What to Pack for the Middle Fork of the Salmon River Rafting Trip

By: Grace Park

Grace Park is Mountain Travel Sobek's Marketing Coordinator. Her recent travels have taken her to Korea, Israel and Cambodia, where she helped teach Cambodian high school students as part of an international mission. Grace enjoys drinking boba & coffee, eating good food, hosting people at her home, playing board games, and trying out new cafes!

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May 22, 2023 | Adventure Experts

Idaho’s Middle Fork of the Salmon River is one of the most popular river trips in the U.S., great for large groups, friends, or families, offering stunning scenery, incredible whitewater, and plenty of opportunities for exploration and hiking.

But before you hit the river, it’s important to make sure you’re fully prepared! From sunscreen to trail shoes, our very own, Mara, Director of Program Management for Rivers from MT Sobek, will provide tips & advice on a few key items you’ll want to pack to ensure a safe, fun, and enjoyable trip.
Here is everything you need to know about packing for this overnight rafting trip.

Sun hat or ball cap

The sun can be intense on the river, so it’s important to have some shade protection, like a sun hat or ball cap, to help keep the sun off your face, back of your neck, and ears.

River food being cooked near the shorelines of Middle Fork in the Salmon River in Idaho, United States

Two pairs of sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must-have item on any river trip, and the Middle Fork is no exception. Bring a second back-up pair in case you lose or break a pair.

Water Bottles with a locking carabiner clip

Don’t be dehydrated on a river trip! On the river, our MT Sobek river guides will request you bring a locking carabiner that makes it easy to keep your reusable water bottle close at hand. Once the item is hooked, you’ll drink some of the most refreshing spring water on this trip, straight from the source!


An essential item on your packing list: sunscreen will protect your skin from the sun on the river! Choose an environmentally safe sunscreen or opt for kid sunscreen (we recommend 50 SPF). Pack lotions or sunscreens in a ziploc bag, which is a convenient tool for packing your items in the river.

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A hiking backpack

Great to carry your essentials on our trail hikes! A small-sized backpack is ideal.

What’s Inside Mara’s Backpack

Let’s explore what’s in Mara’s daytime backpack!

Running sneakers or trail shoes

Waterproof shoes or sandals that you can use on the river or trail are essential. A sturdy pair of shoes for hikes and walks on trails are also great to have. When selecting sandals, make sure they have the ability to wrap securely behind your heel, to ensure they stay securely on your feet. Flip flops are best for wearing around camp. Popular brands for water shoes include Chacos or Tevas.

Clothing best suited for the outdoors

Guides recommend that you bring a rain jacket and pants, fleece hoodies, beanies and gloves. If the weather quickly changes you will be prepared for cooler temps. Quick-dry shorts that are long in length are great as well, so when you’re sitting on the boat your kneecaps are protected.

Long sleeve tops

For warmer temps, long sleeve quick-dry shirts with hoods are a plus for shade protection!

Packing cubes for storage

Packing cubes are a game-changer when it comes to organizing your gear. Use varying colors to pack your items. For instance, Mara uses orange for shirts, yellow for shorts so it’s easy for her to quickly identify when she reaches into her dry bag!

Head lamps

Head lamps are an essential item for any river trip, particularly for in-camp and in the evening. You can find affordable headlamps for as little as $10, or splurge on a high-end model for $100 or more. Sporting goods stores are great places to pick one of these up!

And there you have it – Mara’s ultimate packing list for a Middle Fork rafting trip!

A family floating in the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, United States

Additional Packing List Recommendations

Don’t forget to look at additional packing recommendations on the packing list included in your MT Sobek trip planner. Happy rafting!

mt sobek branded packing list for a middle fork of the salmon river rafting trip


Want to go on a rafting trip? For more on MT Sobek’s whitewater rafting adventures, explore our rafting trips. Chat with a Mountain Travel Sobek trip consultant to book your dream whitewater rafting trip.

Family with kids enjoying a family vacation near the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho

Further reading…

5 Things to Know About Hiking Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks

How to Pack for Your Multi-Day Trek

Photo Gallery: The Beauty of U.S. National Parks

Ask an Expert

We want you to have the best adventure, so don’t hesitate to call our expert team of adventure specialists at 800-974-0300 to learn more. Or click the button to use our online contact form.