During the spring high water period, (as late as July 1st), the Merced is quite cold and we will provide you with a 3mm farmer-john style wetsuit (sleeveless) and a waterproof splash jacket (non-insulated). You are welcome to bring your own if you prefer. In addition , you should bring:
During the late season, (after July 1st), it gets a bit warmer on the Merced, but the water is often still very cold. If we don't require wetsuits, you wont need much on the river; shorts, a quick-drying shirt, a hat and water bottle. You will be getting wet so things that dry quickly work best. Proper footwear is critical; no flip-flops or slip-ons. We will have a small, communal drybag available for odds and ends that you want to take on the river.
WE WILL PROVIDE: a wetsuit, splash jacket, lifejacket and helmet.
PLEASE DO NOT BRING: Valuable jewelry, radios, guns or irreplaceable items.
'Fleece' is a generic term for a spun, polyester fabric developed for outdoor use. It is thick and fluffy and does not absorb water, making it ideal insulation on a river trip. It is commonly called Polartec or Polarfleece. Polypropylene is a thinner, stretchier, woven variation used predominately for long underwear. Any polypropylene long underwear will work; heavyweight is the most versatile.
When we meet you in Midpines, you should be in your river shoes, shorts and lightweight layer. You can wear warmer, cotton clothes over these if you want and then take them off and leave them in the van when you put on your wetsuit at the launch site. An effective way to dress for the river is to have a tight-fitting, quick-drying layer next to your skin (polypropylene long underwear) with a thick, warm fleece layer to put on over it. The wetsuit and splash jacket will go over all of that. Cotton does not work for insulation; make sure your thick top is a synthetic like Polar Fleece.
On your feet you will want shoes that stay on if you go for a swim. Sport sandals with heel straps (Tevas, Chacos, Keen, etc.) work well, (buckles are better than velcro). Neoprene or fleece socks will add a bit of insulation. Wetsuit booties work but can be a bit clammy after a full day. Tennis or running shoes with fleece socks work well, are inexpensive and easy to find.
Layering your clothing is an effective way to adjust to the daily weather changes that you will encounter. A light polypropylene layer under a heavy fleece top under a rainshell will get you going on the chilliest of mornings and allow you to shed layers as the day warms up.
Local outdoor or sporting goods stores should have everything you need and fleece garments are now available at most department and closeout stores. Great selections of river trip gear are also available on-line through:
Please feel free to call our office 800/323-2782 or e-mail us if you have any questions. We have been on many trips, have tested a lot of gear, and we enjoy talking about what has and hasn't worked.