It’s common for people to tell you what you need to bring on a particular tour, since that’s typically the question we ask as tourists. Tour operators will always tell you that you need comfortable walking shoes, a bottle of water, and extra cash. Here at Cascade Outdoors, we give you the best possible idea of what you’ll need on one of our Ocoee River trips with our “what to bring” sections on our tour pages. These list the basics like waterproof sun protection, dry clothes, a towel, shower supplies, and more — we even remind our guests that they need to bring their inhaler along with them!

What people don’t often tell you is what NOT to bring. There are definitely things that can either stay at home or be swapped out for a better alternative. As experts on whitewater rafting on the Ocoee River, it’s our duty to give you a hand with making the most of your trip. Obviously you know to leave your valuables and pets at home, but we do have a few more recommendations.

1. Cheap gear (like flip flops and panchos)
The moment you get onto the river, you’ll regret bringing this stuff. A cheap plastic poncho won’t do you a lick of good, which is why we provide you with a spray jacket. You are almost guaranteed to get wet, but at least this way, you can keep your torso dry (or at least drier than you would be otherwise) and avoid freezing your nose off. Flip flops from the dollar store aren’t a great idea either. They’ll either fall apart or fall off in an instant, and then you’re shoeless!
Our recommendation: We’ll cover the spray jacket for you, so all you need is to bring old tennis shoes that will stay on and protect your feet.

2. Sunglasses that aren’t secured
If you don’t have Chums or a similar eyewear retainer to keep your sunglasses on your face where they belong, it may be best to leave them in the car. It’s not fun to be blinded by the light, but it’s arguable worse to be blinded suddenly and losing your favorite pair of Maui Jims or Ray Bans to the mighty Ocoee. And of course, you’d be littering (which is punishable by Tennessee law, folks).
Our recommendation: Pick up a pair of Chums before you come take a tour with us! You can even get them off of Amazon.

3. Chemical sunblock
Reducing the amount of chemicals that we consume daily has become quite a popular trend, and sunblock is one of the most obvious sources when it comes to spending time outdoors. It has also been scientifically proven that chemicals like oxybenzone and octinoxate (present in traditional sunblocks) have a negative impact on both marine and freshwater environments. So, when planning your trip to come visit Cascade Outdoors, do your best to find a reef-safe sunblock. Even though we aren’t in the ocean, our non-human friends that rely on the river will thank you!

4. Your smartphone
Finally, we typically recommend that you don’t bring your smartphone. While it’s great for taking pictures, losing it in the river is just a heartbreak waiting to happen. And, in any case, you likely won’t have reception. All the more reason to unplug and soak up nature on a full-day float!