10 Essential Items to bring on a float trip

Growing up in the Midwest, chances are you have heard of, wanted to, or already have been on a float trip.  If you’re planning on taking that trip, there are certain things you absolutely need and many things you don’t.  Ever since I was 16, I have made an effort to go on at least one float trip a year.  Over the years, I have been able to compile a list of 10 essential items you need to float down the river.

1. Swim Wear

There is most certainly no dress code on the river.  Wear what makes you happy.  But keep in mind, you will be spending you’re day on the river.  There are just some outfits that aren’t made to get wet.

I usually opt for a light t-shirt, bikini, and swim shorts.  The shirt keeps the sun off me for a bit, I’m able to remove it to get in the water, and if it gets wet – oh well!  Same with swim shorts.  They’re comfortable, even when wet and I don’t feel so exposed all day.

2. Water Shoes/Socks

Sticking with the topic of river fashion, water socks or shoes are a must.  Flip flops are not made for the river.  You are going to be walking in a constant flow of water and over rocks, tree branches, and anything else that has fallen in the water.  You’re going to need your feet protected.

There are several different options out there.  My personal preference is similar to these ones I found on Amazon.  Lightweight fabric all around with a nice, anti-slip soul to walk on.

3. Sunglasses

Chances are the sun is going to be beating down and you’re going to want some protection for your eyeballs.  Pro tip: Don’t bring your favorite pair.  Murphy’s Law is they will get lost.  Go get you a pair of cheapies.  They’ll never leave your side.  And if they do, you won’t be heartbroken over it.

4. Sunscreen

It does not matter what color you are.  White, brown, purple, or green.  Wear sunscreen!  The sun hits different on the water.  Chances are you’re going to be exposed to the sunshine a minimum of 6 hours, depending on the length of your float.  Our most recent one had us out on the water for about 9 hours.  Make sure you reapply throughout the day.

I’m pretty fair skinned so I don’t use anything less than 50 SPF when on the river.  Just for comparison sake, when I’m going to the pool or just laying around outside soaking up the sun, I use SPF 30 and that works just fine in those situations.  But not on the river.  I learned the hard way one year, and even though I reapplied throughout the day, I still turned into a lobster.

5. Cooler

You’ll want to pack a cooler filled with snacks, lunch, and drinks.   Try to keep it light and simple.  Snacks usually consist of seeds, granola bars, beef jerky, little chip bags.  For lunch we tend to make sandwiches that are ready to go.  This year we also brought those little chicken salad kits that are ready to eat, complete with crackers.  It was great to keep you going.

Make sure to bring plenty of water.  Especially if you plan on drinking alcohol, which many do.  If you are bringing alcohol, bring cans.  Glass is prohibited on the river for obvious safety purposes.  Pace yourself and have fun!

6. Bungee Cords

This is a an item a lot of people don’t think about but are so handy.  Bungee cords keep your cooler and things in place.  It can get a little wild out there and you may flip the canoe.  You want your items secure and to not float away if you can avoid it.

7. Dry Bag

I had just recently learned about dry bags in the past few years.  Let me tell you, these are life savors!  Keep your towel, phone, snacks, anything you don’t want to get wet protected! 

I have had this exact bag from Walmart for a few years now and it was totally worth just $6!

8. Phone Case

With disposable cameras being a thing of the past, you’re going to want to invest in a waterproof case for your phone so you can capture memories.  I purchased mine at the camp store we were staying at one year for about $5 and it has saved my phone countless times.  Others bring small pelican cases. 

Chances are you won’t get a signal so the soul purpose for bringing your phone is for pictures.  My husband typically will leave his phone locked in the car back at camp and I will take mine.  Remember, the less you have to keep track of the better.

9. First Aid Kit

You’re going to want to throw a simple first aid kit in that dry bag.  Band-aids, Neosporin, Tylenol, etc.  You never know what could happen and you want to be somewhat prepared.

10. Good Attitude

The final and probably most important thing you’re going to want from everybody on a successful float trip – a good attitude!  Floating down the river is supposed to be relaxing, fun, about building memories with the ones you love.  Ain’t nobody got time for Debbie Downers.  Period. 

If you’ve never gone on a float trip, it comes highly recommended.  It is a fairly inexpensive get away and the memories last a lifetime.  Float trips are a staple event in any Midwesterners life.  I would love to hear about your experiences and what you think is essential.  What do I need to pack for next year?  I swear, every year I see something another person brings along and I’m like, “Oh my gosh!  Why didn’t I think of that?” 

Leave a comment down below!  I’d love to hear from you!  And don’t forget to follow my other socials for more frequent content!

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