(Photo Credit: Raychel Sanner

Just picture it: The gentle sounds of the Colorado river flowing around you, your best friend sitting in a kayak a few yards away, you can feel the tops of your thighs beginning to sunburn, and you know that just around this bend is an exciting rapid. River life is good. And it’s in season in Moab! 

Whether you are going on a guided trip with one of the many excellent guiding services in Moab, or you’re doing it on your own, there are several gear essentials every river enthusiast needs in order to make the best out of their trip. Check out our handy dandy gear guide below!

River Shoes 

Make sure you have adequate foot protection when running the river. You might come across sticks or other sharp objects around the shore.  And if you fall in, who knows what’s on the bottom.  And losing your shoes is never fun. If you go for sandals, make sure you have at least a strap securing around your heel. 

You can check out all of the river shoes we have at Moab Gear Trader in-store or on our website!


(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay)

PDF’s (Life Jacket)

(Photo Credit: Jocelyn Kent

Perhaps the most important item on this gear guide! Life jackets–or personal floatation devices–are essential to keeping you alive and well if you happen to take a spill while on the river. Remember, even if you think you are a great swimmer, you can’t swim if you are unconscious. If you’re looking for a new life jacket, please feel free to come by the store and try a few on. At Moab Gear Trader we have plenty of friendly staff members who would be more than happy to help you get the right life jacket for your needs.  

Lightweight Clothing 

You will spend long days sitting in the sun. The warmth of it on your skin can be a blessing after a quick dip into the cold water, however, more often than not, you’ll really want to keep the sun off your skin! Investing in a breathable sun hoodie and a pair of lightweight pants can prevent painful sunburns and heat stroke. At Moab Gear Trader we have a huge selection of lightweight clothing for men, women, and children that is perfect for your next river trip! 

Dry Bags

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

Phones, keys, wallet, towel, spare underpants, socks, etc. All of these things need to stay dry while on the river. A dry bag can help you keep the essentials water-free so that when you get back to camp (or back home!) you have at least a few things that didn’t get soaked throughout the day. We have dry bags in various sizes from small 5 liter bags to full-sized 70-liter bags. 


(Photo Credit: Mary Eden

Hide your eyes behind a nice pair of polarized lenses and you’ll never want to take them off. Sunglasses are more of a comfort thing than anything else, but it’s important to remember that you’re here to enjoy yourself, why suffer needlessly? Put on a pair of sunglasses and enjoy your day! 

Sunglass Retainers

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

A lot of essentials on the river are about preventing the river from sweeping away or damaging your other essentials. While sunglasses are definitely an essential, sunglass retainers should come standard with any pair of sunglasses you plan on wearing while on the river. They keep your sunglasses from becoming one more bit of trash floating down the river and accumulating in large eddies. They also keep them on your person and allow you to keep enjoying the benefits of sunglasses. 

Sun Hat

(Photo Credit: Alison Kaplan

The sun is one of the biggest aggressors to your personal comfort while on the river. It’s not just sunburns you want to be wary of, sunstroke, overheating, and dehydration are also major issues you want to stay on top of. Wearing a wide-brimmed, breathable sun hat (or even just a plain visor!) can protect you from the sun and heat. You can also dip your hat into the water and then put it back on your head to keep you extra cool on those hot summer afternoons. 


(Photo Credit: Alison Kaplan

A light sarong will go far while on the river. It offers spectacular sun protection and keeps you cool on hot days. Additionally, if you’re spending a few days on the river you want something to dry off with at the end of a long day, and if you’re just going for a day, then you’ll want something to dry off with at the end of a long day. 


You might be able to trail the beer in the water while you float, but what about food? Hot days require adequate refrigeration so your food doesn’t go bad. At Moab Gear Trader we have a ton of coolers both soft-sided and hard-sided for you to choose from. Depending on the size of your boat and the number of people you’re with, your needs will be different. So let our friendly staff help you out and come pick out a cooler that is right for you.  

Camp Chair 

(Photo Credit: Alison Kaplan

One of the more underrated essentials is the camp chair. When you’re packing for a river trip, you’re always thinking of food, water, shade, sun protection, beer, and how to keep things dry. Often, folks forget that hanging out in camp is a huge part of river trips. Make sure you have a comfortable and easy-to-set-up camp chair for the less active parts of your river experience. 

Can Cooler

Ok, not technically an essential, considering it’s really more of a comfort thing. However, the can cooler is a fantastically simple invention that delivers worlds of comfort. Consider a can cooler on your next river trip, it might just revolutionize your beer (or sparkling water!) drinking experience. 

Sunscreen + Aloe Vera


(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

These two items should probably be on the top of the list, up there with the life jacket honestly. However, I thought I would save the best for last. Sunscreen should be considered an absolute essential when planning any sort of river trip. Sustained, multi-day, sunburns are absolutely awful to manage and there is really nothing better than getting a nice tan instead of a red and itchy sunburn. Aloe Vera should be packed for emergencies! 

River Trips

(Photo Credit: Kaya Lindsay

In conclusion, prep for your comfort and enjoyment when heading out for the river. You want to prioritize staying dry, staying afloat, staying hydrated, and protecting your skin from the sun. After that, most things will fall into place on their own. 

Enjoy your river trip, and let us know down below if we missed anything!