Frequently Asked Rafting Questions.

So are you ready to go rafting? We understand that this might be your first trip, or you might be a well seasoned paddler. We'd like to take a moment to share the answers to some of the more common questions that get asked. Don't worry, there are no silly questions here, only a couple of witty answers!

Which trip should I choose?
Well that is a good question. There are many rivers to choose from and it can be overwhelming to try to decide which is best for you. We recommend doing some warm-up runs on a class IV river, either the Kern or another near you, before jumping into class V. Remember there is always a chance of getting tossed into the water, so know what your comfort level is

How are the Rapids rated?
Whitewater rapids are divided into six classes. Class 1 being flat water and class 6 being the equivalent of paddling over the edge of Niagara Falls. It is also a bit of an interpretative scale, so you will often hear people talking about rapids having a plus or a minus. This means that might be a class 4-plus rapid for a beginner paddler, might only be considered a class 4 by a more veteran paddler. Some of the more common variables to a rapids classification include difficulty, obstacles, gradient, remoteness and accessibility, and volume of water flowing down river. For a better understanding of the six classes of rapids, take a look at our rapid rating chart.

How old does someone need to be to go rafting?
The minimum age for class V rafting on the Kern is 14 years old. It is about this age that children begin to become comfortable in and around the water. Remember, your trip will involve active participation, so you and child needs to be able to listen and follow directions properly. Also as the difficulty level and/or water levels rise and drop so can some outfitters' minimum age and weight requirements.

Do I get any type of discount if I am able to bring lots of people?
Groups of 12 or more are always able to get a group discount. These discounts vary between outfitters' and rivers.

Will my whole group fit together on a trip? In the raft?
That just depends on how many people you have with you. Most rivers have a maximum number of people that the outfitters are allowed to take down each day. So if you have a very large group there could be some complications. The maximum group size on the Forks of The Kern is 15 guests. However, the maximum on the Thunder run is 30 guests.
The outfitters have many different sizes of boats, some can hold 1-2 people and others can hold more then ten. At the start of a trip the guides will break the paddlers into smaller groups for each boat. The attempt is to keep individual groups together, but sometimes, there is a need to combine paddlers from different groups together to ensure the overall safety of the trip.

Do I have to paddle and actively participate?
Absolutely! Rafting and paddling is a group activity. It takes teamwork to get down river safely. Not only will you be working together with those in your raft, but also with the guides and paddlers in the other rafts as well.

What type of boats are taken down river?
The outfitters' take inflatable rafts down the river. These are usually made of a sturdy rubber material called hypalon. Outfitters typically run the boats in two configurations; a paddle raft and an oar boat. The paddle raft is by far the most common. It consists of a guide in the back of the boat acting as the "captain" and you, the crew, in front of them. The guide will be calling out paddle commands and guiding the raft downstream. The oar boat takes the same type of boat and mounts a metal frame on top of it, with a guide sitting in the middle rowing downstream. These are often used as gear boats and are most often seen in class 5 rafting and on long self-sufficient rafting trips

Will I get wet?
Come on, . . .Seriously? Sorry this is not Disneyland and you won't connect to any tracks to take you downstream. Remember, you are going on a whitewater rafting trip. YOU WILL GET WET!

What do I need to bring with me?
Some sun block, closed-toe shoes, a smile and a water proof camera to start with. Other then that it will depend upon what type of trip you are on, where you are, and when you go. Your outfitter will provide you with the details to help you figure out what else you should bring with you.

What should I do with my valuables while I go rafting?
Well if you would be bummed if you lost it, you should probably leave it at home. Your cell phones, laptops, PDAs, keys and such won't be needed while you raft so you can keep those locked in your car or have your outfitter hold them.
The "River Gods" have a way of taking a paddler's more favorite things, figure on someone's hat, sunglasses, or water bottle getting sacrificed to them. Consider yourself warned!

I have some special needs, what should i do?
Our featured outfitters are known for working with you. While they can't always do everything, they try hard to cater to special needs that you might have. Can't swim? Vegetarian or other dietary issues? Boy Scout Merit Badge? Team building? Bachelor or bachelorette party? Just be sure to communicate your needs to the outfitter.

I'm scared. Is whitewater rafting really safe?
Whitewater rafting does have some inherit risks, which is why we recommend you find an outfitter to take you down any river. Our featured outfitters' guides are trained professionals that know their river like the back of their hand. They know what is around each river bend and how to run each rapid. The guides are trained in CPR and first aid, and many have advanced first aid and Swift water rescue certifications as well. They also have the safety equipment, tools, and communications devices in the event an emergency happens. Stay safe, get your trip booked with an outfitter.

I don't know how to swim. Does that matter?
Well it does help to eliminate some of your anxiety if you know how to swim already. For class 5 trips we require that all guests have good stamina and take an evaluation swim. The reason for the evaluation swim is that on some of the class 5 runs, you can go for a long swim if you are not trying to stop or rescue yourself. Your guides will explain what to do if you are in the water, so be sure to listen so you won't panic. Everybody will be wearing a lifejacket, which will keep you afloat if you happen to have an "out of boat" experience. Its designed to keep you up on the surface of the water, where all that wonderful air we like to breathe is. Also, it is a good idea to practice floating in some of the flat areas with calmer water to help get yourself more comfortable and familiarized with the feeling of current and floating down river.

Should we TIP our raft guide?
Rocks and waves may tip your raft, but only you can tip your guide! Your guides have put in many hours before your trip checking equipment and getting it ready and will spend more celaning it up to put away. They have spent the day (or many days) keeping you and your family and friends safe, have prepped and cooked your meals, and have kept you entertained with jokes, stories, games and more. They work hard for you, don't you think you should take care of them.

Are we actually going rafting with
Think of us as a river rafting travel agent, or information and help desk, giving you what you need to enjoy yourself on any river. We are just a couple of ol' raft guides that want to help you have an enjoyable rafting experience. :)

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