I walk about 1.5 miles to work, mostly along a busy, smelly road. There is an alternative route I could take of similar length along off-road quiet tracks which would be much nicer, but to take this route I need to cross a river.

The river is maybe 20-30 meters across and slow-flowing, but there is no bridge for a mile in either direction. One side of the bridge is next to a boathouse, so there is a slipway, but the other side is just open fields. This also means there is no good way to secure a vessel on that side.

Can anyone think of a way I can cross the river? If carrying something, it would need to be light and portable enough for me to walk with for a mile plus, and not require significant assembly/disassembly. Alternatively, I could cycle if that would help.

If money was no object, a jet-pack would work, but I do need to consider funds somewhat!

I'm really interested if anyone has any outside-the-box ideas...

  • 3
    How deep is the river? How wet are you willing to get? Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 17:57
  • I don't know how deep it is - not shallow enough to see the bottom. As I have to walk a mile after crossing and then spend the day at work, I'd rather not be wet/smelling of river.
    – xorsyst
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 19:04
  • 1
    Upvoted for the allusion to the jetpack, thanks you made my day.
    – Ced
    Commented Apr 23, 2019 at 20:16

7 Answers 7


General advices in order to cross a river

  1. Scout Around

Invest a little time in finding the best place to make your crossing. Avoid bends in the river, where water whips around the fastest. Once you find a suitable spot, walk downstream a few hundred feet to make sure there aren’t any hazards. It’s always good to know about the pesky 30-foot waterfall around the bend.

  1. Don’t Be Narrow-Minded

They look tempting, but narrow crossings can be the most dangerous—they’re often the deepest part of the river. Look for the widest section instead. Keep an eye out for mild ripples—which are safe to cross—and avoid whitecaps, which can be treacherously slippery.

  1. Ditch Your Duds

If the water will reach your knees, strip down to your skivvies - your pride isn’t worth getting hypothermia from wet clothes. Even if the river is shallow, remove your socks and put on a second pair of shoes if you have them. If you’re backpacking, unbuckle your front straps so you can quickly slip out of your pack if you fall.

  1. Shuffle Up

Face upstream, lean into the current, and move across the river with shuffling sidesteps. You’re less likely to fall while sidestepping since you don’t lift your feet as high.
Source: mentalfloss

How to do not get wet (by admitting the river is shallow)

The best advice I could give you is to buy a special equipment for fisherman like this Woods Waterproof Camouflage Neoprene Chest Waders enter image description here

  • 1
    On further investigation, the river is definitely too deep for wading. Shame, I'd look cool in those walking to work :D
    – xorsyst
    Commented Apr 24, 2019 at 17:43
  • Eh, sorry to hear that, I agree It would've been fun !
    – Ced
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 11:03

Here is an out-of-the-box idea. (Some might go further and suggest that it's an out-of-my-mind idea.) Your issue might be a blessing in disguise.

You can't be the only one who needs a better way to get across the water. There must be others who want or need a ride.

Become an entrepreneur.

Consider changing your line of work to a ferry owner/operator. Invest in a boat to take others across for a small fee. Provide a service. Promote your time and effort-saving part-time business.

Maybe others will want to "ride-share" too.

  • I don't have that much informations about the river, I'm not sure if the water is deep enough for a boat to navigate. Moreover, the stream of water could be dangerous.
    – Ced
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 11:07
  • There actually is a "ferry" that crosses at this exact point for £1 each way per person ... but it only operates at the weekend so is no good for commuting :( I'm not sure I fancy the career change though!
    – xorsyst
    Commented Apr 28, 2019 at 17:16
  • @xorsyst Maybe others could use a ride too but all of you haven't gotten together to make an offer for a weekday ride at an agreed-upon time with week-end ferry-master. Maybe he would consider a weekday operator for his weekend business. Now that you know something exists, maybe you can expand on it. Good luck. You're getting closer.
    – Stan
    Commented May 1, 2019 at 21:38

Since you mention that you could cycle, it opens up the option to use an amphibious bicycle.

It would use flotation devices that fold down and outwards so that you can use it on the street as well with no issues, and covert it to amphib mode quickly (perhaps even with the push of a button). With the usual designs, your feet would go into the water when pedaling, so you would have to wear high waterproof trousers with attached boots (not the chest high wading trousers as in the other answer though). But since one side of your river has no easy way to get in and out and it will not be possible to drive the bicycle on muddy river ground, you need to unmount and walk the last few meters anyway – which means, you need these trousers anyway.

As for do-it-yourself designs to convert a normal bicycle into an amphib one, here are some inspirations from YouTube:


If you are an adventurous sort of person, you can make a rope bridge with a climbing rope and a small pulley:

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_woman_crossing_the_River_Beas_in_Manali_in_2009.jpg

Make sure to use a strong climbing rope and winch it tight (tying is not enough) or you may end up like this unfortunate man:

enter image description here Source: https://www.thrillophilia.com/tours/river-crossing-in-munnar

Good luck.

  • I like this idea - but the river is used by various boats so I'd need to be able to put the bridge up and take it down each crossing.
    – xorsyst
    Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 10:12
  • 1
    @xorsyst In that case, get an inflatable kayak you can carry with you and paddle across everyday. Commented Jul 11, 2019 at 16:03
  • Re: strong climbing rope. There is two types of climbing rope: dynamic (stretching) and static (non stretching). The rope you clip into a climbing harness is dynamic. It will stretch to soften the fall. For this river crossing exercise you want a static rope. Also I have the feeling that it's probably worth checking if the rope will be able to take the weight hanging "sideways" but I don't know how to calculate that.
    – P.R.
    Commented Oct 10, 2021 at 8:35

The most obvious solution I see here is to swim across. The distance is less than a length in an Olympic size pool (50m), and if you can plan things to be able to easily exit the river some way downstream of your entry point (in both directions) a slow current won't be a problem -- though you may need some practice to school yourself against fighting the current, which will in practice cost you both considerable energy and likely some additional downstream distance.

You can wear a bathing suit under your clothes, and carry a waterproof backpack while swimming (also with a towel inside, which you can hang to dry while at work).

Of course, this solution will only work if you're a reasonably competent swimmer, and the river you're crossing isn't badly polluted -- and may be undesirable in stormy weather or winter.


If you cycle to work, you can travel faster, which means that you may be able to go out of your way to a bridge, cross there, and head to work from the other side of the bridge. If there’s a place to park, you could drive to a parking space near the bridge, then walk or cycle the rest of the way.

Or consider crossing the river on horseback if it’s not too deep. :-)

  • Great idea ... but it turns out the nearest crossing upstream is 6 miles away, and the path back is a bit too narrow for cycling. Not impossible, but adding 12 miles to my daily commute might be a bit much! :D
    – xorsyst
    Commented Oct 7, 2021 at 7:59

While I was scouting for crepe conveyor belt cooking systems recently, I came across cheap inflatable rafts too. Apparently a 1-person inflatable raft can weigh about 1.3 kg (about 3 pounds). A light battery-powered inflator can weigh less than 1.5 pounds. A telescoping paddle or small emergency paddle can weigh 1 pound. If you're willing to carry an extra 5.5 pounds (somewhat more when wet), and pay less than $100, and spend about 10 minutes inflating (and perhaps less deflating) for each crossing, you could carry your own flotation system with you. I don't know how many inflation/deflation cycles the rafts will take, but they seem to be cheap, so may be cost-effective.

I would also advise a waterproof container to carry your cell phone, etc., in, and keeping a change of clothes at your workplace, as the inflatable rafts I've looked at don't seem particularly stable. Swimming lessons also recommended.

The rafts are so light you could carry one pre-inflated "portage style" by yourself over the entire walk, if the winds were not too high and there are not too many tree branches, angry dogs, children throwing rocks, etc., on the walk.

  • Certainly an interesting suggestion! It's probably the most feasible one yet, although I do wonder how work would feel about me storing a still-slightly-wet raft in the office all day.
    – xorsyst
    Commented Oct 13, 2021 at 13:26

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