How Cold is Whitewater Rafting?

June 29, 2022 4 min read

While you may think that whitewater rafting is a warm activity, the water is actually quite cold compared to the surface temperatures. This is why you need to wear a wetsuit or tactical layering. Below are some tips on how to stay warm and dry. Once you get into the water, wear your wetsuit and keep your base layers dry. In colder temperatures, the water may be as cool as 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Whitewater Rafting is Colder Than Surface Temperatures

Whitewater rafting is not for the faint of heart, and the temperature below the surface can be dangerous. Rip currents, for example, can cause serious injury to those on the raft, as well as to the person in the boat. For this reason, a PFD must be snugly fitting. When a person falls out of a raft, they should try to grab their feet and curl up into a fetal position. By curling up, the current of the river is less likely to grab the raft's bottom and keep them from spinning.

During the spring, temperatures in the water can be in the low 40's, but when the sun warms up the air, the temperature goes up quickly. The temperature can be as cold as 40 degrees Fahrenheit in mid-May, and reach the mid-sixties by late June. In July and August, the temperature can reach the 70s. It stays near this level through the month of August, although nights in October are cooler.

Water Temperatures Can Reach 60 Degrees Fahrenheit

Although the weather is pleasant during early May and early September, there is little activity on weekends and later in the month. The weather is still warm, though, with air temperatures in the low 90s and water temperatures that can reach 60 degrees. Wetsuits are best used in warmer water, and can be worn even when the water temperature is only 60 degrees. Wetsuits are usually worn in conjunction with other wet clothing and footwear, including booties and gloves.

Summertime temperatures are hottest in July, with averages around 100 degrees. The river can also reach its highest temperature, 115 degrees. While the temperatures may be pleasant in May and June, they can be dangerous if you aren't careful. During this period, monsoon rain is a common occurrence, bringing cool, damp conditions to the river. The busiest months for river rafting are July and August. For those seeking less crowds, go in April or mid-June. Then, rafting is most popular from mid-September until the end of October.

Using a Wetsuit

If you are going on a commercial trip, the company will usually supply you with a wetsuit, life jacket, and helmet. The most important consideration is layering. Your bottom layer should be quick-drying so that it does not pinch underneath the wetsuit. You can also wear water shorts to protect your bathing suit from the rubber raft. A pair of lightweight, quick-drying panties or synthetic leggings are also good options.

A wetsuit is essential for all types of river activities, but you may also want to wear a swimsuit underneath the wetsuit for added warmth and comfort. Cotton is fine when you're warm and dry, but a long-sleeved shirt will keep you cooler in the warmer waters. Several companies sell securable strap sunglasses and sunscreen that can be easily slipped on and off.

Keeping Base Layers Dry

Keeping base layers dry while whitewater rafting requires tactical layering, and you must ensure that you don't get too warm or too cold during the experience. It is important to avoid cotton, as this is prone to getting wet. You should opt for quick-drying synthetic materials such as polyester and nylon, or even merino wool. Also, keep a hat and sunglasses handy, as the sun can cause burns to the lower half of your body.

The base layers of your clothing are the most important layers. These layers should be quick-drying and not prone to leaking. If it is cold, don't wear your last dry shirt before hitting the water. Otherwise, it will be uncomfortable to paddle in soaking wet clothes, even if you wear a dry top. If it's raining, wear an additional layer of clothing.

Avoiding Hypothermia

Taking measures to avoid hypothermia while whitewater rafting is essential for your safety. When you fall in the rapids, stay calm and follow the instructions for getting back in the raft. If you have fallen out of the raft, keep your head and feet above water and your arms to the side. Float downstream and wait for rescuers to reach you. Remember to have fun!

Be sure to bring additional layers of clothing for different weather conditions. During warm days, cotton is fine. In cooler days, you may need thick socks and a rain jacket. Remember to bring safety equipment as well. A wetsuit and boots are the obvious choices for river safety, but remember that too many layers can lead to overheating and rapid evaporation. This could lead to heat exhaustion or hypothermia.

Keeping Warm in Rapids

One of the first things you should consider is your clothing. Keeping warm is essential when kayaking or whitewater rafting, especially in colder temperatures. To keep yourself warm, you should layer your clothes in many layers. Your bottom layer should be quick-drying and not pinch under your wetsuit. Water shorts are a good option in warm water, as they protect bathing suits from the rubber raft. Synthetic leggings and lightweight quick-dry pants can also keep you comfortable.

Wear proper footwear. If the weather is warm, sport sandals with a heel strap are suitable. Water-shoes are another option, as are old tennis shoes. Close-toed shoes should be worn with wool socks. Alternatively, you can buy neoprene booties. Keeping warm during whitewater rafting is an essential part of the experience, so make sure you're wearing the proper footwear.

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