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10 Holiday Gifts for Rafters and Kayakers

River runners (river guides, kayakers, rafters, catarafters, SUP-ers, riverboarders, etc.) always seem to have their next gear purchase and river trip in mind. With this in mind, here’s a list of suggested gifts for your friends and family who enjoy whitewater rafting and kayaking.

1. Swiftwater Rescue Training

Safety first! Everyone can use more safety training and this is a great way to gift a useful experience. Sierra Rescue or the Swiftwater Safety Institute both offer quality training. Additionally, we are offering an advanced swiftwater rescue course next spring.

Practicing raft flipping during safety training
Practicing raft flipping during safety training

2. Membership to American Whitewater

This fine organization works hard to gain river access and flows so we can boat more places, more often. Annual membership includes a subscription to the American Whitewater Journal and a few American Whitewater stickers. Check out American Whitewater Gift Memberships.

3. Throw Bag

This is an essential piece of safety gear that every river runner needs and and item that wears out over time. Most rafters and kayakers want rope at least 60tran feet long and a high quality bag. WWTC offers well-designed, handmade throw bags.

4. New Personal Flotation Device (PFD)

PFDs wear out over time and are ideally replaced on a regular basis. Not only is a new PFD safer but it’s also fashionable to be hip to the latest trends. My current favorite PFD for rafting is the Astral Designs Blue Jacket.

5. Warmth

Everyone loves a brand new warm fleece. My favorite is the classic and versatile R1 Pullover Hoody from Patagonia.

Winter boating on the Wind River
Winter boating on the Wind River

6. Literature

There are some great books out there with stories set in and around the river. A fan favorite is Halfway to Halfway and Back by Dick Linford and Bob Volpert. Additional “river adventure” books can be discovered at Whitewater Guidebook.

7. Waterproof Camera

Boaters go to beautiful places and if they have a great camera they can come home with some great photos and videos to share. The new GoPro Hero 9 Black is great for video. If you’re interested in a more traditional camera, check out the Olympus Tough TG-6. Another great option is a waterproof iPhone case from LifeProof.

Stand Up Paddling Below the Stari Most in Herzegovina
Stand Up Paddling Below the Stari Most in Herzegovina

8. Headlamp

Everyone loves headlamps and this makes the perfect stocking stuffer. The Petzl Actik Core and Black Diamond Storm are my favorites.

9. Small Watershed Dry Bag

These are sweet bags for little things on the river that can be stuffed in a kayak or tied in a small place on a raft. Additionally, river photographers love this bag as it’s the perfect size for an SLR camera. I suggest spending a little extra to get the military grade fabric. Learn more about the Watershed Ocoee Bag.

10. Cash!

If your favorite river runner has all the gear they need, then give them cold, hard cash to spend getting to their next destination.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission when you click a link and purchase and item.

Any other suggestions? Leave your gift ideas below!

Originally Published: | Updated on | Categorized under: Articles

Post Author

Zachary Collier

As owner of Northwest Rafting Company, Zach Collier combines international guiding experience in places like Siberia, Bhutan, and Chile with a natural business acumen for systems and logistics. Whether he’s on big water or in the back office, Zach strives to ensure Northwest Rafting Company offers exceptional whitewater and wilderness experiences for guests and guides alike.

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