Selway River Equipment List and Packing Guide

Get ready for the Selway River!

One of the joys of life on the river is its simplicity. We will be carrying everything we need into the wilderness with us and leaving a lot of stuff behind. Bringing the proper gear will make your trip much more enjoyable. The basic rule of packing for a Selway trip is: the right stuff, not more stuff. One synthetic fleece pullover is much more compact and versatile than six cotton sweatshirts; a good raincoat is better than twenty ponchos. You should be able to find most of the gear you need in your closet, garage or neighbor’s basement and what you can’t find or borrow, you can rent from us. Your guides will help you make last-minute decisions at the pre-trip meeting, but please feel free to call us if you have any questions as you go through this list; we want you to have the best trip possible.

What we will provide:

  • Freshly laundered sleeping bag
  • Sleeping bag liner
  • Self-inflating sleeping pad
  • Tarp or ground cloth
  • Two-person tent*
  • Camp chair
  • Plate and eating utensils
  • Mug
  • Waterproof splash jacket
  • Neoprene wetsuit (if necessary)

*TENTS: We will bring one tent for one and two person reservations; two tents for three and four person reservations; three tents for five and six person reservations, etc. Please let us know if you need alternative tent space or if you prefer to bring your own tent.

What you need to bring:

Camp Items

These will be packed in your dunnage bag and will generally not be available during the day.

  • Small, compact, lightweight pillow
  • 2 complete changes of clothing (versatile pants and shirts, cotton is fine – something excitingfor dinner is welcome!)
  • Extra socks, (wool or fleece are best), and underwear (wool only for the rugged!)
  • Camp shoes, (flip flops or trail running shoes, ultra-lite boots, tennis shoes,etc. Something you can walk and hike in comfortably)
  • Warm jacket, (thick fleece is great – will work on-river as well – or compact/down coat)
  • Polypropylene pile or fleece pants (encouraged)
  • Fleece or wool beanie
  • Small towel, soap and shampoo (Campsuds and Dr. Bronner’s seem to be the most environmentally friendly)
  • Personal hygiene items, including insect repellent, skin lotion, etc. Please bring twice the amount needed of any essential medicine
  • Small flashlight with extra batteries, (headlamps are great)
  • Beer, wine, liquor, or soda in unbreakable containers, (cans or plastic bottles).
  • Book, sketch pad, journal, etc.

River Items

These will be worn, or packed in your personal dry-pack and will be accessible during the day.

  • Sandals (Chaco, Teva, Keen) with heel strap or tennis shoes & fleece socks. NO FLIP FLOPS OR SLIP-ONS!
  • 2 – 3 swimsuits or shorts and T-shirts, (nylon quick-drying shorts are best – women will want to wear shorts over their swimsuits)
  • Lightweight cotton clothing, (synthetic long-sleeved or old cotton dress shirts) for sun protection
  • Brimmed hat, (a spare is a good idea, baseball style is fine)
  • Waterproof sunscreen/block (SPF 30), lip balm
  • Sunglasses with strap, (maybe not your best pair)
  • Small water bottle, 1 quart, (essential -even if its just an empty plastic Gatorade bottle).
  • Waterproof camera, (if you want to bring your cell phone to use as a camera, we strongly recommend getting a sturdy case such as an Otter Box or EscapeCapsule)
  • Polypropylene pile or fleece top (essential)
  • Waterproof rainshell (essential) and rainpants
  • Fishing gear, (compact, lightweight, minimalist, see fishing supplement for more information)

Underlined items are the choice of our professional river guides. 
PLEASE DO NOT BRING: Valuable jewelry, bluetooth speakers, guns or irreplaceable items.

SEASONAL ADJUSTMENTS: Your choices can be altered with some discretion, but we don’t recommend leaving anything behind. If you are going in June, you should increase the quantity and thickness of your fleece garments and bring rain pants; in July mid-weight fleece and a good rainshell are usually adequate.

How to dress:

ON HOT DAYS you will want clothing that dries quickly (nylon shorts and bathing suits) and something to shield you from the sun, (a high-tech SPF long-sleeved shirt or an old lightweight cotton dress shirt and maybe even lightweight long pants or capris). Also, a brimmed hat and a bandana are helpful for staying cool.

ON COOL DAYS you will want a thick, synthetic fleece top, (pullovers are best) and a sturdy, fully waterproof rainshell. You may also want fleece pants or polypropylene long underwear bottoms and rainpants, particularly before mid-July. Don’t bring a cotton sweatshirt and a windbreaker; cotton is worthless when wet and won’t work for on-river insulation and you need something waterproof over your fleece.

ON YOUR FEET you will want shoes that stay on if you go for a swim and are comfortable for hiking. Sport sandals with heel straps (Tevas, Chacos, Astral, etc.) work well, (buckles are better than velcro). Old running shoes work well and are easy to find. Neoprene, wool or fleece socks will add a bit of insulation under shoes or sandals. Wetsuit booties work but can be a bit clammy after a full day.

IN CAMP you will want comfortable walking/hiking shoes, (flip flops, lightweight boots or tennis shoes), and versatile clothing, (T-shirts, warm shirts, cotton shorts, jeans or sweats, extra fleece, etc). Cotton is fine for camp stuff, but because it is worthless for keeping you warm on the river, many people bring two sets of fleece – one for the river, one for camp – and have a backup in case one gets drenched.

Professional Dressing Tips

‘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.
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.
Our guides say that one of the handiest things to bring on a trip is a sarong. Versatile, comfortable and colorful, sarongs get used for quick clothing changes, beach throws, sun screens and dinner celebrations.

Where to find it:

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:

Pacific River Supply (drysuit rentals)
Columbia Sportswear
Cascade Outfitters

Professional Shopping tip

Thrift Store

How to pack:

We will provide three dry bags per person. At the pre-trip meeting, you will get a medium-sized waterproof bag for your personal camp items and a small watertight dry-bag for anything you want to keep handy during the day, (rain gear, fleece, sunblock, etc). The larger bag is roughly 13 inches in diameter and about 27 inches long, (the size of a medium duffel bag), the smaller bag is 8 inches in diameter and about 14 inches long, (the size of a big lunch sack). There is plenty of room for everything on the equipment list, but please try to limit your gear to 20 pounds. Garbage bags and small zip-lock bags are helpful for keeping things organized and dry in your bag; for cameras, we recommend Pelican Boxes, which can be found on-line or at most outdoor stores.

At the launch site, you will get your third waterproof bag with your sleeping bag in it, (tents will be packed separately).

Professional PACKINg tip

Our dry-bags are great for keeping things dry but are somewhat awkward for packing and living out of, (they are tall and narrow with a small opening at the top). Compact sleeping bags are much more convenient, and small stuff sacks, pillow cases or zip-lock bags are helpful for dividing up your stuff inside the bag. Trying to put your entire duffel bag or luggage into the dry-bag never seems to work.


If you still have questions, please feel free to call us (209-962-7873) or e-mail us ( We have been on many trips, have tested a lot of gear, and enjoy talking about what has and hasn't worked.