River Lingo

Whether you’re new to the whitewater rafting community or a river rat, learning the language of the river is going to help you determine the best trip for you and your group and give you insight into river culture!

Snow-melt: All of the rivers we raft are snow-melt, meaning the snow in the mountains will melt and determine the runoff. This affects the different river seasons. Our Arizona rafting trips are available in the early spring because it gets warmer in Arizona earlier than, say, Colorado where our trips are available during the summer!

Oar Boat: A raft with a guide who maneuvers the boat by a set of oars secured to a frame in the back of the raft. This enables the guide to do most of the powering and steering of the raft, and the crew has the option to paddle or just sit back and relax. This is considered to be a more stable craft than a paddle boat. Mild to Wild usually uses oar boats on all rivers, with the exception of the Upper Salt River Canyon trips.

Pool-Drop River: A river that has a small pool of calm water after a rapid, which is great for catching swimmers! (The Piedra River in Colorado is a great example!)

Paddle Boat: A boat where everyone in the raft, including the guide, has a paddle. The guide will not have as much control, so everyone will need to assist in paddling and maneuvering the boat down the river.

T-Grip: The T-Grip is the end of the paddle that you will wrap your hand around. This gives you more leverage and keeps your neighbor from losing any teeth!

Upper Animas and boat

Self-Bailing Raft: A raft with a special floor that allows the water to flow in and out on its own. Paddlers do not have to worry about using buckets to get water out of the raft, but they do have to worry about chilly feet in the snow-melt river! For this reason we have wetsuit boots available for rent – they are designed to keep feet warmer when they get wet! Mild to Wild uses self-bailing rafts on every trip.

Inflatable Kayaks (Duckies): We run single duckies on our trips, which means each person will be in control of their own destiny! Duckies are inflated like a raft, open like a canoe and shaped like a kayak. They offer the best of both worlds; the stability of a raft and the maneuverability of a kayak. There is no experience necessary on our kayak trips and we will send a guide along in their own kayak to teach by example and show you the best way down the river.

Trip Leader (TL): Every trip is required to have an experienced guide on the trip who is in charge of assigning customers to a boat and a guide, make sure all equipment is packed, gives a safety speech and is in charge on the river. At Mild to Wild, our trip leaders have an average of 2,000 river miles while the state of Colorado only requires 750. Check out just a few of our other safety precautions here.

Chums: These are the straps that help keep your sunglasses on. If you have expensive shades, these are a great, cheap purchase. Don’t worry, if you make it all the way to our office without yours, we have some available for purchase.

Inflatable Kayak

Take-Out: The spot on the river where the trip ends.

Put-In: The spot on the river where the trip originates (where we actually put the rafts on the water).

Run: A particular raft-able section of the river.

Strainer: A strainer is an obstacle in the river usually made up of trees, sticks and debris. These are very dangerous as a swimmer could get caught underneath and should be avoided. Learn more about safety here.

Splash Jacket: A heavy-duty raincoat, which protects you from splashes and rain.

Thwart: The inner, bench-like tube that runs from either side of the raft and provides additional support for the raft. You can wedge your feet under the thwarts to help you to stay in the boat; it acts as your “seat belt”.

Premium Raft: Premium rafts are smaller boats with smaller tubes. At higher water levels, premium rafts can increase the adventure out on the river; the smaller the boat, the bigger the wave! These smaller boats can be set up as Paddle Boats or Oar Boats.
The Premium Rafts can also be reserved as a more private boat option since they have a smaller guide to customer ratio – We normally put 4 to 5 people in a Premium Raft (6 if there are 6 in the group), as opposed to 8 or 9 in a standard raft. When reserved as a more private trip option, guests can have the option of requesting an Oar or Paddle Boat and whether or not they want the guide to be more conservative through the rapids or take the riskier lines. At lower water levels, the Premium Rafts only offer more of a private trip and there is no added adventure.

Shuttle: We will often refer to shuttles for rafting trip. This would involved your ride to and from the river. All of our guided trips include shuttles, so that we can get you back to your vehicle after your trip. If you are running the river on your own, this can be one of the most cumbersome parts of your day as you would need at least two vehicles – one to leave at the take-out and one to drive to the put-in.

Piedra River Rafting