Whitewater Rafts

Whitewater Raft Selection Criteria

Choosing a raft can be quite stressful. Like buying a car, there are rafts that are better for different occasions (amount of people, maneuverability, colour, etc.). Here are a few things to keep in mind and is not an all-inclusive criteria list as a raft is very user dependent.

Raft Length

The length of a raft will determine how many people and/or supplies you can fit in it during a given trip. Typical lengths vary between 10 – 16 feet for a raft meant for more than 1 person. A solo raft, like a packable, will be roughly 6-7′. The shorter a raft is, typically means it will be more easily maneuvered through the water. Each rafter is different, but here is a simple guide:


2-5 People 6+ People
1 Day 10-12′ 12-13′
2 Days 10-12′ 14-15′
3+ Days 12-13′ 16’+


Raft Width

The wider a raft is, the more stable it will be. However, the thinner it is the easier it will be to manoeuvre through tight obstacles. Also, keep in mind that a wider raft doesn’t necessarily mean more interior room as often times the tube diameter is thicker.

Standard or Self Bailing Raft

A standard raft has a sealed floor to the tubes. If water comes over the tubes it will stay within the boat.
A self-bailing raft has a sturdy floor but has holes in it that allow water to come in/out. A self-bailing raft is typically the most common for whitewater rafting.

Packable Raft

How will the raft be transported to and from the river? If you need to inflate it at the river, you will need a nice packable raft for transportation.

Raft Material

The most common material is PVC Plastic. It holds up well to wear and tear for the price. However, there are higher-end options that can be abused some more, such as Hypalon rubber or polyurethane for the avid rafters willing to spend more money.

Rafting Spot Whitewater Raft Recommendations

NRS Outlaw 140
Width7' 2"
Air Chambers6
Floor TypeSelf-Bailing

Why RaftingSpot Likes It:

The NRS 140 self-bailing raft is an outfitter favorite. It is a durable, time-tested design that has a self-bailing feature allowing you to get down just about any river.

Link to product’s website

Aire 156R
Air Chambers5
Floor TypeSelf-Bailing

Why RaftingSpot Likes It:

This is an all purpose raft meant for all excursions from the wild canyons in Colorado to tamer waters for bigger groups.

Link to product’s website

NRS packraft
Air Chambers4
Floor TypeStandard

Why RaftingSpot Likes It:

This raft is meant for a solo adventurer that wants to travel to hard to reach rivers. It is packable, but still durable enough to get you down the river safely.

Link to product’s website