderate rapids with relaxing stretches of calm water.

Top Guides and Outfitters:

  • Oregon River Experiences: Offers guided trips with experienced guides who provide insight into the natural history and geology of the region.
  • High Desert River Outfitters: Known for their family-friendly trips and knowledgeable guides, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.


Deschutes River, Oregon

Another top spot in Oregon, the Deschutes River offers a mix of exciting rapids and stunning desert landscapes. Popular sections like the Lower Deschutes provide excellent opportunities for both adrenaline-pumping whitewater and serene camping.

Top Guides and Outfitters:

  • Imperial River Company: Provides a variety of guided trips, from half-day adventures to multi-day excursions, with a focus on safety and fun.
  • All Star Rafting: Known for their customizable trips and friendly guides, catering to all skill levels.


Salmon River, Idaho

Often referred to as the "River of No Return," the Salmon River is one of the premier rafting destinations in the United States. With its challenging rapids, remote wilderness, and pristine beauty, it's a must-visit for serious rafters.

Top Guides and Outfitters:

  • Middle Fork River Expeditions: Offers both Main Salmon and Middle Fork trips with a focus on wilderness experience and adventure.
  • ROW Adventures: Known for their high-quality service and knowledgeable guides, providing a safe and memorable rafting experience.


Middle Fork of the Salmon River, Idaho

A tributary of the Salmon River, the Middle Fork is renowned for its technical rapids and hot springs along the way. It's a challenging yet rewarding river that offers a true wilderness experience.

Top Guides and Outfitters:

  • Idaho River Journeys: Specializes in Middle Fork trips with expert guides who emphasize safety and environmental stewardship.
  • Far and Away Adventures: Offers luxury rafting experiences with gourmet meals and top-notch service.


Colorado River, Grand Canyon, Arizona

No list of rafting destinations would be complete without mentioning the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. This iconic river provides some of the most spectacular scenery and whitewater in the world, making it a bucket-list adventure for many rafters.

Top Guides and Outfitters:

  • OARS: Offers a variety of trips through the Grand Canyon with experienced guides and a focus on safety and adventure.
  • Arizona Raft Adventures: Known for their comprehensive trips and knowledgeable guides, providing an in-depth experience of the Grand Canyon.


Green River, Utah

The Green River, particularly through the Gates of Lodore and Desolation Canyon, offers a diverse rafting experience with exciting rapids, beautiful red rock canyons, and historical sites. It's an excellent choice for both novices and experienced rafters.

Top Guides and Outfitters:

  • Holiday River Expeditions: Provides guided trips through both Lodore and Desolation Canyons, with a focus on sustainability and education.
  • Adrift Adventures: Known for their friendly guides and well-organized trips, catering to all experience levels.


Rogue River, Oregon

The Rogue River is famous for its blend of exciting rapids and calm stretches, making it ideal for a family-friendly multi-day trip. The river's lush forests and abundant wildlife add to its charm.

Top Guides and Outfitters:

  • Rogue Wilderness Adventures: Offers a variety of trips, from half-day to multi-day, with experienced guides and excellent service.
  • Orange Torpedo Trips: Known for their unique inflatable kayak trips and knowledgeable guides, providing a different perspective of the Rogue.



Now that you're inspired by some of the best rafting spots in the West and Mountain States, let's dive into the top 10 essentials you should bring on your multi-day rafting trip.

  1. Proper Clothing
  • Quick-Dry and Layered Apparel: When rafting, your clothing will inevitably get wet. Opt for quick-dry, moisture-wicking fabrics to stay comfortable. Layering is essential, as temperatures can fluctuate significantly between day and night. Include:
    • Base Layers: Synthetic or wool tops and bottoms to keep you warm and dry.
    • Mid Layers: Fleece or insulated jackets for warmth.
    • Outer Layers: Waterproof and windproof jackets and pants.
  • Footwear: Choose sturdy, waterproof footwear with a good grip. Neoprene booties or water shoes are (we like Chaco or Teva® sandals) ideal for on the raft, while dry shoes or sandals can be used at camp.
  1. Personal Flotation Device (PFD)
  • A proper fitting, Coast Guard-approved PFD is non-negotiable. It ensures your safety in case you fall into the water. Make sure it's comfortable and does not impede your movement. If you go with a professional guide, they will have something safe and comfortable.
  1. Helmet
  • Again, follow the direction of your guide but for whitewater sections, a helmet is a must. It protects your head from potential collisions with rocks or the raft itself. Ensure it fits snugly and comfortably. Check out NRS for several options if you plan to purchase your own.
  1. Dry Bags
  • Of course, we are a little biased, but a dry bag is at the top of the list for rafting essentials. In fact, we’ve built a whole business around keeping you safe and dry while on the water. Seattle Sports Co. offers a variety of dry bags that are perfect for keeping your gear safe from getting soaked. Consider our Explorer Dry Bags for clothing and sleeping gear, Glacier Clear Dry Bags for see through organization for food and other essentials, the E-Merse Cases for your electronics and our Dry Doc Products to keep your maps, IDs, Wallets and credits cards protected.


  1. Camping Gear
  • Shelter & Sleeping Gear: A durable, waterproof tent with a good rainfly will keep you protected from the elements. We prefer larger, cabin style to accommodate families. The REI Co-op Kingdom, Eureka! Copper Canyon LX 6, Kelty Wireless 6 or the MSR Habitude for a more compact option. Bring a ground tarp for extra moisture protection, one thing about camping next to a river is it can get damp depending on the conditions. We designed our Explorer Dry Bag X-Long for ensuring your tent makes it to camp as dry as it started. A warm sleeping bag rated for the lowest expected temperature, a sleeping pad for comfort and insulation, and a compact pillow will ensure restful nights.
  • Camping Accessories: Seattle Sports Co. offers a range of camping Camping Accessories that can make your trip more comfortable. From TerraFun Packable Games to cold food and drink storage in our FrostPak Coolers, Seattle Sports Co. has you covered.


  1. Cooking Equipment
  • Stove and Fuel: A portable camp stove with sufficient fuel is necessary for cooking. Make sure you have a stable surface to set it up. We love the Jetboil Genesis Basecamp System for its compact size and group cook capabilities but you can’t go wrong with a standard Coleman two burners stove or just cook over the fire. Do not forget something to light the fire!
  • Cookware & Coffee: Lightweight pots, pans, and utensils are essential. Don’t forget a cutting board, knife, and can opener. Since we love coffee you can’t go wrong with a compact Iso-Butane stove like a Jetboil Flash or MSR Pocket Rocket to boil water for a pour over, Kuju Coffee makes a great one! For real coffee snobs, check out AeroPress for delicious camp coffee. After meals are served, our Outfitter Sink or Outfitter Double Sink simplify the clean-up process and allow you to soak stubborn pots and pans.  
  • Food Storage & Transport: Bear-proof containers or hanging systems are necessary if you’re in bear country. Otherwise, waterproof, airtight containers will suffice. If you find yourself in bear country, we also recommend one of our Bear Spray Holsters during your time at camp.


  1. Food and Water
  • Meal Planning: Plan meals that are easy to prepare and provide adequate nutrition. Dehydrated meals are lightweight and convenient. Pack extra food in case of emergencies.
  • Water Filtration: A reliable water filtration system is crucial. Options include pump filters, gravity filters, and purification tablets. Always have a backup method. As mentioned above, a Jetboil style stove system is a great way to have potable water in nature. Another great alternative is to transport water in our collapsable AquaSto Carriers or our Outfitter Bucket to and from camp.


  1. First Aid Kit
  • A comprehensive first aid kit tailored to the specific needs of your group and the environment is essential. Include:
    • Bandages and dressings
    • Antiseptics and ointments
    • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications
    • Tweezers, scissors, and safety pins
    • Blister treatment
    • Any personal medications
    • 4L Jetty Dry Bag is perfect for storing your first aid supplies.


  1. Navigation and Communication
  • Maps and Compass: Even if you have a guide, carrying a waterproof map or a map in and a compass is wise. Use our Dry Doc Products to keep your maps safe. GPS devices can also be helpful but don’t rely solely on them.
  • Communication Devices: A waterproof, ruggedized phone case with a lanyard is a must, check out the E-Merse Neo Belt for a universal solution. Also for extreme or remote floats, a satellite phone, or a personal locator beacon (PLB) can be lifesavers in emergencies.


  1. Miscellaneous Essentials
  • Sunscreen and Insect Repellent: DO NOT FORGET High-SPF sunscreen and insect repellent are necessary to protect your skin from the sun and bugs.
  • Multi-tool or Knife: A multi-tool or a sturdy knife can be invaluable for various tasks, from preparing food to repairing gear.
  • Headlamp and Extra Batteries: A headlamp keeps your hands free at night, whether you're setting up camp or -exploring. Bring extra batteries or a portable charger.
  • Personal Hygiene Items: Biodegradable soap, a small towel, a toothbrush, and toothpaste are necessities. Consider bringing hand sanitizer and wet wipes for convenience.
  • Trash Bags: Do the right thing and protect our beautiful rivers, pack out everything you pack in. Bring heavy-duty trash bags to collect and carry your waste.
  • Camera or GoPro: Capture the memories of your trip with a waterproof camera or GoPro. Ensure it’s securely attached to you or your gear. You can also forgo the camera and opt for a clear E-Merse Phone Case.


So in conclusion...

A successful multi-day rafting trip requires careful planning and the right gear. By packing these essentials, especially the high-quality options available from Seattle Sports Co., you’ll be prepared to face the challenges and enjoy the beauty of the great outdoors. Happy rafting!


Multi-Day Rafting Trip Checklist 

  • Base Layers: Synthetic or wool tops and bottoms
  • Mid Layers: Fleece or insulated jackets
  • Outer Layers: Waterproof and windproof jackets and pants
  • Neoprene booties or water shoes (e.g., Chaco or Teva® sandals)
  • Dry shoes or sandals for camp
  • Proper fitting, Coast Guard-approved PFD
  • Snug and comfortable helmet for whitewater sections
  • Explorer Dry Bags for clothing and sleeping gear
  • Glacier Clear Dry Bags for food and other essentials
  • E-Merse Cases for electronics
  • Dry Doc Products for maps, IDs, wallets, and credit cards
  • Waterproof tent with rainfly (e.g., REI Co-op Kingdom, Eureka! Copper Canyon LX 6, Kelty Wireless 6, or MSR Habitude)
  • Ground tarp
  • Warm sleeping bag
  • Sleeping pad
  • Compact pillow
  • Explorer Dry Bag X-Long for tent storage
  • FrostPak Coolers
  • Portable camp stove (e.g., Jetboil Genesis Basecamp System, Coleman two burner stove)
  • Fire lighting tools
  • Lightweight pots, pans, and utensils
  • Cutting board, knife, and can opener
  • Compact Iso-Butane stove (e.g., Jetboil Flash, MSR Pocket Rocket)
  • Coffee equipment (e.g., Kuju Coffee, AeroPress)
  • Outfitter Sink or Outfitter Double Sink
  • Bear-proof containers or airtight containers
  • Bear Spray Holsters
  • Pump filters, gravity filters, and purification tablets
  • AquaSto Carriers or Outfitter Bucket
  • Bandages and dressings
  • Antiseptics and ointments
  • Pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications
  • Tweezers, scissors, and safety pins
  • Blister treatment
  • Personal medications
  • 4L Jetty Dry Bag for first aid supplies
  • Waterproof map or map in Dry Doc Products
  • Compass
  • Waterproof, ruggedized phone case (e.g., E-Merse Neo Belt)
  • Satellite phone or personal locator beacon (PLB)
  • High-SPF sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Multi-tool or sturdy knife
  • Headlamp
  • Extra batteries or portable charger
  • Biodegradable soap
  • Small towel
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hand sanitizer and wet wipes
  • Heavy-duty trash bags
  • Waterproof camera or GoPro
  • Clear E-Merse Phone Case


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