Are you ready to overcome your fear and get out on the river? We know people have a lot of concerns and hesitations before booking a rafting trip. If you fall into this category you’re definitely not alone.
People ask us questions and raise their concerns all the time so we know this is a common thing. We're going to address the 10 Most Common Fears About Whitewater Rafting - And What we do to Mitigate Them.
Let’s get into it.
1. Will the Raft Flip?
It's very very rare for a raft to flip, but we can’t guarantee it won’t happen. A raft will flip maybe once per season and many years there are no flips at all. Considering we take thousands of guests down the Kicking Horse River every year, the chances of experiencing a flip are very slim.
Before you start your rafting trip, the guides go through a thorough safety briefing. They'll let you know exactly what you need to do in case it does happen. You can think of it as an airplane safety talk - what to do in the event something happens, even though it likely won’t.
Our number one goal is to keep everyone safe, in the raft and the rafts right side up. All our training, safety protocols and guidelines are in place for this reason. Preventing flips is as important to us as it is to you!
2. Will I Fall In?
Like the question above, the chance of falling in is very slim. As long as you’re listening to the guide and hanging on when you’re supposed to, you should stay in the raft.
Your guide will show you where and how to hang on, and they’ll have you practice before you get into any whitewater. Nervous guests are often the best at hanging on, so if that’s you, you have an even slimmer chance of falling in.
On the rare occasion people do fall in, they generally pop up right beside the raft and we pull them back in. If they’re closer to another raft they’ll be pulled in there - we always have multiple boats on the river at a time for safety.
Safety is always our priority and keeping you in the raft is part of that.
There are spots on the river where you can go for a swim if you want to, but if you prefer to stay in the raft all day, that’s what we want too.
3. I’m Not a Strong Swimmer - Is That Okay?
It is okay if you're not a strong swimmer, but it’s something you need to let your guide know. Everyone will be wearing a high float life jacket so in the slim chance you fall in (see question above) you will stay well above the surface.
It’s not required for any of our guests to swim throughout the day, so staying in the raft is a-okay with us.
Here's a review from a guest who also had this concern.
I did a day of rafting with Glacier Raft Company with a group of friends. I am a new swimmer and am very nervous when it comes to things like this. However, I had THE best day. It was such an adrenaline rush and our guide was so fun. I would highly recommend this as a great day out.
KC1116, TripAdvisor, August 2019
4. Will I be Cold?
The Kicking Horse River is glacial fed so it’s 3 - 4 degrees Celsius all summer. While the water is cold, we do our best to bundle you up to make sure your body stays warm.
On the hot summer days staying warm isn’t an issue. The wetsuits and boots suffice and lots of people like going for a swim in the river. On the cooler days we have lots of extra layers so you can bundle up as much as you need to.
We have neoprene jackets, fleece sweaters and splash jackets, which when you include the wetsuit and life jacket, is 5 warm layers on your core. We have neoprene socks and mitts to keep your digits comfy too.
You can take as many of these layers as you’d like, and our staff will help make sure you have everything you need.
If you get cold easily, wearing a layer of merino wool or polypro under the wetsuit is also an option.
5. Is rafting dangerous? Will something bad happen?
Guests often ask us about their safety and we know many people have hesitations before booking a rafting trip. Will I die? Will I drown? Am I going to get hurt?
Rafting is a safe activity. We have a large number of rules, guidelines, procedures and protocols in place to make sure we’re taking care of everyone who comes rafting.
We can honestly say the chance of something happening on the river is much less than an incident on the highway you’ll take to get here.
That being said, as with anything in life, there are no guarantees. We can’t guarantee something won’t happen. Rafting is an adventure activity. The Kicking Horse is a big whitewater river and there are risks involved. We do everything we can to mitigate and minimize the risks, but there are no guarantees in life. And that applies to everything.
Here is a review from a guest who had a lot of fears before trying rafting for the first time.
My fear was turned into an amazing and thrilling bucket list experience. My anxiety was overridden by overwhelming joy and fun through the beautiful scenery, the thrilling waves and laughter from both the guides and people around me. For my first time white water rafting, I'm glad I went with Glacier Raft Company. The guides were knowledgeable which made them trustworthy, meaning no more fear from me!
Karynchu, TripAdvisor, July 2019
6. Will I Fit in the Wetsuit?
We get lots of calls and emails from people wondering if we have gear that will fit them. Our wetsuits and splash tops go from XXXS to XXXL so we do have gear to fit all shapes and sizes. We also have boots to fit feet that are around size 16.
If the thought of wearing a wetsuit is uncomfortable, bring a pair of board shorts to go on top. Our splash tops are also big and baggy, so you can wear one of those on top of the wetsuit throughout the day too. If it’s cool out, you’ll be doing this anyways, and it's also a great layer for sun protection.
Our weight maximum is 300 lbs.
7. Will I be Able to Keep up Physically?
Rafting requires a bit of exertion but it’s not a fitness activity. You’re pretty much able to get right in and out of the raft from where we drop you off and pick you up. There isn’t much walking at all.
As far as paddling goes, you’ll be paddling on and off throughout the day. It isn’t continuous paddling so you don’t need to worry about your arms falling off. Your guide will let you know when to do a few paddle strokes and when to relax.
As long as you can sit in the raft, do a bit of paddling and hold on when you’re told to, you’ll be good to go.
8. I've Never Been Rafting Before - Is That Okay?
All of our rafting trips are suitable for beginners. We have lots of first time rafters join us every single day, so no prior rafting experience is necessary. You’ll have an experienced guide in your raft who’ll let you know what you need to do every step of the way.
The nice thing about the Kicking Horse River is that it starts out calm and builds into bigger whitewater throughout the day. If you’re feeling nervous, you have the option to start with the calm section and upgrade on the day if you want to try some bigger rapids.
If you’re keen and don’t want to start with the calm section, that’s okay too! Starting right in with the whitewater is fine - our guides will show you what you need to know.
9. How Experienced is my Guide? Will They Know What They’re Doing?
The answer is yes. The Kicking Horse is a big river so all guides go through a lengthy training process that’s specific to this river. Most of them already have a lot of experience on other rivers around Canada, and/or internationally, in addition to the training they do here.
We require our guides to know the ins and outs of the Kicking Horse, and they all have advanced first aid and swift water rescue training.
Safety is our number one priority, and having experienced staff is a huge part of that. We’re very lucky that most of our guides return year after year.
I’m a fairly quiet person, and have recently started trying things to face some fears. Yesterday, I challenged myself to step outside the box, and accompanied my partner on the first two levels of The Kicking Horse River. Starting out nervously, I finished 25km of rapids in 5 degree Celsius water, completely thrilled and wanting to go again! Thanks to the very knowledgeable guides - they’re super friendly and lots of fun!!! This experience is worth every dime! I will definitely be back!!
ChrissyLou57, TripAdvisor, July 2019
10. Will I Be the Only Nervous Rafter?
You definitely will not be the only nervous rafter! We have nervous guests join us every single day. It’s something we’re very familiar with and our guides are great at helping put you at ease.
We find the anticipation is often the hardest part, and once people get out on the river they start feeling more relaxed.
To let you know how common it is to be nervous, we have an entire blog on 15 Steps to be Safer and Feel More at Ease During Your Rafting Trip.
And there you have it. If you have other questions or concerns that we haven't discussed, please get in touch. You can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 877 344 7238.
We hope to spend time with you on the river soon!
Cheers from all of us here at Glacier Raft Company