Put-In Prep

Getting your raft river-ready. 

A new season means new gear—or rather, old gear that needs to be dug out of the closet, shed, or garage and put back into the rotation. One such item that is frequently neglected is the raft, from the moment it’s stored in the fall to the moment it goes back into service in the spring.

And what would spring be without that inaugural river trip? What would that river trip be without a functioning craft? Short, for one. Avoid an abbreviated outing by following these simple maintenance steps.

1. Clean your boat. You probably didn’t do it last fall, so wash off all the dirt and then apply a full coat of UV-protectant conditioner. We suggest 303 Aerospace.

2. Check your patch kit. If you’ve opened the glue, even just to get a little high, odds are it dried up and needs to be replaced.

3. Give your throw-rope a toss. Check for weak points, fraying, and bite marks from desperate mice. Replace as necessary. (And take this opportunity to practice your aim.)

4. Shore up emergency gear. Inspect PFDs, stock up the first-aid kit, and stash a serviceable fleece and raincoat in the drybox.

5. Connect trailer lights. And make sure all lights and fuses are in working order.

6. Tighten your frame. See what’s shaken loose and tighten it all down.

7. Check cam and ratchet straps. See #3.

8. Clean and stock cooler. Shotgun that season-old Montucky and wipe out the brat juice—a new season is upon us.