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The Basics of Rafting The River Rapids

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Los Rios River Runners

The Basics of Rafting The River Rapids By Richard Chapo.


Rafting the river rapids is a major adrenaline rush. If you are going to hit the rapids, you need to know some of the basic language thrown around in the sport.

As with any sport, it helps to have a basic understanding of the tools of the trade, techniques and such. Not only does this help you sound like you know what you are doing, but it actually gives you some insight into the process. Let’s take a look at some of the key components.


Big River Raft

Dry Bag – A dry bag is a waterproof bag you can keep things in on the raft such as wallets, keys and such.

Water is going to get all over the boat, so consider yourself warned. Most whitewater rafting companies provide them with trips.

CFS – This abbreviation refers to cubic feet per second, a measure of the speed and ferocity of the current. The more cubic feet of water moving per second, the more aggressive the rapids and, in my humble opinion, the more fun!


Eddie – An eddie is an area where the current stops or heads back up stream. This typically occurs on the down current side of boulders. It can be a good place to collect yourself for the next rapids.


Gradient – This term refers to the general verticality of the river. The higher the gradient, the “steeper” the river is. This higher gradient means faster water and typically a more exhilarating ride.


Hydraulic – Also referred to as a hole or various cuss words, a hydraulic is an area where water is super turbulent and can suck your raft under if sufficient in size. It is typically found at the bottom of a fall or behind a large obstacle where the gradient is high and the CFS is large.

Rapid – This is why you live to whitewater raft. Rapids are turbulent areas of the water which gives the sport its name. You pop in, out, over and every which way through them.


Life-Jacket – A flotation device. Wear them always. Don’t try to be cool. If you get thrown from the raft, which can happen, these will save you. This is particularly true if you smack your head on something.

This short list of terms should give you a head start on enjoying your trip. Get out there and fling yourself down one of Mother Nature’s roller coasters.


Rick Chapo is with - makers of journals. Visit us to read more articles about white water rafting.

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Local River Rafting Resources


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