While it may seem obvious that you don’t want to get stuck up the creek without a paddle, there are some items you may not think to bring with you that can certainly enhance your enjoyment of the day. Review this list so you’re not wistfully wishing on the water.

Life Jackets

Personal Flotation Devices (PFDs) are as necessary as a paddle in every boat. The best and safest practice is to wear your PFD at all times. The law requires that a Coast Guard Approved PFD be available for every person in the boat.



Foot covering, such as old tennis shoes or securely strapped sandals, can keep a day on the river fun instead of miserable.  Hidden perils such as glass and rusty metal can be found in every river.  If you have to get out of your boat to pull it through a shallow area, having sturdy footwear (NOT flipflops) will not only keep you safe but protect your feet from slippery, sharp rocks or old fishing hooks!


Food & Drink

Make sure you have an appropriate amount of each for the trip and stay hydrated. Avoid drinking river or stream water! Alcoholic beverages and boating don’t mix and can be dangerous.


Leave No Trace

If you pack it in with you, pack it out. Stay off private property and respect all wildlife – for example, do not chase a momma duck and her babies with your boat! Take only pictures and leave only footprints. For more information on Leave No Trace, visit http://www.lnt.org

River Map

Make sure you know where you are at all times – you don’t want to miss your takeout. A downloadable and print-ready version of the water trail map is available.



Dress appropriately for the weather. In summer, most folks will be comfortable in bathing suits, shorts and a t-shirt. Wearing a hat and/or using sunscreen can help you avoid a sunburn. When the sun is not shining and a breeze starts blowing, wet cotton clothing can quickly become uncomfortably cool.  In cooler weather, the threat for hypothermia is greater. We recommend wearing synthetic fibers since cotton will not dry easily once wet and will wick heat from your body quickly with the slightest breeze.   A towel and an extra set of dry clothes, either in a vehicle at the takeout OR sealed in a waterproof bag, can make a trip much more comfortable!


Pack Smart

Anything you take is likely to get wet. Place cameras and cell phones in dry bags or waterproof boxes and secure them to the boat.



If you are going fishing, be sure to have your West Virginia fishing license on hand at all times.