Some of our favorite features of the rivers in the Pacific Northwest are the towering basalt cliffs and subterranean features, but these same features are rough on rafting gear. Whether it’s a wear spot from daily use or a close encounter with a rough object, the wetsuits, booties, and splash tops all find a way to tear at some point in their life. In an effort to reduce, reuse, and recycle, repairing rafting gear is an essential part of the rafting business!

cliffs are rough on rafting gear

Torn gear is inevitable when portaging Steelhead Falls on the Full Day White Salmon River Trip

If you were getting outfitted for your rafting trip and found that your bootie or wetsuit had a tear in it, you probably returned it to your guide and swapped it out for a fully intact item. After you got your replacement, you went along and had a great time on the White Salmon River, but what happened to the bootie? Did it get trashed? Hidden to be given out to someone else who wouldn’t notice? Did it get banished to the repair room? Hint – it was the last one.

rafting gear repair room

A sneak peek in to the gear repair room!

Here at Wet Planet, we care about the planet and running a sustainable business. We can’t stand the idea of throwing things away when what is wrong with them is fixable and would hate for our gear to rot away in the landfill when it still has life left in it. Therefore, all the gear that comes back damaged gets put in the repair room for the gear fairy to sort and repair.

repairing rafting gear

That wetsuit is going to need one big patch!

As it turns out, things can break faster than they can get repaired and over time the gear seems to pile up, so most of our repairs happen over the winter. One winter, we repaired 64 pairs of booties and over 75 wetsuits! While it might not sounds like a lot, that adds up to over 300lbs of neoprene that was put back into circulation and saved from the landfills.

rafting bootie repair

Imagine all these booties ended up in the trash – and isn’t even half the fleet!

With such high levels of use, rafting guides outfitters go through gear much more quickly than the average person, which is why it’s so essential to be able to repair rafting gear. Imagine if we just tossed it aside and threw out 300lbs of neoprene each year; that would add up to over 6,000lbs of waste over 20 years of operation.

repaired rafting bootie with aquaseal

A little Aquaseal kept this bootie out on the river instead of in a landfill

So, when you come out rafting with us you may get a piece of gear that has some extra stitching on it, a patch, or some amazing looking glue. If you do get that piece of gear, it means you’ve been blessed by the Gear Fairy. Congratulations, you are now a part of our efforts to reduce, reuse, and recycle by repairing rafting gear!

-The Gear Fairy

Author Nicole Leen can be found playing the ‘Gear Fairy’ when not guiding rafts on the White Salmon River. Her dog, Pebbles, is a diligent apprentice, barring the booties from running away.

Editor Sharon is a kayak instructor and Reservations Manager at Wet Planet. She is always stoked to share her love of whitewater and to be a part of the incredible team at Wet Planet!