by Eric Johnson

Permit season is upon on us!  And there is nothing more important for a multi-day river trip than choosing the right boating buddies. So despite having absolutely no training or expertise, I have decided to further the field of rafting psychology and river trip participant compatibility by designing a rafting personality test.

Instructions: Answer the questions and tally your (colors) to find out what kind of rafter you are.

1. You win a permit for a multi-day river trip the first thing that you do…

YELLOW Make a list of all the lists that you will need.

BLUE Invite all of your friends.

GREEN Congratulate yourself of the complex math you used to win the lottery.

RED Wonder when you even applied for a lottery permit.

2. The trip leader calls for 8:00 launch.  You show up at the put in…

YELLOW The night before, of course.

BLUE When everyone else gets there.

GREEN You are the trip leader and dammit you will be launching at eight.

RED Day and dark are the only two times on the river—relax.

3. When you scout a rapid you…

YELLOW Consult all three of your guidebooks.

BLUE Seek out everyone’s opinion on the correct line and then vote.

GREEN Study and consider every possible line—everyone else be dammed.

RED Ha! You don’t scout rapids.

4. The ranger is checking required gear. They are looking for the spare PFD…

YELLOW No worries, you have a spare for the spare.

BLUE You gave it to the group that launched ahead of you.

GREEN Just a few key folds with a Paco pad and voila!

RED PFD stands for pretty fun dude. And one of you is enough. Your personality is buoyant enough to keep everyone afloat.

5. The color of your boat is…





6. When choosing a camp you…

YELLOW Plan a backup camp for your back up camp–just in case.

BLUE Look for the best kitchen and communal areas.

GREEN Don’t really care…you sleep on your raft.

RED Look for camps with fewer hazards for the dance party you have planned.

7. In camp you like to…

YELLOW Plan an itinerary for the next day: launch time, hikes, scouts, lunch ect.

BLUE Sit around a crackling fire and spend time with all these amazing people.

GREEN Take a solitary hike, how far does this trail go?

RED Beach Olympics, of course!

8. Your favorite piece of river gear is…

YELLOW All of it!

BLUE Your friends.

GREEN Anything that you have invented or modified.

RED Your cooler.

9. If you could only float one river…

YELLOW Grand Canyon—you outfit

BLUE Grand Canyon—someone else outfits

GREEN Selway—one launch a day!

RED Middle Fork—six feet and rising.

10.  Your dream boat on a river is…

YELLOW The Gear Boat.

BLUE A Paddle Raft for ten.

GREEN A dory that you built, of course.

RED A cooler with oars.


Mostly YELLOW— You crave the routine that a multi-day rafting trip creates.  You love the checklists and the fact that you get to use those checklists every morning.  “Yes, of course” you know exactly which cooler has the eggs. Your efficiency and punctuality make you a great trip leader or first mate. You never forget gear back at your house and your mental map and mental clock keeps the trip moving down the river.

Mostly BLUE— For you rafting is about people. A multi-day trip is a party that moves down river.  What could be better? You love the teamwork and camaraderie.  Fire brigading gear up the beach makes you want to cry with joy.  Your happy place is sitting around the fire pan surrounded by the best people in the world.

Mostly GREEN— Honestly, you probably should’ve been a kayaker.  Or maybe you were a kayaker.  Your independent streak means that you need some “alone time” on a multi-day trip.  But don’t spend too much time away from camp.  People need you.  You are the problem solver.  If something goes seriously wrong, you’re the one who is going to fix it.

Mostly RED—You are probably going to be the cause of something going seriously wrong on a multi-day trip, but you are also going to be the cause of the spontaneous fun that happens on the trip and the cause of the empty cooler.  Remember the correct number of beers on a river trip is (the number you have)+1.


Please remember that this quiz is completely unscientific, overly simplistic and probably wildly inaccurate.  Do not use this quiz to diagnosis you or your friends with a personality disorder.  I also would not try to use it to design the perfect proportion of yellows, blues, greens, and reds.  That proportion does not exist. Good natured jokes, however, would be an acceptable use of this quiz. Happy rafting!

Photo Cred | “At the last camp, just above Pearce Ferry on the Grand Canyon, the men from our group climbed to the top of a silt ridge to see what was on the other side.  They then proceeded to entertain the rest of us with various poses.  The bit of fun captured here is just a tiny fraction of the fun we all had throughout the 24-day trip.” -Bridget Tincher of Hurricane, WV | CTR 19

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