If you've already conquered the small whitewater rivers near your home and you are setting out on a trip to raft some serious whitewater (class 4, for instance), then you will need to be specially prepared. Many rivers have leisurely runs with small whitewater sections that are not challenging or dangerous. Of course, if you're already run the small rivers with class 1 and 2 rapids, you might be up for something more challenging, not to mention more exciting. However, you can't simply head out to a tough river without being prepared. That is a dangerous mistake. You need to treat the rapids with respect. While it's incredibly fun to hit the big rapids, it's important to make sure you are ready to handle them adequately. Here's what you need to have on hand.
Raft With Ropes
The raft company will provide the raft. It is important to make sure you choose a raft with side ropes. The company might rent rafts for different areas in the river, and have a variety of designs in stock. A raft that travels down class 1 or 2 rapids doesn't need to have lashings on the side. However, when you are hitting big waves, like you will with class 4 water, you need these ropes. They are used to hold onto when the raft is being tossed about. You never know when an inexperienced counter person might accidentally give you a raft designed for low level whitewater, so make clear that your raft needs side ropes.
One of the new pieces of equipment you will need to bring is a helmet. One of the reasons for the helmet is that the extreme whitewater can send you out of the raft. A peaceful river, with a flat, smooth bottom won't have whitewater. A rocky river, with a steep drop offs, will have exciting whitewater. So, you need to be prepared for going overboard. The river rocks that create the whitewater will often times be underwater, so you won't even see them. But if you take a spill out of the raft you need to be sure your head won't hit them and render you unconscious. Some whitewater tour companies will have helmets, but you need to check beforehand. If you are interested in seriously pursing whitewater rafting as a hobby, it would benefit you to get your own helmet that has a good fit.
Secure Life Jackets
All life jackets are not designed alike. Some of them are rather cavalier in nature and easily slip on and off. These are not the type to wear on a class 4 river. You want to get a life jacket that can be secured to your chest with snap closures. Loose fitting life jackets that have simple nylon ties should be avoided. You don't want to get tossed into the water and find that the life jacket gets washed off you while you're tumbling around in the water.
For more information, contact local professionals like Andy and Bax.
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