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White Water Rafting vs. Sun

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
I can sunburn in 10 minutes.

Is there anyway to survive a 1 or 2 day white water rafting trip? I am coming up empty. The water will wash off the SPF and it's too hot and too wet to wear long sleeves & pants. I will fry. Me -> [img]redface.gif[/img]

Anyone? Thanks!
post #2 of 21
There are sunscreens that don't wash off easily. What river are you going to be on?
post #3 of 21
Bullfrog sunscreen is the most water-resistant.

high-quality lightweight wicking long underwear is pretty darned comfortable when it's warm out, if it's wet most of the time. When I was a whitewater kayaker, I used to use long-sleeve capilene shirts on those days where it was REALLY sunny and I was worried about burning.
post #4 of 21
WhosThatGirl, I have had good luck with Banana Boat Sport Sun Block.

Where are you going rafting? I have never had a problem with it being to hot. The times I have been I was chilled to the bone. Even wearing a wet suit. I think last time we went it was upper 90's and I was still shivering by the end of the day.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Really? I didn't know that. Everyone in the brochure is wearing shorts and sleeveless tops. Cold is good! I assumed hot because it would be June.

Gonzo, great idea. You may have saved the day.

It's the South Fork of the American River in Northern California.
post #6 of 21
Well all my rafting has been in Colorado where the water temp is COLD. not sure about the South Fork of the American River in Northern California. I would think that if the water is cold and your on "white water" you will get wet, that should keep you cool enough. Gonz suggestion is great. If you have a dry bag bring it with a long-sleeve shirt, just in case.
post #7 of 21
The reason I asked you which river is that many rivers run through canyons that don't allow that much sun. The brochures are similar to the ski resort pictures that show everyone in waist deep powder. Think about clothing that will dry quickly and keep you warm (at least bring it in a dry bag.) I usually wear wet suit type boots on my feet.
post #8 of 21
if the water is COLD wear a wet suit and a long sleeve dry top (paddle jacket or shell)
IF it's later in the summer, wear a ls cottone shirt and some paddle pants. Don't forget about your face, your hands and the tops of your feet.

post #9 of 21
Are paddle pants like wetsuit shorts, Cause I was going to suggest them as a possibility.
I use them when jet-skiing in warmer waters, cause medically speaking, it is very advisable for men to wear that level of protection when at those speeds on water.

post #10 of 21
paddling pants also are called splash pants. they are treated nylon, and they lack the rubber ankle gaskets that distinguishes "dry pants." most paddling/splash pants aren't waterproof, they just keep the water at bay.

NO COTTON. EVER. get hypothernmic, you won't have to ask why.

in the Rocky Mountains, June river water is snowmelt and usually is cold, running from the high 30s/low 40s at the headwaters, to the mid-40s downstream. My guess is that some folks will wear cotton shorts & t-shirts even if the water is 45 or 50, but rest assured -- you CAN get hypothermic in 50 degree water, and can do so very quickly.

plunges in 45 degree water can cause temporary heartbeat irregularity and the "baby's reflex" which is to NOT breathe liquid. The reflex controls even if your head is fully above water.

Folks, river water in the mountains is DANGEROUS. It's not some vernal, pastoral source of white noise that helps you sleep at night. It's a powerful natural element, more powerful than you can imagine. Don't trifle with it. Don't "be tough" when it comes to warmth vs looking cool/tough.

Most ww rafting trips are on waters of Class III and higher. In such water, rescue is very difficult, and the "swimmer" who is pitched from the boat must be able to survive in the water for a short while. Believe me, if you're in cotton shorts & t-shirt, or even nylon shorts & synthetic t-shirt, you're going to regret it. IMMEDIATELY so.
post #11 of 21
I have to STRONGLY agree with Gonzo. I have paddled and Rafted in Maine and VT for some years and regetably every year some numb nuts decides jeans and a tee shirt are a smart combination on a boat. You put yourself and anyone trying to fish you out of fast moving water in grave danger. If you want to find out what cold water does to the motor skills get a bucket and fill it with tap water and ice. Get the temp down to about 40+ degrees and put a bolt and nut into the bucket. Have someone time you and plunge your hands into the bucket. See how long it takes for you not to be able to properly screw the nut onto the bolt. Now picture yourself 20 pounds heavier in moving water fully submerged and figure how long you have before even lifting your arms becomes impossible.
post #12 of 21
Thread Starter 
But my wetsuit is at the dry cleaners.

And I am absolutely certain I do not own a pair of "paddling pants".

Nevertheless, good advice. Let me see if I can get a pair of these pants and not chuckle.
post #13 of 21
I assume you are doing Chili Bar &/or the Gorge. If so, it will be most likely be really hot & really sunny (stay hydrated).

Actual weather & flows the day you are paddling will dictate what you should wear. The easiest way to sort out appropriate garb is to call your trusty raft company &/or The River Store - http://www.theriverstore.com Historically, the folks at the river store have been super good people. They will be tuned into flows, weather, etc. They will be able to tell you what you should wear & if needed, will most likely rent it to you. Call them in advance though.

To address your original question - as a couple of people pointed out, there are good water resistant sun blocks - Bull Frog and Banana Boat Sport among them. The main trick is to put the sunscreen on 15 or 20 minutes before you get on the river so all those fine chemicals can bond to your skin so they don't wash off. Slather up again at lunch. A sun hat or baseball cap can help as well. Irulan's suggestion about the tops of your feet is really important if you are wearing Tevas/Chacos rather than wetsuit booties.

Except for some overcrowding, the standard SF runs are great, playful, utterly classic, class III runs. Have a great time!
post #14 of 21
to add to spindrift's excellent comments --

a good way to protect the feet from the sun AND keep them warm despite the cold water temps is to wear fleece socks with your Chacos/Tevas/whatever. I've done that on ww rafting trips and it works great. You don't even have to mess with sunscreen.

of course, that eliminates the totally cool "Z" tan effect if you own Chacos.
post #15 of 21
Has anyone tried wearing a silk undershirt that you might wear skiing? I've never tried it but if the goal is to have the lightest sun proof layer without spending $$$$ on paddling gear it may work. Just a thought
post #16 of 21
..and another vote for BullFrog. [img]smile.gif[/img]
post #17 of 21
Hi WTG--

Go with Gonzo's suggestions--and warnings! As a whitewater guide for over 20 years, I can tell you that he is right on. It is a rare river where you actually have to worry about getting too hot when you're on the water, so don't hesitate to wear long sleeves and pants to keep the sun off. But do stay away from cotton. If it is REALLY hot, and the water is warm, a T-shirt will probably be OK, but the usual river-runner's motto is simple: COTTON KILLS!

So for sun protection, wear a loose nylon or other synthetic windbreaker and pants, and a large-brimmed hat (if you don't wear a helmet). There are lots of good sunscreens out there that are fairly waterproof. Apply liberally to your face and hands, and carry the bottle/tube in your pocket to reapply regularly. If there is skin exposed on your feet (ie. if you wear the standard river-guide's "Teva"-type sandals), your feet will be particularly vulnerable to the sun. They will be wet a lot, so sunscreen won't stay on well. And they get the sun directly. If you're concerned, wear wetsuit booties, or canvas sneakers, probably without socks. Sneakers will give you better protection from rocks and other hazards, both on shore and if you should happen to go for a swim.

If it's cooler, you may want a wetsuit, which the outfitter probably rents for a reasonable price. That will take care of the sun problem! If the water is fairly warm, but it's a chilly day, a layer of synthetic fleece covered by a windbreaker or a nylon rain suit might be in order. Avoid cotton!

If this is your first raft trip, it is natural to be a little anxious. You'll quickly figure it out. If it's a summer trip, with warm air and water, you really have little to worry about as far as staying warm and comfortable. Plan to get wet. Listen carefully to the guide's instructions, note how he/she dresses, and don't hesitate to ask specific questions.

Have fun!

Best regards,
Bob Barnes
post #18 of 21

There is NO way that anyone would dry clean a wetsuit !!! I mean what sort of dirt does a wetty get ????

Where are you rafting?

If you can get a long sleeve lycra surf top (rash vest) these are ideal lightweight sun protection.

Take a big brim hat as well as you will need it at the stops and the campsites. There is nothing wrong with taking a long sleeve cotton T if you are rafting in a warm area. Keep it dry and wear it on the shore with the hat.

Coppertone Sport factor 48 stays on for me in the surf under the Oz sun so it is my call for water sports, also Banana Boat but I find that too "thick".

Other than that go with the Strikes advice.


[ May 12, 2002, 06:47 AM: Message edited by: man from oz ]
post #19 of 21
I'm with Oz get a lycra surfshirt.You can get them in a long or short sleeve. Surfers are in the water and in the bright sun for hours and Hours.They need protection from UV rays.The shirts are light wieght dry fast and give you plenty of freedom of movement. Use them alone or put a wetsuit top over it if needed. Did anyone say Sunscreen? I think I read Sunscrean in the above post here? Anyway use Sunscreen
post #20 of 21
Thread Starter 
Man from Oz: *chuckle*

The South Fork of the American River in Northern California.
post #21 of 21
Originally posted by Wear the fox hat ?:
Are paddle pants like wetsuit shorts, Cause I was going to suggest them as a possibility.

Paddle pants are like rain pants, but with gaskets at the waist and ankles.

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