What You Should Be Looking for in Whitewater Rafts

Whitewater rafts are quite different from other small, manned watercraft. You cannot simply purchase any inflatable raft and expect it to survive rapids. If you are going to get into this sport, there are a few things you should be looking for in your raft.

Plastic Polymers That Withstand Intense Pressure and Sharp Rocks

Whitewater rafts are made from special plastic and rubber polymers that can withstand the roughest of waters and the sharpest of rocks. The thickness of the materials also contribute to the raft's ability to survive level five rapids, the roughest and most challenging of all rapids. Some raft companies are thoughtful enough to include the rapids level in their raft product descriptions, making it easier for you to choose the raft you want and need most. Obviously, if you select and purchase a raft with a level five rapids clearance, you can take that on any river with lesser rapids and be just fine.

Enough Room for Four People

Even the gentlest of rapids (level one) requires a minimum of four people to steer through them. The more challenging the rapids, the more arms, bodies and hands are needed to navigate through. When you choose to purchase a whitewater raft, consider who will be in the raft with you, and never buy a raft that fits fewer than four people. Such rafts exist, but are not recommended for whitewater rafting.

Also, the raft should provide several tie-offs on the sides of the raft for you and your companions. These tie-offs not only secure you to the raft during the most challenging aspects of your adventure, but make sure the raft itself is not taken all the way down stream if your whole party is overturned in the rapids.

Quick Inflate/Deflate Features

If you plan to camp out along the shore and make your rafting adventure an overnight expedition, you may want a raft that easily and quickly inflates and deflates. Rip-cord styles of raft fall into this category, and you will not need a separate pump or extended time to inflate or deflate it. Additionally, if you can get a raft that inflates in sections, you will be saving lives. These section-inflate rafts prohibit total deflation of the raft in the event that part of it is damaged. This way, you can still "hobble-float" to shore after getting through the rapids, and patch the raft during a shore lunch.

To learn more about your options, contact companies like Andy and Bax.