Yes! You really do need a rain suit when river rafting in the Grand Canyon, and here’s why:
You will be getting wet. Which feels great when the air temperature is 115 degrees, there’s not a breath of breeze, and there are no clouds in the sky – in these conditions you will want to get wet to stay cool. (With such a big, beautiful freezing river at your disposal, there is no reason for you to overheat). However, as soon as the sun goes behind a cloud or the wind picks up, you will stay wet and even if it is 115 degrees, you will freeze if you do not have some way to cover up. This is when your waterproof rain suit will come in handy.
It could be colder than you expect. The temperature of the Colorado River at Lee’s Ferry, where many rafting trips begin, is about 45 degrees Fahrenheit and it warms up to about 58 degrees further down, at Pearce Ferry on Lake Mead. And even if it is hot outside, the air temperature is always 10 degrees cooler when you’re on or near the river.
There can be thunderstorms. Your rain suit will save you if you’re rafting during the monsoon season and a storm rolls through. Temperatures can drop by 20 degrees in a moment and it can feel even colder depending upon the severity of the storm.
When it comes to rain gear, quality makes a noticeable difference in your ability to stay dry. It’s important to select items that are waterproof, not just water resistant. Gear with Gore-Tex offers top-of-the-line water protection while remaining lightweight and allowing full range of motion.
My personal favorite brand for rain gear is Arc’teryx. Although pricey, my Arc’teryx jacket has lasted over four years of extremely heavy use and is one of my favorite pieces of gear when hiking, backpacking, or rafting.
If rain gear is not something you expect to use regularly after your rafting trip, the price tag for the items mentioned above might cause you to consider other options. That’s fine. There are many brands that do enough and will get you through your trip comfortably. We have many gear options on the Recommended Gear page of our website.
Regardless of which rain suit you choose, there are a few characteristics that are crucial when rafting:
· Select a jacket that cinches around the wrists and waist, and pants that cinch around the waist and ankles.
· Hoods are very highly recommended. Hoods that zip up to your chin do a better job of keeping water from rushing down into the jacket when you’re crashing through large rapids. If you are participating in a paddle trip, you can consider jackets with adjustable collars for additional protection.
· Again, make sure it is waterproof, not just water resistant.
Considering these factors when selecting your rain suit will help ensure that you can comfortably enjoy this trip of a lifetime!