Equipment Checklist for River Trips


Required Equipment

A Park Ranger may inspect your boat for required equipment while you are on the river. The following equipment is essential for a safe river trip:

  • Boat—Canoes, kayaks, or heavy duty inflatable rafts.
  • Life jackets—One U.S. Coast Guard approved life jacket per person. Must be worn on class II or greater water (International Scale). Must be worn on inner tubes or air mattresses.
    • Each group must also carry an extra (Type I, III, or V) PFD.
  • Paddles/Oars—Each vessel (except inner tubes and air mattresses) must carry an extra paddle or oar, except for kayaks, which must carry one extra paddle per party.
  • Patch kit/pump—All inflatable vessels, except inner tubes and air mattresses, must carry a patch kit and pump. Know how to use patch kit.
  • Waste System— A personal chemical bagged waste containment system, or a RV dump station compatible waste system. You may be able to rent a system through local outfitters.
  • Fire PanEach overnight boat group must carry a fire pan with a 2 inch minimum rim.

Recommended Items

The following gear is recommended to increase safety, reduce impacts to the environment, and make your trip more enjoyable:

  • First aid kit—to handle major and minor emergencies.
  • Communications Device: It is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED that overnight river trips have a communication device that will work outside of cell coverage. A Satellite phone, InReach, or other satellite based system will ensure communication in case of an emergency, or to notify others of itinerary changes.
  • Plastic trash bags—carry out all trash.
  • Safety line—rope length 50'-100' and 3/8" diameter. Carry tie-downs to secure gear in vessel(s).
  • Bailing bucket—to remove water from inside vessel(s).
  • Water-tight containers—to keep food, clothing, gear dry.
  • Flashlight.

What do the rangers bring on river trips?

List of required, recommended and optional equipment

Last updated: February 8, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Rio Grande Wild & Scenic River
c/o Big Bend National Park
PO Box 129

Big Bend National Park, TX 79834


(432) 477-2251

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