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Rafting Tips

Rafting is a great way for people of any age or experience level to enjoy Alberta's rivers! We offer custom rafting trips for individuals, clubs, corporations, school, scout, and church groups. Group and youth discounts available for all trips. Trips include rafts, paddles, lifejackets, safety gear, and guides. No experience is necessary!

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On the Water Safety

...things you should know before you go!

Rafting 101

Getting ready:

The front passengers should sit on the seats (thwarts). All passengers should keep their feet in to avoid injury. Everything must be tied in. Keep heavy gear off the floor. Store a spare paddle under the thwarts along a side tube. Do not tie rafts together (This is a safety hazard when approaching bridge pillars). Remember: rear paddlers have the greatest steering control.

Basic Strokes:

Reach the paddle well forward and pull toward you continuing behind. Make sure the blade remains vertical throughout the stroke. To back paddle, reverse this (start with paddle behind you and pull it in front of you).

Left turn:

The left side back paddles while the right side paddles forward. If done correctly, one stroke should turn you 90 degrees. Two to three strokes should make a 180-degree turn.

River Clothing

Not far from the glaciers, the cold Bow River can drive the breath from a person upon impact. It disorients, and quickly numbs the limbs. Without rescue and proper first aid treatment, unconsciousness and even death may result. Lessen your risks by ensuring you have the proper clothing/gear for both cold and hot weather rafting and paddling.

Cold Weather Clothing & Gear

  • Helmet - Wear a good plastic or fiberglass Helmet - Wear a good plastic or fiberglass helmet. Make sure that it protects your temples. A helmet is recommended for all river kayakers and open canoeists on any river Class III or above.
  • Drybag - For storing valuables including car keys for the shuttle car and money for an emergency phone call. Make sure this is securely stored.
  • Knife - (optional) A knife may be carried to free the paddler in case of entrapment.
  • Booties - Wet suit booties with rubber soles are an ideal choice for cold weather. Also, wet suit socks worn inside rubber-soled sneakers or plastic sandals provide good protection.
  • Pogies - Usually fastened directly to the paddle, pogies or mittens protect the hands and wrists from chilling wind.

Warm Weather Clothing

  • Hat/Helmet - A hat protects from the sun. Wear a helmet in Class III and above rivers.
  • Sunglasses - Choose a good pair of UVA/UVB glasses, with straps if necessary.
  • Shirt - Wearing a shirt reduces the likelihood of sunburn.
  • Swimsuit pants - Light weight pants over the swimsuit are a good idea even in summer. The sun reflecting off the water and the bottom of the boat can quickly bake the legs.
  • Drybag - For storing valuables including car keys for the shuttle car and money for an emergency phone call. Make sure this is securely stored.

Safe Boating Tips: Things to Know before you go

  • Wear a lifejacket or personal floatation device (PFD) at all times!
  • Law requires a bailer,rescue throw line, two paddles and a noise-making mechanism such as a whistle. We also recommend a spare paddle.
  • Bring extra clothes in a waterproof bag.
  • Wear a wetsuit when immersion is more likely.
  • Bring drinking water, food, and sun/wind/rain protection.
  • Stay close to shore when lake paddling. The wind can pick up without warning.
  • Stay alert at all times! Watch for rocks, trees that are over or under the river (sweepers, strainers), shallow sections, bridge abutments and river braiding.
  • Use sturdy ropes to secure boats while transporting on vehicles.
  • Tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return.
  • Take a course or a safety lesson.
  • Register for the Outdoor Centre's Swift Water Rescue 1 day courses.

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