Whitewater Rafting and Inflatable Boats - Vital Information You Really Should be Aware of

By Danny Matterson

The image that whitewater rafting gives is always that of an extreme sport marked by swirling rapids that are too dangerous for the brave and cowardly mortals alike. While whitewater rafting is still considered an extreme sport, stricter measures and great strides in making inflatable boats more stable have made this sport safer than it once was.

With durable inflatable boats, the adventure experienced by whitewater rafters can now actually be fun instead of frightening. Blowups for whitewater rafting usually measure 6 to 8 feet in width and 11 to 20 feet in length. These are also built to hold anywhere from 4 to 12 people.

The buoyancy tubes on an inflatable boat make them hard to flip over on whitewater even as it goes past rocks, strong waves and steep drops. The independent air chambers stabilize the boat and make them difficult to turn over. This is exactly the kind of security that rafters need so they can ably maneuver the boat through the most challenging rapids.

Those who are still new to whitewater rafting using blowups are often concerned about the strength and durability of the material used in constructing the raft. Won't it get punctured as soon as it encounters roots, rocks and sharp edges?

Valid as this concern might be, the answer is generally no. Inflatable boats are made of strong and very resilient PVC or Hypalon material that can withstand sharp and jagged edges pretty well. Fabric technology has become more advanced that the durability of inflatables have gone by leaps and bounds. In fact, unless an inflatable is purposely punctured, it will just bounce off obstacles that would otherwise have ripped to pieces a hard shell.

The good thing about an inflatable is that you can still repair a puncture in case it does happen even when you're still on the water. For as long as you have your repair kit- which you should always have before heading out- you should have no problems.

While an inflatable is quite safe and sturdy, it is not a good idea to ignore other safety measures. Learn all you can about the whitewater rapids you're planning to conquer even you are not going to be the leader of the group. This allows you to plan ahead so that you can navigate the boat through the obstacles present there although you should still be prepared for those unexpected twists and turns that always come with any extreme sport like whitewater rafting.

Before setting out, make sure that you have your life jacket on you and your teammates and that you have the supplies, emergency rescue equipment, first aid kit and communication devices on the boat. Everyone should know how to paddle and have decent swimming skills as well.

There is nothing more exciting than a whitewater rafting trip. An inflatable boat combined with the needed knowledge and skill will definitely make the adventure one for the books- and you'll definitely live to tell it.

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