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Group of people in a raft navigating rapids on Millers River

The Best Way To Get Started Rafting

By Kevin McMillian

Whitewater rafting is a great way to connect with nature, friends and family. It’s an unforgettable experience, peppered with laughs and great memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. 

However, it can seem to be a daunting excursion to think about if you’ve never done it before. Trying to decide what trip is best for you, making sure you bring everything you need–it can seem overwhelming. Luckily, We have all the gear you need to get started rafting, along with expert guides to take you every step of the way.

Here are just some of the helpful tips, and things to keep in mind when planning your rafting trip.

Getting Started

White water is all about coming together with like minded folks, getting out in nature and experiencing the most it has to offer. The best way to get started is to explore the different trips we offer and see which one fits your preference for the season, challenge and location. 

Getting to Know Your Gear

The Raft Itself

Of course, the raft itself will be provided by us, but it’s fun to know some of the industry nomenclature. The rafts used in white water rafting are usually made from a Hypalon fabric designed to bounce and slide off of rocks and other obstacles. They usually seat between 6 and 8, but larger models can seat up to 12. We mostly use  rafts that accommodate groups of 5-7. A whitewater raft is designed with several different air chambers to give it buoyancy. This is so that even if one section gets punctured, the raft will still float. The inside of the boat also has three cross tubes called “thwarts” which riders can jam their feet under to help keep them stable.

Your Life Vest

Your life vest is commonly known as a Personal Flotation Device or PFD (not a PDF!). Your PFD is probably the most important piece of gear you’ll have when on your trip.  We will help adjust your PFD to make sure you are comfortable and ready for your trip.

What to Wear


Wetsuit

Our wetsuits are Farmer John style, meaning they have no arms. They keeps your legs and trunk warm but still provide you a little more freedom to move around and even enjoy some sun on your arms on warmer spring days. We offer them free of charge in the Spring when you are most likely to need one and for rent the rest of the summer. 

Layering

Just as in life, in rafting you have to dress for success! Bringing a few different synthetic layers will afford you the luxury of adding or subtracting layers throughout the trip–keeping you comfortable and giving you a chance to look cool too!

Footwear

When it comes to footwear for whitewater rafting, you have more choices than you may think.  For most, a simple pair of old sneakers or trainers will do fine, provided you don’t mind getting them wet.  However, there are other options if you want more capability during the trip.

You could also look into a pair of water shoes, or wetsuit shoes. These offer the advantage of keeping your feet much warmer than sneakers. Of course we have you covered if you’d rather rent booties and not have to bring wet sneakers home. Protip, If you are bringing your own footwear great, also bring a plastic bag to take everything home in.

Knowing The Skill of the Trip

Class I 

This is the most relaxing class of rafting. Where your day is more about being together and enjoying the scenery. It’s mostly flat moving water with a few ripples.  This is where anyone can get started. We recommend families going on a trip with small children age 5 and up,  start at this level

Class II

At this level, the water flows a little faster, and there may be some obstacles to avoid. This level is still very attainable for anyone and popular with families rafting with small children age 5 and up.

Class III

This level involves some more powerful currents and some bigger waves. Most entry-level raft trips are a combination of class I, II, and III.  It’s great for families with children over the age of 7 or groups looking for some fun but still want a social adventure too!

Class IV: Advanced 

This is a more exciting level of rafting. This will involve fast, narrow rapids and obstacles that require quick reaction to avoid. It’s for the more adventurous among us. 

The Best Places to go for Rafting in New England

You now have a better understanding of the trips offered and what you should bring, all that’s left is for you to check out the website. We’re so lucky that New England has lots of great rivers with varying levels of excitement to choose from.
Reach out to one of our expert reservationists and we can help you choose the best trip for your group.

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Go for it! See what trips and packages are available now and set out on your incredible journey.

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