On the River with Kids - Packing List

On the River with Kids – Packing List

Our adventures have been forced into being more organized with more kids. We have a better groove/plan than we did a couple years ago just as time goes on, but with the baby there seems to be less room for fudging plans if we mess up and forget something. Don’t get me wrong, we usually forget at least one little thing, but so far we haven’t forgotten a kid yet. And that’s a win!

On the River with Kids - Packing List

This summer we finally have what we need to be able to get out on the river on a regular basis as a family. We decided to go with two inflatable kayaks opposed to a raft just so we could store them easier and also take them on lakes if we wanted to. Lakes are harder to come by around here than the rivers, but we like the versatility.

While we have yet to do an overnight trip….we hope to soon. These day trips are great practice in the meantime!

Let me also preface this by saying we are not longtime hard-core boaters. We both grew up on lakes and so were on boats often…but rivers less so and it’s an area we are sort of just figuring out as we go. But, that’s the beauty of it! I love that we can change things up as the seasons progress, our family grows and gets older and our preferences change too.

You’ll also notice that our gear is marked up with Sharpie Extreme. The reasoning is three-fold:

  1. We want to be able to get our gear BACK should it be misplaced along the way (name + phone number)
  2. We are working on building our TEAM as a family….and doing so particularly on the river which is a bit new for all of us. We mark all of our gear up, really, but heavy on the river gear this summer!
  3. We know that it wouldn’t fade on the water and under the UV rays


Our Boats:

This summer we added two inflatable kayaks. We had an older Sea Eagle, but it just wasn’t exactly what we wanted. You’ll notice we have two different boats. Since we were planning to use them on both the river and flat water, we wanted to see how they would compare to each other and our different needs. So far, they seem very similar, but the Strike 2 does track a bit better and the Tomcat sits a little higher. Reviews on them coming once we get them out on the water a few more times….

  1. Tributary Tomcat 2
  2. Tributary Strike 2
  3. Lifetime 6 Foot Kid Kayaks

And paddles, of course.

On the River with Kids - Packing List On the River with Kids - Packing List


Life Vests:

For the smaller kids especially, behind-the-head floatation is big for us. Honestly I would feel better if J had it too, but it’s harder to find as they get older. Baby M is wearing a Salus Bijoux (Canadian) and it is seriously the best way I have ever seen to successfully get babies on the water in a life jacket. The floatation is behind their head and on their front so guarantees face-up flotation. Plus, it’s like a million times more comfortable for them than any other infant life vests I have seen. You can buy them here (just tell them that we sent you!)

For the adults – we just like being able to MOVE in our life vests and paddle comfortably.

On the River with Kids - Packing List


The Food:

Because this deserves its own category entirely, right?!?

Snacks and a lunch packed, whether we plan on being on the river for 2 hours or the whole day. It ALWAYS takes us longer than we think it will (surprisingly, we still surprise ourselves…) and the kids are ALWAYS hungry. Better to be full of river snacks than Hangry. Way better.

If we have room, we throw a soft cooler in the back of one of the boats behind an adult. If not, a dry bag does the trick, depending on the contents, of course.

We also bring extra water and consciously make an effort to encourage (H2O) drinking throughout the day. It’s so easy to get incredibly dehydrated without even realizing it.



Water cannons for fun.

GoPro for documentation and more fun.

Diapers and wipes and extra clothes for everyone in a dry bag. Even if it’s 85 degrees out, kids can be swimming in the cold water and end up suddenly super chilled. We have been 100x thankful for an extra set or two of clothes that we didn’t think we would need (because fleece in August?!?!) to keep kids happy…and the rest of us too.

Sunscreen, sun hats and sunglasses. They’re a given and not optional. And we usually opt for long sleeve sun shirts over having to reapply sunscreen.

On the River with Kids - Packing List


River Rats – what other packing tips do you have for family boating!?!?

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On the River with Kids - Packing List

This post is Sponsored by Shapie Extreme. It’s what we used to build teamwork on this trip – for our boats, paddles, life vests and dry bags. The new Sharpie Extreme permanent markers provide long-lasting bold color that will resist fading even in the most challenging conditions, such as UV rays, rain, snow and even mud. And we have plenty of gear to mark up!!

This post includes affiliate links – thanks for clicking through them to support us just a little!

© 2016, Tales of a Mountain Mama. All rights reserved. Republication, in part or entirety, requires a link back to this original post and permission from the author.

2 thoughts on “On the River with Kids – Packing List”

  1. For higher elevation like here in Jackson, we have found wetsuits absolutely a must. The kids are able to be in the water longer or stay warmer when getting wet and splashed by rapids. Another added benefit is at high altitude it offers added sun protection and we don’t have to apply sunscreen everywhere or as often. We have found all of our wetsuits secondhand and they also get passed down to younger siblings.
    You mentioned food and snacks….stopping for snack breaks before kids get hangry is good, but sometimes we need to keep moving. I have a small pouch in my PFD that I can stow a couple granola bars, a sunscreen stick , chapstick, or my phone in it’s Lifeproof case. I can easily access it to take photos or hand out a quick snack.
    Multiday trips a whole different category. We’ve taken kids on 1 night, 2 night, and 6 night river trips. The great thing about a raft is that you can take everything you need and it floats down with you! We usually tow a paddleboard behind the raft for the kids to play on or to use during mellow stretches of the river. River camping is the best bc you can keep everyone clean. yay!

    1. Thanks, Andrea! I was hoping you would chime in 🙂 We need to get our hands on full-body wetsuit. The shorties don’t help too much when we really need them! Starting to look now! Let’s float together sometime!

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