Dressing correctly for cool weather rafting
Whether spring on the New River or Fall Gauley rafting, the goal is the same: big hits on huge white water, bobbing over roller coaster waves like a rubber ducky in the ocean, paddling like mad. Only one problem. You’re decked out head to toe in cotton. After one big hit, your fun will have dissipated with your body heat.
No worries, though. The essential info we’re laying down here will make you an expert on how to be dialed in on making the most of your spring New River rafting experience.
Rafting gear lowdown
Here are six essential pieces of gear that will carry the day and keep you comfortable for the whole rafting trip.
1. Hat. For real. This is the simplest bit of gear, yet it can be the difference between being snug or feeling as if you’re clinging to a refrigerator car on a runaway locomotive. Bonus: Easy to take on and off to regulate temperature.
2. Wetsuit. When in doubt, make sure you have one of these bad boys. Most companies rent farmer John style (no sleeves) and some also rent jackets to go over top. Their strength is that in order for them to work, they need to be wet. Lucky for you, the New River is happy to oblige.
3. Neoprene booties. Cold feet? Not on your trip. Again, the neoprene, when wet, will keep your feet warm. Get them big enough to slip a pair of wool or synthetic pile socks underneath and you’ll be good to go.
4. Gloves. Don’t let the snickering bother you. Those are just people who are jealous they didn’t think to cover their hands. Besides, they’re not laughing so much as shivering. The key here: stick with neoprene or synthetics, preferably with some grippy palms.
5. Layers. Everywhere. If you can swing light- or mid-weight bottoms (under your wetsuit) and thicker fleece on top (over your wetsuit bib, but under the jacket), you’ll be golden. These are critical to working with the wetsuit and splash jacket to trap all that heat your body is working so hard to make.
6. Splash jacket. This is an item you will never regret bringing along. This lightweight beauty will trap any body heat that manages to make it past the wetsuit and layers. Plus, when there’s a breeze, you’ll be protected. Just be sure to close the neck gasket so you don’t get the full body trickle.
Now it’s time to go rafting
Bottom line: Comfort breeds fun, so gear yourself up right for your West Virginia rafting trip, or wherever you may be, and you’ll be smiling all the way down the river.