River Float Essentials for Your Elk River Float Trip

If you live in the four states region of southwest Missouri, you are probably familiar with the leading summer activity of river float trips. It’s a tradition and right of passage for many families and young people across the four states.

Of all the summer activities, river float trips rank high on the list of priorities for staying cool during summer. But before launching off in your favorite float vessel, consider all the river float essentials you need to pack into the craft as you head downriver.

Float Trip Essentials

While you might not think you would need to pack a lot for a float trip downriver. What more is there to ask for on a hot summer day in July than the cool easy flowing currents of an Ozark river.

Honestly, there is a lot to consider, especially if your float trip lasts four hours. Of course, there are lots of things to consider in a self-guided float trip, but at the same time, you don’t have to take the kitchen sink with you either.

Here is a short list of “must haves” in your river float device. 

  1. Watercraft patch kit
  2. Sunblock and Sunscreen
  3. Quick dry clothing
  4. Sunglasses and straps
  5. Food and water
  6. First Aid Kit
  7. Dry Sack
  8. Ziploc bags
  9. Disposable waterproof camera

River Float Craft 

Depending on the type of float vessel, you may need to ask the rental company if they supply an air pump and raft patch kit, just in case anything goes wrong. Many float trips in southwest Missouri are self-guided nontechnical rafting trips. That means gentle flowing rivers are calm enough that the class rating is below a class-I river.

Sunblock and Sunscreen

Here’s an important one, protecting your skin from the sun. That also includes protecting your eyes, ears, nose, lips, and head. You want to keep everything well covered while having fun in the sun. Even a river seemingly shrouded in tree cover can reflect 25% or more UV light off the water’s surface. Of course, you can always try an article of UPF-rated clothing too.

River Clothing Gear

UPF clothing is ideal for any outdoor activity for skin pigmentations–light or dark. The clothing works to filter out ultraviolet rays, A and B. Otherwise known as UVA and UVB light.

Quick drying layers of clothes are an absolute must when river rafting. From swimming suits to river footwear, it’s best to dry quickly after a day on the river. That way, you don’t need to carry a towel, and you don’t have to try and keep dry while on the river.

If possible, steer clear of cotton clothing, opting for layers with a wicking material that will pull moisture away from your core and dry faster. Ideal river clothing will also include zippered pockets to carry the all-important state identification, keeping it from getting lost in the drink.

Don’t forget your sunglasses and straps; you don’t want those expensive UV polarizing shades to be lost to the river forever. But, it can help to keep your eyes protected from all those ultraviolet rays. 

If you grew up floating the river of Missouri, you know they can be pretty shallow this time of year, so proper river footwear. If your river vessel is a raft, neoprene booties are a solid choice, which cling to a wet raft better than many other shoes. 

Items to Consider

You might ask the boat rental people if the vessels come equipped with a first aid kit, just in case anyone scraps a shin.

Be sure to drink responsibly. Always remember to bring along a few Ziploc bags for trash. The more we all do our part to keep our rivers clean, the more beautiful the scenery and the float for everyone.

Smoother Sailing Tips

Utility bungee cords are an excellent form of insurance to keep your ice, water, and food contained within the ice chest. 

Lastly, who doesn’t want to record all the river memories? Most of us are always trying to catch that next big viral image or video to post on our social media sites, so grab an inexpensive disposable waterproof camera to hold onto to capture those precious moments.

Book Your Elk River or Big Sugar Float Trip

If you’re ready to cool off by booking a float trip down Elk River or the Big Sugar, contact the folks at Lazy Days Campground in Noel, MO. Lazy Days float trips are easy to get to from interstate 49. They are a short one-minute drive southwest at mile marker 62.


Lazy Days of Noel, MO, is the premier rental for day float trips too. Please read what our recent guests had to say. So give Lazy Days a call to book your campsite now!