White Water Rafting: Navigating Rapids

Whether it's your first trip or your hundredth trip, white water rafting is always exciting. When you're preparing for white water rafting trips this summer, prepping to get through the toughest rapids can create a competitive challenge and help you get more out of your trip.

Here are some of the strategies the best white water rafters use when they encounter big rapids.

Class Acts

The degree of difficulty of a white water rafting adventure can be understood through the classification system. These classifications, ranging from Class 1 to Class 6, can help you understand the difficulties and challenges they're likely to face on a rafting trip.

Class 1: The lowest classification, Class 1 trips are perfect for beginners and novices. To prepare for Class 1 white water rafting adventures, it's important to focus on being comfortable in the water, listening to your outfitter's instructions, and staying calm when you approach rapids.

Class 2: Slightly harder than Class 1 trips, Class 2 adventures are ideal for rafters with some experience. To prepare for Class 2 trips, it can be helpful to prepare to use backwards paddling and counterbalancing stroking patterns.

Class 3-4: These trips aren't for the faint of heart. Before you book a Class 3 or 4 trips it's important to reach out to your white water rafting outfitter to discuss the current conditions. Because Class 3 and 4 trips often involve small waterfalls, heavy cross currents, and major stretches of rapids, the river conditions can change drastically. You should also prepare for advanced rafting techniques like navigating out of hang-ups and avoiding eddy walls.

Class 5-6: These trips normally require major waivers and significant rafting experience. Many white water rafting outfitters will not guide Class 5 or 6 trips without spending significant time on the water with clients. This likely means that you'll need to ace a Class 3 or 4 trip to prove that you can handle a Class 5 or 6 adventure.

Getting Physical

White water rafting is physically taxing. If you don't prepare for the physical challenges of your white water rafting trip, you risk faltering when you need your strength the most.

Lawn Chair: Getting more power out of each stroke of your paddle requires the same posture you have when you're sitting in a lawn chair. To assume this lawn chair posture, you need to work on your core strength and endurance. Completing a series of planking exercises can help you build both strength and endurance.