Thinking about doing a rafting guide school or rowing clinic. Here is guide school packing list of gear typically provided and required for rafting classes. Expect some variation in requirements depending upon when and where you are taking a course.

Equipment Provided by Outfitters

Multi-day courses usually provide basic safety gear for introductory courses and food for during the course but check to be sure.

  • Helmets, lifejackets, dry bags, and group rafting gear.
  • The first group meal will be Saturday lunch and the final meal will be the following Saturday lunch.


The critical gear for courses is having something that will keep you warm when swimming in the river. For spring courses a drysuit is best for warmth and a surfing wetsuit is next best. A wetsuit and splash jacket work ok.

River Attire

Plan to be getting in the river every day so be prepared for the cold water.

  • Wet suit and splash jacket (can sometimes be rented) or surfing wetsuit (4/3) or dry suit (can rent for approx. $175/week from Pacific River Supply at 510-223-3675 or $200 from Immersion Research). Check out our article about proper usage, care and maintenance of drysuits
  • Wool, silk or synthetic layer top for under wetsuit
    • one thin and one thick
    • if using drysuit also need bottoms thick and thin
  • Wool or neoprene socks 
  • Tennis shoes, sport sandals work ok but shoes protect your feet better and keep them warmer
  • swimsuit for under wetsuit

Optional River Equipment

  • Sunglasses (with tie-on) 
  • Wool hat
  • Wool or neoprene gloves
  • ball cap (for under helmet)
  • corkless whistle (Fox 40 sonic works great)** 
  • river knife**
  • helmet and lifejacket (type IV or V )**
  • flip line (locking carabiner and 8+ feet of webbing)**
  • splash pants are nice if you are using a wetsuit

**If you don’t already own the equipment, wait until after the course to buy it as you will probably learn more about what equipment will work best for you during the school.

Off River Gear

For the overnight wilderness trips, each person will receive a dry bag for personal gear. It gets cold at night!!!

  • Sleeping bag/pad, tarp/ground cloth
  • watch with alarm 
  • small Tent  
  • Comfortable warm clothing 
  • rain jacket and pants
  • Underwear, socks 
  • Extra shoes
  • Toiletries including Sun block/lip balm 
  • Flashlight
  • Warm hat 
  • Extra plastic bags for wet gear
  • separate large bag for storing river gear when driving in vehicles, mesh bags work well
  • Plastic water bottle with locking carabiner
  • Camp chair if car camping
  • changing mat to keep drysuit from socks from getting damaged

Daily Packing Hacks

River shoes get nasty so have a spare plastic bag to keep them from getting everything else wet and dirty. Keep dry stuff dry, and wet stuff wet. It is easy to run out of dry gear when swimming in the river daily for a week. If clothes get a little wet under your drysuit make sure they dry by the morning. The best thing to do if they are just damp is to wear them around camp until they dry out.

Guide School Packing List Thoughts

Be sure to come properly prepared. This is particularly important if you are hoping to end up with a job. Keep your gear together and maybe even have a little extra warm gear you can share with a less prepared student. You might enjoy reading our post about what to wear rafting and our recommended gear page.