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What To Wear When Rafting In Iceland (And What Not To!)

It is important to know what to take with you when setting off for your river rafting trip

|July 7, 2023
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Iceland is a fantastic destination for extreme sports of all kinds, and with its abundance of water in all forms, it should come as no surprise that white water and river rafting are popular activities for adrenaline-seekers.


River rafting can be found in all forms here, whether you’re after a gentle drift through some stunning scenery, a quick trip near Reykjavik, or a more thrilling rapid ride! Whatever your speed, it’s important to know what to take with you when setting off for your rafting trip.

Your clothing, both on and off the raft, can make a huge difference to your comfort and safety when it comes to Iceland’s rivers. We get asked questions about river rafting frequently due to its popularity. Even if you’re visiting in summer and the weather is nice, the water in Iceland’s rivers is typically glacial, so will be freezing if you happen to be tipped in! There are some essentials to get right before you start so that you can stay warm and have fun while river rafting.

White Water Rafting experience in Iceland Rivers

A group of people in long sleeve jackets holding paddles on a blue river raft

What to Wear

Most of the equipment is typically provided by rafting destinations in Iceland, but there are some things you’ll need to remember to wear for your river experience.

  • Swimming costume: A costume or swimming shorts with no strings or loose edges is best so that it won’t get caught up in equipment while on the water. Most locations will allow a place to change into your swim gear, but you can always have it on under your clothes when heading to your destination to save time.

  • Sun lotion: Even when soaked through, you can still catch the sun while speeding down riverways - even in Iceland! It’s a great idea to wear sunscreen on the exposed parts of your body before getting into a raft.

  • Waterproof Camera / GoPro: It should go without saying that taking a mobile phone with you in the boat is a disaster waiting to happen. If you want to capture the moment, it’s best to bring a waterproof case or a Go Pro waterproof camera, attached to your helmet or chest.
White Water Adventures Rafting Clothing

Group of people rafting on a river with an instructor at the back of the boat

What NOT to Wear

If you are considering a long sleeve or t-shirt over your swimming costume, make sure that this is not made of cotton. Cotton clothing, when wet, will become heavy and cold, making movement and swimming more difficult. Synthetic materials are much preferred, so opt for these if you feel the need for another layer.

White Water Rafting Active Sportswear in Iceland

Group of men leaning on the sides of a raft as it goes over a wave in a river

Provided By the Tour

What the tour provider will offer can differ, but they will typically ensure you can hire the essentials before grabbing a paddle and stepping into the raft.

  • Wet / Drysuits: These will go over your swimming costume and keep you as warm and dry as possible on your ride.

  • Life Jackets: Also an essential should you find yourself in the water, these go over your wet or dry suit.

  • Helmet: The outfitter will typically stock a range of sizes for helmets to suit a wide range of people.

  • Sturdy Shoes: Wet shoes or booties are great for providing grip on the raft, and these will typically be given to visitors at the rafting location.

What to Bring With You

While the equipment on the boat can be provided, it’s really the aftermath of a cold plunge in the river that you’ll need to prepare for. 

  • Warm Clothes: Don’t underestimate how cold the water can be. Bring warm clothes from head to foot to change into once you’ve dried off and changed out of your wetsuit.

  • Towel: For drying off after your trip.

  • Bag for Wet Clothes: A dry bag to prevent the rest of your stuff from getting ruined by your damp swimming costume and towel is not essential, but it helps.

Here at Arctic Adventures, we offer a huge range of water rafting experiences. If you’re feeling ready for an adventure, why not browse our rafting tours today?

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