How to Manage Risk When Running Unknown Water

Packrafts have advanced rapidly in terms of materials, design, and capabilities. A little over a decade ago packrafts were considered simple tools to cross a river, or fish an alpine lake; now they drop waterfalls and run Class V whitewater in the Grand Canyon. On the banks of a gin-clear river, your packraft may look like a chariot of the gods. But without the skills to drive that mighty chariot, you might end up with something more like a rubber ducky of the gods. Learning river running techniques and basic paddling skills will ensure your packraft always handles like a celestial hot rod.

Learning basics paddling techniques are essential to catch eddies, quickly avoid hazards.

Floating the River in the Winds, you may have to constantly deal with different hazards: a sudden hole on river left, a strainer on river right, a grumpy beaver on a direct collision course at river center. Safely floating narrow wilderness creeks, where rapids or strainers can hide around every bend, requires continuous risk assessment and quick maneuvering. Anticipate where hazards will form, based on the character of the river, so that you can avoid them early. Learn the proper techniques to quickly ferry across river, catch an eddy, or square up to a wavetrain. Train hard and someday you may become a packraft wizard.


Experience and judgement are slippery ideas to pin down. There is no clear metric for how much experience is “enough” or how experience translates into good judgement. The best way to build judgement is to gain a solid foundation of knowledge, skills, and perhaps most importantly, experience.


Post time: Aug-03-2018


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