California whitewater rafting on the American RiverYou can travel light or bring the RV. Either way, if you arrive and discover you’ve forgotten something, we’ve got you covered. Our local shops carry everything from ice and sunscreen to whitewater kayak paddles. See the Shopping page to find out where to find what you need.

Whitewater Rafting

This list is a good starting point, but ask your outfitter if they have any other suggestions or requirements. Many outfitters rent camping equipment and other essentials.

Suggested Clothing

In hot weather: Swimsuit and/or shorts (for women, it’s recommended to wear shorts over the swimsuit, as the rubber of the rafts can chafe or be especially slippery on bare skin — making it more difficult to stay in the boat!). A long-sleeved shirt can help prevent sunburn, and on super-hot days, an all-cotton short will stay wet longer and keep you cooler. Some companies require you to wear closed toe shoes, such as river-specific shoes or old tennis or running shoes. All companies require that your footwear has a heel strap — no flip flops, clogs or mules allowed.

In cooler weather:
No cotton! An insulating shirt (polypropylene) or fleece jacket is essential. A raincoat or “splash jacket” provides more insulation and warmth. Wetsuits are available for rental by most companies, or at one of two local river stores. Wool or polypro socks, booties, or sandals, river shoes or running shoes.

Other Necessities

Always bring: Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses (with a strap), water bottles. If you are on prescription medication, have a bee sting or food allergy and carry an epi-pen. If you are asthmatic and require an inhaler, please notify your guide so proper stowing of these medications can take place prior to leaving the shore. Waterproof cameras are always welcome, and most companies won’t say no to a water gun or two as well.

What NOT to bring: Towels — you’ll get wet again and again, but in the mid summer sun, you’ll dry off too quickly for a towel to make a difference. Wallets — even the tip money can be left back at camp. The rule of thumb is “If it can’t wind up on the river floor, don’t bring it.” Car keys — countless sets have made the river floor their final resting place. AAA loves Coloma/Lotus in the summertime for just this reason. Boom boxes or Walkman/iPods. Alcohol and drugs — many companies provide beer or wine back at camp after the trip, but while whitewater rafting, you’ll need to be prepared for falls, flips, and other unexpected excitement. Alcohol tends to make people dehydrated, lethargic and slow.

California whitewater rafting on the American River

Outdoor Equipment & Services

  • The River Store
    The River Store

    Kayaking-Rafting-Camping. Sales, rentals & World Class Kayak Instruction. Clothing, snacks, drinks, sundries and outdoor accessories. Visitor’s info, local experts, maps & books. Over 32 years in Lotus! info@theriverstore.com 530-626-3435