Most packrafters come from a solid backpacking background but lack experience in water sports. You can either blow your raft to paddle down a peaceful river or tackle some gnarly class IV: there are many ways to enjoy packrafting. But the kind of paddling you prefer doesn’t really matter: as soon as you are on a boat on moving water, there are some gear and skills that you need to have, regardless of the type of river. Packrafts are very forgiven boats, which means people tend to paddle harder stretches of water than their actual abilities would normally allow in a kayak. Overconfidence can be dangerous on the river. This is why you should always think twice before you decide to paddle something big. The usual saying is “don’t paddle something you wouldn’t swim”.
Here is a list of gear that all packrafters should carry on every packrafting trip.
.Paddling helmet (preferred to climbing or bicycle helmets)
.Type III PFD
.River throw rope
.River specific knife attached to PFD
- Packrafting Awareness Presentation With Monica Morin
- Luc Mehl’s Keynote Presentation
- NRS safety and rescue series (11 awesome videos)
- Mark Oates write up about safety
- The packrafting safety code from the American Packrafting Association
- Luc Mehl’s post about class IV packrafting (most of this should be applied to everyone)
- Animated tutorials for kayaking (applicable to packrafts)